Hair Drug Testing Popular Questions & Answers

General

What is a hair follicle drug test?

Since hair growth is nurtured by the bloodstream, it is possible to identify drugs that enter the blood via hair follicle analysis. Accurate GC/MS laboratory testing can detect drug metabolites embedded in the hair shaft. For this reason, it is impossible to adulterate hair specimens with bleach, shampoo, or other chemicals. GC/MS analysis also eliminates the possibility of false positives via external exposure to drugs, i.e., secondhand marijuana smoke.

How accurate is hair testing for drug use?

Hair testing for substance abuse is supremely accurate, as analysis is conducted in a CLIA Certified laboratory. Using a small sample of hair cut at the scalp, a hair follicle drug test evaluates the amount of drug metabolites embedded inside the hair shaft.

GC/MS testing technology reveals drug concentration levels consistent with substance abuse. All samples are tested using a radioimmunoassay screen. Before a positive result is reported, the sample is subjected to confirmation testing with highly-accurate Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques.

What does “90 day detection window” mean?

Hair follicle drug testing with HairConfirm provides an extended window of detection into drug use. Human head hair grows approximately half an inch every 90 days, so if a one and a half inch hair sample is submitted, it’s approximately covering a 90 day time period. This test establishes a 90-day history of substance abuse from the date hair specimen is obtained, far surpassing the detection time frame for other drug test types. HairConfirm is ideal for those looking to monitor long-term compliance to sobriety programs.

Does it matter when the donor last used drugs?

HairConfirm is unable to detect drug use that occurred one week or less before hair specimen is obtained. If the donor’s first instance of drug abuse took place within a week of collecting a hair sample, drug metabolites may not have bound to the hair shaft, and will therefore yield a negative test result.

What drugs does HairConfirm™ screen for?

Our HairConfirm™ hair drug test kit detects five of the most common drugs of abuse:

  • Cocaine (Cocaine & Benzoylecgonine)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Opiates (Codeine, Morphine & 6-monacteyl morphine)
  • Amphetamines & Methamphetamines (AMP/mAMP)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Since HairConfirm is a NIDA 5 and SAMHSA 5 drug test, it is majorly popular among parents, educators, and workplace operators for an accurate history of drug abuse. Hair drug testing delivers a 90-day record of substance abuse which exceeds the detection window of any other drug test method. Our HairConfirm hair drug test kit is a very effective drug-prevention tool and will help parents, teachers, and supervisors enforce a drug-free policy.

NOTE: Isolated cases of marijuana use may not be detectable on a hair drug test. In some donors, the principle marijuana metabolite (THC) is unable to bind with the hair shaft. Factors influencing negative marijuana results:

  • Type/quality of marijuana smoked
  • Method of use (smoking/vaping/eating)
  • Other additives e.g. tobacco

What time period does the HairConfirm™ hair drug test cover?

HairConfirm™ will detect drugs for a period of 90 days after the last incident of drug use. To perform the test accurately, a minimum hair sample of 0.5 inches (maximum 1.5 inches) in length is required. Each ½ inch of hair offers a 30-day window into drug abuse. Cut hair sample as close to the scalp as possible so freshly-grown hair is screened.

How does hair drug testing compare to urine drug testing?

Compared to other drug test methods, i.e. urine drug testing, hair samples can detect a longer period of drug use. With urine, most drugs are undetectable if urinalysis is performed more than 2-3 days after drug use; however, marijuana can be detected for a slightly longer time frame. After the 2-3 day period, a urine donor will often test negative for drugs. With hair samples, the main limitation for drug abuse detection is the length of the provided hair specimen. Each ½ inch of head hair provides an approximately 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.

How effective is a home hair drug test kit for detecting drug use?

Hair follicle drug testing has delivered more positive drug test results than other drug testing methods. In two independent studies, hair drug testing uncovered 4 to 8 times as many positive drug users as urinalysis.

Can a hair test be adulterated?

