Hair follicle drug tests are becoming increasingly more popular, and for good reason. Unlike urine or blood tests, they can detect drug use up to three months after the fact. If you’d like to learn more and find out how to pass a hair follicle drug test, keep reading.
What Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?
As the name suggests, a hair follicle test (or simply hair test) is just that — a sample from your hair is collected and examined for any signs of drug use. The most common drugs included in the test are opiates, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and MDMA (Ecstasy).
The testing happens in two stages. First, the tester will use the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method to do a quick initial screening. Then, if the test gives a positive for a particular substance, a lab technician will perform a more in-depth analysis. The most common method here is gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and it’s used to rule out false positives.
A negative (determined by the ELISA test) takes 24 hours to confirm, and further testing can take up to 72 hours. However, keep in mind that “further testing” doesn’t necessarily mean a positive result. Some foods, like poppy or hemp seeds, can trip up the ELISA test and cause false positives. So don’t freak out if you still don’t have your results after 24 hours.
How Accurate Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?
Even though this type of drug test is a two-step process, it’s not infallible. There are several factors that can affect the amount of drug metabolites in your hair. Here are some (but not all) of them:
- The amount of drugs you have consumed
- Some permanent hair treatments, like hair bleaching/dyeing
- Sweat production
- The amount of sebum on your scalp
As you can see, hair tests are not 100% reliable, and that’s something employers are well aware of. If you’re worried about getting/keeping your job because of a positive result, don’t be — you can dispute it and request a second test.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test
That said, it’s best to spare yourself the hassle and avoid any products/activities that might trigger a false positive. But first, here’s what will NOT impact the results:
- Certain types of shampoos/conditioners. If you’re worried about your favorite hemp shampoo causing you trouble, don’t be. Hair tests examine the hair’s structure itself, not its surface.
The reason for that is simple — drugs affect the structure of your blood cells, which are part of your hair’s composition. Shampooing is a surface-level treatment, so it won’t affect the results in any major way. That also means that any products claiming to mask drug use are generally ineffective.
- Secondhand smoke. Any drugs that you ingest will enter your bloodstream, which means that they can be detected in your hair. However, the concentration of drugs that you’d ingest from secondhand smoke isn’t nearly enough to be any cause for concern.
With that out of the way, here’s how to pass a hair follicle drug test.
Avoid Drugs Before the Test
The first and most obvious answer is, don’t do drugs if you know you’re going to be tested. Unfortunately, once they enter your system, drugs are there to stay, and there isn’t much you can do about that. So, if you’re job hunting or if your employer is known to do regular drug screening, be careful. While the occasional puff won’t trigger a positive, regular use definitely will.
The good news is that some drugs (like a weed, for example) will show up on test five to seven days after use. So, if you’ve only smoked recently, you have nothing to worry about.
Let Your Employer Know if You’re on Any Medication
Certain types of medication, like opioid painkillers, can cause false positives. If you’re using any medications and suspect they might trigger a false positive, be sure to let your employer know. They may take your word for it, but in most cases, you’ll need to provide a prescription from a doctor.
Those are the only two surefire ways to pass a hair test. Of course, there are other things you could try, like hair detoxing or drug-masking shampoos. However, none of those methods are foolproof, and you shouldn’t bet your livelihood on them. So, while it’s probably not what you were hoping to hear, the answer to the question how to pass a hair follicle drug test is simple — don’t do drugs.