If you are keen to explore the very roots of your genealogy, this 23andMe review is more than an adequate place to start. Genetic ancestry testing is a veritable time machine, carrying you far beyond any information your relatives and documentation can provide. You will unveil the origin of your ancestors and DNA relatives, with whom you share genetic pattern variations.

23andMe is a private biotechnology and personal genomics company located in California (Mountain View). It was founded in 2006 by Paul Cusenza, Anne Wojcicki, and Linda Avey. Their business model, which focuses on sending tests directly to consumers, was titled invention of the year in 2008 by Time Magazine. The initial concept was financially backed by giants like Google, New Enterprise Associates, Genentech, and Mohr Davidow Ventures. Read this comprehensive 23andMe review to find out more.

This test is ranked #5 on our Best DNA Ancestry Tests list.
23andme Homepage

How 23andMe Works

The procedure is relatively simple. Just visit the 23andMe online shop and order your personal DNA testing kit. With the said kit, you will be given a unique barcode number. Register it on the website so that your results can be processed. The kit will also encompass all the instructions required for a saliva sample collection. Once you’ve completed it, you should send the sample back in the included pre-paid packaging

Each sample kit contains:

  • A plastic shell packaging
  • A comprehensive instruction manual
  • A plastic bag for infectious waste disposal
  • A tube cap
  • A sample collection tube with the funnel cap attached

The shipment comes in the same box it must be returned in. That’s something you should keep in mind and resist the urges to throw it away.

23andme how it work

Lastly, make certain that you’ve actually created a personal account on the 23andMe website. Note that providing your e-mail during the ordering process and registering the code does not constitute an account. To access the results, you will have to log in and inspect them online. They will not be sent via the post office, e-mail or any other medium.

Why Choose 23andMe

There are plenty of benefits from using 23andMe. We will focus on the results primarily in order to establish the value offered for the price. Further examination of the test results is reserved for the Results section of this 23andMe review.

Your results will include, among other things:

  • Your ancestry composition info, determining the geographic region most closely aligned with your genes.
  • Haplogroups, which is a genetic population having a common ancestor. You will discover yours.
  • Neanderthal ancestry.
  • You will also be granted access to the in-house DNA Relatives Tool, which will show you any potential relatives in their system.
  • Detailed reports concerning your health. This part will reveal more about your physical traits from the genetic point of view. This result includes risks for developing certain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
  • Carrier status for genetic mutations.

The short list reported here is just the tip of the iceberg. The complete test holds more than 74 different reports.

The service offered is an extraordinary feat of modern science, yet 23andMe makes it look rather simple from the consumer’s point of view. All the work that ever lands on the consumer comes down to ordering the service, registering at the website, providing the sample, sending it back, and creating a personal account. This amazing look in the past is made simple like ordering a new pair of shoes.


There are two separate levels of testing with 23andMe:

  • Ancestry Service (99$) – This test is two-pronged. It comprises DNA matches and genetic heritage.

23andme-TestsDNA relatives are established in the former part. It’s done by comparing your sample against other testers and revealing matching DNA. For each of the matches, you will receive a probable relation report, alongside the amount of the shared DNA. The other primary test determines your genetic heritage. This term shouldn’t be confused with genealogical heritage. The main task of the test is pinpointing where your genes come from.

The genetic heritage test checks 31 DNA sample populations (aka regions of the world). Some of the regions included in the percentages are Irish and British, German and French, Western/Southern European, Iberian, Italian, Sardinian, Balkan, Native Americans, Korean, Japanese, and many other.

  • Health + Ancestry Service (199$) – This option is basically the test above plus health-related genetic health add-ons.

Here, your DNA is thoroughly checked for genes that are known for increasing the chances of certain traits and conditions. It should be noted that having a genetic predisposition for something doesn’t guarantee its actual presentation.

Trait reports are focused on your genetically predisposed physical characteristics. None of these are overly relevant to any of us, but it is nice to see how many of our physical traits are written in our genes. They measure the chances of things like freckles, eye color, and finger length ratio, as well as some more colorful factors like bitter taste perception and earwax type.

Keep in mind that these tests are available to people in the US whereas there may be some differences in the company’s offer for other countries.

Understanding The Results

DNA relatives – The matches “excavated” by the DNA-relatives part of the basic test can be sorted and searched using relationships. Some of them being father’s or mother’s side of the family, the surname, the number of grandparents with a shared birthplace, etc. These small criteria proved to be quite helpful in quickly determining probable genetic lines.

23andme Results

Every match can be clicked separately, offering information in more detail. You will see common ancestors, common surnames, genetic heritage, and haplogroups. The results depend on how much you have in common with the chosen match. You can also contact the matches through this sheet or choose to share additional information. 23andMe doesn’t feature family tree matches, which would definitely be a welcome addition to this otherwise impressive report count.

