It’s one of the great questions of our time. Is there life after death? Do we have free will? And why the bloody hell is my beard red when my hair isn’t?
If what’s on your chin doesn’t match up with what’s on your head (and you didn’t have spaghetti for lunch), then it falls to science to explain this follicular phenomenon.
Talking to Vice, Petra Haak-Bloem of Erfocentrum, the Dutch national information centre for genetics and hereditary traits, revealed: “The genes that determine hair colour are so-called ‘incomplete dominant hereditary traits.’ This means that there isn’t one single gene that’s dominant over the rest, but all genes influence each other.”
Put simply; genes get passed down from parents, grandparents and earlier ancestors. Combinations of these genes present differently in different people, which allows for lots of possibilities including having different colour armpit hair, pubes and beard.
No big surprise there, but why does that result in so many ginge-tinged gents? It turns out red whiskers are the outcome of a gene known as MC1R. When someone inherits this from both parents, they get red hair and fair skin. However, if they only get one MC1R gene, ginger traits are only sprinkled into their genetics and so can appear in other (unwanted) places.
So there you go, you can sleep easy knowing your mother didn’t have it off with the ginger postman. And if it still bothers you, just hold out for the greys to set in.