Everyone has that red-bearded friend (or maybe that’s you, friend!) who has a totally different hair color than his beard. But why? We need to know.

It mostly comes down to genetics. The genes that decide hair color are fighting each other for dominance, which means that some genes can express different physical traits in the same guy.

Also, different areas of the body are more inclined to express different colors than others. Eumelanin is in charge of dark skin and hair and pheomelanin is in charge of blonde or red hair, and they aren’t found in the same amounts within follicles from different parts of the same body.

In other words, the way the melanin (or coloring) manifests depends on the location of the hair.

Nature Vs. Nurture: Do You Shave?

In addition to genetics, shaving regularly changes the characteristics of the hair itself, including melanin. This means that a beard can turn red over time because its owner is repeatedly hitting the reset button on his hair follicles.

If you do end up with an increasingly red beard, it means your beard is more prone to the elements and may require more attention and care. Your daily care regiment should be the same as before, however: wash your beard carefully with neutral soap, comb it with a good beard comb that won’t tear away its cuticle, and keep it moisturized with oil or balm.

The Challenging Life of a Red Beard

Because red beards are more delicate by nature than a darker beard, it’s lighter on the top layer and tougher to shape if you choose to grow it long. One way to get it under control is to brush it upwards as you dry it with a hairdryer, and at the end of drying, brush it down with a bristle brush. Once it’s where you want it, apply a small amount of beard balm to keep it there.