When most people think of a drug test, they think of a urine test or maybe a blood test.  A hair follicle drug test is less common but has been gaining popularity.  This is because a hair follicle test can detect substances in the body for longer than any other type of drug test and therefore is much harder to cheat.  Here is everything you need to know about hair follicle drug testing.

How Does a Hair Follicle Drug Test Work?

Laboratory scientists use a sample of hair taken during a hair follicle test in order to scan for illegal drugs and prescription drug abuse.  Most hair tests scan for drugs like:

  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • Opioids like codeine, morphine, and heroin

Certain versions of the test can identify 17 different drugs.  This drug test works well because substances like these are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream upon use.  While they fade out of blood and urine within a couple of weeks, depending on the type of drug, they become locked into the hair follicles that grew while the drugs were being taken.  This is why the hair follicle drug test works for so much longer than other types of tests.

What Happens During a Hair Follicle Test?

There is no preparation needed for a hair follicle drug test.  A hair follicle test requires a small sample of hair to be taken from near the scalp, usually about 100 to 120 hairs.  The collector can take the sample from a few places on the head as to not cause a bald spot. 

Since this is a drug test, someone else has to do the collecting or employees have to be observed as they cut off a piece of their own hair.  Dyes, shampoo, and other styling products should not affect the outcome of a hair follicle test.  Once the sample is cut, it is placed in foil and then in an envelope before being shipped to the lab for testing.

What Is the Hair Follicle Test Timeline?

Once the hair sample is sent to the laboratory, negative test results can come back in as little as 24 hours.  All nonnegative results go through a second test to confirm that they truly found illegal substances in the sample.  Positive results come back within 72 hours, after both rounds of testing are complete.

This test’s timeline is much different than other drug tests when it comes to detection period.  Urine and blood tests can find certain illegal drugs two weeks after use on a good day.  More often than not, they only get positive results within a few days. 

This type of test can tell you if a person has used drugs in the past 90 days.  Because everyone’s hair grows at different rates, the test cannot identify when in the past three months the drugs were taken.

How Accurate Is a Follicle Drug Test?

Hair samples go through two rounds of tests to determine a positive to make sure they are accurate.  The sample is also washed and tested for outside contamination before the scan for drugs.  Some prescription drugs will show up as a positive, but this can easily be corrected by showing a doctor’s note to the employer.  Overall, this type of testing is a safe and effective way to keep drug abuse out of your company.

Who Provides Hair Follicle Drug Tests?

Soteria Screening Laboratories offer workplaces hair follicle tests as well as many other types of drug and alcohol testing.  Call (202) 679-6670 or visit them online to learn more or order a test today.

Skip to content