There are no known successful shampoos, dyes, permanents, relaxers, or bleaches that can cheat a hair follicle exam. To obtain FDA 510(k) Approval, the impact of these products was reviewed and deemed insignificant.

Can external exposure to drugs (i.e. secondhand marijuana smoke) affect hair drug test results?

During the “wash” procedure, the laboratory will look for parent drug compounds as well as drug metabolites, or byproducts. If the donor has only been exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke, it is unlikely for the laboratory to find THC metabolites. THC can only be manufactured by the body in response to direct marijuana inhalation or ingestion.

How effective is hair testing in detecting drug users?

Hair follicle examinations are exceptionally effective in detecting a history of drug abuse. Studies indicate hair drug tests detect approximately five times more positive drug users than other substance abuse screening methods.

Can hair drug testing tell the date and time of drug use?

At this time, hair drug tests are not able to pinpoint the exact date and time of a donor’s drug use. Results obtained through HairConfirm are quantitative reports of drug concentration levels only.

Can a hair drug test detect one time use?

If a large enough amount of a drug was consumed, it may be possible for it to trigger a positive for a test; however, it is unlikely if they have only used the drug once. Please note: if the first incident of drug abuse took place one week or less ahead of hair specimen collection, it is probably the hair drug test will be returned as negative. Allow a minimum of one week after the donor’s suspected drug use before administering HairConfirm.

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

Enzyme-immunoassay antibodies (EIA), similar to those used in diagnostic urine tests, are also used for preliminary hair drug screening. During this process, it is possible for over-the-counter medications to cross-react with the test to produce false positive drug test results. To eliminate the possibility of misinterpretation due to preliminary cross-reaction, a trained laboratory technician will perform Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) for all specimens that screen positive.

What does a hair follicle drug test cost?

Our HairConfirm tests typically cost approximately $65-$85 depending on the panels tested. We provide variations of our hair drug test to meet your personal or professional needs:

  • HairConfirm Regular (tests for 5 drugs of abuse with standard shipping)
  • HairConfirm Express (tests for 5 drugs of abuse with overnight mailer)
  • HairConfirm Business (Third Party Collector performs onsite collection)
  • HairConfirm Prescription (test for 5 drugs + 7 prescription drugs)

Collections

How fast does head hair grow?

Studies indicate that head hair grows on average of ½ inch (1.3cm) per month. This growth rate varies slightly from person to person (estimated at ± 0.2 cm per month), attributing to slight time variation (± 1 week). Head and body hair do not grow at the same rate; body hair grows at a slower rate, and can actually extend the window of drug abuse beyond 90 days.

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

It takes approximately 4-5 days from the time of drug use for the affected hair to grow above the scalp. Body hair growth rates are generally slower and cannot be utilized to determine an imminent timeframe of substance abuse.

Can tests be run on people with little to no hair?

If head hair is thin or sparse, a specimen can be collected from several areas of the scalp in order to obtain the required amount for hair drug testing. If head hair is too short, body hair can be substituted. If submitting a body hair specimen, ensure the sample is approximately the size of a cotton ball. NOTE: DO NOT mix head and body hair. DO NOT collect hair from brushes or drains, as the specimen may be mixed with foreign samples.

What is the shortest detection time period that can be accurately evaluated?

The minimum drug detection period is approximately one month, equating to ½ inch of hair. Samples below the required minimum length of ½ inch will be marked as QNS (quantity not sufficient).

Can hair collected from a hairbrush be used?

No. Do not obtain a hair sample from a brush or any other indirect source (e.g. pillow, clothing, etc.). Doing so will likely lead to inconclusive results since the donor cannot be identified if the sample contains more than one hair type. The laboratory will reject a hair sample if it is not collected and prepared per the instructions on your HairConfirm drug test.

How does the hair drug test work?

Step 1: With your Specimen ID Card, log on to HairConfirm.com/Register to activate your hair follicle drug test before you collect your hair sample.

Step 2: Provide an email and password. Keep this information and your Specimen ID Card in a safe place to access results at a later date.

