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Hair Follicle Drug Testing

What Is Hair Drug Testing?

Hair follicle testing can provide a long-term detection window of drug and alcohol use. The science behind this kind of testing is similar to fingernail testing. When a drug enters the bloodstream, it gets absorbed into the protein fibers (keratin) that make up hair as it grows.

Additionally, hair receives the vitamins and minerals it needs to grow through the blood. Therefore it traps the biomarkers of the chemical compounds of the drug, making it easy to detect drug use. The process of testing hair follicles allows scientists to see patterns of drug use going back 3-6 months. In some cases it can go farther.

A collected sample of hair for a Hair Follicle drug test for Butterfield Onsite Drug Testing being sealed..

Does Hair Color Affect Results?

Are you worried that your colored hair might cause you to fail the test? Hair color is determined by the amount of melanin in the hair. It has been shown experimentally, through actual hair samples, as well as determined in court that hair color has no significant impact on results.

Colored hair doesn’t affect the results of the hair follicle test. Even so, our collectors do look out for bleached hair. Bleach breaks down the hair follicle and causes it to leak out metabolites. If the subject’s hair has been bleached often, it will not provide accurate results for the drug test.

For example, let’s say a person bleached their hair once. Now, let’s say a few weeks or a couple of months go by before they are tested. The test can still yield low levels of the drugs’ chemicals. In the case a hair drug test is still needed, hair will then be collected from the body.

Enough Hair For The Drug Test

Many people think that a single strand of hair is enough for a hair drug test. This is not the case. The hair sample must be equivalent to the amount of the thickness of a #2 pencil when bunched together. The sample is cut as close to the scalp as possible and the length of the hair needs to be no less than 3.5 inches.

Butterfield Onsite Drug Testing takes special care when conducting a hair collection. Our technicians take small clippings of hair from different places. They clip underneath the hair and around the crown of the head so it is not visible to others.

If there is not enough hair on the head then the collection is taken from body hair.  Hair from the legs, arms, or chest may be collected. The hair is clipped as close to the root as possible. Hair samples from the body and from the head CANNOT be combined for testing.

Stopwatch representing how long it takes to do a drug test.

How long does it take to do a hair follicle drug test?


About 15 Min.

Verified results for how long it takes to receive results for a drug test.

How long does it take to get results for a hair follicle drug test?


About 3-5 Days

Calendar representing how long a drug test's detection window is.

Detection Window Period


Approximately 90 Days

How A Hair Follicle Drug Test Is Done

A collector from Butterfield Onsite Drug Testing is trimming a man's hair for a hair follicle drug test.

Step 1

First, the subject checks in and fills in the necessary paperwork. Then, the collector explains the collection process.

Step 2


Next, the collector preps equipment for the hair sample collection. The collector uses sterilized scissors, combs, and other tools to collect the specimen.

Step 3


Now the collector will strategically collect hair specimens to have sufficient for the drug test and not leave noticeable spots of missing hair.

Step 4


The hair specimen is sealed and shipped to the lab to be analyzed.

Step 5

Lastly, we send the test results to the client within 3-5 days.

Things To Know About Hair Testing

Hair drug testing tends to produce more positive test results because the detection window is greater. A longer detection period will usually yield a higher possibility for drug use activity.

Hair testing is often used by companies that employ people in extremely safety-sensitive positions and the risk of injury is greater. This “lifestyle” type of drug test helps them immensely as drug abuse in the workplace also puts employers at risk for higher insurance rates, increased absenteeism, and less than acceptable productivity.

The cost of hair testing is higher than other forms of testing, but in the long run, many employers find it more cost-effective when they look at the history of turnover in their company due potentially to drug and alcohol abuse.

Hair follicle drug testing is a great alternative to urine or oral fluid testing. This type of testing is available at our collection site and onsite testing. Call us today to learn more about our testing services and how we can help you maintain a drug-free workplace.