In this study, we investigated the hypothesis whether externally adsorbed and internally deposited flame retardants (FRs) in hair could be distinguished. To this extent, hair samples collected from one volunteer were exposed under controlled conditions to phosphate FR (PFR) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) standards to mimic external contamination. Afterwards, suitable washing procedures to selectively remove contaminants from the hair surface were investigated. The samples were measured by GC-(ECNI)-MS for PBDEs and LC-(ESI+)-MS/MS for PFRs. All investigated compounds were transferred onto the hair surface. One of the most important finding was that dust particles are not mandatory to transfer compounds on the hair surface and to be able to measure high levels of compounds in human hair. To assess different protocols to selectively remove external contamination, the exposed hair samples were washed in different media before analysis: water, methanol, hexane:dichloromethane (1:1, v/v), acetone and shampoo. Results indicated that there is no washing medium able to entirely and exclusively remove external contamination. Among investigated media, methanol removed a meaningful part of the external contamination (42-105%), but the removal efficiencies differed among compounds. We therefore concluded that hair should not be washed prior to analysis and in case of visible contamination (e.g. with cosmetic products), water would be the recommended agent. Organic solvents should not be used for the washing step. Although it is impossible to distinguish external from internal exposure, hair samples may be used as valuable biomarker of human exposure, providing a measure of integral exposure. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study which has used externally exposed hair samples to PBDEs and PFRs.