Skip to content
Master Your Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Preparation

Preparing Your Hair For An HTMA

Master Your Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Preparation


When submitting a hair sample for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA), it's crucial to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure your sample is suitable for testing. The quantity of hair required, the proper hair-washing technique, and the acceptable hair types for the hair analysis test need to be clarified. This article aims to clarify these points and guide you through the preparation process for an accurate and reliable HTMA result.

Hair Washing Protocol

Ensuring your hair is cleaned when you take a sample for HTMA is not just a recommendation—it's a necessity. This strict timing is rooted in the potential for external contaminants. Everyday environmental exposure can lead to debris and metal particles settling in your hair, making it important to collect the sample in a clean environment. When these contaminants are present, they can significantly skew the results of your mineral analysis.

Pollution, dirt, and even household dust are natural accumulators of various substances that can adhere to your hair. By washing your hair right before sampling, you're eliminating this layer of recent accumulation, giving a more accurate reflection of the minerals and metals naturally excreted by your body through your hair.

Moreover, it's essential to address hair treatments – specifically, the use of conditioners. While conditioners can leave your hair feeling soft and manageable, they can also leave residues that affect the HTMA. We urge clients to skip the conditioner when preparing their hair for sampling. Similarly, samples of dirty, sweat-laden, or greasy hair are not ideal as they can introduce artifacts into the result, leading to potential misinterpretation of your hair's mineral content. Therefore, it's best to provide a sample that is as clean and natural as possible – untreated and free from any styling products that could conceal your accurate mineral profile. It is also important to use standard paper envelopes, such as a clean hair specimen envelope with a glue flap, to hold the hair specimen and avoid using plastic bags or any other metal and paper material of any kind to seal, secure, or wrap the hair envelope and/or the hair specimen contained within.

Products to Avoid

Shampoo could distinguish between an accurate and misleading reading when preparing your hair for a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA). Before taking your hair sample, it is vital to steer clear of specialized shampoos, such as Selsun Blue or Head and Shoulders. Why? The active ingredients in these anti-dandruff formulations often include elements like selenium or zinc—minerals directly analyzed in HTMA. Their presence in the shampoo can artificially elevate the levels in your hair, compromising the integrity of the test results and your zinc status.

Be equally cautious about other hair care products that might contain metal additives. Certain color-enhancing or color-preserving shampoos contain trace amounts of metals such as lead or manganese, which can also interfere with the HTMA by contributing to a false representation of your body's mineral stores.

Furthermore, while alternative hair treatments such as apple cider vinegar rinses are famous for their clarifying properties, they are not suitable when preparing for an HTMA. The acidity of apple cider vinegar can alter the extracellular mineral content of your hair, disrupting the balance that the test seeks to measure. The harsh nature of the acid can strip away minerals and metals that the HTMA is designed to detect, leading to an underestimation of these elements in your system.

Hair Quality

For the most accurate Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA), virgin hair—hair that isn’t colored, chemically treated, or altered in any way—is highly preferable. This unprocessed hair best represents your body's natural mineral levels without the potential contamination from hair products or treatments.

However, we understand that virgin hair isn't always an option. Many individuals dye or treat their hair, which can complicate HTMA because these hair products can introduce foreign minerals and metals into the hair, possibly affecting the analysis. For example, hair dyes can deposit an excess of elements such as aluminum, copper, or iron, which could be mistakenly assessed as your body's internal mineral status. Additionally, a hair test, specifically a hair mineral analysis, can also detect heavy metal toxicity, such as mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings, providing valuable information for overall health and wellness. It is important to test for toxic metals in the hair as they can accumulate in the soft tissues and cause harm to the body, making hair sampling for an HTMA, specifically human hair, a crucial tool for identifying trace elements, toxic elements, and maintaining hair quality.

In cases where virgin hair is unavailable, we recommend a thorough washing routine—approximately 10-12 washes—before taking your sample. This repeated cleaning helps strip some of the artificial dyes and reduce the concentration of extraneous elements. While it's not a guaranteed method for eliminating the influence of dyes on the HTMA, it does minimize it significantly.

Appropriate Hair Type and Sampling

A haircut from the head is recommended for the most accurate hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA). This recommendation is based on the fact that most HTMA research has utilized scalp hair, which is the most appropriate hair type for analysis. If obtaining scalp hair is not feasible, alternative sources such as beard hair, underarm hair, or other body hair may be used as a last resort. However, a few considerations are necessary:

Underarm Hair: If selecting underarm hair, do not use antiperspirants or products containing aluminum or zirconium, as these can contaminate the sample.

Consistency: Do not mix different hair types in one sample, as each type has a distinct metabolic rate, which could skew results.

It’s important to note that pubic hair is the least preferred option. It typically shows elevated phosphorus levels, which can interfere with correct metabolic type determinations and some ratios in the analysis.

Correct Cutting Techniques

The specific segment of hair you submit is crucial for accurate analysis. It's essential to provide the root end of the hair, not just the tip, because the proximal part (closest to the scalp or skin) contains the most relevant data for analysis. Here's how to properly collect a sample: Cut a small section of hair from each of the recommended areas for collection (nape of the neck, posterior vertex, and posterior temporal regions), as close to the scalp as possible to obtain a complete hair specimen. Place the hair in a paper envelope (not plastic or foil) to avoid contamination. Please read all the instructions carefully before submitting your sample.

Cut Location: Ensure hair is cut close to the scalp or skin.

Sample Size: Aim for a thickness between ¾ and 1 inch and a length of approximately 2 centimeters.

This sample size is optimal as it offers insights into the average mineral excretion into the hair strands over the past three months. Samples exceeding this length may not accurately represent recent metabolic activity and are less useful for our analysis, so please refrain from sending in longer hair strands.

Proper Storage and Handling of the Sample

Please not store your hair sample in plastic bags or wrap it in aluminum foil. Such materials can interfere with the accuracy of the hair sample analysis. Instead, use the designated envelope we have explicitly provided for this purpose. This ensures that your sample remains unaffected and reliable for analysis.

Special Considerations

For individuals using water softeners in their showers, it's essential to take extra steps when preparing your hair for sampling. Water softeners can leave residue in the hair that may impact the test results. To ensure an uncontaminated hair sample:

Double Shampoo: Wash your hair thoroughly twice with a regular shampoo to remove any potential residues from the water softener.

Rinse with Alternative Water: Avoid softened water for the final rinse after shampooing. Ideally, rinse your hair with unsoftened tap water. For even better results, consider using reverse osmosis water, often found at local grocery stores, which provides a high purity level that helps prevent mineral deposit contamination on the hair.

These precautions will help acquire a clean hair sample, free from external mineral influences, allowing for a more accurate analysis.


In conclusion, submitting a hair sample for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is nuanced but incredibly significant. From the initial steps of ensuring your hair is washed correctly, devoid of contaminants from water softeners, and free from the residues of conditioners and certain shampoos to the vital aspect of providing a sample that accurately represents your body’s mineral excretion, each guideline serves a crucial purpose. The emphasis on using virgin hair, or at the very least, hair that has been thoroughly washed if treated, alongside the consideration for using head hair primarily for consistency and reliability in results, underscores the meticulousness required for precise HTMA outcomes. Moreover, the specifics around correct cutting techniques, proper storage, and handling illustrate the detail needed to prevent sample contamination. This blog has aimed to demystify the preparation process, presenting a clear path for individuals looking to gain insightful, accurate results from their HTMA. It emphasizes each step's critical role in accurately indicating mineral and metal levels. Schedule your HTMA with us today!

Barbara Madimenos
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Nutrition Practitioner

Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)


Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart