23andMe was founded in 2006 with the goal of helping people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. Aptly named 23andme after the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up our DNA, they offer services that help you figure out your ancestry as well as health risks based on your ancestry.

23andMe does this through genotyping, which is a well-established and reliable platform for analyzing DNA. Genotyping is all about looking at specific locations in your DNA and identifying variations. These variations are what make you unique. By looking at these specific locations, 23andMe focuses on the variations that are known to be associated with important health conditions, ancestry, and traits. It is a great way to understand how your genetics can impact your life.

Scientists and medical experts from the company use a rigorous process to develop reports and ancestry percentages are derived from a powerful, well-tested system that provides you with ancestry estimated down to over 0.1%.

In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted 23andME authorization to market the first ever direct-to-consumer genetic test.

To use their services, you simply need to follow 3 steps:

  1. Choose from either the Ancestry or Health + Ancestry services that they offer. You will then receive a saliva collection kit within 3 to 5 days.
  2. Follow the kit instructions and spit in the tube provided. Then, register your saliva collection tube by using the barcode so that the company knows that it belongs to you. Mail it back to the lab in the pre-paid package.
  3. In approximately 3 to 5 weeks, 23andMe will send you an e-mail letting you know that your reports are ready to be viewed on your online account. Simply log in and discover what your DNA says about you.

All saliva samples are processed in CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified labs, and 23andMe’s Genetic Health Risk and Carrier Status reports meet the FDA criteria as being scientifically and clinically valid.


23andMe’s Ancestry service aims to provide you with knowledge about your ancestry composition, maternal and paternal haplogroups, genetic similarities and differences between you and your relatives, Neanderthal ancestry, and who you share DNA with. You can even opt to connect with the people who share DNA with you and message them.

With this service, you get to learn about your ancestral origins and see where your ancestors live more than 500 years ago. As for your paternal and maternal haplogroups, this helps you better understand how the migration of your DNA tells the story of your ancestors. It even allows you to trace parts of your ancestry to a specific group of individuals from over 1,000 years ago. Take note though that women can only trace their paternal haplogroup by connecting to male relatives.

You can even see how different ancestries traveled through generations upon generations of your family with the Share & Compare feature. Although, your relatives do need to be genotyped as well in order to do this.

You can also discover just how much Neanderthal DNA you inherited, such as your Neanderthal composition and which of your traits, such as hair and height, are associated with Neanderthal DNA.

Seeing as how 23andMe has more than 5 million genotyped customers from all around the world, getting in touch with people who share the same DNA as you is easy. 23andMe allows you to choose to message these people, or they may even message you first. Finding DNA relatives allows you to get a better understanding of your family’s history, and you may even find relatives in places you least expected.

Ancestry + Health

Ancestry + Health provides the same features as the Ancestry service, with the added benefit of knowing how your genetic makeup impacts your health. With Ancestry + Health, you can learn about certain health predispositions you may have and how your genetics can influence your chances of developing certain health conditions. 23andMe’s reports now include Type 2 Diabetes, BRCA1/ BRCA2, Celiac Disease, Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and more.

You can also learn how your genes play a role in your well-being as well as your lifestyle choices. Reports include deep sleep, lactose intolerance, genetic weight, and more.

Another feature is the Carrier Status, which lets you know if you are a carrier for certain inherited conditions. With more than 40 reports, including Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, and Hereditary Hearing Loss, to name a few, this feature gives you an in-depth look at any carrier genes you may carry and pass on.

Lastly, the Health service lets you learn how your DNA influences your taste, smell, facial features, and other traits. With more than 30 reports that include hair loss, sweet vs. salty, and unibrow, to name a few, this feature shows you just how big of a role your DNA had in dictating physical traits that you have now.