The genetic heritage results – These reports are incredibly detailed. The results can be viewed at 4 different levels:

  • 90/80/70% conservative
  • 50% speculative

Each of the levels will take a guess based on DNA samples collected in certain regions. The match will select your geographical region and compare your DNA with all the samples collected there. A full genome percentage from each area will be built for you after that. To talk in simplified terms, a “painting” of your genes will be made for you. The painting will change as you alternate the viewing level of the results.

If you want a bit clearer picture on the percentages, you can test with your parents and see exactly how much genes come from both of them. That can be your reference point for “translating” other numbers to layman’s terms.

  • Ancestry timeline – This report will go a layer deeper and show you where exactly, within your newly discovered ancestry, certain genes come from.

Each ancestry is represented via differently colored bars, which show a pop-up once you hover over them.

  • Haplogroups – Female users will receive their maternal haplogroup (male get a paternal one as well).

They are bodies of genes believed to come from a specific ancestor. This should uncover (in theory) the origin point of the first humans that carried your genetic line (paternal and maternal).

  • Neanderthal DNA –  The ultimate segment of the heritage section offers insight into neanderthal variations of your gene pool. For a better grasp of that number, you’re also privy to comparative information of all the 23andMe testers.

You’ll see your genetic predispositions for having straight hair, also factors influencing height, sneeze reflex at dark chocolate, and the possibility of back hair.

Genetic health results (a 100$ bonus) It specifies your genetic “exposure” to 41 carriers of health conditions, 7 wellness, and 19 trait results.  

23andme Understanding The Results


23andMe actively contributes to the acceleration of science. It does that by beckoning its users to share their results in the interest of science. By participating in the research, you are fueling various genetic studies being done at universities.

Every instance of the research efforts is governed by the IRB (Institutional Review Board), which makes sure everything goes according to ethical norms and government regulations. Everything about user-participation is conducted online, so being part of an important research such as this has never been easier.

Privacy And Security

In this section, our 23andMe review will answer some of the most burning questions regarding the safety of your sensitive information:

  • Anonymous genotyping –  You can use a pseudonym up until the point of registration, when you’ll be expected to provide your real name. You can revert it later but, bottom line, 23andMe will have your real name and data. Your personal information is stored independently from your genetic material, however, and the only way of identifying it would be through the registered barcode.
  • Protection – 23andMe uses SSL technology encryption in accordance with modern industry and technological standards.  
  • Sharing with 3rd parties – 23andMe will never disclose any self-reported or individual genetic information unless they receive your consent. However, they will use it as a part of aggregated information.

Privacy is definitely a good field for in-depth research. You can find the full privacy policy on the website and we suggest a thorough and comprehensive read.

Shipping And Handling

The site features a list of countries eligible for receiving shipments from 23andMe. If your country is not on the list, there is nothing you can do to incur their services. Single test kits can be shipped with both standard and express methods. Multiple orders are shipped automatically by express international courier.

Return shipping includes meticulous FedEx instructions, packaging, export documentation, and a pre-paid bill for air transport. International shipping fee includes customs duties, unless you live in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus or Moldova, in which case the recipient handles the customs duties.

Bottom Line

“Stirring up” the past in this manner might seem inconsequential, but we hope this 23andMe review put some important things into perspective.

Reliable genetic heritage info will show your eligibility for some of the conditions mentioned above. You’ll uncover unknown relatives and the geographical roots of your genes. Additionally, you will be in the unique position of helping modern medicine grow even further. Times long gone still hold the keys of our advancement as a species. One would dare say we can only build our future by looking into the past.

23andMe is constantly evolving. Currently, they’re executing a development plan, 2 years in the making. It should offer a superior website, tests, and improved functionality. This month, the FDA approved the company’s model of sending disease-risk tests directly to consumers. This is the first decision of its kind in the history of the FDA and it’ll pave the way to other DNA-testing companies doing the same. It all started with 23andMe, though.

23andMe Rating

Our ratings are the result of an objective and independent evaluation of 23andMe, generating the final rating that reflects the overall quality of the company. Ratings may change as the service changes.

Scope Of DNA Test(s)
Test Processing Times
Privacy & Security
Value For Money
Overall Experience
Final Rating7.5/10

User Reviews (17)

    23andMe user rating based on 17 user reviews.

    The reviews listed below reflect the opinions and experiences of real users and are in no way influenced by the reviewed companies. Before publishing each review, our team checks whether it was submitted by an actual user in an effort to prevent false or spammy reviews.

