Grey hair problem

Hi folks,

I’m facing a problem here. I need to get rid of grey hair in the photo provided. I don’t want to darken the rest of the hair. What’s the best way to affect only white strands and leave the rest intact? Burn tool won’t do - when switched to highlights its range still affects too much hair. Any ideas? Thanks.

DSC04773.tif (9.1 MB)

Guess: make a new layer and mask it for painting.

Here is a swifty:
in darktable, use the lowpass module.
r=14; contrast=0.83; &c
blend mode multiply/opacity after need.
Mask if needed.
Something similar ought to be available in The Gimp as well as in G’mic.

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

Steps (just an example; there are other methods)

1 Duplicate layer → B.
2 G’MIC (e.g., try my Contrast FFT) and output to new layer → C.
3 Grey scale (e.g., Desaturate) layer C.
4 Make mask for layer B using layer C.
5 Select layer B and start painting over grey hairs.


After (a tiny brush stroke to demonstrate)


I’m facing a problem here. I need to get rid of grey hair in the photo provided. I don’t want to darken the rest of the hair. What’s the best way to affect only white strands and leave the rest intact? Is there a FOSS solution to this problem?


@afre nad @Claes thank you very much!:slight_smile:

There is no need for asking the same questions twice elGordo. Look, @Claes and @afre have just answered me:).

:slight_smile: Actually, @elGordo did not put the same question twice.
I interpret his posting as wanting to find a FOSS cure
for himself, for his own hair :man_white_haired:


I think @elGordo, like myself, would love a FOSS solution to fixing our own darn gray hairs! :smiley: :wink: (If only we could…)


Sorry @patdavid, you do not approach the problem from the correct angle.
To mis-quote Kelly Bundy a bit: The Great Chinese philosopher Confused once
said that the older you are, the wiser you get.

With age, your hair grows white. So, in consequence, the whiter your hair,
the wiser you are.

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden
– Old and Wise –


One of my coworkers has a simple solution to grey hair:

No hair. :slight_smile:

(Sometimes, the best solution to postprocessing a scene is to reshoot after changing the scene. :slight_smile: )


I need not joke about grey hairs because I am not on that team yet. I also have many deciduous teeth remaining. Consequently, people think less of me. Confused has a point, which I used myself when a child without knowing who confused was.

Ok, so driving this discussion further into the ditch, this reminds me of a line of reasoning from an episode of “All in the Family” back in the early '70s. One of the cast was commenting on Archie’s hair loss, when he responds, “Well grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.” After a moment of contemplation, his wife, Edith, innocently replies, “It doesn’t grow in concrete, neither.” Ah, the memories.


I think that’s a major problem. The white hairs/strands are very heterogeneous with respect to color and lightness. For the human vision they are relatively easy to separate because we take form and local contrast into consideration. in my opinion a software would also need to use a complex algorithm to include these parameters. Maybe an AI could to well.
However, I am curious to see whether there are still promising proposals from the forum.

You need to use a “lightening browns” hair color. First it lightens your original hair color, so the brown hair are not so different form the grey hair, and then it colors all hair. Else you’ll always end up with a result that is significantly darker than your original hair color. I made my hair black several times. It is possible to get rid of that black, but it stinks like hell.
Another possibility is using a hair color that is slightly lighter than your original hair color, but that does not hide the grey hair so well.
Yet another possibilty is completely changing your hair color to blonde, so the grey hair are less visible.
Maybe it works similarly in image editing?

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I wonder what is wrong with my mini-tutorial in post #4. It was done quickly of course, so doesn’t have the best result, but I think it is an okay example.

It kind of got buried in the joking and abstract discussion about grey hairs. I would like to see more concrete methods as mine is just an example of many possible ways.


Yes it looks quite good. But I doubt that it is easy to get high quality results that do not show artifacts when viewed at 100%.

  • Luminosity mask on midtones (“MM”)
  • Sample color on the bun
  • Soft brush, multiply mode, 50% opacity
  • Brush over the white strands


Not bad! But nevertheless you use some structure in the strands.

I’m late to the party, but the most simple way is to perform a split frequency over the picture and paint the low frequency with brown.

That sort-of falls back to what @afre suggested, except you don’t really need a FFT:

  1. duplicate the image layer and blur it with probably a 9px gaussian blur
  2. subtract the blur layer from the base image and put the result in a new layer blended in overlay mode, on top of the blur layer
  3. ensure blur layer + diff layer blended overlay == base image, then start painting the blur layer with brown (sample the colour in the neighbouring hair zone).