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Difference Between Grey and White Hair

Grey vs White Hair

The hair is one of the most visible and easy to notice parts of a man’s body. Women are especially conscious about their hair but men also always want their hair to be healthy and in good condition.

Depending on the person’s ethnic group, hair can be black, brown, blond, or red.

The reason for hair’s difference in color is the pigments eumelanin and pheomelanin. They are types of melanin, a pigment that can be found in animals. It determines a person’s skin and hair color; more melanin gives a person darker skin and hair, while less of it gives a person lighter colored skin and hair.

As we grow older, we also notice that our hair slowly turns grey. There are even young men and women who acquire grey hair even in their teens. The hair is actually clear, not grey or white. This is due to the lack of melanin and pigmentation in the hair follicles. It only appears grey or white by the way light is reflected on them.

Thyroid or vitamin B12 deficiencies can also cause hair to turn white or grey. Albinism, a genetic abnormality, gives a person white or pale blond hair. Auto immune disease, malnutrition, anemia, among other medical conditions can also cause hair to become prematurely grey. Tobacco smoking can also turn hair grey.

When hair is just beginning to turn white or grey, not all of the hair is affected. Grey hair happens when there is still black or natural colored hair left. White hair is when all color is gone leaving only white hair.

Every single hair on our body has its own cycle. Each one grows, absorbs nutrients for health and growth, falls out, and then grows back again. Each one of the hairs gets its own dose of melanin and while some get enough if it, there are some that don’t, so they become light colored, while others are dark. This is when you notice hair appearing to turn grey, when there is a mix of dark colored and grey or white hair.

As the person grows older and the body’s ability to produce melanin begins to slow down, all the hair in the body turns grey or white and this when you begin to see all white hair.

For young people who are affected by melanin deficiency, grey or white hair can be concealed through the use of hair dyes. They can use conventional, permanent or semi permanent hair dyes or colorants.

There are some who are hoping for a way to reverse grey hair but then the biggest factor that affects the color of hair is genetics. Some cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies are actually gearing towards some promising genetic research that they hope would produce a product that can reverse grey or white hair.

1. You get grey hair when not all of your hair has turned white, meaning that there is still dark colored hair mixed with the white hair, while you get white hair when all of your hair has turned white.
2. With grey hair, not all of the hair lacks melanin, while with white hair; all of them no longer get enough melanin.

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  1. I’m not sure how accurate or complete an explanation this is because I’m currently in my mid-twenties with a full head of dark hair, and I see several rogue strands (serendipitous X-Men reference) that would definitely be considered white, not grey or silver. Still haven’t found a satisfactory explanation for their mysterious appearance ten years ago…

    • I have the same thing. Dark hair with some strands of very obviously white or silver hair. Not grey looking. I am on my late 20’s, but have been seeing more and more “grey” since I turned 20. I am curious as to why my hair is so silver, and my mom, who is entirely grey has a muted grey color.

    • Genetics for me. I was 24 and started to see many WHITE hair. Now fifty, full head of white hair.

      • I like my white hair but sometimes I get yellow streaks. What type of shampoo should I use to keep it white?

        • There are shampoos that brighten white hair and takes the brassiness out. I use Joico color balance purple, but they also make it in blue. It doesn’t turn you hair purple but counteracts the orange. I get lots of compliments on my long white hair, which I’ve had since my late 30’s due to thyroid disease

  2. I’m 35 this year my hair underneither is white and on top is black but can still see the white and I don’t like my hair makes me feel down

    • I think that your hair being white underneath is obviously genetics. It may make you feel bad BUT….you have hair!!! That in and of itself is awesome. There are a lot of people that begin losing their hair at by the time they reach your age and that, my dear, is the most depressing thing. You can dye your hair but there’s nothing they can do. I think they’d wish that they had what you consider a problem.

  3. Mine is doing this too but I have a lot of autoimmune disease and just recently diagnosed with RA. I’m excited I think white hair is gorgeous I hope it all turns. The white hairs are like translucent and shiny. Is that considered white, silver, or something else

  4. Thanks for this. I’ve long noticed that hair that has been fully colored gray to make an actor look look older is very unconvincing, because no hair is actually gray. Instead, what we call gray hair is a mixture of hairs that have turned white and those that are still their original color. Under magnification this can be seen quite very clearly. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to artificially color hair so that, say, every other hair is gray, leaving the remainder their original color. On the other hand, it would be easy to mix the two in a hairpiece, which is probably the better way.

