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We all know the feeling. Your boss informs you that you have to take a drug test — your stomach drops. You start doing the mental calculus on the last time you used and whether you could pass the drug test.
If you are worried about passing a hair drug test, you’re not alone. Seven percent of Americans fail drug testing each year. Don’t be part of that seven percent. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know to pass a hair follicle drug test in 2021.
What Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?
A hair follicle drug test screens illicit drug use or prescription drug misuse. It only looks for recent drug use, specifically in the last three months. Testing agencies use hair follicles to identify the presence of illicit compounds. They can use the same hair follicle drug testing approach with blood, saliva, or urine, too.
How Does It Work?
When you visit a drug testing site, a clinician cuts a small clump of head hair. The sample of hair is approximately 50 strands and 1.5 inches in length. The clinician takes the hair sample from the back of the head, so it is less noticeable.
If you are bald, clinicians take hair from other parts of your body. That includes the arms, legs, chest, and armpit. While we will cover this aspect more later, it is worth mentioning that shaving your body is not how to pass a hair drug test.
The clinician sends the sample to a laboratory for overnight hair drug testing. The first step is a rapid drug testing method known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Certain prescription medications and foods, such as NSAIDs and poppy seeds, can cause ELISA to trigger false positives.
If the ELISA hair test is positive, the lab technician retests the hair sample with confirmatory chromatographic testing. Chromatographic testing, such as chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), separates compounds from the hair for closer analysis. The second layer of drug testing reduces the chance of a false positive.
What Drugs Are Tested?
This is the million-dollar question, and the answer is that it depends. Most employers use a 5-panel, 7-panel, or 10-panel drug test. It is almost impossible to know what your employer is looking for in test results without them telling you.
The best way to pass a hair follicle drug test is to err on the side of caution. Your job security will thank you later. Here is an overview of the different drugs that are detectable through hair follicle testing:
5-Panel Drug Test
- Amphetamine, including ecstasy
- Opiates, such as morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, heroin, and codeine
7-Panel Drug Test
- All the drugs in a 5-panel drug test
10-Panel Drug Test
- All the drugs in a 7-panel drug test
- Tricyclic antidepressants
These lists are not exhaustive. Companies can also test for narcotics, bath salts, K2-spice, and stimulants. The range of drug testing with hair means playing it safe is your best bet.
How Accurate Is a Hair Drug Test?
A hair follicle drug test can detect certain substances within the past 90 days. The test, however, cannot pinpoint a specific date of drug use because everyone grows head and body hair at a different rate. While each positive sample undergoes two rounds of drug testing, no method is 100 percent accurate.
Researchers at the Friends Research Institute in Baltimore studied the efficacy of hair follicle drug tests. They analyzed the results of 360 adults versus self-reported drug use. They found that laboratories were accurate:
- 52.3 percent of the time for marijuana
- 65.2 percent of the time for cocaine
- 24.2 percent of the time for amphetamine
- 2.9 percent of the for opioids
Other researchers have performed follow-up studies. They found a hair follicle drug test produces more false negatives and fewer false positives than expected. Some researchers concluded hair testing for drugs is not a reliable method compared to a blood or urine drug test.
How Long Do Drugs Stay in My Hair?
If you want to know how to pass a hair drug test, it’s essential to calculate the testing window. Most companies look for drug use in the last 90 days. This milestone is more of a rule of thumb than a hard figure.
That’s because different factors affect the concentration and metabolization of drugs. That includes the drug structure, the quantity, and how much you sweat. Even the amount of melanin in your hair matters — the pigment that darkens hair also binds more readily to certain drugs.
Here is a list of the common drugs, their cut-off level during testing, and their detection windows.
- Amphetamines – 1,000 ng/mL, 90 days
- Barbiturates – 300 ng/mL, 90 days
- Benzodiazepines – 300 ng/mL, 90 days
- Codeine – 100 ng/mL, 90 days
- Cocaine – 300 ng/mL, 90 days
- LSD – 0.5 ng/mL, 90 days
- Marijuana – 50 ng/mL, 90 days
- MDMA – 500 ng/mL, 90 days
- Nicotine – 200 ng/mL, 90 days
- Opiates – 2,000 ng/mL, 90 days
- PCP – 25 ng/mL, 90 days
Some substances are undetectable through a hair follicle drug test. If an employer wants to look for alcohol, they have to use a blood or urine drug test. Employers also do not test for all drugs. Your hair test will still test negative if you use anabolic steroids, inhalants, or hydrocodone.
