Which is the best – Oral Saliva Test vs. Hair Drug Test?

For various reasons, many organizations are moving towards the oral saliva drug test from the conventional urine drug test. When it comes to accuracy, the oral saliva drug tests cannot produce accurate results, unlike the hair drug tests. Here, we will discuss Oral Saliva Test vs. Hair Drug Test.

On the contrary, the saliva drug test may take 5 minutes to identify the drug traces (if tested with the best drug testing kits), but a hair drug test can take 2 to 3 days to deliver the results. This blog aims to create a fair comparison between the saliva and hair drug tests so that you, as an employer, can weigh the pros and cons and decide which drug test is suitable for your company.

What is an Oral Saliva Drug Test?

An oral Saliva drug test is an efficient drug testing method that can produce instant results with greater accuracy. Several organizations, including the Department of Transportation, recommend the oral saliva drug test for transportation employees and new hires. Employers in safety-sensitive industries might also conduct a urine drug test, but the saliva drug test stands as the best choice considering the accuracy and privacy concerns. 

Which is the best - Oral Saliva Test vs. Hair Drug Test?
Oral Saliva Test

An oral saliva drug test is accurate and can be conducted anywhere. If you are going to face your drug test, you can test yourself using home-based saliva drug test kits from a trusted online store to check the levels of your drugs.

The oral saliva drug test may extend to a confirmation test if the given sample produces a false positive or diluted sample. In that case, a Hair drug test may be considered a viable option.

What is a Hair Drug Test?

A hair drug test uses the hair follicle as a specimen to track the drug traces in your body. The hair follicle drug test can identify the drugs that have been taken before a long time, say, a maximum of 90 days.

Once you take the drug, the drug enters your body and gets metabolized in your blood. The blood will travel all over your body and enter into the hair strands. The keratin traps the drug traces not to be flushed out quickly because they are dead cells. Hence, they remain in your body for a prolonged time.

During the hair drug test, the tester will collect 100 to 120 hair strands from your head (especially the crown region). If the tester cannot find hair in the crown region, he will collect hair from other areas of your head. In case if you are bald, the tester may collect hair from any part of your body.

Which is the best - Oral Saliva Test vs. Hair Drug Test?
Hair Drug Test

Hair drug tests are known for their cheat-proof nature, and there are rare chances that you might face false-positive results. It is hard to fake your hair drug test or tamper with it as the tester will only collect your sample during the drug test. If you are confused about your upcoming hair drug test, you can use home-based hair drug test kits to identify the drug traces that could help you face your real drug test easily.

Despite all the pros, the hair drug test is not recommended in many organizations as it is expensive, and it might take 2 to 3 days to know the result.

Which is the best – Oral saliva or Hair drug test?

Both the Saliva and the Hair drug test have their specific pros and cons. Let us list the attributes on which we can compare both of them.


The hair drug test may be conducted in two phases – ELISA and GC/MS for confirmation. The oral saliva drug test requires only the saliva from the buccal cavity, which can deliver accurate results within minutes.

Identification of drugs

The saliva drug test can trace up to 10 drugs instantly. The hair drug test can trace nearly ten illicit drugs and four prescription drugs accurately.


When it comes to reliability, hair drug tests are more reliable than oral saliva drug test results. The test results from instant saliva testing kits are not considered or officially accepted in many institutions. Some Multinational organizations accept lab-tested results only and not saliva kit results.

Detection Window

Hair drug tests can help identify the drug consumed before 90 days, whereas saliva drug tests can track short consumption, say, drug consumption within 3 to 7 days.


The saliva and the hair drug tests cannot get tampered with as the tester directly collects the specimen during the drug test.

Cost and Time

The cost to conduct oral saliva drug tests is cheaper than conducting hair drug tests. You can expect the saliva drug test results within minutes if you use high-quality oral saliva testing kits. But Hair drug tests may take 2 to 3 days to get the results from the lab.


As an employer, if you have a considerable employee or applicant base and need immediate results, it is best to go for instant saliva drug testing kits. If you want your employee to be clean and want a qualitative drug result, it is wise to choose the hair drug test. Every employer and state has it’s own regulations to uphold; as a standard example check out Indiana drug testing guidelines. 

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