We reviewed Ancestry and 23andMe to find the best DNA test of 2023 (2023)

Let’s talk genes — and not the skinny or high-rise kind (though The Post shopping team does love them both).

We’re talking about genetics, traits and the connections that create our vast and sometimes intertwined family trees.

Now, many are turning to technology to unearth these deep roots, using DNA tracing companies to sort through the gene pool and come up with a map for us to follow, providing more details and

With a few major companies to choose from and two willing Post commerce writers open to digging up some familial answers, we set off to compare 23andMe and Ancestry.com to find the pros and cons of using either (or both) to trace our lineage.

Use these jumplinks to skip to a specific test, or read on through for the in-depth breakdown of each service.

  • Victoria’s review of 23andMe
  • Sophie’s review of Ancestry.com


I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% impressed with the entire process from spit to stationed-from-the-lab results. Well, I’m not Lizzo, but still.

Whether you’ve seen it pop up on Amazon or have heard a friend of a friend gift it to a relative, 23andMe is a premier health and ancestry service that’s pretty straightforward for $100.

Before diving into my review, what I’ll say is this — I’m 100% Italian (though my DNA results suggest differently; more on that later) and I have never been skeptical about much of my family tree. Like most Brooklyn-turned-Staten Island-turned New Jersey migrators, my grandparents immigrated from Italy in the 1900s to start a new life that resembled hope, the American dream and lots of lasagna-making.

Not to mention, my orderly familial history is all documented in a treasured hardcover book (thanks Shutterfly!) that details a pictorial collection of my fraternal grandparents’ early days, beginning with childhood and continuing through their wedding and honeymoon. Oh, and my Type-A upbringing even decided to write a blurb on the book: Also sprinkled throughout these pages are a few photos of our grandparents, as well as various aunts and uncles.

It wasn’t long before I connected — even had a video chat with — someone connected to those various aunts and uncles.

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How does 23andMe work?

Here’s how 23andMe works: First, understand that no blood nor needles are involved in the process. It’s just saliva that takes three to four weeks to transform into a vivid health and traits report with pie charts on your app.

Upon ordering, you’ll receive the saliva collection kit in the mail, taking about three to five business days. If you’re really dying to know the branches, roots and everything in between of your family tree, you can opt for express shipping.

Following the instructions, all you have to do is spit in the tube provided. It sounds gross, but it’s over before you know it. Then, you’ll register your saliva collection tube (I never thought something named a “saliva collection tube” would be in my possession, but I digress). Simply mail the kit back to 23andMe — spit-in tube included — in the prepaid package.

Please note that you can opt-in to keep your spit on file (if you may wish to upgrade to another 23andMe service). Otherwise, it’ll be discarded.

In three to four weeks (mine took three), expect an email saying your reports are ready and then you can log in, view your cool news and connect with relatives.

How much does 23andMe cost?

I took the 23andMe Health and Ancestry Service ($199) which is double the price of the baseline Ancestry and Traits Service ($99). With the upgrade, you’ll receive a series of health reports that otherwise would not be provided with the $99 version.

Likewise, with the Health and Ancestry Service, you’ll have the traits report, too.

In my opinion, the Health and Ancestry Service is worth it. Sure, you can connect with relatives with the baseline package, but the health reports give you tangible data, like reporting of my genetic-backed increased risk for age-related macular degeneration, hereditary hemochromatosis and type 2 diabetes (the latter I knew already based on family history shared by my primary care doctor).

health and ancestry service

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ancestry and traits service

What can you discover with 23andMe?

With 23andMe, you’ll find your ancestry timeline, a list of DNA relatives and, if opting for the Health and Ancestry Service, reports on heart health, sleep quality and more. Be sure to note that you can purchase the $99 kit and upgrade at a later date (your spit’s on file, after all).

After learning that, contrary to popular belief, I’m not 100% Italian but rather 89% Italian, 2% Greek, 4% Cypriot and an array of other percentages too minuscule to account for, I received a message from a man named Joseph Barrera, who I learned is my second cousin.

Turns out, his mother Josephine Barrera, and my grandmother, Rosaria Giardina, were first cousins. Which translates to my great-grandmother, Concetta, and his grandmother, Antoinette Gallaro, were sisters.

What’s more, the photo-embossed lineup of Christmas cards we receive each year always features one card from “The Barreras” (which I now discovered is his brother). How wild is that?

