Have you ever noticed that your wet hair appears darker than it is dry? But why does hair look darker when it’s wet? How can water change the color of your hair? Is it changing the chemical composition of your hair? Or what does it exactly do to your hair? Let’s discuss everything about why hair looks darker when it’s wet.
Before explaining why hair gets darker when it is wet, you must understand that when anything gets wet, the water absorbs some of the light. The less light your hair reflects, the darker it will appear to be.
Water affects the way the light bounces off the hair. Usually, objects have the color we see as they reflect certain wavelengths of light back to our eyes. The wavelengths correspond to particular colors.
When Anything Gets Wet, the Water Absorbs Some of the Light.
- A. True
- B. False
The visible light might seem colorless, but it is actually a mix of all the colors together from the red which has the longest wavelength to violet which has the shortest wavelength.
What Happens When Your Hair Is Wet?
If you would have noticed, the ice would look clear when it is a sheet but look white and opaque when it is in the form of snow particles. It all depends on the reflection of the light. Almost, the same rule applies here.
Dry hair is naturally separated allowing the light to shine through. It also allows some of the light to be absorbed by the pigment in the hair and some to reflect back to your eyes.
But why does hair get darker when it is wet? When the human hair is wet two exact opposite things happen and they majorly contribute to the darkness of your hair,
- When your hair is wet, the water forms a thin film on your hair
- When your hair is wet, you might have noticed that all your individual hairs stick together because of the cohesive behavior of the water. As they are close together, they tend to trap and absorb more light. Since they absorb all visible wavelengths of light, it gives an appearance of a darker color.
These occurrences affect the way light bounces off your wet hair. Wet hair tends to reflect less light, rather than reflecting the same amount of light back to your eyes.
Additionally, the light reflecting off the surface often strikes the inside of the thin water film at the right angle and gets reflected or refracted back into your hair, where more light gets absorbed. As more light is absorbed by your wet hair, less light is reflected back into your eyes. This creates a chance for the light to be absorbed making your hair look darker. Again when your hair dries, it goes back to its usual hair color.