Genetics of Hair Color

Hair Colors Palette. Hair Texture. Image Credit: Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock

Hair shade is the phenotypic modification of genes associated to hair that reveals noticeable variations inside people.

Usually, hair colours are categorised into darkish and lightweight during which the previous is predominant. The information of melanocyte biology can lead us to the genes concerned in hair shade.

All the colours of hair are principally related to a single class of pigments known as melanin.

Hair Colors Palette. Hair Texture. Image Credit: Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock

Hair Colours Palette. Hair Texture. Picture Credit score: Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock


Melanins are pigments derived from an amino acid known as tyrosine. The colour of the hair depends upon the quantity and kind of melanin produced by melanocytes. Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) is the gene accountable for hair shade willpower.

It’s discovered on the floor of melanocytes and likewise in different cells and play a task within the immune operate in people. There are three sorts of pure melanin.



When MC1R is within the lively situation, it produces eumelanin, which causes darkish hair. It is usually accountable for the safety of pores and skin from injury by ultraviolet radiation.


When MC1R is in an inactive situation, the melanocytes will produce pheomelanin, which causes gentle or pink hair. This pigment lacks the function of defending the pores and skin from daylight.


Since it’s present in dopamine neurons, it colours some areas of the mind, which has no direct relation with hair shade.

Mutation of neuromelanin might lead to a neurodegenerative dysfunction, which has an oblique relation with hair shade.

Genes Liable to Hair Colour

Predominantly, human hair might be of 5 totally different colours: black, brown, blond, white/grey, and barely pink. Amongst these main colours, totally different shades additionally exist.

Black Hair Colour

Black is the generally seen hair shade in Asia and Africa as a consequence of the truth that the folks in these areas are inclined to have decrease ranges of tyrosinase of their our bodies.

Black eumelanin secretion causes the hair to show black, which signifies that the MC1R is within the lively state.

Brown Hair Colour

Human hair in brown shade is seen in lots of shades like brown-ebony, brown-mahogany, brown-oak, and so on.

These many shades of brown are because of the presence of an allele, a particular variation within the gene that’s discovered on the particular spot on the chromosome.

For instance, folks with brown-ebony shaded hair have some alleles that catalyze the enzymes to provide a considerable amount of brown pigment.

Some alleles in folks with brown-Swedish blond suppress the enzyme manufacturing, which in flip causes much less manufacturing of brown pigment. Based mostly on this allele-enzyme exercise, the shade of brown hair shade differs.

Blond Hair Colour

Blond hair is shaped when there’s a presence of decrease amount of brown eumelanin with the absence of different pigments. Folks with blond hair shade are principally seen in European nations.

The genome-wide affiliation research (GWAS) has discovered that the mutant gene that’s accountable for blondness within the Northern European inhabitants is KIT ligand (KITLG), which has a capability to battle pores and skin most cancers.

KIT ligand together with different genes is accountable for the mutation of pores and skin shade, blood stem cells, and sperm.

Genes concerned within the pigment manufacturing include single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) or the adenine guanine nucleotide, which alters the quantity of KITLG current within the hair follicle.

The mutation of the SNP or adenine-guanine nucleotide has been marked as a possible aspect of blond hair phenotype.

Pink Hair Colour

The pink hair shade could be very uncommon all over the world. They’re present in Northern Europe, particularly in Britain and Eire. The gene current in pink hair is recessive.

The pink shade is attributable to a sequence of mutations within the MC1R gene, which transmits to the hair extra pheomelanin; this additionally ends in pale pores and skin.

The association of amino acids within the protein for red-haired folks differs from that in folks having different shade hair.

Pink-haired folks undergo rather a lot as a consequence of a better threat of sunburns and pores and skin most cancers, for the reason that pheomelanin doesn’t shield the pores and skin from daylight. Folks with pink hair genes are extra vulnerable to pores and skin most cancers.

The ultraviolet radiation from daylight immediately triggers the MC1R gene to get mutated and likewise will increase the stage of mutation within the tumor.

Scientists have discovered that individuals with two MC1R alleles usually tend to have melanoma than these with one MC1R variant gene.

The variant MC1R gene has decreased the synthesis of dopamine neurotransmitter within the mind; thus red-haired folks require a bigger quantity of anesthetic and are very aware of thermal ache.

White or Grey Hair

Hair that lacks melanin pigments turn out to be white. Thus, white hairs fully lack each eumelanin and pheomelanin pigments.

White-haired folks replicate gentle because of the optical exercise of the colour. Largely, coloured hair turns white or grey because the melanocyte exercise stops.

Scientists have found that the gene accountable for grey hair is the “Interferon regulatory issue 4” (IRF4), which performs a task within the manufacturing and storage of melanin.

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