There’s something weird happening on your face. You’ve always had dark hair but now that you’ve begun to sprout some facial hair, you’ve somehow joined the legion of men with red beards. You’re probably a bit surprised that redheaded men aren’t the only ones with a red beard, but lo and behold, here you are with red whiskers. It’s a strange phenomenon, but different colored beards are more than common than you think.
The Science Behind Your Different Colored Beard
Scientifically speaking, your red beard is a result of a gene mutation. The MC1R gene is responsible for producing the protein that affects melanin. Melanin is what determines the color of your beard hair. We all inherit one type of MC1R from each of our parents. A mutation in one of those genes causes different colored hair to pop up in various places.
That mutation affects two types of pigmentation that are specifically linked to your hair follicles. Every one of your follicles contains some combination of eumelanin and pheomelanin. The former leads to darker colors while the latter leads to red and yellow hues. Low levels of one and high levels of another can lead to some peculiar beard color differences.
For example, let’s say you have low brown eumelanin but high levels of yellow pheomelanin. This results in blonde hair. Each of your follicles has a slightly different melanin combo. So, when your MC1R gene is altered, your beard hair ends up a completely different color than your hair.
Other Factors that Affect Beard Color
The good news is your red beard is perfectly normal. It’s not an indication of any health problems. But some discoloration can serve as a warning of greater internal issues.
When grey beard hairs start to show up, especially in younger guys, it’s often a sign of intense stress. And when your beard hair starts to look flat and dry, it can be the result of various vitamin deficiencies. Even sun exposure can lighten your hair—but at the cost of its overall strength.
It’s one thing to have a different colored beard than your hair up top. It’s another for your red beard to turn prematurely grey. Know the difference between your natural color and the unexpected changes so you can make adjustments. If your beard hair is affected enough to change color, imagine the effects on the rest of your body.
How to Protect Your Red Beard Color
To preserve your rich, different colored beard, ensure you maintain a regular routine. Beard conditioner is your biggest defense against sun damage. But be sure to avoid overexposure as it can have serious consequences for your skin as well.
Keeping your beard clean can also be a defense against weakened follicles. Lathering up with beard shampoo a couple times a week can do wonders for your color. Aside from restoring the shine and luster to your hair, it can moisturize your follicles and stimulate healthy new growth. A fuller beard will help keep your color richer than ever.
If your beard starts to get brittle, a beard softener can change your life. Softening your beard is important because it helps you prevent breakage and makes it easy to detangle knots and twists.
Additionally, remember to take care of yourself. Your beard color changes (graying, lightening) are often a direct result of harm you’ve done to your body. The better you treat your body, the more likely you are to maintain a rich color.
So, be proud of your red beard and own it. But be leery of gray hairs or if your red beard starts to turn orange. It’s natural to have a different colored beard but not in every circumstance.