  • Submitted By Gary on 03/22/2018
    I knew I was an Ashkenazi Jewish long before I'd ever heard of 23and me. Had I understood that the entirely of my ancestral results would be "You are 100% Ashkenazi Jewish," I never would have considered buying a kit. I thought there might be some effort on the company's part to give me a bit of specificity about my background. 23andme does no't have the capacity to do so, and should be much more transparent about this in their sales materials.
  • Ishmael on 04/07/2018
    You are complaining that 23andme told you that you are 100% Jew when you are in fact 100% Jew, what exactly is the problem with that? Would you prefer them lying to you and tell you that you are 80% Jew and 20% Iranian?
  • Submitted By Janean lee on 03/10/2018
    I got test kits for three of us and after over two months we have only one "report." It is a list with percentages and that is ALL. No explanation of any kind. None of the detailed Info promised in the ad on the website. I know there was a kit for $200 promising health material, which I declined. This is an abject exercise in throwing money away, unless you would be satisfied with a list of half a dozen areas of the world and percentages. I have read other reviews and cannot relate to the positive responses about the details. I regret having to give this ONE star.
  • Submitted By cacaraca on 03/05/2018
    awful service. they could not do my son's DNA result. blamed it on the samples but it was NOT the samples! I am a nurse and manage healthcare clinics and have a masters degree- I think I can figure out how to have him spit in a tube. The service from this has been horrible and ended up costing ME money. I WILL TELL EVERYONE I KNOW ABOUT THIS
  • Genetics scholar on 03/30/2018
    Since you are a nurse, then you should know that some people produce less DNA than others via saliva. I am certain that it's not the technicians fault or your son's fault. Every system has an Achilles Heel. I am on my second round due to my saliva not producing enough DNA. I am fine with this. I am guarenteed a full refund in the event enough DNA cannot be extracted this time. - Cum Summa Laude, Master's degree in genetic science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
  • Submitted By Daniel on 03/05/2018
    Was very accurate with what I knew (I thought I was 75% Italian and it told me I was 72.3%) and it also showed me too parts of my ancestry. It gives a DNA timeline that goes back many generations, it showed your paternal and maternal haplogroup, neanderthal variants, dna relatives, and traits. Plus you can always get the health and ancestry package. 23andMe is also upgrading from 31 regions to 150+.
  • Submitted By John Lewis on 02/06/2018
    The health test found nothing, but literally nothing. I’m either the healthiest man alive or they aren’t doing their job right.
  • Submitted By Anna Loftis on 01/26/2018
    Not sure about how accurate it is, but it was an amazing journey for us. They may have made a couple of mistakes, but we learned so much, it was definitely worth it.
  • Submitted By Marie Ocallaghan on 01/17/2018
    I guess I’m not a normal human because according to these guys, my DNA can’t be extracted. Don’t bother asking for a refund, you won’t get one.
  • Maddie on 03/25/2018
    Hi Marie! Actually if you go through two kits without successful extraction they are required to give you a refund. It’s on their website, and it happened to my cousin.
  • Submitted By Linda Matthews on 12/17/2017
    This is a great combination to save me a lot of time by testing me for both ancestry and health risks.
  • Submitted By Sheila Bay Harvey on 12/11/2017
    I got my 23 and Me report several years ago, but I cannot find it again to search for new relatives. Can someone HELP me retrieve it?
  • Submitted By Joanna Page on 08/19/2017
    Husband got it for me as an early birthday gift, and I love it! I found out a bunch of stuff and they got my lactose intolerance right.
  • Submitted By Kurt Patterson on 08/14/2017
    Neat little ride, but I'd never for the life of me gues I'm posibly scandinavian!
  • Submitted By Joshua Lee on 07/26/2017
    Our son got these kits as a Christmas present for the whole family. We couldn't believe this technology developed in our lifetime. I'm 62% French/British, and the wife is mailny Scottish/Swedish. We were mindblown
  • Submitted By John Caplan on 05/22/2017
    I'm Asian, and the results showed me I'm 99.1% Japanese. What a revelation! And to burn extra 100 bucks just to tell me I can smell asparagus or something, not worth it.
  • Submitted By Reid Collins on 05/17/2017
    My family did the test, and it was amazing for recent ancestry. However, their database is limited for Native and African Americans. I think they put too much emphasis on health too.
  • Show More Reviews ...

Want to know even more about 23andMe?

23andMe is one of the best ancestry DNA testing companies on the market. Apart from ancestry exploration, it also offers health-related results for an extra fee. If you want to know more about the specific aspects of the service, our comprehensive list of additional resources is at your full disposal. Here, you can read more about:

23andMe Review
Updated : 2018-04-18
Rating : 7.5/10
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