HomeDNA Review 2020: Is It the Most Cost-Effective DNA Test?

Our score:
8.8
User score:
8.8

Expert opinion:

If you’re interested in taking a comprehensive DNA test to find out general information regarding your ancestry or genetic traits, HomeDNA probably isn’t the right choice for you. It can, however, offer in-depth insights for those with African or Asian heritage, letting you zoom into the individual towns and villages your ancestors are from.
Written by Joseph Levy
Last updated on October 19, 2020
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness
  • Diet & Nutrition
Written by Joseph Levy on October 19, 2020
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness
  • Diet & Nutrition

Plenty of Options, but Only Pay for What You Want

HomeDNA is one of the plethora of DNA test kit providers that aims to tell you about your genetics and how (based on that information) you could be healthier.

HomeDNA’s primary aim is to make genetic testing more accessible than other companies by selling its proprietary test kits in retail stores such as Walgreens and Walmart. The vendor shares a diagnostic testing facility with GPS Origins and DNA Origins, and I focus on the GPS Origins tests in this review.

Unlike other companies that package DNA reports, HomeDNA sells all its reports separately, so you can take your pick and pay for only what you want. Within each category – ancestry, health and beauty, and even pets – there are several separate reports, and ancestry alone provides eight different test options.

HomeDNA claims that its genotyping methodology makes its ancestry reports more accurate. It’s a bold claim, so I set out to test it. And in this review, I also hope to help you decide which of the available options might be right for you.

What’s In The Box?

HomeDNA Review Since HomeDNA sells GPS Origins tests and its own tests, what comes with the test kit depends ever-so-slightly on which test you buy. However, in both cases, these tests use the cheek swab collection method that involves rubbing one or more of the supplied swabs inside your cheek for 30 seconds and then slipping them into the DNA sample envelope for return to the lab. Postage is prepaid – at least in the United States – so that’s one less thing for you to worry about, but it can take up to ten days for your sample(s) to reach the lab.

See HomeDNA Deals

Detailed Look at the Ancestry Tests

With eight different ancestry test options, HomeDNA offers something to suit every budget. Its genotyping algorithm analyzes 80,000 specific genetic markers from your DNA sample and compares them to the same markers found in more than 1,000 different reference populations. By drawing inferences from these comparisons, HomeDNA says it’s able to obtain more precise, accurate, and targeted results than other companies.

GPS Origins Ancestry Test

This package maps your top three ancestral origins (i.e., the gene pools that most significantly contributed to your genetic makeup), and it details what percentage of your DNA has been inherited from each of them. You’ll also see a map of your maternal and paternal haplogroups’ migrations over time, based on historical events and social movements, so you can see where both sides of your family came from.

HomeDNA Review

Value-added features:

  • DNA analysis results reveal the migrations of both sides of your family, showing where your genetic signature went through significant changes.
  • Explanations of important historical events from over 1,000 years ago that contributed to your DNA mix.
  • Analysis of 80,000 autosomal genetic markers, 1,000+ reference populations, and 41 gene pools.
  • The lab can pinpoint exactly when and where your DNA formed, down to the towns and villages. No other DNA test that I’ve seen currently provides this level of detail.
  • An interactive map allows you to zoom into your GPS pinpoints, to further explore your heritage.

DNA Origins Paternal Lineage

HomeDNA Review

Using your Y-DNA, this test identifies your paternal haplogroups and maps your male ancestors’ geographical journeys going back tens of thousands of years. Note that only biological males can order this test because females don’t have a Y chromosome. Value-added features:

  • A shareable PDF results manual provides detailed explanations of your background and more information about ancestry testing and migration history.
  • A personalized certificate provides your haplogroup designation with a map that illustrates your male ancestors’ journeys from the place they first called home.
  • A description of the worldwide populations that share the same haplogroup (i.e., your “genetic cousins”).

DNA Origins Maternal Lineage

This test does essentially the same thing as the Paternal Lineage test, in this case using your mtDNA to explore the history of your maternal haplogroups. The test results include the same information as the Paternal Lineage service, as detailed above.

GPS Origins Ancestry Test – African Edition

This is where it gets even more interesting since it’s the only ancestry test I’ve seen that lets you explore your African heritage specifically. It compares your DNA to reference points derived from 11 African gene pools, plus ancestry markers from more than 100 African populations from all over the continent.

