Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Forensic Drug of Abuse Hair Testing
Q: What drugs does
HairConfirm™ screen for?
A: HairConfirm™ screens for five different drug classes: Cocaine (cocaine &
benzoylecgonine), Marijuana (THC-COOH), Opiates (Codeine, Morphine & 6-monacteyl
morphine), Amphetamines (Meth/amphetamines & Ecstasy) and Phencyclidine (PCP,
Q: How many hairs are required for laboratory testing?
A: Approximately 40-50 strands cut from the scalp line at the crown (or when
bundled, about the diameter of a shoelace tip).
Q: What time period does the HairConfirm™ test cover?
A: HairConfirm™ will detect drugs for a period of 90 days. The test requires
a hair sample of 1.5 inches in length. Each 0.5 inch represents 30 days. The
hair sample must be cut as close to the scalp as possible and only the most
recent 1.5 inches are tested.
Q: How does the test work?
A: Using the detailed instructions as a guide, collect a hair sample of
approximately the diameter of a shoelace tip. Mail the hair sample to the CLIA
certified laboratory, Omega Laboratories, Inc, using the pre-addressed, prepaid
envelope provided. The laboratory will analyze the hair sample for evidence of
drug use. Using the HairConfirm™ Specimen ID number, passcode and email address,
you must register your test online once you have mailed the samples to the
laboratory. Go to the results section to obtain the results. Complete
instructions on how to register and obtain the test result report are included
with the test collection kit.
Q: What if a sample of very long hair is submitted, will the laboratory test
show drug use for a longer historical period?
A: No. The laboratory only considers the first 1.5" of hair from the root end.
If a longer sample is sent, the laboratory cuts the hair to 1.5" to conform to
the 90 day historical time period.
Q: What if a historical
period of 6 months of drug use is required, can the laboratory test for that?
A: Yes. However two separate testing kits would have to be purchased and two
separate hair samples be submitted for laboratory processing. The length of the
hair would have to start out at a minimum of 3 inches in length from the root
end. One sample would then be submitted cut at 1.5" from the root end for the
first test kit, and the second sample representing the remaining hair length be
submitted for the second test kit. It is extremely important to place the root
end, or the end closest to the root end aligned properly in the foil as
described in the kit instructions.
Q: Is the processing Laboratory Accredited?
A: Omega Laboratories is accredited by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement
Amendments (CLIA) and all tests are supervised, reviewed and approved by Ph.D.
staff scientists. Omega Laboratories have performed over 1.5 million hair tests.
Q: How fast does head hair grow?
A: Studies indicate that head hair grows on average of 0.5 inches (1.3cm)
per month. This growth rate varies slightly (estimated at ± 0.2 cm per month),
consequently there is some (± 1 week) time variation possible. Head and body
hair do not grow at the same rate; body hair grows at a much slower rate.
Q: How soon after use can a drug be detected in hair?
A: 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 a specific timeframe of drug use.
Therefore any positive result from body hair would only correlate to drug use at
some indeterminable time (generally within one year).
Q: Can tests be run on people with little or no hair?
A: Hair can be collected from several head locations and combined to obtain
the required amount of hair. If the head hair is too short, body hair can be
used as a substitute. If body hair is used the timeframe represented by the test
is approximately one year due to the different growth pattern in hair below the
neck. NOTE: DO NOT mix head and body hair for sample submission.
Q: What is the shortest time period that can be accurately evaluated?
A: The minimum time period is approximately one month (0.5 inch).
Q: Does external exposure to certain drugs, like Marijuana or crack smoke,
affect the hair test results?
A: No. To rule out the possibility of external contamination, HairConfirm™
testing looks for both parent & metabolite (bi-product) of drug usage. Drug
metabolites can only be present as the result of direct consumption or intake
into the body. For Marijuana analysis, the laboratory detects only the
metabolite (THC-COOH). This metabolite is only produced by the body and cannot
be an environmental contaminant.
Q: Can hair be affected by cross-reacting substances such as over-the-counter
A: Enzyme-immunoassay antibodies (EIA), similar to those used to test urine,
are used for the initial drug screening in hair; therefore the potential for
substances such as over-the-counter medications to cause a false positive
screening result does exist. To eliminate the possibility of reporting a
false-positive result due to cross-reactivity, our laboratory performs Gas
Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) for all specimens that screen positive.