How Do Drugs Get into My Hair?
Once drugs go into your body, your system naturally pushes them out. A drug goes through the bloodstream first before ending up in your head hair. The drug can arrive at your hair in as little as a few minutes.
When drug metabolites come in contact with the hair shaft, they bind to the melanin. If you have light hair, you have an advantage when taking a hair drug test. That is because there is less melanin in your body to attract drug metabolites. Once the drug metabolites embed in your hair, they create a permanent chemical record until your hair grows out of the skin or you cut it.
What Are the Results of a Hair Follicle Drug Test?
There are three results from each hair test: positive, negative, or inconclusive. Negative is the most straightforward. It means the laboratory did not detect the presence of drug metabolites in your sample of hair.
A positive result means the first sample indicated drug use during ELISA. The laboratory then uses GC-MS to test your hair again to confirm the results. There is a good chance the results are accurate.
Inconclusive hair test results mean something went wrong during the procedure. The most common cause is follicle contamination, whether inside or outside the laboratory. If you receive an inconclusive result, most companies require you to submit another sample of hair.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test With Detox Shampoos
If you have ever searched “how to pass a hair drug test home remedy,” then you’ve come to the right place. Detox shampoos are the most accessible and affordable way to pass a hair drug test. As long as you use the product consistently leading up to the test, you are in the clear.
These shampoos are more effective than home remedies. While a product like apple cider vinegar or baking soda can reduce scalp itchiness, it cannot remove traces of drug use. These specialized shampoo formulas offer deep cleaning and detoxification for exceptional test results.
The secret lies in the chemicals that penetrate the hair shaft. Instead of cleaning the exterior hair follicle, it works on a granular level where drug metabolites hang to body hair. Use the shampoos several times before the hair follicle drug test. You can also use heat styling or coloring to improve your chances during drug testing.
Not sure what hair follicle detox shampoos to buy? That’s understandable. There are hundreds of options out there, all claiming to help you pass a hair follicle test. Here are three shampoos worth using.
1. Nexxus Aloe Rid Old Formula
The Nexxus Aloe Rid Old Formula is one of the most versatile detox shampoos. It eliminates everything from pesky drug metabolites to heavy metals to chlorine from your hair. You can also use it in conjunction with the Jerry G Method or Macujo Method before your hair test.
If you use Nexxus Aloe Rid Old Formula, apply it to wet hair and let the solution sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. The resting period enables the shampoo to absorb drug metabolites that you can rinse away later. Aloe Rid Toxin Rid Old Formula is the most expensive option, but the investment is worthwhile if it means keeping your job.
2. Zydot Ultra Clean Shampoo
Zydot Ultra Clean Shampoo is the ultimate hack for how to pass a hair drug test with a home remedy. The shampoo targets illicit drugs, chemical buildups, and other impurities in the hair. It removes the outermost barrier of the hair follicle before purifying them with its patented formula.
Zydot Ultra Clean Shampoo is remarkably gentle on the scalp and hair, unlike other treatments. It has mixed reviews regarding reliability but stands out as the most affordable option on this list. Use it consistently in conjunction with abstinence, and you should see negative hair test results.
3. Synergy Detox Toxin Wash Shampoo
Synergy Detox Toxin Wash Shampoo actively lowers the toxin levels in your hair follicles. Whether you use opioids, benzos, or cannabis, the formula removes the lingering drug metabolites. It also works if you occasionally use cocaine or methamphetamine.
According to the company website, the product is 92 percent effective. The almost-flawless success rate makes it “the strongest and most effective product for toxin reduction in the hair.” Use Synergy Detox Toxin Wash Shampoo at least three times a week leading up to your hair follicle drug test for the best results.
The Macujo Method
If you want an alternative to detox shampoos, the Macujo Method is one of the most heralded treatment. The process has been around for nearly two decades as an unorthodox way to pass a hair follicle drug test. Many people swear by the Macujo Method, giving it considerable credibility and popularity amongst participants.
Little is known about the origins of the Macujo Method, only that it started around 2000. The reason it remains popular today is that it targets the drug metabolites in the hair shaft. These are the substances that laboratories look for during the hair follicle test.
How Does the Macujo Method Work?