So, we decided to map out our family tree the best way possible in 2022: via Google Hangout. After learning that he lived in Brooklyn and now resides in New Hampshire as a father of three and a patent attorney (which I immediately found interesting, given my obsession with Shark Tank), I also discovered that his parents were from Pozzallo, the quaint beach town in Sicily with a population of less than your local Starbucks that I visited in 2019 with my family.

My grandparents originated from the same, sun-filled Sicilian landmark.

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After talking through his summers spent in Pozzallo with horse-drawn carriages carrying vegetables (yeah, that was a thing), he started sharing his experience on 23andMe.

“Unless more people from Pozzallo signed up for 23andMe, it’s kind of the end of the trail for us.”

Joseph Barrera, my second cousin, mentioned during a video chat

Though one of his cousins, unrelated to me, connected with Joseph via 23andMe, he wasn’t able to find much else about our shared history. I did, however, learn that his surname “Barrera” is of Barcelona descent, though none of my reports noted that.

Overall, in my specific case, I didn’t come into the process completely curious about my history. I knew much of it actually, but it was pretty cool that a $199 kit connected me with one of my close-knit relatives. Especially so when he sent me this note after: Before our meeting today, I made a calzone with swiss chard, fried onion, ham and cheese, probably, just like your grandma used to make.


Ancestry is a big deal, especially to me with a small immediate family — but with a potentially large and rich extended history. A bit of background, I know I am of Jewish descent on both my mother and my father’s side, hailing from Lithuania, Poland and Russia. However, that is about it, as my father lost both his parents before I could properly meet them, and my mother and the majority of her side of the family have also passed away.

So, in the search for some answers and family stories to pass down to my own future children, I began my Ancestry.com journey, starting with a vial of spit.

How does Ancestry.com work?

I received my AncestryDNA kit ($99) in the mail and the instructions on the box were super simple. First, create an account using the unique code on the inside of the packaging, and then go through some questions as well as consent forms. Since I wanted to get the most out of this, I opted in for DNA Matches, allowing other users to contact me should we find we are related and vice versa.

Once complete, I had to wait 30 minutes after eating to collect my spit sample as to not contaminate it or find that I am related to a turkey sandwich and chips. After spitting in the said tube (very COVID-test-like, so I’ve had some practice) all I had to do was seal it back up in the included and pre-paid UPS envelope and drop it off at my local post office.

After a wait of about four weeks, I received an email saying my results were in and it was time to play genealogist.

How much does Ancestry.com cost?

Since I wanted to get the very most out of my time with Ancestry, I opted for the Ancestry All-Access Plan, which starts at $49.99 per month, with options for a 6-month package and a yearly membership. However, to gain access to the site and get your DNA analysis, you can also choose to purchase just the kit, opting for the $99 Ancestry kit or the $119 Ancestry + Traits kit to uncover a bit more.

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I will say, once you get all of the add-ons, this is a pricey endeavor. However, with the All-Access Plan you uncover some amazing things, like newspaper and yearbook archives that showed me what my mom and her sisters looked like in high school. This made a huge difference for me and was worth the cost. The traits add-on was also very interesting, and so if you are choosing between the $99 box and the $119 option with traits included, the latter is worth the extra few bucks.

What can you discover with Ancestry.com?

The answer is a whole lot, depending on what package you sign up for and how much time you have on your hands to leaf through your tree — pun very much intended.

At first, I was a bit disappointed, as the only person my family tree showed was myself. However, I quickly figured out that it is up to you to add members to the tree, using hints from the service and the database of over 30 billion records to reference. You can also start to flesh out your family tree by looking at DNA matches, which is where the testing aspect comes in. Through my simple spit, I was matched to a plethora of first, second and more distant cousins that had already begun building their own trees. From there you can cross-reference and add members to your own tree, message your matches and more.

Another feature I loved was the integration with Newspapers.com and Fold3 that gave me even more access to records that aren’t available elsewhere. I was able to see census records and even yearbook photos of my relatives, which made me feel even more connected to those I had lost or never had the chance to meet.

I also want to mention the Traits feature, which was another cool aspect of the DNA + Traits kit ($119) that shows what parts of your unique genetic makeup relates to genetically dictated traits. Many didn’t come as a surprise to me, as I do like the taste of cilantro, have dark eyes and hair and so on. However, other things that are deeper than appearance were very interesting, like my newfound recessive red hair trait, my fitness endurance levels and more.

You can spend hours if not days perusing the site and extending your tree, so I know this isn’t the end of my Ancestry.com journey. I recommend this site for those who have a passion for genealogy and the patience to work on their tree, as there is an insanely large database of users just waiting to be discovered — this world is a melting pot, after all.

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