Based on these comparisons, HomeDNA provides a detailed analysis of your African ethnicity and your full ethnic profile in percentages. You can trace your ancestry back to one or more specific regions in Africa, and follow your ancestors’ migration routes as far back as 2,000 years. Value-added features:

  • Interactively explore your African heritage via an online map that lets you zoom in to individual towns and villages.
  • Reports include extremely detailed ethnicity profiles that analyze nearly a dozen gene pools from Africa.
  • See the migration paths of both sides of your family, along with dates and geographic coordinates.
  • Information about the historical migrations that may have influenced your DNA.
  • Print or share your results PDF with friends and family.

GPS Origins Ancestry Test – Asian Edition

This is like the African Edition, but to test your Asian ancestry. It traces your ancestors’ migration routes as far back as 2,000 years, with date stamps and geographic coordinates, and it explains the historical events that may have influenced these migrations.

It’s interesting to note that HomeDNA includes the whole of Indonesia under the broad heading of Austronesia, so its report on Southeast Asian heritage is probably no more specific than those you would get from 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Value-added features:

  • The test covers 18 Asian-specific gene pools.
  • Hundreds of Asian reference populations are analyzed.
  • Learn about your ancestors’ migration routes throughout history, with relevant dates and coordinates of historical events.
  • Get a comprehensive ethnic profile with accurate percentages and an interactive, color-coded map of your top three Asian gene pools.
  • Zoom in on your Asian heritage pinpoints.

Other Tests Kits Available

On the HomeDNA site you can find a few more ancestry tests (plus some in the health and wellness and diet and fitness categories). Some are proprietary tests provided by HomeDNA, and some are other brands’s tests that you can also buy elsewhere (but HomeDNA’s prices are competitive).

  1. GPS Origins Algorithm – upload your raw data from another service such as 23andMe
  2. HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test
  3. HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test

See HomeDNA Deals

Similar Tests to Consider

  • FamilyTreeDNA offers three basic tests for you to explore your ancestry. Unlike many competitors, it will also test your mtDNA and Y-DNA.
  • AncestryDNA has the largest reference database out there, and it can estimate your origins to more than 1,000 ethnic regions around the world.

Some Interesting Information, but You Could Pay a High Price

HomeDNA’s GPS Origins product costs the same as 23andMe’s Health+Ancestry DNA test. Which one is the better value depends on what you’re looking for. Although HomeDNA gives more in-depth ancestry insights, 23andMe provides heredity information plus a slew of FDA-approved health and wellness insights. To read more about our experience, read our comprehensive 23andMe review.

The ancestry tests available on HomeDNA generally cost more than similar products from AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, both of which are much more popular than HomeDNA!

HomeDNA could be worth the investment if you’re particularly interested in skin care plus pet and food sensitivities, since there are not that many “big name” vendors offering similar services. However, for pure diet and fitness recommendations, I’d personally turn to Orig3n or DNAfit instead. HomeDNA accepts payments via most major credit cards plus PayPal. There are no hidden fees and no ongoing costs to maintain your information.

Generic Answers to Specific Questions

Most DNA testing companies offer a very similar set of support options. You start at the FAQ page, then (if it doesn’t answer all your questions), progress to filling out a contact form or calling the company. HomeDNA’s FAQ page is arranged into “My Account and Results”, “Ordering and Testing”, “Privacy”, and “Genetics Basics” sections:

HomeDNA Review

Since the simplistic information didn’t answer all my questions, I filled out the contact form twice (to ask two questions):

“How do your GPS Origins ancestry reports compare to 23andMe’s ancestry report? Are they any more detailed or geographically specific? Is your methodology any more rigorous?”

“If you order one HomeDNA test – like the GPS Origins Ancestry test, for example – can you buy additional reports, like the maternal and paternal lineage reports, at a discounted rate? Or do you have to pay the full price?”

I never received a reply to the second question. The answer to the first question was unnecessarily convoluted and confusing (and it didn’t answer my question):

“….Your DNA signature is based on genetic information found mostly in the autosomal chromosome…This DNA signature changes with every generation, but the change can be small if your parents came from the same population or large if they came from different populations…”

My own support experiences aside, other customers have complained that:

  • They never received their test results, or received them much later than promised.
  • Their issues were never resolved, or they didn’t receive promised refunds.

