Collecting Your Hair Sample Instructions & FAQs

Step 1: Wash Your Hair

Before cutting the hair sample, wash your hair with regular shampoo. Do not use dandruff shampoos as they often contain minerals which may alter the test results. For example, Head and Shoulders Shampoo contains zinc which could elevate the zinc reading, and Selsun Blue Shampoo contains selenium which can elevate this reading.

For best results, avoid using conditioners before cutting your hair sample. Do not place other products on your hair such as leave-in conditioners, hair gel, hair cream, hair spray or others until after you have cut the hair sample.

Hair Color is ok!!!

Hair color, dyes and tints do not affect the test because they contain chemicals, not minerals, but it’s best to wash the hair at least once after applying a tint, dye or color rinse before cutting a hair sample.

Bleach, highlights and perms can alter the structure of the hair. So either sample the hair before a treatment or after you have washed the hair five or more times following a lightening, bleaching or perming treatment. The hair tends to re-balance after five washings. Since highlights are done on the surface of the hair, you can simply sample a piece of hair that has not been highlighted on the underside of your hair.

Step 2: Dry Hair for 4 hours

After washing your hair, wait at least 4 hours to cut the sample but no longer than 24 hours. Hair needs to be dry when sampling, so avoid putting wet hair in hats, pony tails or any other style that will prevent the hair from drying by the time the sample is taken.

Avoid any activity which will cause you to sweat excessively before cutting your sample, as this may affect the hair analysis results.

Step 3: Cut the hair sample.

Using clean scissors, cut hair as close to the scalp as possible. DO NOT use an electric razor to cut the hair sample, because pieces of metal from the blades become mixed with the hair sample.

You may cut the samples from any part of the head but we recommend the back of the head, as it often grows fastest. If head hair is not available, the next best is beard hair, then arm/chest hair, but do not mix sample types (for example, do not mix beard hair and head hair). Pubic hair is not as accurate and should only be used as a last resort.

Keep track of which end of the cut hair is from the scalp because we only want the inch or so of hair that was directly against your scalp! This is because the hair furthest from the scalp is the oldest. Older (longer) hair will show us the chemistry of your body months or even years ago, so it not accurate for your body’s current chemistry. To get the hair required for a hair mineral analysis, simply cut and discard the unwanted ends of the hair until all you have is the 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) or less that was closest to the scalp. Use a ruler to be sure you have the right length of hair!

You will have enough hair when the 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) hair sample fills a TEAPOON (or tips the scale if you have requested a scale). If you are unsure if you have enough hair, send a little more to be safe. For repeat hair analyses, it’s best to keep the samples no longer than one inch (2.5 cm).


You can avoid leaving bald spots by cutting multiple very-small samples from all over the head.


You can easily hide the sample location by pinning part of your hair up to expose the center of the back of your head and cutting the sample from UNDER the hair, about 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) above the base of the hairline. That way the sample spot will be hidden whether you wear your hair up or down. This also allows you to easily find the same spot when you do a repeat hair mineral analysis after 3-4 months: you simply cut the new growth from the same spot.

Hair Sample FAQs

Can I cut my own sample?

Yes. You can either cut your own hair sample, have a friend or hairdresser cut it, or if you are in the Los Angeles area, you can come to my office and I can cut the sample for you. If you are cutting your own sample, it may be easiest to take it from the sides so that you can see where you are cutting in a mirror. Whether you cut your own sample or have a friend do it, be sure to follow the hair sampling Instructions above carefully.

I color my hair. Will this affect the analysis results?

Most hair tints, dyes, rinses and highlights are chemical-based. The hair analysis deals with mineral content, so hair dyes usually don’t affect it. Bleaching the hair can affect it a little, so it’s best to wait until you have washed your hair 5 times after bleaching the hair before taking the sample. It is also best to have washed the hair a few times after dying it before sampling. But overall, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Ideally, for repeat hair mineral analyses, it is nice if you can cut the sample just prior to bleaching or dying. Grecian formula does contain lead which will appear on the hair analysis. Grecian formula is best avoided in general due to this toxicity.