Once you’ve collected and shipped your hair sample to the laboratory, a certified technician will analyze the specimen for drug metabolites. You will receive an email notification from HairConfirm when your results are ready. 

How do I collect the hair sample?

Step 1: With sanitized scissors, cut 90-120 strands of hair as close to the scalp as possible. The specimen should approximate the width of a pencil. If collecting body hair, ensure sample is the size of a cotton ball.

Step 2: Place root ends of sample onto foil area labelled PLACE ROOT END HERE. Crimp foil end over roots. Align hair with center line and fold foil in half. Fold again lengthwise. Be careful not to crumple foil. To see our hair collection instructions please click here.

How do I ship the sample to the lab?

Step 1: Place foil containing your hair sample into Specimen Envelope. Seal envelope with Security Label located on your Specimen ID Card. Indicate type of hair used on Label.

Step 2: Place pouch into Prepaid Shipping Mailer. For HairConfirm Business: Fill out the Chain of Custody Form and indicate the type of hair used (head or body) on the form.

Step 3: Initial and date Specimen Envelope before sending to the lab. Place sealed pouch (with CCF if applicable) into the Clear Pouch.

Step 4: Send Specimen Envelope to the address on your Mailer. Wait 5-7 business days for the lab to receive your sample. For HairConfirm Express: Bring Mailer directly to FedEx for overnight shipping.

For complete HairConfirm instructions, please click here.

How long will it take to receive the drug test results?

We know it is important that you receive results as quickly as possible. HairConfirm™ has the fastest turnaround time for hair testing.

If using HairConfirm Regular, please allow up to 7 business days before the laboratory receives your sample. For HairConfirm Express users, use the prepaid express shipping label for overnight delivery to the laboratory.

Test results are available 1-3 business days after the sample has been received by the laboratory. You will be notified via email when your test results become available.

If head hair is short, can I submit body hair?

Yes. Body hair can be used with HairConfirm hair follicle drug testing. If necessary, body hair can be collected from multiple regions of the body. If submitting body hair, ensure the sample is approximately the size of a cotton ball. Do not mix head hair with body hair. Do not collect hair from brushes or drains.

My sample got lost in the mail and didn’t arrive at the lab. What do I do?

If your shipment was not received by the laboratory after 5 business days, please send an inquiry to info@hairconfirm.com. We will send you another HairConfirm hair drug test for a reduced price.

Lab Procedures

Has my sample arrived?

We will notify you when the laboratory receives your hair sample. Depending on the type of HairConfirm test kit selected, it can take anywhere from 1-7 business days for the laboratory to receive your sample for processing.

Is your laboratory CLIA accredited?

Our lab is accredited by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). All tests are supervised, reviewed and approved by Ph.D. staff scientists. We have performed over 1.5 million hair tests to date.

What are the drug test cut-off levels used by HairConfirm?

Although HairConfirm Drug Tests are designed to detect a very small amount of a drug in the hair, if the amount is below the established cut-off level, you may test negative for that drug even though you may have taken the drug.

    • HairConfirm Hair Follicle Drug Test follows the cut-off levels generally accepted industry-wide. These levels are based on the minimum detection levels for Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) confirmation. The cut-off concentration level varies for each of the following drugs of abuse tested:
Drug Class Screening Cut off level Confirmation Cut off level
AMP/mAMP 500 pg/mg hair 500 pg/mg hair
COC 500 pg/mg hair 500 pg/mg hair
OPI/MOR/6-MAM 200 pg/mg hair 200 pg/mg hair
PCP 300 pg/mg hair 300 pg/mg hair
THC 1 pg/mg hair>/td> 0.10 pg/mg hair
Pg/mg= picogram per milligram of hair

Does the lab provide Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) confirmation for all positive results?

Yes. GC/MS confirmation is performed on all preliminary positive results to confirm or resolve initial findings.

What methodology do you employ?

Hair drug testing is conducted in a CLIA Accredited laboratory with the ability to use highly accurate testing mechanisms and procedures.

