Have you ever wondered why two people can have totally different styles of red hair, but nobody seems to be born with green in their locks? When you think about it, the vast majority of natural hair colors fall under the categories of blond, brown, black, or red. Obviously, the color palate of the natural world is as diverse as the fall foliage, so why do so many of us share the same basic natural hair colors?
It’s easy to write off our physical traits as something we either got from mom or dad, but such broad summaries of our genetic makeup are actually disingenuous considering the vastly nuanced and complicated things going on inside our cells to make us who we are. The truth is, you don’t have your mom’s eyes or your dad’s hands… your parts are simply your own, even if they borrow heavily from the traits of those that came before you.
Now, whenever we want to understand something better, it helps to be able to look at that thing’s constituent parts. For example, if you wanted to determine the quality of life here in San Jose, you might look at the overall happiness of the city’s population and the success of local businesses. Upon inspection, you would see that a thriving local economy and contributive members of the population make this one of the most sought-after places to own property in the entire country.
Now, let’s look beneath the surface of our hair follicles in the same way. Did you know that hair is made of the same stuff as our skin and fingernails, as well as the horns and hooves belonging to much of the animal kingdom? Hair is largely composed of a protein called keratin, and it is the same fibrous structural protein that makes up for much of our organic matter. While keratin is responsible for the structural integrity of hair and skin, however, it has nothing to do with the decorative quality.
To understand hair and skin color, we need to look elsewhere. Keratin carries practically no coloring traits, so if it were the sole component in our hair and skin, we would be simply fleshy masses of grayish-white. We’d look like walking corpses in powdered wigs.
Even though this image might cause a good deal of excitement for Walking Dead fans, it’s safe to say that the rest of us are probably grateful for a less horrifying view of humanity. For a species that is polychromatic, we have melanin to thank.
Melanin refers to a broad group of natural pigments that are found in most organisms, producing natural color in the appearance of those organisms. Skin cells called melanocytes produce two different types of melanin – eumelanin and pheomelanin– and these two types of melanin are responsible for pretty much the entire range of hair colors you see in the world.
Eumelanin is what causes hair to appear darker colors like black or brown, and pheomelanin is what causes hair to look reddish or orange. These two types of melanin being present in people in varying degrees is what cause the vast variety of hair colors. Interestingly enough, blond hair is actually evidence of very little of either melanin type present. As we grow older and our hair turns more grey or white, it is due to the melanocyte cells dying off and the pigment appearing that way.
As with a lot of things genetic, there are multiple variables that affect hair color, but essentially when we are indevelopment, certain genes are activated to produce more or less of the two types of melanin, and that’s what puts the color in our hair.
Regardless of what your melanin makeup is, the important thing is that you want your hair to look good. No matter what your natural hair color is, you’re not going to make the best impression as long as your style isn’t at its best. At Crewners, our barbers are the sculptors who make the most of what you’ve got. Worried about emerging grey hairs on your head or in your beard? There’s a style for that. Feel like you didn’t exactly win the genetic lottery when it comes to hair color? Guess what… we can style that, too.
We love seeing people embrace their natural hair color, but even more, we love empowering the men who come through our shop by taking the hair they’ve got and giving it a distinguished and attention-grabbing style. Whether you’re due for a shave or a cut, we’re the place to get it done in the Silicon Valley.
Worried that you’re not using the best product to preserve your hair? We’ve even got some of the best Baxter of California products, and we’re happy to make recommendations. So book an appointment and stop by for some relaxing grooming and self-renovation.