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Hair Follicle Testing

Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle drug testing is used to detect historical drug use by analyzing the drugs inside the hair shaft. Hair drug testing technology does not identify impairment.

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Hair follicle drug testing is used to detect historical drug use by analyzing the drugs inside the hair shaft. Hair drug testing technology does not identify impairment.

When a donor ingests a drug, it enters the bloodstream and is absorbed into the hair follicle (as hair growth is a direct result of the body’s blood supply). This allows for testing through the analysis of a small sample of hair.

The lab’s testing method measures the drug molecules found inside the hair shaft, which eliminates external contamination such as shampoos or other adulterant products from significantly altering the results.

It is a simple and quick process that typically requires a donor to provide a hair sample of 1.5” (3.8 cm).

Head Hair

  • 3.8 cm (1.5”) = Approximately a 90 day window of detection
  • 1.0 cm (0.5”) = Approximately a 30 day window of detection

Hair testing is nearly impossible to adulterate and identifies whether drugs have been used in the last 3 to 12 months. Head hair can be broken down into 30 day segments.

On average, head hair grows 1.3 cm (0.5”) per month.

Drugs Tested

Hair follicle drug testing can be used to test for the following drugs:

  • Amphetamines (including Methamphetamines and Ecstasy)
  • Cannabinoids (Marijuana)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates (Codeine, Morphine, Heroin)
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana, Numorphan, Numophone)


  • Negative lab samples take 5-7 business days.
  • Confirmed positive lab samples take 7-10 business days.

Hair Drug Tests Cannot Be Masked

Bleaches, special shampoos, and external contaminants have proven ineffective in altering hair drug testing results.

Most drugs are undetectable if a urinalysis is done more than 2-3 days after use, with the exception of marijuana, which may be detected for a slightly longer period of time. After the 2-3 day period, a urine donor will test negative; but with hair samples, the only time limitation for detecting drug usage is imposed by the length of the donor’s hair.

Hair Lab-Panel 5 Hair Lab-Panel 5 EXT
Marijuana X X
Cocaine X X
Opiates X X
6-Monoacetylmorphine X X
Hydrocodone X
Hydromorphone X
Phencyclidine X X
Amphetamines X X
Methamphetamine * *
MDMA * *
Oxycodone X
Oxymorphone X

* Detected and reported as Amphetamines.

You will first be required to present some form of government-issued photo identification when you come in for your appointment.

If you are coming in for a private appointment, payment must be made prior to testing. Forms of payment accepted include debit card or credit card.

Once your ID is verified, you will receive paperwork to fill out. This paperwork includes an authorization allowing SureHire to perform the test and provide the results to your employer/potential employer. If you are coming in for a private test, the form will have a spot where you can indicate where you would like the results to be sent. You will also have a short form to fill out indicating your contact information and any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you are currently using.

Once your paperwork is submitted, you must not leave the testing facility until testing is complete. If you choose to leave the testing facility, it will be indicated as a refusal to test and considered a fail.

How to Prepare

  • Bring your government-issued photo ID (driver’s licence, passport, military ID, etc.)
  • Abstain from using illegal drugs
  • If you are taking a prescription medication, know the name of the medication you are taking. You may also bring a list of medications that you may be taking to note on your paperwork.
  • Do NOT shave your head if you are scheduled for a hair drug test. Typically, 1.5 inches of hair is needed to properly administer the test.

Testing Expectations

  1. The tester will take a sample by cutting your hair with scissors as close to the root as possible, typically from the crown of the head (hair will not be pulled out by the root). 90-150 hairs are needed for a successful test. The cut hair should not be noticeable after the test is complete.
  2. Express testing is not available for hair samples; only lab-based testing is available. The tester will fill out a chain of custody and package the sample to go to the laboratory. Lab results typically take 5-10 business days to process.
  3. If you fail your lab-based drug screen, you will be contacted by a medical review officer (MRO) with the information you recorded on your intake form. Ensure that this information is correct. It is the responsibility of the MRO to determine whether the positive drug screen was due to legitimate prescription drug use or if it is due to illegal drug use or prescription drug misuse.

Schedule of Acceptable Identification


  • Valid permanent driver’s licence issued in Canada or the United States of America, as permitted to be used for identification purposes under provincial law.
  • Valid passport issued by the government of residing country.
  • Certificate of Indian Status issued by the Government of Canada.
  • A document or card, bearing the individual’s photograph and signature, issued by any of the following authorities:
    -Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
    -Alberta Registries
    -Saskatchewan Government Insurance
    -Department of Service Nova Scotia, Department of Transportation, Province of Prince Edward Island
    -Service New Brunswick, Department of Government Service, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador
    -Department of Transportation of the Northwest Territories, Department of Community Government and Transportation of the Territory of Nunavut
  • Firearms licence or military ID
  • Homeless Aid Centre photo identification
  • Correctional Centre photo identification

Please note: photos or photocopies of ID will NOT be accepted.


    -Employee photo identity card, issued by an employer that is well-known in the community.
    -Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or a Certification of Naturalization, in the form of a paper document or card, but not a commemorative issue.
    -A provincial health insurance card, as permitted to be used for identification purposes under provincial law.
    -Social Insurance Number card issued by the Government of Canada (note: printable SIN cards will not be accepted).
    -Birth certificate issued in Canada.
    -Interim Driver’s License.
    -Employee ID card – from a reputable company within the community
    -Oil Sands ID card
    -Student ID card – from a reputable educational institution within the community
    -Gym membership
    -Costco ID card


  • If no ID is available, the tester will call your employer and speak to their DER. If the manager gives the tester a satisfactory physical description of the client or confirmation of personal information, the testing can proceed.
  • Management ID: 3 contact attempts within 30 minutes. If the tester cannot obtain management ID, online bookings will be advised that the client does not have sufficient ID to continue with testing. You will need to contact your company to re-book the appointment.


  • If no ID is available, the client must get a notarized letter with a photo attached to the actual letter. Any lawyer, doctor, pastor or other notary can provide this.

Hair 5 Drug Panel & Extended Opiates Cut Off Levels (Lab Based Testing)

Analyte Screening Cut off pg/mg ELISA Confirmation Cut off pg/mg GC/MS
Amphetamine 500 500
Cocaine/Metabolites 500 500
Opiates 200 200
Extended Opiates 200 200
Phencyclidine (PCP) 300 300
THC Metabolite 1.00 .10 GC/MS/MS

Testimonials & Case Studies

This industrial construction company implemented pre-hire Fitness-to-Work testing with SureHire in April 2012. From April 2012 to December 2015, *4322* candidates were tested.

Read the full case study

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