« AlphaBiolabs Blog

Nail testing for drugs provides an alternative to hair drug testing when the donor has no or little hair. There may also be religious reasons why a donor doesn’t want to have their hair cut.

Obtaining a sample for nail testing for drugs is also less obtrusive. Nails provide a highly stable, simple-to-collect and easy-to-transport sample. The clippings need to be taken as near to the nail bed as possible. If the nail is long (above 5 mm) then only one nail would be required. If the nails are short then it may be best to take clippings from a couple of nails. Either fingernails or toenails can be used for the drug test, but not a mixture. Approximately 10 mg of nail is required in total. Using toenails has the advantage of there being less potential for contamination. Acrylic nails, Shellac and other forms of nail varnish would need to be removed as this may damage the surface of the nail and impact on the drug results.

Nail clippings can be tested for the following drugs: Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Ketamine, Methadone, PCP, Opiates and Zolpidem.

How does nail testing for drugs work?

In hair, any drug that is consumed circulates in the bloodstream and a proportion of it and its metabolites enter the hair follicle and become incorporated into the keratin of the hair shaft.

The principle of drug incorporation into nails is similar because nails are also made of keratin. It is this fibrous protein that again traps any drugs and their biomarkers ready for detection. The turnaround times for both hair and nail testing methods are 3 days.

Unlike hair drug testing, nail testing won’t give a historic segmented pattern of drug use, but it will give an overview of up to 12 months.

Sample collection options for nail testing for drugs

Nail testing for drugs is made easy thanks to flexible options for sample collection. AlphaBiolabs offers a secure, rapid and convenient service via its experienced network of highly qualified sample collectors. These sample collectors can visit any convenient address (home, work or a solicitor’s office) to collect a sample under chain of custody procedures.

Alternatively, rather than having to arrange an appointment for sample collection, those needing nail testing for drugs can call into one of our 11 free nationwide Walk in Centres

where the nail clippings can be collected. Expert sample collectors at the Walk in Centres ensure that the process is carried out quickly, efficiently and with no risk of contamination. This is ideal for those instances when you need to be certain that the results of a drug test are completely accurate and that the sample has not been tampered with.

Call 0333 600 1300 now for more information on nail testing for drugs or email us at For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ drug testing solutions, please visit our website