When you think of a drug test, you probably imagine a urine or spit test.  Maybe you think about the breathalyzers used to detect drunk drivers.  One type of drug test that is often overlooked is a hair follicle test.  The hair follicle drug test has been around for decades and continues to grow in popularity.  Here is how the hair follicle test works and why it is becoming so popular with employers.

What Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Testing a hair follicle involves analyzing a hair sample for illegal drug use.  These samples are usually taken from the hair’s root for best accuracy.  When a person uses drugs, the substances get absorbed into the bloodstream.  Every hair follicle has a blood vessel that feeds it and helps it grow, so the drugs are easily detected with a hair follicle drug test.  The test can be used to look for a specific drug or just substance abuse in general.  Marijuana, amphetamines like MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine, opiates like heroin, codeine, and morphine, and phencyclidine (PCP) can all be detected with a hair follicle test.

Hair Test Timeline

During a hair follicle drug test, the test provider collects a sample of around 100 hairs from the person’s head.  They cut these close to the scalp for the most accurate reading. They can take several small samples from different spots so that there is no visible change to the head of hair.  After the sample is collected, it is taken to the laboratory for testing.  Negative test results can be determined in as little as 24 hours.  This is one of the reasons company owners like to use hair follicle tests.  Positive tests are confirmed within 72 hours.  Any sample that comes back positive is retested in order to guarantee that the results of the hair follicle test are as accurate as possible.

Why Do employers Like the Hair Follicle Test?

There are two main reasons that this type of drug test is gaining popularity.  The first has to do with the timeline.  Unlike a urine or spit test, the hair follicle test can detect drugs many weeks after they have been used.  In fact, hair follicle drug tests have been known to report substance abuse from 90 days before the test was given.  While it is not possible to determine when in the past three month the drugs were used, it is still an impressive number.

The longevity of this timeline makes it much harder for employees who are using drugs to suddenly quit right when a test is coming up.  That is the other reason it is gaining popularity: this test is almost impossible to cheat.  It is not affected by shampoo, conditioner, or other styling products.  Unlike a urine test, consuming a lot of water or certain foods won’t flush the drugs out.  Substances remain in the bloodstream for up to 90 days, period.  Combining the hair follicle test with random drug testing in your workplace is a way to almost guarantee that all of your employees are staying sober.

Who Provides Hair Follicle Tests?

Looking for a drug test provider?  Soteria Screening Laboratories offers accurate workplace drug testing you can trust.  They can do urine testing, oral fluid testing, and breath alcohol testing in addition to the follicle drug test.  Trust Soteria Screening to keep you and your employees safe on the job.  Call (202) 679-6670 or visit them online to order drug tests or for more information. 

Skip to content