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Nail testing offers a sensitive, versatile alternative to hair testing. when the latter is not possible.

Like hair testing, nail testing can be used to detect drug and alcohol use across long detection windows. This is approximately between
six and 12 months – according to whether the sample is a fingernail or toenail. It is a straightforward and highly
accurate option that offers an array of benefits.

Unlike hair testing, however, nail tests cannot be used to indicate patterns of substance use – only indicating if a substance was used, not when. Nail tests are also not appropriate for detecting one-off drug or alcohol use.

Sample collection is fast and non-intrusive, and can be performed anywhere under the supervision of a trained collector.
In this way, nail tests are extremely difficult to cheat.

Sample collection is only possible where fingernails and toenails are long enough, and where they have a
normal appearance and are not contaminated with dirt, oil, nail polish or false nails.
We take additional care and judgement when collecting from a donor with peripheral artery disease or diabetes.

What you need to know about nail testing:

Detection window

The detection window is dependent on the type of nail clipping. A three-millimeter fingernail clipping might offer a six-month exposure history. A three-millimeter toenail clipping might offer a 12-month exposure history.

Substances tested for:

  • (THC) Tetrahydrocannabinol

  • (COC) Cocaine

  • (MDMA) Methamphetamines

  • (AMP) Amphetamines

  • (OPI) Opiates

  • (PCP) Phencyclidine

  • (BZO) Benzodiazepines

  • (MET) Methadone

  • (BAR) Barbiturates

Tests may also cover substances including fentanyl, tramadol, and ketamine, given the number of tests commissioned.

Collection method:

After cleaning their hands and washing under the nails, the donor clips their fingernail or toenails in front of a trained collector.

We offer a sterile metal fingernail clipper contained in a labelled plastic vial.


  • Offers a useful alternative to hair testing, when a donor lacks hair on their head or body.

  • Long detection window, for testing over a long time frame.

  • Non-intrusive sample collection method.

  • Collection can be observed.


  • Method cannot be used to detect recent substance use.

  • Sample collection is only possible with fingernails or toenails over a certain length.

  • Toenail samples must not be collected if the donor suffers from peripheral artery disease or diabetes.

  • Unsuitable for confirming one-time substance use.

How does nail testing work?

A nail drug test analyzes an individual’s fingernail clippings for the presence of various drugs, including illegal substances. Because the process itself is extremely simple and highly accurate, nail drug testing is a popularoption for employers, legal representatives, and individuals alike.
Your fingernails are made of keratin fibres, just like your hair. As your nails grow, substances in your bloodstream can be transferred from the vessels below your nails into the keratin itself. The biomarkers of these substances, including drugs, become trapped in the keratin fibres of your nails, where they will remain for several months as your nails slowly grow.

A nail drug test is able to closely analyze your nail clippings to measure the presence of these biomarkers, as well as any substances that may be in or on the nails due to direct exposure.

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