See HomeDNA Deals

Unless You’re Interested African or Asian Heritage, Consider a Competitor

HomeDNA offers a wide range of DNA testing kits: GPS Origins ones for ancestry, and its own tests for health. There are even tests for your pets, in case your cat wants to know about its genetic disease risk, or your mutt wants to know what kind of mongrel it actually is.

My research into HomeDNA has led me to conclude that, unless you’re looking for niche information such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced, but I can’t comment on the pet products.

There is some work to be done when it comes to support, which appears to be the bare minimum.

See HomeDNA Deals

FAQ

How accurate is HomeDNA?

HomeDNA claims that its genotyping methodology makes its ancestry reports more accurate, precise, and targeted than what you’ll find with other vendors in the market. This doesn’t really seem to be the case as other DNA tests, like MyHeritage, AncestryDNA, and LivingDNA, provide more detailed and accurate information. However, it does a particularly good job of pinpointing African and Asian ancestry.

Where can you purchase a HomeDNA test kit?

HomeDNA is one of the few DNA test kits that can be purchased both online and in many pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens.

What different test categories does HomeDNA offer? (How about for pets?)

HomeDNA offers a comparatively wide variety of products for ancestry testing, including (but not limited to) mtDNA and Y-DNA tests. It also offers a few tests for Health and Beauty, including weight/fitness and skincare. And if your looking for DNA-based insights about pets, you’ll find health tests for both cats and dogs, as well as parentage test for mixed-breed dogs.

Who should consider taking a HomeDNA test?

Unless you’re looking for niche information, such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced; so you might what to look at other companies for that. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced.

Detailed Look at the Health and Wellness Tests

Most DNA testing providers focus on heritage and ancestry, and a few of them also cover health and wellness implications of your DNA. In this second space, HomeDNA addresses some health issues – such as your skin health and allergies – that are not covered by other providers.

HomeDNA Skin Care

This test aims to identify “your skin’s genetic potential” in seven categories:

  1. Collagen quality
  2. Skin elasticity
  3. Fine lines and wrinkles
  4. Sun protection
  5. Pigmentation
  6. Skin antioxidants
  7. Skin sensitivity

By learning about your genetic predispositions in these areas, you could make more informed choices about your skincare regime.

HomeDNA Review

Genetic predisposition to a trait doesn’t mean you definitely suffer from a specific condition, it just means you’re more likely to, so don’t take HomeDNA’s suggestions as definitive guidance. Value-added features:

  • A personalized skin profile based on your genetics.
  • A report giving topical, oral supplement, and professional treatment recommendations for your unique genetic profile.
  • Analysis of where your DNA falls (from optimal to non-ideal) for the seven tested categories.
  • Analysis of the genetic markers that influence your skin’s potential.
  • Insights into the preventative measures you can take to improve your skin.

HomeDNA Food and Pet Sensitivity

Your genes could increase the likelihood that you’re allergic or sensitive to common irritants contained in foods or found on furry mammals. This test examines your genetic predisposition to reacting badly to gluten, lactose, cow milk protein, eggs, peanuts, “other foods,” and pet dander (shed skin). HomeDNA Review

The report reveals your test results and makes suggestions for how to avoid the offending irritants. Value-added features:

  • Comprehensive suggestions for lifestyle changes.
  • DNA-based nutritional recommendations to help prevent allergic reactions.
  • Supplement suggestions that may help you suppress your sensitivities.
  • Healthy food substitutions based on your genetics.
  • An “other foods” category that includes shrimp, apples, tree nuts, soy, soybean, fish, corn, and yeast.

See HomeDNA Deals

Similar Tests to Consider

  • Orig3n “Skin Health and Appearance DNA Test” costs significantly less than this one.
  • DNAfit will test a couple of genetic intolerances to a subset of foods.

Some Interesting Information, but You Could Pay a High Price

HomeDNA’s GPS Origins product costs the same as 23andMe’s Health+Ancestry DNA test. Which one is the better value depends on what you’re looking for. Although HomeDNA gives more in-depth ancestry insights, 23andMe provides heredity information plus a slew of FDA-approved health and wellness insights. To read more about our experience, read our comprehensive 23andMe review.

