Red Hair Genes
Country: United States
Date: April 2008
How did I get red hair - when both my parent's are brunettes?
This question is very difficult to explain to a third grader. Basically, red
hair is a recessive gene combination that modifies hair color protein to a
reddish color; actually a variation of orange. Hair color is actually a
combination of three colors; blue, yellow and orange (the color proteins have
complex names but these colors are about what they actually look like). Hair
colors are a combination of these three colors in different proportions. Your
parents did not have both recessive genes, only one, so they do not show red, on
the other hand, you received two recessive genes and produce a melanocortin-1 protein
variation that gives the reddish color. Often freckles and other traits are
associated with red hair. If you look at other red heads, you will see a variety
of different shades of red hair which shows that this trait is not as easily
explained as a simple recessive gene combination.
One other thing, there is not only one gene combination in hair color. This makes it
even more difficult to explain.
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Update: June 2012