Feeds

Why isn't pubic hair the same colour as hair on your head?

Got you by the short and curlies

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Also in this week's column:

Why isn't pubic hair the same colour as hair on your head?

Asked by Hannah Swain of The Hague, The Netherlands

Just as with skin, the colour of hair is determined by the amount of melanin in the outer layer (cortex) of each hair. Melanin is a protein that has colour. Black hair has the greatest amount of melanin. White hair has no melanin. Hair gets its colour from the two types of melanin that create the variety of hair colors we see.

Eumelanin (sometimes called black/brown melanin) is the darkest melanin and the most commonly found in humans. Phaeomelanin (sometimes called red melanin) is the lighter melanin. One's hair color is the ratio of eumelanin to phaeomelanin. A high amount of eumelanin with little phaeomelanin results in black or brown hair. As the ratio of eumelanin to phaeomelanin lessens, the result is red, ginger, and blonde hair.

This ratio varies enormously among humans. This is why everyone's hair is just a little different.

Melanin is produced by a group of specialized cells called melanocytes. These cells are located near the hair bulb. They collect and form bundles of a pigment protein complex called melanosomes. The size, type, and distribution of the melanosomes will determine the type of melanin produced and in which ratio. The type of melanin of a person's hair is inherited.

Melanin also varies in the hair of different parts of the body. This is why pubic hair is sometimes a slightly different colour from hair elsewhere. The absence of melanin later in life causes white hair. White hair may appear on some parts of the body before others because there is variation in this too.

Interesting facts

  • The average human hair is 91 per cent protein.
  • The average human hair is composed of 45 per cent carbon, 27.9 per cent oxygen, 15.1 per cent nitrogen, 6.6 per cent hydrogen, and 5.2 per cent sulfur.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.