The ancestry tests available on HomeDNA generally cost more than similar products from AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, both of which are much more popular than HomeDNA! HomeDNA could be worth the investment if you’re particularly interested in skin care plus pet and food sensitivities, since there are not that many “big name” vendors offering similar services.

However, for pure diet and fitness recommendations, I’d personally turn to Orig3n or DNAfit instead. HomeDNA accepts payments via most major credit cards plus PayPal. There are no hidden fees and no ongoing costs to maintain your information.

Generic Answers to Specific Questions

Most DNA testing companies offer a very similar set of support options. You start at the FAQ page, then (if it doesn’t answer all your questions), progress to filling out a contact form or calling the company. HomeDNA’s FAQ page is arranged into “My Account and Results”, “Ordering and Testing”, “Privacy”, and “Genetics Basics” sections:

HomeDNA Review

Since the simplistic information didn’t answer all my questions, I filled out the contact form twice (to ask two questions):

“How do your GPS Origins ancestry reports compare to 23andMe’s ancestry report? Are they any more detailed or geographically specific? Is your methodology any more rigorous?”

“If you order one HomeDNA test – like the GPS Origins Ancestry test, for example – can you buy additional reports, like the maternal and paternal lineage reports, at a discounted rate? Or do you have to pay the full price?”

I never received a reply to the second question. The answer to the first question was unnecessarily convoluted and confusing (and it didn’t answer my question):

“….Your DNA signature is based on genetic information found mostly in the autosomal chromosome…This DNA signature changes with every generation, but the change can be small if your parents came from the same population or large if they came from different populations…”

My own support experiences aside, other customers have complained that:

  • They never received their test results, or received them much later than promised.
  • Their issues were never resolved, or they didn’t receive promised refunds.

See HomeDNA Deals

Unless You’re Interested African or Asian Heritage, Consider a Competitor

HomeDNA offers a wide range of DNA testing kits: GPS Origins ones for ancestry, and its own tests for health. There are even tests for your pets, in case your cat wants to know about its genetic disease risk, or your mutt wants to know what kind of mongrel it actually is.

My research into HomeDNA has led me to conclude that, unless you’re looking for niche information such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced, but I can’t comment on the pet products.

There is some work to be done when it comes to support, which appears to be the bare minimum.

See HomeDNA Deals

FAQ

How accurate is HomeDNA?

HomeDNA claims that its genotyping methodology makes its ancestry reports more accurate, precise, and targeted than what you’ll find with other vendors in the market. This doesn’t really seem to be the case as other DNA tests, like MyHeritage, AncestryDNA, and LivingDNA, provide more detailed and accurate information. However, it does a particularly good job of pinpointing African and Asian ancestry.

Where can you purchase a HomeDNA test kit?

HomeDNA is one of the few DNA test kits that can be purchased both online and in many pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens.

What different test categories does HomeDNA offer? (How about for pets?)

HomeDNA offers a comparatively wide variety of products for ancestry testing, including (but not limited to) mtDNA and Y-DNA tests. It also offers a few tests for Health and Beauty, including weight/fitness and skincare. And if your looking for DNA-based insights about pets, you’ll find health tests for both cats and dogs, as well as parentage test for mixed-breed dogs.

Who should consider taking a HomeDNA test?

Unless you’re looking for niche information, such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced; so you might what to look at other companies for that. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced.

Detailed Look at the Diet and Fitness Test

HomeDNA offers only one test for your diet and fitness, but it could contain all the information you need.

HomeDNA Healthy Weight

Individuals are genetically predisposed to different body types, metabolism, and weight. Understanding your genetic traits could help you tailor your diet and fitness strategies to optimize your weight.

HomeDNA Review

A lot of people have found this type of DNA testing to be very helpful when working toward previously unattainable goals. So, if you’ve been struggling with your weight, this test may make the difference.

Value-added features:

  • Suggestions about what foods you should (and shouldn’t) be eating.
  • Detailed advice about beneficial supplements and nutrients you may be missing.
  • Information about how your body should respond to certain exercises.
  • Optimal workout suggestions to attain and keep your healthiest weight.
  • Dietary recommendations based on your genes, gender, age, height, current weight, and activity level.

See HomeDNA Deals

Similar Tests to Consider

  • Orig3n offers various products for health, fitness, and nutrition. They’re more expensive, but you’ll receive valuable, personalized insights.
  • Vitagene “Health + Ancestry Reports” is easily one of the cheapest diet and fitness packages you’ll find online.