Does the hair have to be from your head? Can it be body hair?

Hair from the head is much preferred because it provides the most accurate readings. In situations where there is insufficient hair on the head, beard, chest or arm hair may be used as a last resort. Pubic hair is not accurate.

Can I use hair from anywhere on my head?

Yes, as long as it is the hair closest to the scalp. When cutting a hair sample for a repeat hair mineral analysis, we recommend you try to take hair from the same general location as the initial analysis, as this gives more reliable comparisons.

How long do the sample hairs have to be? And how much do I need?

The hair sample should not be longer than 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) and can be as short as 1/8th inch (.3 cm) if the person has buzzed hair, for example. The longer the sample length, the further back in time we are analyzing. Ideally, we want the more recent information. For a first hair analysis, 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5-4 cm) is fine We find a ruler is helpful — many people accidentally send me hair samples 3 inches (7.6 cm) or even longer! For a repeat hair mineral analysis, you may want to use only an inch (2.5 cm) or less of hair that is closest to the scalp so that we have the most recent information and can see the more recent changes. You will have enough hair when the 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) or shorter cut samples will fill an ordinary teaspoon. If you have a hair sampling scale, you will have enough hair when the scale tips. Remember that we want the sample from the hair closest to the scalp.

How do I know I have enough hair for the sample?

You will have enough hair when the 1.5-inch (or shorter) hair samples will fill an ordinary teaspoon or tip the hair sampling scale. You can request a hair sample scale be mailed to you. Be sure to only fill the spoon with the hair that was right against the scalp.

Is there anything I should do to prepare before cutting my hair sample?

Make sure your hair has been washed, preferably with a mild soap or with shampoo, at least 4 hours (but no longer than 24 hours) before cutting the sample. So you would wash your hair and wait 4 to 24 hours to sample it. Avoid using conditioners or rinses for best results. Do not place other products on your hair such as hair cream, hair spray, gel or others until after you have cut the hair sample. Avoid any activity which will cause you to sweat excessively before cutting your sample. Hair needs to be dry when sampling, so avoid putting wet hair in hats, pony tails or any other style that will prevent the hair from drying by the time the sample is taken.

Will a water softener affect my hair test results?

If you have a water softener in your home, it is very important that you do not send in a hair sample that was washed with softened water. Be sure to wash your hair twice with spring water or regular, unsoftened tap water before cutting your sample. This does not have to be twice in the same day, but needs to be two times in a row. Do not allow the softened water to get on your hair between, during or after the two washings. Once you have cut the sample, you may return to using your regular softened water. We have you do this because softened water contains sodium and sometimes potassium which will alter the analysis readings of those minerals. Water softeners are devices used to remove “hard” minerals (usually calcium and magnesium) from the tap water. They can be hooked up to the whole house or building or just select rooms or even individual faucets, like in a bathroom. There are filters that work to simply remove chlorine from the water; these are not water softeners. Some water softeners work by adding an electrical charge to the water, which has no effect on the hair test. Others work by adding either sodium or potassium to the water, which then raises these levels in the hair and alters the hair test readings. If you have to periodically add sodium or some other compound to a device on your water supply, then you likely have one of these softeners and need to follow the water-softener instructions for preparing your hair for sampling. How can you tell if you have a water softener? One way you can tell if the water you are using has been softened is that it will have an almost slimy feel on your skin. Additionally, softened-water doesn’t leave water stains or mineral deposits on dishes and surfaces. One more clue is that soft-water allows soap to foam up very easily. Usually one would know if they have a water softener, but if you aren’t sure, and you want to play it safe, just follow the water-softener directions on the hair sampling instructions.

How do I cut my hair for a retest?

Try to use hair from the same part of the body as the original analysis. If the original sample was from the head, try to get it from the same general area of the head for repeat analyses. For medium or long hair, you can continue to sample the same spot using the new growth for each repeat hair analysis so you won’t have to cut more long hair off.