Shades of Grey HairQ: Are there actually different shades of grey hair, or do they just appear different due to the mix of the other hair on the scalp? I'm trying to find out if all grey hair has a silvery appearance or if some of it is actually grey or white in color?
A: Once a hair has gone grey it means that the hair has lost its natural pigment. The hair isn't actually "grey" or "white" but is rather translucent and looks white (or grey) as a result of the color of the hairs surrounding it and the amount of light shining on it. This is why the more hairs you have that are grey, the "whiter" your hair appears.
For an example of how it works, take a sheet of tissue paper (or tracing paper). Lay the tracing paper over sheets of colored paper as well as another sheet of tracing paper and look at the color of the paper. The more sheets of tracing paper are stacked together, the whiter and more opaque the color becomes, and when laid on top of colored papers, the tracing paper seems to absorb some of the color of the other papers. This is the same with grey hair.
This also explains why when the hair is wet, it appears darker. Even pigmented hair is translucent and reflects and refracts light to some extent. When the hair is wet, the strands cling to one another, becoming less penetrable by the light and appearing darker. This will be doubly true for grey hair, which has less opacity of its own. (Try the tracing/tissue paper test again, but this time mist the tracing paper with water.)
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