Background: The detection of drugs in hair analysis has progressively emerged as a consequence of
the enhanced sensitivity of analytical techniques used in forensic toxicology; a greater advantage in using this
matrix with respect to classical ones (i.e. urine and blood) is an easier and non-invasive sample collection, even
when the careful supervision of law enforcement officers is required to avoid the risk that the sample may be
adulterated or replaced. Moreover, according to the length of the hair, the history of drug exposure can be retrospectively
monitored from few weeks up to months or years since sample collection.
Methods: Through a detailed revision of the existent literature, this manuscript provides information on the
proper sample collection, preparation and analysis, as well as pitfalls in forensic hair analysis, and summarizes
the wide range of application of this technology, including excessive alcohol drinking, doping, child abuse, and
offences linked to drug use.
Results: Verification of history of psychotropic drugs, alcohol and doping agents use by hair analysis, hair testing
for driving license regranting and drug facilitated crimes, and testing for drugs in hair of children have been reviewed
together with recent trends in hair contamination and possibility to disclose use of new psychoactive
substances by hair analysis.
Conclusion: Hair analysis in forensic toxicology has been quickly emerged and improved in recent years; a
deeper knowledge of advantages and limitations of this unique matrix is necessary for a better use in forensic