Q: Does hair color affect results?
A: 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 basis in fact.
Q: Does chemical treatment of the hair affect the test results?
A: Commonly used hair procedures (e.g., shampoos, conditioners, sprays,
mousses and gels) have no significant effect on results. In fact, normal hair
washing helps to remove external contamination. Normal hair treatments such as
bleaching, permanent waving and dyeing generally will not significantly lower
the quantitative results. If the protein matrix of the hair has been damaged to
the point of breaking (cortex damage) the level of drug can be significantly
affected. However, severely treated or damaged hair can be readily identified
from the wash ratios and/or staining procedure.
Q: What about the DETOX
shampoos and other masking agents sold on the internet...do they work?
A: The HairConfirm Laboratory tests the molecules embedded in the hair
shaft. Therefore no external or topical source or agent can alter the test
results. None of the so-called detoxifying shampoos or products can alter a
forensic hair test performed in a laboratory, and therefore the hair drug
analysis test is basically cheat proof.
Q: Is the HairConfirm™ laboratory able to distinguish between d and L
A: L methamphetamine can be found in Vick’s inhalers, as opposed to d
methamphetamine, which is found only in the controlled substance. The lab has
the capability to distinguish between d and l methamphetamine in hair. This
distinction clearly becomes important when an individual contests a positive
methamphetamine result, and allows the lab to certify a result with certainty.
Q: Can hair collected from a hairbrush be used?
A: No, we do not recommend taking a hair sample from a brush or any other
source (e.g. pillow, clothing) as the sample may be contaminated and there is no
guarantee that the hair is from the person being tested. Additionally, this
would destroy any legal validity of the test results as proper chain of custody
could not be established. If the test results are for solely for informational
purposes only and not intended to be used legally (e.g. Parent testing their
child). and further that the above risks are acceptable, hair taken from a
hairbrush may be tested as long as the sample quantity and length is sufficient
as specified in the test instructions. However, it must be stated clearly that
the laboratory may reject a hair sample if it is not collected and prepared as
per the test instructions. No refunds are available if the laboratory rejects
Q: How does HairConfirm™ compare to urinalysis or saliva tests on the market?
A: The primary differences are historical use (approximately 90 days
dependent on hair length) and the inability to tamper or contaminate the test
and therefore directly change the test results. Cocaine, Methamphetamine,
Opiates and Phencyclidine are rapidly excreted and usually undetectable in urine
72 hours after use, and in saliva 48 hours after use. The detection period for
hair is limited only by the length of the hair sample and is approximately 90
Q: How effective is Hair Testing in detecting drug users?
A: In side-by-side comparison studies with urinalysis, hair drug testing has
uncovered significantly more drug use. In two independent studies, hair drug
testing uncovered 5 to 10 times as many drug users as urinalysis for evidence of
Q: How long will it take to receive the results?
A: We know it is important that our customers receive results as quickly as
possible. HairConfirm™ has the fastest turnaround time for hair testing. Using
the shipping label included in the standard kit, the laboratory will receive the
sample in the the normal time required for first class mail. Using the Fedex
shipping label included in the Express kit, the laboratory will receive the
sample the next business day. Tests results are generally available 2 business
days after the sample has been received by the laboratory.
Q: How will I read the results?
A: The results will indicate a positive or negative result for each drug
class. In addition, when a donor tests positive, the result will provide an
assessment of hair dose response to identify whether the donor is a low
(occasional), medium (weekend, daily) or high (constant) user.
Q: What are the positive
result quantitative range guidelines for determining type of user?
A: The following chart represent the user type determinations:
HAIR DOSE RESPONSE*
500 pg/mg hair**
500 pg/mg hair
300 pg/mg hair
300 pg/mg hair
0.3 pg/mg hair
Qualitative - Amount does
not correlate to usage
data was acquired from various academic studies with admitted drug users
and are thus subject to numerous sources of variability (e.g. purity,
inadequate self report, etc.). This graph is a guide only and not be
assumed as exact numerical interpretation. This information may be useful
to help establish an appropriate rehabilitation program or to compare two
separate test time periods.
** Picograms per milligram
Q: Does the HairConfirm™
test provide a written report
A: Yes. A report of test results can be downloaded and printed online
directly from the laboratory.