Some Interesting Information, but You Could Pay a High Price

HomeDNA’s GPS Origins product costs the same as 23andMe’s Health+Ancestry DNA test. Which one is the better value depends on what you’re looking for. Although HomeDNA gives more in-depth ancestry insights, 23andMe provides heredity information plus a slew of FDA-approved health and wellness insights. To read more about our experience, read our comprehensive 23andMe review.

The ancestry tests available on HomeDNA generally cost more than similar products from AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, both of which are much more popular than HomeDNA!

HomeDNA could be worth the investment if you’re particularly interested in skin care plus pet and food sensitivities, since there are not that many “big name” vendors offering similar services. However, for pure diet and fitness recommendations, I’d personally turn to Orig3n or DNAfit instead.

HomeDNA accepts payments via most major credit cards plus PayPal. There are no hidden fees and no ongoing costs to maintain your information.

Generic Answers to Specific Questions

Most DNA testing companies offer a very similar set of support options. You start at the FAQ page, then (if it doesn’t answer all your questions), progress to filling out a contact form or calling the company. HomeDNA’s FAQ page is arranged into “My Account and Results”, “Ordering and Testing”, “Privacy”, and “Genetics Basics” sections: HomeDNA Review

Since the simplistic information didn’t answer all my questions, I filled out the contact form twice (to ask two questions):

“How do your GPS Origins ancestry reports compare to 23andMe’s ancestry report? Are they any more detailed or geographically specific? Is your methodology any more rigorous?”

“If you order one HomeDNA test – like the GPS Origins Ancestry test, for example – can you buy additional reports, like the maternal and paternal lineage reports, at a discounted rate? Or do you have to pay the full price?”

I never received a reply to the second question. The answer to the first question was unnecessarily convoluted and confusing (and it didn’t answer my question):

“….Your DNA signature is based on genetic information found mostly in the autosomal chromosome…This DNA signature changes with every generation, but the change can be small if your parents came from the same population or large if they came from different populations…”

My own support experiences aside, other customers have complained that:

  • They never received their test results, or received them much later than promised.
  • Their issues were never resolved, or they didn’t receive promised refunds.

See HomeDNA Deals

Unless You’re Interested African or Asian Heritage, Consider a Competitor

HomeDNA offers a wide range of DNA testing kits: GPS Origins ones for ancestry, and its own tests for health. There are even tests for your pets, in case your cat wants to know about its genetic disease risk, or your mutt wants to know what kind of mongrel it actually is.

My research into HomeDNA has led me to conclude that, unless you’re looking for niche information such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced, but I can’t comment on the pet products.

There is some work to be done when it comes to support, which appears to be the bare minimum.

See HomeDNA Deals

FAQ

How accurate is HomeDNA?

HomeDNA claims that its genotyping methodology makes its ancestry reports more accurate, precise, and targeted than what you’ll find with other vendors in the market. This doesn’t really seem to be the case as other DNA tests, like MyHeritage, AncestryDNA, and LivingDNA, provide more detailed and accurate information. However, it does a particularly good job of pinpointing African and Asian ancestry.

Where can you purchase a HomeDNA test kit?

HomeDNA is one of the few DNA test kits that can be purchased both online and in many pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens.

What different test categories does HomeDNA offer? (How about for pets?)

HomeDNA offers a comparatively wide variety of products for ancestry testing, including (but not limited to) mtDNA and Y-DNA tests. It also offers a few tests for Health and Beauty, including weight/fitness and skincare. And if your looking for DNA-based insights about pets, you’ll find health tests for both cats and dogs, as well as parentage test for mixed-breed dogs.

Who should consider taking a HomeDNA test?

Unless you’re looking for niche information, such as your African or Asian heritage, the ancestry products are probably overpriced; so you might what to look at other companies for that. The health and beauty products are more reasonably priced.

Joseph Levy
Joseph Levy
Writer
Joseph Levy is a transplant from New York and currently living in Cyprus. After receiving his law degree and acquiring eight years of experience in the civil side of American law, he moved to the Mediterranean and shifted his focus from being an attorney to his first love: content writing. Joseph prioritizes not only honest accuracy, but also providing an informative and interesting perspective on whatever he puts his name to.

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