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Hair Drug Testing

HireSafe Drug Screening: Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle testing is the most accurate and effective method of finding and individual who abuses drugs. Using a single hair follicle at the scalp, that hair analysis can evaluate the amount of drug metabolites embedded inside the hair shaft.

Hair Drug TestingWhen compared to the more traditional forms of testing, i.e. urine testing, hair follicle test samples can detect a longer period of drug use. With urine, most drugs are undetectable if urinalysis is done more than 2-3 days after use, with the exception of marijuana, which may be detected for a slightly longer period of time. After the 2-3 day period, a urine donor will test negative and slip through the urine screening process. With hair follicle testing samples, the only time limitation for detecting drug usage is imposed by the length of the donor’s hair. Each ½ inch of head hair provides a 30-day history of drug use. The standard for the industry is to test 1.5 inches, which provides a 90-day history of the donor’s drug use.

If no head hair follicle is available, body hair can be used. Bleaches, shampoos and external contaminants (i.e. marijuana smoke) have no known impact on test results.

Collection of hair follicle samples can be done at one of the hundreds of locations across North America in the Omega Collection Network. If you would prefer to provide your own collection, we can train and certify your personnel in the proper hair sample collection process. Hair Follicle Testing Collection Instructions.


What is Hair-Testing for Substance Abuse?



The next big thing in drug-testing technology, hair follicle testing – is drawing lots of controversial attention. 

How much hair is needed for a drug test? Just 1.5 inches.

With that, researchers can determine illicit drug use for up to 90 days before the time of the test. This is a vast improvement over typical urine tests that may fail to detect narcotics only a few days after usage. The results: hair follicle tests accurately detect 4-8x as many positive results as urine-tests.

Hair follicle testing technology has been viable and discussed for many years, but has remained controversial and only practiced by small minority of companies – usually when testing a candidate that will be responsible for finances or public safety.

This is probably because of the relatively high-costs of hair follicle testing. But it may also have to do with a general lack of familiarity and understanding. There are a number of myths that exist about hair follicle testing (and drug testing in general), but in reality, its a less invasive and more accurate solution than urine testing.

Despite the reservations, there has been a recent surge in hair-testing news.

Trucking companies have begun hair follicle testing their drivers at increasing rates. And Congress has been weighing a bill that would create a program for hair follicle testing commercial drivers. Clearly, people feel like the trucking industry, which is responsible for an estimated 500,000 accidents and 1,000 deaths per year is an ideal candidate for mandatory hair-testing.

Ten years ago, experts predicted that hair-testing would have already become widespread. Eventually it will; whether because of increased societal awareness or decreased costs of testing.

Regardless, your business should consider the advantages of hair-follicle testing – a tremendous upgrade over the typical method.


Learn more about how you can hair-test, form a better drug-screening program, and how we can help your business.

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Hair Drug Testing FAQ

Expand all

  • What is Hair Drug Testing?

  • What drugs are included in a standard Hair Drug Test?

  • What time period does a standard test cover?

  • Does hair color affect results?

  • How fast does head hair grow?

  • How much hair is needed?

  • How much hair is needed?

  • How does Hair Testing compare to urinalysis?

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

  • What is the shortest time period that can be evaluated?

  • Can tests be run on people with little or no hair?

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

  • Can hair collected from a brush be used?

  • How does Omega Laboratories establish its cutoff levels?

  • Does Omega Laboratories perform Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) confirmation of all positive hair results?

  • Can hair be affected by cross-reacting substances such as over-the-counter medications?

  • How effective is Hair Testing in detecting drug users?

  • Does external exposure to certain drugs, like marijuana or crack smoke, affect the Hair Test results?

  • Is Omega Laboratories' internal chain-of-custody comparable to a urinalysis laboratory test procedure?

  • How long are test reports kept on file?

  • What is done with the excess hair that is not tested?

  • What experience does Omega Laboratories have in providing Expert Witness Testimony?

  • What other drugs are available to be tested in hair analysis?

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