Cortisol and stress steroids have been successfully measured in hair samples.  However, understanding the relationship between these types of assays and those traditionally done in blood and saliva is still underway.


1. Gather the supplies listed below:

  • Aluminum foil, cut into pieces about
  • Scissors
  • Paper clip
  • Sectional hair clips (get size)
  • Comb
  • Cotton string, cut into 12-inch lengths

2. Prepare the area you will be using:

  • Lay out scissors, hair clips, comb
  • Loop the string:  fold the string in half, then tie a slip knot on the string so that a loop about 2 inches in diameter is formed.  This link shows a slip knot for knitting, which is the same principle:

3. At the back of the head, collect a top layer of hair and secure it out of the way with the hair clips.

4. Approximately 2 cm below the cranial bone, use the comb to separate 2-3 strands of hair.  Overall diameter of strands should be about half of a pencil.

5. Thread the hair strands through the loop of the string.  Tighten the loop.

6. Cut the hair close to the scalp, between the tightened string and the scalp.  This allows the string to remain around the sample of hair once it is cut.

7. Place the strands of hair on the foil in the center, leaving the string on the sample.  Using a permanent marker, mark on the foil which end of the sample was the end cut (and closest to the scalp).  If the hair sample is too long for the foil, the strands can be trimmed at the end that was farthest from the scalp.

  • Fold about 1 inch of the top of the foil over the scalp end of the strand.  Then, as if the foil was divided in thirds vertically, fold the left side over the hair sample.  Then, fold the right side over to meet the left fold.  Finally, fold about 1 inch of the bottom of the foil up.  BE SURE TO NOT FOLD THE HAIR SAMPLE.

9. Place the paper clip over the foil at the scalp end of the sample.

10. Place the participant label on the foil.  Place the foil label into a Ziploc bag.

11. Store the sample in a dark, dry location until shipping.

Required Materials

Supplies needed for hair collection are commonly manufactured, so no vendor is specified:
  • Aluminum foil, cut into sheets as specified by the lab
  • Cotton string, thick enough to hold when tied around a section of hair (It is important to be sure the string is not too slick or slippery, as it will not hold the hair securely)
  • Scissors
  • Combs
  • Gloves
  • Plastic bags that seal tightly to hold multiple foil packets