Impact of hair-care products on FAEE hair concentrations in substance abuse monitoring

Joey Gareri, Brice Appenzeller, Paula Walasek, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that the use of high-ethanol-content (>65%) hair-care products may elevate fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE) concentrations in hair. In this case series, nine individuals were identified by FAEE analysis to be chronic alcohol abusers in the context of child-welfare substance abuse monitoring. Based on patient claims of moderate or no alcohol consumption, the presence of ethanol in the patients' hair-care regimens was investigated. Samples were additionally tested for the presence of ethyl glucuronide (EtG). From a total of nine patients, 12 hair samples were submitted for analysis. Patient histories were obtained as well as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) listing hair-care product ethanol content. Hair samples were pre-washed to remove external contamination and analyzed for FAEE and EtG by GC-MS. According to the Society of Hair Testing consensus guidelines, FAEE levels exceeding 0.50 ng/mg and/or EtG levels exceeding 30 pg/mg indicate chronic excessive alcohol consumption. Upon initial analysis, the nine samples exhibited positive FAEE findings ranging from 0.496 to 4.984 ng/mg. MSDS review revealed the presence of ethanol from 10% to 95% by volume in at least one hair-care product used by each individual. Results of the EtG analysis ranged from 1.9 to 23.5 pg/mg. These findings indicate that regular use of products with ethanol content as low as 10% can impact FAEE results. EtG analysis should be used to confirm FAEE findings and appears to be unaffected by hair-care products, likely due to alternative mechanisms of incorporation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl glucuronide (EtG)
  • Fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE)
  • Hair


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