Forensic Drug Testing Lab

Hair Drug Testing

Recently, hair testing has come to be seen as a powerful tool for the detection of drug and alcohol abuse. Hair provides a long-term history of drug and alcohol abuse by trapping biomarkers in the fibers of the growing hair strand. When collected close to the scalp, hair can provide up to a 3 month history of alcohol and drug abuse. Drug and alcohol biomarkers can appear in scalp hair 1-7 days after the last use. Hair offers a sample that is simple to collect, somewhat difficult to adulterate, and easy to ship. A 1.5 inch sample of about 200 strands of hair (about the size of a #2 pencil) closest to the scalp will give 100 mg of hair, the ideal sample for screening and confirmation. We recommend weighing the specimen on a jeweler's scale. If scalp hair is not available, an equal amount of body hair may be collected.

Click here to download the fingernail and hair drug panels.

Drug Panels

  • 17 Panel
  • 16 Panel
  • 15 Panel
  • 14 Panel
  • 12 Panel
  • 10 Panel
amphetamine, MDA, MDEA, MDMA, methamphetamine
benzoylecgonine, cocaethylene, cocaine, norcocaine
6-MAM, codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, oxymorphone, oxycodone
phencyclindine (PCP)
alprazolam, diazepam, midazolam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, temazepam
amobarbital, butalbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, secobarbital
EDDP, methadone
propoxyphene, norpropoxyphene
oxycodone, oxymorphone
ketamine, norketamine
buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine
zolpidem (e.g. Ambien®)
*Click the green and white plus sign beside each drug class to view the substances within each class.
Add-Ons Available
buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine
High-Potency Opioids (HPOs)
6-β-Naltrexol (naltrexone metabolite), butorphanol (e.g. Stadol®), nalbuphine (e.g. Nubain®), naloxone (e.g. Narcan®), naltrexone (e.g. Revia®)
EtG (Direct Ethanol Biomarker)
ethyl glucuronide
Propofol Glucuronide
propofol glucuronide (e.g. Diprivan®)
zolpidem (e.g. Ambien®), zolpidem phenyl-4-carboxylic acid


Collection Instructions
Collection Steps
Hair longer than 1.5 inches
The ideal site for collection is the top of the back of the head, the crown or vertex area. In order to make the collection less apparent, isolate a section of hair above the area to be sampled, secure with a hair clip. Using a rat tail comb, select a section of hair to be clipped with cutting shears at scalp level. This section of hair should include approximately 200 strands, an amount equal to that on the USDTL hair sample collection card. If the client has thin hair, multiple collections may be used. After clipping, place the root end of the hair at the vee section of the collection foil. Fold the foil inward several times to secure the hair in the foil. Do not fold the collection foil lengthwise. Fold and cinch foil and place foil inside the envelope. (Continue on to step 4 chain-of-custody information.)
Hair shorter than 1.5 inches - Step 1
Collect smaller amounts of hair from multiple sites around the head. Note: Body hair cannot be mixed with head hair. Fold the collection foil upward on all 4 sides to form a tray for collection of the multiple shorter samples. When a sample volume equal to that on the USDTL hair sample collection card is obtained, fold the foil inward to secure the hair forward shipment. (Continue on to step 4 chain-of-custody information.)
Hair shorter than 1.5 inches - Step 2
Body hair is an acceptable alternative when scalp hair is not available or has been chemically treated. Fold the collection foil as mentioned in the previous section, using cutting shears, place collected samples in the tray until a volume equal to that on the USDTL hair sample collection card is achieved. If the body hair volume is not sufficient, hair from the arms or legs may be collected with a disposable razor.
Hair shorter than 1.5 inches - Step 3
Seal the envelope with the red security seal and initial the seal. Place the chain-of-custody number sticker from the requisition form on the envelope. The donor (guardian/witness/etc.) reads and initials the appropriate area on the envelope, then dates, prints and signs their name on the requisition form. The collector does the same. This initiates chain-of-custody. Also, be sure to indicate which test(s) you require.
Hair shorter than 1.5 inches - Step 4
In the presence of the donor, place the white copy of the requisition form in the outer pocket of the security bag. Place the envelope in the other pocket of bag. Then seal and initial the bag. The last two copies of the requisition form are to be used at the discretion of the collecting institution.
Hair shorter than 1.5 inches - Step 5
Contact your courier for pick-up
Client Services

By Phone: 1.800.235.2367

Business Hours (CST)

Monday 6am - 8pm
Tuesday 6am - 8pm
Wednesday 6am - 8pm
Thursday 6am - 8pm
Friday 6am - 8pm

Contact Client Services

Testing Details

Panel Name: HairTesting

Panel Description: Hair Testing Drug Panel

Type: Profile

Matrix: Hair

Collection Container: Foil in Secure Envelope

Sample Amount: 100 mg = 200 strands @ 1.5 inches     (We recommend weighing the specimen on a jeweler's scale.)

Storage Conditions: Room Temperature

Transport Conditions: Ambient

Method: Initial screening test with confirmation of presumptive positives

Turn-Around Time: 1 day for negatives / 2-3 days for positives

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Can a hair test be manipulated by the donor?

Yes. Bleaching, perming, dyeing and straightening can affect the outcome of a hair test. Cosmetically treated hair should not be collected.

Can a hair test be used to prove that a previously taken urine test was inaccurate?

No. The results of any second collected specimen have absolutely no bearing on the validity of the results of the first collected specimen. Furthermore, each matrix has its own advantages, disadvantages and limits of interpretation.

Can a hair test determine how much or how often someone is using a drug?

No. Hair is a reservoir matrix, where drugs can collect and/or degrade over time. When testing any reservoir matrix, you are unable to back-track and determine time, dosage or frequency because there are simply too many variables involved.

Can someone test positive in hair because of passive or environmental exposure?

Yes, drugs are incorporated into hair by three major routes: environmental exposure, sweat and sebum from the scalp and blood flow through the follicle. Environmental exposure however will only generate a positive for the parent drug. Example: methamphetamine only. The other two mechanisms lay down drug and drug metabolites. Example: amphetamine/methamphetamine positive.

Does race make a difference in hair testing results?

Hair color, not race, is one of the most important variables in determining the quantity of drug found in the hair. Dark hair binds drug tighter than light hair.

How can positive drug or alcohol test results be interpreted? If the quantity of drug or alcohol metabolite detected is high could that be an indication that the donor (1) was consuming a large amount, (2) was using recently, or (3) was using frequently?

There are too many variables for anyone to know time of use, dosage, or frequency from the result(s) of a drug test. Reservoir matrices such as hair, fingernail, umbilical cord, and meconium continuously collect drug and alcohol biomarkers. This makes it difficult to determine specific details of a donor’s usage. Because the biomarker is collected over a period of time, the results represent total accumulation that cannot be pin-pointed to specific times/dates/dosages, etc.

How long can drugs be detected in body hair?

Body hair has a different growth cycle compared to head hair. Body hair may go dormant and remain in place up to one year. A positive result reflects exposure up to 12 months.

How long can drugs be detected in head hair?

Once a drug is incorporated into hair, it begins to slowly leach out due to normal daily hygiene and exposure to the elements. Most drugs have disappeared by three months. Furthermore, the laboratory only analyzes the first 1.5 inches (3.9 centimeters) nearest the scalp. Hair grows at an average rate of 0.5 inches per month.

What does a positive hair test result mean?

The only interpretation that can come from a positive hair test is that the individual used or was exposed to drug during the three months prior to collection.

Why do we test for EtG in hair and not FAEE?

FAEE is less sensitive and can produce false positives. Hairspray and other hair products can produce FAEEs in hair. There is no enzyme in our hair that can create ETG from those products.

Why was one matrix positive and another negative on the same donor?

Different sample matrices have different detection time frames. The result of any second collected specimen has no bearing on the validity of a first collected specimen. For example, a hair sample with a three month window of detection might test positive for a particular substance, while a urine sample from the same donor, with a 2-3 day window of detection, might test negative. In this case, the donor has used that substance within the past three months, but may not have used it within the most recent three days.