Hair and Saliva Drug Test Guide

The Hair Drug Test Summary
What: Hair tests are given to detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, PCP, ecstasy, hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone in one’s body.
Who: Anyone can be tested for drugs using hair drug tests.
Where: Hair drug tests can be done in a lab, or in a home or workplace using a test kit.
When: Hair test kits can detect drug use over a long time period.
How: Hair is mailed to a laboratory for analysis.
Type: Most drug tests use a five-panel test.
Why: Hair is used to detect long-term or historical drug use.
Time: Hair test results are provided within about 48 hours.
Language: Not applicable.
Preparation: No preparation is needed for a hair test.
Cost: Hair tests range from about $75 for a home test kit to $275 for a lab test.

By Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


Along with urine and blood tests, a person’s hair and saliva can be tested for the presence of drugs. Hair and saliva tests are often a favored testing method because there is little chance for sample contamination or manipulation. Hair and saliva tests may be done for employment screenings, random drug testing, emergency testing or legal testing.




Hair testing is often used because the hair can provide an historical record of drug use. Approximately four to five days after a drug enters the bloodstream, the drug is deposited into the hair follicle and then becomes part of the hair shaft core as it grows. Hair grows, on average, approximately half an inch each month; therefore, each half inch of hair reflects a month’s drug history. Because the drugs are deposited within the core of the hair shaft, drug residue cannot be washed out or otherwise chemically treated to be removed. Hair from any part of the body can be tested.


Hair is tested using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A hair test can determine the level of use, such as low or recreational use and daily use. Hair drug tests can detect marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, PCP, ecstasy, hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone.


Hair testing can be done at home with a hair test kit. All one has to do is mail a hair sample to a lab according to the lab’s instructions. About 50 strands are needed; hair should be cut close to the scalp and only about an inch and a half length is needed. There are no risks associated with submitting hair for a drug test.


Test results can be provided within two days; some labs provide a password so that test results can be obtained online or over the phone.


Home hair test kits range in price, but average around $75. Lab tests range from $150 to about $275.




Drugs are detectable in saliva immediately upon use. While drug use is detectable in hair for several months, drugs only remain in saliva for approximately 24 hours. Marijuana and THC remain for about 12 to 24 hours and cocaine remains for up to 24 hours, while opiates, PCP, amphetamines and methamphetamines can be found in saliva for up to three days. Most saliva test kits use a five panel screen to look for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines.

Because of the small window of time in which drugs remain in one’s saliva, saliva testing is often used to determine current drug use. Saliva testing is done in employment settings as part of random drug screening and in law enforcement to determine intoxication. Saliva testing is often favored because results are offered within 10 to 15 minutes and a lab is usually not necessary to interpret the results.

A saliva sample is easily obtained using a cotton swab or sponge that is rubbed against the inside of one’s cheek, or by depositing saliva into a syringe. Saliva test kits are also available in which one places a foam test kit in their mouth for a few moments and results appear in a few minutes on the test screen. There are no risks associated with a saliva drug test.

Saliva test kits are available for home or workplace use in which one can apply the sample to a screen and learn results within 15 minutes. Each drug tested has a reaction with the test kit, working very similarly to a pregnancy test. Saliva samples may also be sent to a lab for specific analysis. Tests range in price from about $10 to $75.

For more information about hair and saliva tests or to find a drug test kit to purchase, visit the Hair Test Directory or the Saliva Test Directory.