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Name: Alec
Status: Student
Grade:  K-3
Location: KY
Country: United States
Date: April 2008

How did I get red hair - when both my parent's are brunettes?

This question is very difficult to explain to a third grader. Basically, red hair is a recessive gene combination that modifies hair color protein to a reddish color; actually a variation of orange. Hair color is actually a combination of three colors; blue, yellow and orange (the color proteins have complex names but these colors are about what they actually look like). Hair colors are a combination of these three colors in different proportions. Your parents did not have both recessive genes, only one, so they do not show red, on the other hand, you received two recessive genes and produce a melanocortin-1 protein variation that gives the reddish color. Often freckles and other traits are associated with red hair. If you look at other red heads, you will see a variety of different shades of red hair which shows that this trait is not as easily explained as a simple recessive gene combination.

One other thing, there is not only one gene combination in hair color. This makes it even more difficult to explain.

Steve Sample

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