  5. I have what some call “salt and pepper ” hair colour. I would like it to turn all white,silver, or just all over lighter colour.
    People with light coloured hair have many options compared to darker hair types.
    It is a blessing to have rich thick hair no matter colour or age. I am going to be 62 this year and have very thick and quick growing hair.

    • I was fighting cancer. My hair was fine. Then it falls out. I didn’t do anything except go ahead and getting it out.
      I had problems when i was a kid.my hair came back white and look’s like cotton candy. I don’t mind that it is I don’t feel like.

  6. I first noticed a few white hairs in my mid 20s. I don’t know if stress plays a factor but it was a very stressful time. Around 10 years later I didn’t shave for a few days and recently noticed the same white hairs in my facial hair now which is a new thing for 2020 as my facial hair grows pretty quick but I usually shave daily & last time I skipped a few days was probably around Nov, 19. The hair on my head still has enough color that I just keep it short. So still have never dyed anything. Anyways all the hairs that turn white are mostly along the edge of my sides. So when I cut my hair I just edge in a little more which gets rid of most of them although they grow back fast. Last their very easy to pluck out in my mid 20s when I just had a few I would just pluck them out and unlike my normal brown hair the white ones pull out very easy with tweezers. On the upside I don’t seem to be loosing hair.

  7. It is ABSOLUTE RUBBISH to say “You get grey hair when not all of your hair has turned white, meaning that there is still dark colored hair mixed with the white hair, while you get white hair when all of your hair has turned white.”

    I have had dark brown/brunette hair all my life and since my mid 30s I gave worn it long. It is about waist length.

    I had expected to go gradually, through salt and pepper, lightening from dark grey through to white over time, from front to back (like my mother did).

    Now in my early 50’s about 30-40% of my hair has turned pure WHITE. No matter what light it’s under, or what angle you look at it, it is white, while the rest remains dark.

    None of it is grey, it never did that. Each hair has gone from dark to white in one go with nothing in between. It was a complete shock in my mid 40s when I realised that was really happening and I was going to look OLD.

    Not only is the awful stuff pure white, but it’s wiry and frizzy and sticks straight out from my head, where the rest of my hair is gently wavy and sits flat to my scalp. It looks like I’m wearing a fluffy white halo if I didn’t brush it in the last five minutes.

    My eyebrows are the same, mostly black with gradually more and more totally white, thick hairs that grow in all directions including straight out (as well as some that grow in the right direction)… think Dennis Healey type 😉

    You are clearly no expert to make this sweeping statement that covers all mankind. There must be many millions like me… they just haven’t read your claptrap rubbish!

    • My hair, too, turned from dark brown to new growth which was pure white! I called the line of demarcation my “skunk line”. It was very odd looking until the point where I was able to get all of the brown cut off and emerged fully white haired. The white is beautiful although the texture changed from thick with a lot of body to silky and unmanageable like newborn hair !

    • Steady on blimey the person is or is talking about he average person no guess. I can see you have big issues with your hair but don’t take it out on other people

  8. Before I was Diagnosed with breast cancer my hair was salt and pepper. I had to go throw chemo treatments, stage 2b breast cancer, after the first chemo treatments my hair began to fallout leaving me completely ball head Crystal ball. My hair being to grow back. And now my hair is growing back whites like snow ❄️. My oncologist said that’s I wouldn’t get the same hair that’s I lost. It’s can come a completely different color and texture. My textures is like baby hair and it very straight.

    • This happens to Black women cancer patients when on chemo…. Doctors are trying to figure out why that happened. Hair grew back white and strange texture, not straight but felt different…not kinky anyone, lol…

  9. I’m 52 and just starting to see the odd white strands.
    My hairs natural colour is very light brown with red highlights with deep waves. While I love my natural colour I can’t wait to see it all white.

  10. My father and I are both naturally light blond. He went straight from blond to white in his late 70s. I’m not that old yet, but I’m getting “silver threads among the gold” as the old song says. No grey. My red-headed mother looked blonder and blonder as the years went on — again, no grey.

    I think your comments overgeneralize from dark Caucasian hair to everyone’s.

    The chemo patients I’ve worked with who lose their hair (not everyone does) often find that it grows back with a different texture, e.g., from straight to curly.

  11. My is going grey and can see a few white sections and I’m looking forward to it all being white actually saves be having blond highlights any longer

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