The Macujo Method is an eight-step process. It focuses on detoxifying your hair repeatedly until any traces of drug use disappear. Here are the ingredients you need for the Macujo Method:
- Heinz vinegar – Available online and in your local grocery store
- Aloe Toxin Rid detox shampoo – This version is old, and the supply is limited. It has propylene glycol, which is the essential compound to the Macujo Method
- Tide detergent – Any form of Tide laundry detergent will do
- Clean and Clark pink – Check the label for salicylic acid. If Clean and Clark pink is not available, try Neutrogena T/Sal
- Goggles and rubber gloves for protection
Before you begin the Macujo Method, do not smoke or consume marijuana or other illicit drugs for at least ten days. If possible, abstain for two weeks. The longer the buildup, the better your odds of passing drug testing from hair.
Start by wetting your hair with warm water. You do not have to soak it. Once damp, put on the rubber gloves and goggles.
Gently pour the Heinz vinegar on the scalp and massage thoroughly. Apply a generous amount of Clean and Clark pink or the salicylic shampoo substitute on top of your hair. Mix the shampoo with the vinegar. It is normal to feel a mild burning sensation.
Let the mixture sit on your head for 30 minutes. Proceed to wash your hair with Aloe Toxin Rid shampoo, making sure it has propylene glycol. Do a deep scrub before rewashing your hair with Tide detergent.
How Effective is the Macujo Method?
The Macujo Method leverages your body’s natural detoxification powers with artificial ones. The eight-step process targets drug metabolites in your hair follicles that would otherwise trigger a positive result. While there is no published study about its efficacy, estimates suggest the Macujo Method works 90 percent of the time.
There are blogs and social media posts depicting people using the Macujo Method and receiving negative hair test results. There are also clinical and laboratory specialists who will tell you the opposite. The fact that the Macujo Method is still around today after 20 years is a testament to its enduring legacy.
The Macujo Method is not guaranteed to work for everyone. Everyone uniquely processes drugs, and their hair grows at an individual rate. All companies are not liable to give the same drug tests, either. If you want the best results, stick to the guidelines as closely as possible, and maintain abstinence for at least ten days before starting the Macujo Method.
The Pros of the Macujo Method?
When people are pondering how to pass a hair follicle drug test, they opt for the Macujo Method. The process has a 90 percent success rate, which is as close to a guarantee as possible. While no test is perfect, it consistently works for hair test participants.
It’s worth mentioning that the Macujo Method applies predominantly to weed smokers. There is no clear evidence whether it passes a hair drug test for barbiturates, opiates, or other drugs. This discrepancy is because the Macujo Method targets the THC in weed.
Another significant benefit is that there is no permanent hair damage. While no one claims the process is enjoyable, it does not have irrevocable effects on body hair. The same is not true of the Jerry G Method.
The Cons of the Macujo Method?
If you want to beat a hair follicle drug test, you have to invest time. The Macujo Method requires that in spades. You should perform it once or twice daily in the days leading up to your drug test for the best results.
It also requires multiple 30 minute incubation periods for the vinegar and shampoo mixture. The repetition cleans any hair follicle below the scalp that has embedded THC metabolites. While this period is vital for passing a hair follicle drug test, it can take away from productivity elsewhere.
The repetition and ingredients are harsh on scalps, too. You’ll notice a mild burning sensation from the vinegar and shampoo combination. It can also leave hair follicles dry and frizzy, though, none of these effects are permanent.
Jerry G Method
The Jerry G Method shares a lot of similarities with the Macujo Method. It is an eight-step process that uses a chemical concoction to pass a hair drug test. It also requires at least ten days of abstinence from smoking or consuming drugs.
The primary difference is the chemical composition for the Jerry G Method. It uses bleach, dye, and baking soda paste as well as detox shampoo to clean hair follicles. Some people prefer it to Macujo Method is because it is less expensive and time-consuming.
How Does the Jerry G Method Work?
The Jerry G Method permanently changes your hair in contrast to the Macujo Method, which strips away drug metabolites. You know the process is working if you see different hair textures and makeup. Here are the ingredients you need to begin:
- A bottle of bleach – Check the label for hydrogen peroxide, which speeds up the hair follicle breakdown
- Toxin Wash shampoo
- Zydot Ultra Clean shampoo – This brand targets and flushes toxins in the hair follicles
- Baking soda
- Ammonia-based hair dye – The bleach and hair dye breaks down the outside of the hair follicle and exposes its center
- Combs and towels
The first step to the Jerry G Method is abstinence. The longer you can abstain from drug use, the more likely you are to pass a hair follicle drug test. The Jerry G Method recommends at least ten days.
Bleach your hair and then use dye to initiate the Jerry G Method. Pick a coloring that resembles your natural or existing hair color to minimize contrast. Don’t forget to check the bleach label for ammonia.
