OUR BODIES: The origins and distribution of Red Hair.


Picture courtesy Prof. James McInerney

With temperatures soaring this week, it’s definitely time to slap on the sunscreen, particularly for those with fairer skin and red hair. But where does red hair come from, what is its genetic basis and where is it most common?

Most people with red hair have two recessive alleles (alleles are different forms of the same genes inherited from your parents) for the gene coding for the MC1R protein. These ‘homozygous recessive’ individuals produce a higher level of the yellow-reddish phaeomelanin pigment to those with two dominant alleles (homozygous dominant) or one dominant and one recessive (heterozygous), where the brown-black eumelanin is more prominent. Continue reading “OUR BODIES: The origins and distribution of Red Hair.”