How does Hair testing work?

Since the bloodstream carries nourishment to produce new hair, scientists are able to identify the ingestion of drugs of abuse by simply analyzing a hair sample. Using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) methodology and a variety of mass spectrometry techniques, scientists measure the drug molecules embedded inside the hair shaft. Through this method, which has been approved by multiple accrediting agencies, any chances of external contamination are totally eliminated. In fact, hair testing results cannot be altered through the use of shampoos or any other external contaminants or chemicals.

Why should you opt for this test?

When compared to other drug testing methods, hair sample testing is known to detect a much longer period of drug use. The test’s standard window of detection for head hair is 90 days whilst body hair samples are noted for having an approximately 12 month time-frame. On the other hand, urinalysis (urine testing) can only detect most drugs within 2 to 3 days of use. After this period, the tested person will result negative and slip through the screening process. This is important in pre-employment testing since most candidates are aware that a drug test might be required and might try to delay or avoid it.


What Drugs and Substances are tested for?

Standard Testing – Hair 5 Panel

Amphetamine (Methamphetamine & Ecstasy), Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates (Codeine, Morphine & 6-MAM Heroin Metabolite) and Phencyclidine (PCP).

These five drug classes are mandated for testing by the U.S. Federal Government.

Extended Testing – Extended Opiates Panel (optional)

The laboratory offers an Extended Opiates panel including Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone.

Collecting the Sample

In the Hair Drug kit, you will find a hair specimen pouch, collection foil and a clear plastic transport bag. The sample collection process is relatively simple and easy. However, please make sure to read the below instructions for a successful collection.


  • More than 60 milligrams or 90-120 strands of hair is required
  • Take hair from several places around the crown
  • Do not use head hair if it is shorter than ½ inch long, in such a case use body hair only
  • If you take body hair, you must mark on the chain of custody form that body hair was collected
  • Make sure not to mix head hair and body hair

For more detailed information, please read the sample collection instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How soon after use can a drug be detected in a hair sample?

It takes around 5 to 10 days from the time of drug use for the hair containing the drug to grow above the scalp where it can be collected.

Does body hear give the same type of results as head hair?

Body hair is accepted for Hair Drug testing. However, it represents a more distant time frame than head hair and the approximate time period cannot be identified due to the high variability of growth rates.

Does hair color affect the results?

Hair color is determined by the amount of melanin in the hair. It has been shown experimentally and determined in court that it has no significant impact on results.

Can hair collected from a brush be used?

Yes, it can be used but the test will be reported as having an "anonymous" donor. The laboratory cannot attribute the sample to a specific person and cannot determine the time frame of the test i.e. the test result will not be legally defensible.

Can external exposure to drugs such as marijuana or crack smoke affect the test results?

Scientists at the laboratory wash all hair specimens prior to confirmation testing to remove any possible extermination. To rule out the possibility of external contamination, they also look for both the parent drug and metabolite (bi-product) of drug usage. This metabolite is only produced by the body and cannot be an environmental contaminant.

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