After bleaching and dyeing your hair, wash it thoroughly with the Toxin Wash shampoo. Follow the instructions on the back of the shampoo for the best results. Do not blow-dry your hair showering, or you can cause hair damage.
Ten days after using the bleach and hair dye mixture, apply it again while remaining abstinent. Once you use the Toxin Wash shampoo, follow up with Zydot Ultra Clean shampoo. Wash your hair thoroughly before letting it dry.
Repeat everything one more time on the day of testing. Use the baking soda to create a paste in your hair and remove traces of recent drug use. Use a towel or air to dry your hair before going to the drug testing site.
How Effective is the Jerry G Method?
What makes the Jerry G Method effective is its combination of ingredients. Bleach or hair dye by themselves are not enough to pass a hair follicle test. Combining everything makes them greater than the sum of their parts.
There is no scientific research nor clinical trials about the efficacy of the Jerry G Method. There are plenty of anecdotes and blog posts online suggesting it has a comparable success rate to the Macujo Method.
How Does it Compare to the Macujo Method?
When you use the Jerry G Method, you are paying for time and convenience. As a compromise with the Macujo Method, it requires you to alter your hair permanently. These two most significant discrepancies between two otherwise identical methods.
If you want to save time and money, opt for the Jerry G Method. The process is less time-intensive because it does not require daily application. The ingredients are also more common, so you do not have to worry about potential sticker shock.
Many people do not want to change their head or body hair permanently. The long-lasting effects may compromise your appearance in a way that outweighs a positive test. If you find your hair weak or frizzy, try using conditioners or moisturizes to restore your original lushness.
Your body is the natural answer for how to pass a hair follicle drug test. When you consume drugs, it flushes them out without you doing any work. You can accelerate or slow the process, depending on your lifestyle, usage rate, and health.
The first step is cutting out drug use altogether. Your detoxification cannot commence until drugs are out of the picture. While going cold turkey is challenging, it gives you the best odds of passing a hair drug test.
As you transition to abstinence, begin focusing more on your quality of sleep. Sleep is your body’s time to detoxify, so long periods of uninterrupted rest improve drug removal. If you have trouble sleeping, try making lifestyle changes, such as following a sleep schedule or reducing time in front of screens.
Drinking water is essential to pass a hair test. Water detoxifies your body by removing unwanted waste products, in addition to regulating body temperature, aiding in digesting, and lubricating joints. Researchers recommend the average man drinks 125 ounces of water per day while women drink 91 ounces.
Upgrade your diet, too. That includes eating fewer sugary and processed foods, eating more antioxidant-rich foods, and consuming prebiotics like tomatoes, bananas, and onions. Don’t forget to moderate your salt intake. Too much salt causes water retention and bloating.
Your abstinence benefits from exercise. Regular physical activity strengthens your bodily organs and muscle, including your detoxification system, while reducing your risks of adverse health outcomes. Experts recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderately-intense exercise per week.
Some people supplement their abstinence with detox drinks and pills. These aids have bold claims about passing hair follicle drug tests, but there is little evidence they work. Your best bet is to focus on abstaining from drug use and improving your diet, sleep, and exercise routines.
Methods that Do Not Work to Pass a Hair Drug Test
Shaving Your Head
When you take a hair follicle test, the clinician will snip 1.5 inches of hair. That number is not random. The average hair grows at 0.5 inches per 30 days. Because drug tests need to look at a 90-day window, clinicians need 1.5 inches of hair.
It is tempting to think that shaving everything means you can circumvent the system. You will not. Coming into the facility with a freshly shaven head is a red flag that something is amiss.
Clinicians do not have to give you a hair follicle test either to find drugs. A medical blood, saliva, or urine drug test will produce uniform results. You’re better off saving your time and hair and using a different approach other than a shave.
Bleaching or Dyeing Your Hair
If you are wondering how to pass a hair sample drug test, bleaching and dyeing are not the answers. These methods try to obfuscate the presence of drug metabolites instead of removing them. The hope is the hair follicle drug test picks up the hair products instead of the underlying substances.
According to Quest Diagnostics, “when normal hair treatments, including bleaching or dyeing, were applied to cut hair samples, they typically did not interfere with test results.” Any results from these treatments are minimally effective. They also put your hair at risk for permanent damage.
Wearing a Wig
Desperate people do desperate things. If you are in a time crunch, we understand that you are scrambling for answers. A wig is not one of the solutions to pass a hair test, though.
