Fashion, Hairstyles & Beauty
Hair Color and Genetics
How Parents Affect the Color of their Baby’s Hair
If you have ever taken the time to sit back and gaze at people at a park or other public setting, chances are you have seen a mom who is a brunette, a dad with black hair, and their two kids have red and blond hair
respectively. How does this happen? You probably think to yourself, there is no way those are both the real parents.
Hair color is a multifaceted matter of genetic variations, with genes from both your mother and father determining the color and shade of their child’s hair. Approximately 20 to 25 thousand genes determine our 46
chromosomes. Of these 46 chromosomes, 23 come from the mother and 23 from the father at the time of conception. One of the chromosomes will determine the sex and the other 45 chromosomes regulate all other aspects of
the body, including how we look. As you can now imagine several combinations of genetic info can happen and create many different hair color possibilities for the child.
There has been extensive research done about the complexity of genetics and how we are the work of our moms and dads. However, research into what determines the color of hair has been overlooked. This has resulted in
the lack of comprehensive knowledge about the direct link between hair color and genetics. Determining there are some babies born with certain birth defects or illnesses is easier to determine than what color of hair
they will have. Even with the lack of comprehensive research as with all genetics, there are some things that we do know that can help determine why one child of a couple has jet black hair and the other has the blonde.
In the simplest terms, you can divide hair color into two different categories, light and dark. When it comes to dominance, dark hair takes over. This is why brown and the various shades of brown are the most popular hair
colors worldwide. Fair shades, including blonde are much rarer. This could be one of the reasons that people spend hundreds of dollars every couple of months, trying to maintain fake blonde hair. Natural blonde hair is
atypical when it comes to genetics and because of this is highly sought after. Eumelanin is the pigment that causes hair to be dark. If hair has a lot of eumelanin, it will be darker and if it has less of the pigment, it will be lighter.
How Parents Affect Hair Color
Parents' attribute to hair color comes from the quantity of eumelanin a baby has. Genes from each parent will contribute to the amount. There are thousands of DNA sequences which can be formed. Every gene is constructed of
alleles or DNA sequences. Every trait that you carry comes from two alleles. One allele is from your mom, and one is from your dad. These can be the same traits or different. A brown/blonde gene is the most common in
forming hair color. This consists of a brown allele from one parent and a blonde allele from the other. Someone that has a sequence of dominately brown alleles has a shade of brown hair and someone without any brown
alleles in their sequence has blonde hair.
There are many other genes that control the shade of the color. The process in which a baby receives this allele is very random. This is the reason that you may not have
exactly the same color of hair as any of your siblings. This also explains how two people with brown hair can have a child with light blonde hair. Both people have recessive blonde genes and these can be randomly
thrown together to pass on to the child.
You may be thinking, how do people end up with red hair? The answer is that there are another set of genes known as the red/non-red pair that are present in humans. Red hair genes work in a slightly different manner.