Hair Follicle Test

23 Jul

A Complete Guide to Hair Follicle Drug Testing


What is a Hair Follicle Test and how do they work?

It’s a drug test that uses a sample of a persons hair to test for drugs.

Note: It’s actually inaccurate to use the term “hair follicle test, as the test does not test the follicle but rather the strand. But many people and even companies use the term hair follicle test so that’s what we’ll call it in this guide.

How Does a Hair Test Work?

First, a Hair Sample Is Taken…
The test requires a sample of hair about an inch and half long (3-5 cm) and about as thick as something between a shoe tip and a pencil. (FYI there is no such thing as a test that can use a single hair.) This sample must taken from the root end near the scalp i.e. being the most “fresh” hair available. A sample from the tips or end of the hair would skew the results.

…Then Tested for Drugs.
Drug use leaves a record in a persons hair with the presence of something called “drug metabolites.” These metabolites are produced by the body in response to the presence of the drug in the system and get deposited in something called the papilla, which will eventually generate the hair strand.

A hair test looks at the sample of hair as a small piece of a history, somewhat like looking at the rings of a tree stump. The beginning of the hair sample (what was closest to the scalp) corresponds to the most recent time period. Then moving back through the end of the sample is like traveling back in time. An inch and half (3-5cm) of hair let a lab look at roughly 90 days of history.

What Drugs Can a Hair Test Detect?

The “standard” test is for 5 substances, which are:

  • Cannabinoids (marijuana, hash)
  • Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
  • Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
  • Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Other drugs might be tested for as well, including:

  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Barbiturates

It is rare (impossible?) for facilities to detect LSD and psilocybin use via hair testing. (If you know more about this, please comment.)


How Far Back Can They Detect Drugs?

The standard is 90 days. This means any substance used in the past 90 days will be detected – including one time use.

Note that the technology does exist to look back 6 months and even a year, but this type of in depth analysis is not common. One reason is that tests that go back that far or further require ever longer strands of hair for a sample – a requirement that is not very practical for standardized test requirements considering not everyone has long hair. As mentioned, the sample used is usually about 1.5 inches, which roughly translates into a 90 day window into the past.

Who Uses Hair Follicle Test?

Note: while this guide is aimed at a global audience, some of the following information applies specifically to the United States.

The United States Military.
The military is often thought of as using hair tests, but my research brings up urinanalysis drug testing. For instance, this article here from states that the DOD processes 60k urine tests every month for military members. The word “hair” is not mentioned even once.

If you know anything about military tests uses hair analysis, please comment.

Private Companies
Private companies are definitely the biggest user of hair follicle testing.

Commercial Class Drivers
In the United States there’s something called The SAMHSA-5. SAMSA stands for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the SAMHSA-5 is a reference to the 5 classes of drugs that a drug test is required for in regards to employeees who will use a Commercial Class Drivers License as part of their job.

In other words, anyone with a Commercial Class Drivers License for their job will be tested for these 5 drugs by Federal Law. Because of this, virtually all testing labs offer a test for these same 5 drugs. It’s become such a standard than even at home hair testing kits offer the same in their “5 Panel” kits.

These 5 drugs categories:

  • Cannabinoids (marijuana, hash)
  • Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
  • Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
  • Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Companies complying with the SAMHSA-5 requirements are not required to use any specific type of test. It is believed that a urine test, being the cheapest method, is the most common but a hair analysis is also possible. If you know this to be ncorrect, please contact us or comment on this article with the details.

How Can I Pass My Drug Test?

There is no clear answer to this question, but if there was, it would be that you need to be clean to pass.

According to Erowid, probably the most reliable source in the world when it comes to all things drugs related, cleansing shampoos designed to help you pass a hair drug test are simply not reliable at removing drug metabolites from the hair (Source). Since drug metabolites are the basis for how testing facilities determine a positive or negative result for a substance, this means those products don’t work.

What about Zydot Shampoo?

Here is a guide to zydot shampoo. People who have used Zydot Shampoo are encouraged to comment with their experiences. It appears to not be reliable, and any kind of Zydot Shampoo review or tidbit of information from your experiences would be very helpful.

What about Toxin Wash Detox Shampoo?

According to “online chatter” on forums and whatnot, this might be the best product available for passing a hair drug test. However, it’s hard to seperate marketing hype and the truth on whether or not it works. People who have used Toxin Wash are encouraged to comment here with their experiences. Any kind of snippet or Toxin Wash review based on your experience would be very helpful.

Buy or read more about Toxin Wash by clicking here.

Where Can I Buy a Hair Follicle Test To Do A Test At Home?

Oh you clever bugger!

Click here to buy or read reviews of the Hair Confirm hair test.

This is the test used by Craig Medical, who have conducted 1.5 million hair tests. (Source)

Interesting, as far as I can tell it looks like the tests you can buy for “at home use” are the same tests that official labs are using. The at home tests are made primarily for parents who want to drug test their children. But this also means that people can buy these at home tests and test themselves before taking their official hair test. In this way you might be able to prepare for a test and be reasonably confident about passing or failing it.

Sources and Recommended Websites:

Special thanks to Erowid for being one of the only sites out there providing quality information on the subject.

Thanks for reading. For the benefit of making this the most reliable guide out there, please consider sharing your experience with the hair follicle test.

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