While a wig, hairpiece, or weave can seem appealing, it will take clinicians seconds to realize the sample is fake. After they take a hair from your head and analyze it, they won’t see the chemical and organic properties found in human hair. A wig is a sure-fire way to raise suspicion around your drug test, and you will have to retake the hair test anyways.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test in 24 Hours
Time is your friend when passing a hair drug test. The longer your hair grows, and the longer you detoxify, the better your chances of success. While passing a hair drug test within 24 hours is far from ideal, it is not impossible.
Using a detox shampoo, such as the Macujo Method or the Jerry G Method, can help. Each approach reduces the drug metabolites that clinicians look for during hair follicle testing. You’ll need to apply them multiple times if you want a shot at passing.
Remember that hair drug testing looks at the 1.5 inches of hair. That hair offers the clinician a 90-day window into your recent drug use. If you smoked or consumed drugs regularly during that time, you are likely going to fail despite your efforts.
Your chances of passing a drug test improve with abstinence. The less you smoke or consume, the less likely you are to exceed the cut-off level for detection. You should be fine if you abstained for the last 90 days, and then only used recently. For example, it takes the THC from cannabis five to ten days to bind to your hair follicles and exit the scalp.
How Much Does a Hair Follicle Test Cost?
A hair follicle drug test is more expensive than most of its testing counterparts. If you use an at-home kit, you might expect to pay $65 to $85. Hair drug tests from the laboratory setting cost anywhere from $100 to $125.
If you take your hair drug test during work, your employer must compensate you for your time. They also have to pay for the test. Many employers use a hair drug test as part of their pre-employment screening. It is the one exception to the compensation rule.
Alternative Drug Tests
Hair Drug Test vs. Urine Drug Test
A hair follicle drug test offers a broader detection window for clinicians than a urine drug test. That’s because your body disposes of waste more quickly through urine than hair. When you smoke or consume drugs, say, your hair does not have the mechanisms to excrete the metabolites readily.
According to researchers, a urine drug test detects drug use within ten hours to one week. The test results vary based on how much you use. If you take methamphetamine once, you will show traces for one to four days. Heavy usage lingers for up to a week.
The one exception to the ten-hour-to-one-week window is marijuana. If you smoke weed once, the drug lasts in your system for up to two weeks. Habitual or heavy usage appears on drug testing for 45 and 90 days, respectively.
Many companies shy away from urine drug tests for their workplace because they are easy to circumvent. People can tamper with their samples by providing fake urine or diluting their pee. Hair drug testing requires direct contact between the clinician and person taking the test, so it’s more challenging to cheat. We’ve also covered how to pass a urine drug test in 24 hours here.
Hair Drug Test vs. Saliva Drug Test
The urine drug test is the most common drug testing option, with 90 percent of employers using it. The saliva test is second at ten percent, followed by the hair follicle drug test at seven percent. (These percentages add up to more than 100 because some employers use multiple drug tests.)
A saliva drug test is appealing for its simplicity. Participants receive an FDA-approved swab on-site before the clinician sends the sample to the lab. The test requires the same degree of physical proximity as the hair drug test, which makes cheating almost impossible.
The drawback to the saliva drug test is its short detection window. Some drugs only linger for a few minutes, while others last up to 48 hours. A saliva drug test only catches chronic users. Managers often view these individuals as the most significant risks to the company.
Hair Drug Test vs. Blood Drug Test
The most effective way to test someone for drugs is through the blood. The test result can provide information about past drug usage, similar to a hair test. A blood test can also identify the parent compound of the drug, which lets clinicians pinpoint when you consumed the substance to detect drug use.
You are highly unlikely to encounter a blood test, though, for two reasons. The primary issue is cost. A blood test is the most expensive and intrusive method of drug testing. While the results are really precise, the price tag makes widespread testing impractical.
It also has a shorter detection period than a hair test. A hair test reveals drug use from the 90 days. A blood test is limited to 48 hours. Some compounds, such as alcohol, amphetamines, heroin, morphine, and LSD, exit the body even faster.
The Bottom Line
The secret for how to pass a hair follicle drug test is actually abstinence. Your body has natural detoxification and cleansing abilities and will flush out any unwanted drugs or substances naturally. If time is limited, consider a cleanse using detox shampoos, the Macujo Method, or the Jerry G Method.
Each approach has a distinct set of pros and cons. Take time reviewing the requirements against your needs, so that you find the right option for you. Follow the directions, and you are all but guaranteed to pass your next hair follicle drug test.