23andMe Health + Ancestry review: The complete DNA testing package

The base 23andMe Ancestry kit ($99) stands above the competition as our pick for the best DNA testing kits for ancestry, delivering a large array of detailed ancestry results presented within a clean and compelling interface. However, 23andMe’s DNA testing service can provide more than just insights into your lineage.

For $100 more, the 23andMe Health + Ancestry kit ($199) bundles in a wide array of health information pulled from the very same DNA sample, providing details about your genetic predisposition to certain ailments, how your DNA might shape your lifestyle and your body’s reactions, and even genetics-based guesses at some seriously out-there traits—such as your ability to match a musical pitch.

That’s a fair bit more to spend on genetic results, but 23andMe’s health data is nearly as intriguing as the ancestry data, and just as richly presented. It goes a long way toward making 23andMe not only the best DNA test for ancestry, but also the best all-around testing package that we’ve reviewed so far.

Note: This review is part of our best DNA test kit roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

DNA collection

23andMe focuses on particular genetic variants across your autosomal DNA (22 chromosomes), as well as sex chromosomes (X/Y) and mitochondrial DNA inherited from your mother. Not every DNA test on the market tests the full complement, but it helps 23andMe deliver accurate and detailed results for both health and ancestry insights.

23andMe needs a solid sample of your DNA to conduct its testing process, and the easiest and fastest way to do that is to collect a vial of your saliva and mail it into their laboratory. Here’s everything you’ll find in the package:

  • Funnel lid
  • Saliva collection tube
  • Tube cap
  • Tube container
  • Specimen bag
  • Instructions

Be prepared to spit, and spit, and spit until your fluids reach the designated line. It might take you a few minutes to produce enough saliva, but it beats going into a testing facility. 23andMe has devised a pretty clever little package, too, as closing the lid on the funnel topper releases a liquid that preserves your DNA for transit. Shake it for a few seconds and your sample is ready to pack up and send.

From there, just swap the funnel lid for the tube cap, pop it into the specimen bag, and then put it into the original box with the prepaid label and drop it off at the post office or a mailbox. Now is an ideal time to register your kit online, or otherwise make sure you keep track of your kit’s barcode for registering it later.

23andme 2 IDG / Andrew Hayward

23andMe provides a simple, straightforward kit for collecting and shipping your DNA sample.

Speed

23andMe has significantly trimmed down the amount of time it takes to turn around your results, with the current estimate sitting at three to five weeks. When we reviewed the Ancestry kit, it was six to eight weeks. In my own experience, it only took two weeks to get the results after sending in my sample, and I received an email from 23andMe once the results were ready to view.