Have you ever wondered why your black beard is turning brown, or for some, red? If you do, you’re not alone. This has been the case to many men, but there’s nothing to worry about. This is a perfectly natural phenomenon that can be explained fairly easily using science.
Yes, this follicular marvel has a scientific explanation. And we have to admit that the answer is both fascinating and complicated. But nope, you don’t need to be a science wizard to understand this.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into this interesting phenomenon.
The Science of Hair Color
Hair colors are generally divided into dark and light, with the former being more common. Knowing the biology of melanocytes can help us figure out which genes are involved in (facial) hair color. A pigment called melanin determines the color of hair and skin. And if you want to understand the whole science of hair color, you need to understand first what melanin is. So, let us define melanin.
Pigmentation levels determine the color of your hair. Melanin is pigments made up of the amino acid tyrosine. The amount and type of melanin produced by melanocytes determine the color of the hair.
Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) is the gene that determines the color of your hair. It’s found on the surface of melanocytes as well as other cells, and it’s involved in human immune function.
There are three (3) types of natural melanin, and they are the:
Eumelanin is primarily responsible for the dark colors found in hair, eyes, and skin. Brown and black are the two types of eumelanin. Different mixtures of black and brown eumelanin produce black and brown hair. And the blonde hair is caused by a lack of black eumelanin and a small amount of brown eumelanin.
The pinkish parts of your body, such as your lips and nipples, are colored by pheomelanin. When pheomelanin and eumelanin levels are equal, you’ll then get red hair. And when you have brown eumelanin and pheomelanin, your hair turns strawberry blonde.
On the other hand, the colors of neurons are controlled by neuromelanin. It has nothing to do with how things appear to be colored. But it is found in dopamine neurons, wherein it colors some areas of the brain.
The Genetics of Hair Color
There are specific genes responsible for your hair color, such as for your brown beard. Primarily, human hair comes in five primary colors: black, brown, blond, white/gray, and very rarely red. But there are various shades of these significant colors.
Now, let us discover the genes which are liable for a specific (facial) hair color.
Because people in Asia and Africa tend to have lower tyrosinase levels in their bodies, black is the most common hair color seen around. The hair turns black as a result of black eumelanin secretion, indicating that the MC1R is active.
Brown human hair comes in various shades, including brown-ebony, brown-mahogany, brown-oak, and so on. An allele’s presence, a specific variation in the gene found at a specific spot on the chromosome, is responsible for the various shades of brown.
A few alleles in individuals with brown-Swedish blond hair repress enzyme production, resulting in less brown pigment production. So, we now understand that the color of brown hair varies depending on the allele-enzyme activity.
When there is a lower amount of brown eumelanin present and other pigments are absent, blond hair develops. And blond-haired people are primarily found in European countries.
According to a study, KIT ligand (KITLG), which can fight skin cancer, has been discovered to be the mutant gene responsible for blondness in the Northern European population.
The red hair color is exceptionally uncommon all over the world. Northern Europe, specifically the United Kingdom and Ireland, is home to them. A recessive gene causes red hair. The red color is caused by a series of mutations in the MC1R gene, which causes more pheomelanin to be transmitted to the hair. This also results in pale skin.
Okay, you can breathe now. The hard part is over – but isn’t it amazing to know that science has something to do with our beards changing colors from black to brown? Well, let’s continue to know more about it (this time, less science).
What to Do About Your Brown Beard
If you are not comfortable with your black hair turning brown, there are some steps you can take to make it darker again. So, to have a darker, fuller, and thicker-looking beard, you can opt to try the following.
Use beard oil daily.
Of course, just like moistening your hair, oiling your beard gives it a darker appearance. You might also want to invest in beard-darkening oil (yes, such oil exists). And in any case, we recommend purchasing high-quality oil.
Trim your beards’ split ends.
The fuzzy curly bits at the end of your beard that appear lighter than the rest of your beard are known as split ends. However, when you do find a split end, you should deal with it as soon as possible with a pair of dedicated beard scissors. Snip it just below where the breakage is visible.
Limit your exposure to the sun.
When your hair is exposed to the sun for an extended period, it will naturally lighten up. But you can protect yourself from this by staying in the shade and using a variety of beard grooming products to help reduce the impact. However, the best course of action is to simply stay out of the sun for as long as possible.
Dye your beard.
Of course, if you’re serious about darkening your beard, dyeing it is the best option. We encourage you to invest in a high-quality product, such as organic henna beard dye. You might even want to consider having it done by a professional first and then practicing at home.
The Bottom Line
As we mentioned above, a pigment called melanin determines the color of hair and skin. Because of genetics or environmental factors, the color of this pigment varies from person to person. Whatever the reason might be, changing of beard color from black to brown is normal.
READ ALSO: At What Age Can You Grow a Beard?