Why do some people have orange hair?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Although the most common hair colors are black, brown and blonde, some people do have red or orange (or other hair color) hairs. This can be explained by genetics. The red (or similar colors or shades) hair are a result of mutations in melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R). The occurrence of red or similar shades of hair are a recessive trait. Unlike dominant traits (where the condition can be transferred from either parent), recessive traits will only be exhibited if they are transferred from both parents. Consequently, there are many more people who have the mutation, but since it is only from one parent, they do not have orange or red hair. Curiously enough, people with orange hair are still referred to as 'red-haired', since the term was in use much earlier than the use of the word orange to describe a color. 

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