Hair texture not showing effects of alpha unless selected.

Hi, I’m a bit of a novice user and I thought I’d have a stab at a face sculpt and adding some polygonal hair.

I’m just testing the hair out at the moment to make sure it should work. I’ve created a simple string of faces and applied a diffuse texture and an alpha texture. When I select the object in the viewport the alpha plane acts as I would expect it to.

When the object is not selected then the hair texture is flat, as shown in the second image.
How can I get the alpha layer to have an effect at all times. I’ve never done much texturing so this might be a complete beginner problem but it’s driving me up the wall because I can’t quite describe what’s happening enough to google the problem.