Initial Screening:

After the hair sample is washed and stripped down to the shaft, it undergoes preliminary screening using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) methodology. ELISA is a proven and reliable technique used for routine drug testing.

Confirmation Testing:

All samples yielding positive results in the initial screening process are subjected to Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), Gas Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS/MS), or Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). These techniques are highly complex and have the ability to confirm or deny results found in a preliminary test.

Results

Where are my test results?

Once the laboratory has processed your hair specimen, you will receive an email notification from HairConfirm indicating your results are ready and can now be viewed online. It usually takes 1-3 business days after the laboratory receives the sample for results to become available.

How will I obtain the test results?

Before you collect your hair specimen for testing, you must register your test and set up confidential HairConfirm login credentials. You will need your Specimen ID number and passcode as well as your email address.

We will send you an email when your results are ready. Please allow approximately 1-3 business days after the laboratory receives your specimen before logging in. Laboratory processing times may vary.

How will I read the test results?

Your individualized assessment will indicate “Positive” or “Negative” for each drug class under the “Results” column. If a donor tests “Positive” for a specific drug, user type evaluation will be listed in the Hair Dose Response chart:

  • Low (occasional user)
  • Medium (weekend, daily user)
  • High (constant user)

Please note, user type evaluations do not apply to marijuana.

Watch our video below on how to read the results of our HairConfirm Hair Follicle Drug Test kits.

What does the test report look like?

Click here to download a sample results report.

Will the test result remain confidential?

Yes. HairConfirm test results are 100% confidential. Names, social security numbers, and other private information is NOT required for this test. Donors are classified strictly by their Specimen ID Number included with every test kit.

Does environmental exposure to certain drugs affect hair test results?

To rule out the possibility of external contamination, HairConfirm™ hair drug testing (where appropriate) looks for both parent & metabolite (bi-product) of drug usage.
For Marijuana analysis, our laboratory detects only the metabolite (THC-COOH). This metabolite is only produced by the body and cannot be an environmental contaminant.

Does hair color affect results?

Hair color is determined by the amount of melanin in the hair. It is speculated that it is harder for drug metabolites to bind to the hair shaft in people with light-colored hair. However, it is experimentally proven that hair color DOES NOT influence hair drug test results in any way.

What does “QNS” mean in my results?

If you obtained a QNS result (Quantity Not Sufficient), the laboratory determined your hair sample did not meet the minimum required quantity to conduct the preliminary test.
If you received a QNS result and would like to try another test kit, email info@hairconfirm.com with your results and we will send you a new kit for $25.

Why did Marijuana (THC) show up negative?

In some cases, HairConfirm may be unable to detect THC despite the donor’s known marijuana use. A number of factors will determine whether or not THC will bind with the hair shaft (i.e. type/purity of marijuana used). If THC does not bind, and therefore does not appear in a hair follicle exam, a negative result for marijuana will be indicated.

Please note: THC is a unique metabolite; the above does not apply to other drugs of abuse screened in a hair follicle exam. In some adults, it may be required to smoke 5-6 full joints before sufficient THC binds to the hair to produce a positive result.

In addition, if the donor is a constant marijuana user, THC can be masked by naturally occurring chemicals in the body, producing a false negative test result.

Do you have any support services after the results?

Below is a number that you can contact in case you’d like to talk to a counselor:

The Boys Town National Hotline 1-800-448-3000

The Boys Town National Hotline is a 24-hour crisis, resource and referral line especially for kids and parents. Trained counselors can respond to your questions every day of the week, 365 days a year. The National Hotline can help teens and parents with deal with serious issues:

  • Suicide prevention
  • Depression
  • School issues
  • Parenting troubles
  • Runaways
  • Relationship problems
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Chemical dependency
  • Anger management

Where to get a hair drug test done

If you want to try HairConfirm hair follicle drug testing within your home or professional organization, you can purchase a test kit at the retailer nearest you.

If you’d like to order HairConfirm test kits in bulk, please visit ConfirmBioSciences.com, or send an inquiry to info@hairconfirm.com. A dedicated representative will respond within 1-2 business days.