Hair drug testing is an analysis of a hair sample for drugs. Hair specimens are collected from the head or body and sent to a laboratory where they are screened for illegal substances. Knowing how to pass a hair drug test can help you to avoid tricky legal and work-related situations.
When Might You Face a Hair Drug Test?
You might be asked to participate in a hair drug test by a parent, a potential future employee, a current employer, or even a court. The main reason that drug screening takes place in the workplace is to make sure no drug abuser gets on the company payroll.
However, there are many reasons for hair drug testing. You might need to take a hair drug test to make sure you are meeting parole requirements or making sure you can donate organs or blood at a hospital.
How a Hair Test Works
Hair tests are often used instead of urine samples because they are harder to cheat. Additionally, they are more difficult for users to “clean up” quickly beforehand, and look back farther than a urine test.
Hair drug testing is an older method of drug testing than urine. When you ingest drugs, they go into the hair follicle and into the strands where they remain, almost forever. Your hair grows at a rate of .5 inches per month. So those who have hair 18 inches long can, in theory, have the ends of the hair tested to reveal what drugs were consumed more than three years ago.
However, there is no need to panic. No person except the police will test the ends of hair, and only in specific legal circumstances.
How Tests are Administered
When you are asked to submit to a hair test, a technician will cut off a piece of hair from your head, starting at the scalp. It is painless and fast. That piece is then taken to a laboratory for analysis. If you are being asked to submit to a hair drug test, they will cut 1.5 inches, on average, from the root. The non-root end is tossed out.
You can even watch the technician performing the test take the hair and cut it, making sure they toss out the end. The 1.5 inches they use equates to roughly three months of drug history. The standard is 1.5 inches of head hair needed for a 90-day test. If you do not have any hair on your head, they will often test hair from the bear, the leg, the chest, or the underarm. Legally, these are the only other places they can get hair from your body to be tested.
Body Hair VS Hair on Head
About body hair, there is a debate about the slower growth rate compared to that on the head. A slower growth rate means that the same length of body hair would test a more extended period than just 90 days. In reality, body hair often stops growing at a shorter maximum length. Your body replaces dormant, non-growing hair strands by pushing them out with new strands. This is why you shed hair regularly.
Dormant hair that which is not growing, will not show any new drug deposits. Dormant hair can stay on your head or body theoretically for between one and four months. This means that if a dormant hair is tested, it will reveal more than 90 days’ worth of drugs. However, only 10-15% of all hair on your body and head is in the dormant phase.
Similar to urine testing, hair samples are first screened for flags signaling a possible drug. If the test is presumptively positive, then it is further screened using mass spectrometry or gas chromatography. This is just a big machine that will break down all of the contents of the hair and tell you everything that is inside of the hair.
Proven ways to beat the Hair Follicle Test
Abstaining from drugs is the best way to go. Even if you use drugs, you can beat a hair test by abstaining for 100 days before the next hair test.
Detox products, shampoos, in particular, are best suited for stripping out the remaining drugs in your hair. These all work in similar ways. They strip the contents of your hair including essential oils. By doing this, there is no trace of drugs left for testing.
1 Week Window
It takes an average of one week from the time a drug is used for the contaminated hair to grow above your scalp where it can be collected and tested. So, one way to beat it is to agree to a test only if you have just recently taken drugs within the last few days.
You can shave your whole body beforehand. Shaving your head and body clean means there is no hair to test. Companies might fail you for this if they are stingy, or make you take a different type of test.
What Doesn’t Work
Any detox drinks or pills advertised on the market will not work—skip them.
Home Remedies that Work
A popular home remedy is called the “Macujo Method.” This is a deep cleaning with an aloe shampoo which is hard on the hair, but effective. Using the Nexus Aloe Rid Shampoo, Heinz Vinegar, Tide Detergent, and a salicylic acid shampoo, you need a shower cap and goggles too. Three days before your test, begin repeating these instructions at least five times.
Wet your hair and pour/massage the vinegar all the way to your scalp. With goggles on, massage the salicylic acid shampoo into your hair but be sure to wipe it off any exposed skin or it will burn. Place your shower cap on for thirty minutes, after which you should remove the cap and rinse. Place a small amount of time to finish washing everything out.
This home remedy leaves your hair very brittle and dry. It takes out any essential oils. You might want to wait for one hour and then deep condition your hair.
