Hair Testing for Drugs

Drug testing using hair is a reliable and convenient alternative to tests that rely on saliva or urine. It’s a technique that’s excellent for detecting long term covert abuse. This is especially useful in safety critical or zero tolerance drug use environments.

zero drug tolerance
Zero Tolerance
difficult to adulterate
Difficult to Adulterate
3 months detection timeframe
3 Months Detection

Hair testing is also less personally intrusive than urine testing and more difficult to manipulate than other approaches.

Sample collection

Ideally, a lock of hair around 200mg is cut from the back of the head. That’s a quantity equivalent to the size and thickness of a small pencil, and it’s routinely collected close to the scalp. Body hair is not recommended as a preferred sample in most applications.

Testing process

The hair is then tested using the Safework Laboratories accredited testing methodology to check for the presence of drug traces in our Melbourne laboratory. Unlike urine or saliva, it is very difficult to interfere with the testing process by substitution or manipulation of the sample.

Results are usually available within 7 – 10 working days.

Drugs detected

hair testing lab

Unlike urine or saliva testing there is no specific Australian Standard for detecting drugs of abuse in hair.

Safework Laboratories is accredited to perform hair testing based on a number of international guidelines and procedures such as those published by the (International) Society of Hair Testing, which means we can quickly and accurately detect the presence of

  • Amphetamines (speed, ice, crystal Meth)
  • THC (Cannabis, marijuana)
  • Opiates (Codeine, heroin, morphine)
  • Cocaine
  • Benzodiazepines (sleeping tablets, tranquilizers)


In most circumstances Hair testing is an adjunct to traditional methods of drug detection such as urine or saliva testing, rather than a replacement testing regime. In particular, small, infrequent episodes of drug use, or very recent exposure (in the last few days for example) are unlikely to be detected in routine hair analysis.

It is, however, an excellent tool for abstinence monitoring or longer window (several months) pre-employment testing.

For further information or a confidential discussion, please contact us today.