• Question: what happens if your mom and dad have brown hair but your hair colour is ginger?

    Asked by city354day to Savannah on 11 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Savannah Clawson

      Savannah Clawson answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      Your hair colour is determined by similar chemicals that determine your skin colour, called melanins. There are two types of these chemicals that determine hair colour: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
      There are certain genes in your DNA that control how much of each chemical you will have in your body. Lots of different genes normally work together to determine your characteristics and scientists still aren’t exactly sure which genes affect your hair colour!
      A (very) simplified way of looking at is is by saying that there are two genes: one for ginger hair and one for brown hair. The ginger hair gene is what we call “recessive” – this means that if someone has one brown hair gene and one ginger gene, the brown gene will take charge and they will have brown hair.
      When two parents have a baby, they will each pass on one random copy of one of their genes. Therefore, if you have two parents that both have one brown gene and one ginger gene, there is a 25% chance (1 out of 4) that they will both pass on the ginger gene and the baby will only have ginger genes in their body (and therefore ginger hair). However, both parents will have brown hair because the brown gene takes over in their bodies!
      Don’t worry if this is confusing – genetics is a really complicated and complex subject! The answer to take away is that it is definitely possible for two parents with brown hair to have a child with ginger hair if the underlying genetics allow it!

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