Jerry G Method
The Jerry G Method is a bleaching method. You use a detox toxin shampoo to remove the toxins; then you bleach your hair with peroxide bleach. After that, you dye your hair back to its original color. This is very damaging to your hair, but the process is rather pure bleach and re-dyes your hair, twice, ten days before the test. This method uses Zydot ultra clean shampoo and conditioner to remove the toxins from your hair the day of the test.
Detox Products that Work
ZYDOT Ultra Clean Shampoo and Conditioner
This shampoo and condition remove all kinds of drugs including marijuana and cocaine. It breaks open the hairs individually and removes the toxins from within. The shampoo removes any external barriers when it opens and exposes the inner root of the hair. After this, the purifier penetrates the hair shaft and removes any impurities. Finally, the conditioner repairs the damaged hair. You should use it the day your hair is going to be tested, and if you are a heavy drug user, this product should be used back to back.
The science behind this shampoo works much the same way that bleaching does. When you bleach your hair, it opens the hair follicle and bleaches from the shaft, the inside rather than coloring on top of the hair, from the outside. Most shampoos only wash away residue on the outside leaving the drug toxins on the inside. This will, however, open up the hair and remove toxins from the inside, so there is nothing left to test.
Test Pass Detox Shampoo
This shampoo removes things such as nicotine, ecstasy, cocaine, and THC. Normally, at the laboratory, the hair is dissolved into a mixture that has organic ingredients. When it dissolves, the liquid remaining is tested. Any drug toxins are extracted.
This shampoo coats your hair with an organic film like a condition does so that when the hair sample is removed, the shampoo coats or masks the toxins from the drug metabolites. Once dissolved, the solution will not test positive for any toxins, and will only show the shampoo residue.
What Can Drugs Be Detected?
There are four types of hair tests available for drugs and one for alcohol. The four hair tests include a five-panel drug test, a five-panel test with expanded opiates, a nine-panel test, and a twelve-panel test. These test for things like opiates, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and PCP. When they test for opiates, they will test for codeine, morphine, and when they test for amphetamines, they will test for methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDA, and MDMA. The extended opiates panel will test for oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone.
How Far Does This Test Go Back
Hair drug tests look back an estimated 90 days. There are factors which impact how far back a hair test can look including:
- Amount of drugs used
- Potency of drug
- Types of drugs
- Head hair versus body hair
Can There be False Positives?
False positives are a real thing. If you are taking certain legal products or substances, it can give you a false positive. Examples include products with hemp, nasal sprays, and poppy seeds, even over the counter medications like Midol, Ibuprofen, Sudafed, Vicks nasal spray, or Vicks 44. A false positive implies that your drug test results are inaccurate. Most companies will ask you to list the medications you have been taking for the last thirty days so that they can prepare for this false positive. If they do not ask, you can offer that information beforehand too.
If you fail your test and believe it is a false positive you can legally as for a confirmation test. A confirmation test typically involves testing urine for traces of illegal drugs. The second round of testing is likely to be more accurate. You can ask that the confirmatory tests use a different testing method to ensure there are no errors. If you ask for a confirmatory test, they will probably use the same mass spectrometry or gas chromatography tests.
Still, no harm in asking. If you are an employee who got a false positive, you can ask for a request. Companies are legally required to honor your request and complete a second test/type of test, often urine.
What Happens if You Fail Your Test
If you are taking a hair test for a potential job, you will not get the job. If you are taking the hair test for a current position, chances are you will be fired for not following company rules. Most of the time companies ask you to take a drug test because they are required to by the government or by their insurance carrier. This means the company itself has very little room to chance testing protocol. It is company policy that many organizations have to reject a job application if there is a positive drug test or fire an employee who fails a routine drug test.
There are different rules and regulations in different states/cities. Some are more lenient about drug tests than others. Certain businesses will not give you disability benefits, unemployment benefits, or workers compensation if you fail a drug test. Most of the time, if your test is positive for drugs, the company will meet with lawyers so that they know how to respond. Even in cases where the drug in question is marijuana, and where you consumed it the drug was legal, the company is still bound by their rules.
That said, employers and potential employers are required to keep such information confidential. No one outside of the chain overseeing personnel should have access to your drug test results. What’s more, they cannot legally tell other people about it. However, if you are fired over it, they can, when questioned by other future employers, disclose why you were let go.