IN MY DNA: What GeneLife Generations Told Me About My Ancestry Through Genetics Testing

The variation among human faces has always intrigued me: how is it possible that all human faces look so different from one another since the beginning of time in spite of the fact that everyone is born with the same face parts? Furthermore, we seem to be able to distinguish the ethnicity of people – even those of similar skin colour – just by looking at their facial features, especially the eyes (or the windows to the soul as some would call them).

Three pair of female Asian eyes: can you tell what ethnicity they belong to just by looking at their eyes? (picture decolourised as the differing picture quality may be a distraction)

Three pair of female Asian eyes: can you tell what ethnicity they belong to just by looking at their eyes? (picture decolourised as the differing picture quality may be a distraction)

Three pair of male eyes belonging to both Asian and non-Asian of similar skin tone: can you tell which ethnicity each of them belong to?

Three pair of male eyes belonging to both Asian and non-Asian of similar skin tone: can you tell which ethnicity each of them belong to?

But in many instances these days, there tends to be more to one’s ethnicity than meets the eye due to global migration, an increasingly common phenomenon. While it would be obvious that a person is of mixed lineage if he/she was born out of an interracial relationship, it wouldn’t be an easy feat for those who are unable to trace their family history (either because they were adopted or surviving relatives simply haven’t the slightest clue of it) to determine if there is indeed foreign DNA in their blood.

The furthest back I could trace my lineage was my great-grandparents who hailed from China (of which I had no idea where exactly), and that barely told me anything about my ancient ancestors. Since then, that fire of curiosity had been burning within me – who actually am I? Discontented with the limited information available about my family tree (which is strange given how unusual my Chinese surname is), I turned to yet another at-home DNA testing kit from GeneLife in an attempt to unveil the mystery of my ancestry.

Click here to read about my first D.I.Y. DNA test experience!

Why GeneLife Generations?

My interest in DNA testing was first piqued by larger players in the market such as AncestryDNA and 23andMe. But reviews on these firms revealed that they were mostly caucasian-centric with a relatively small Asian pool that lumps all Chinese into a single category (i.e. Chinese would be generalised as Han Chinese), so reports generated on any Asian ancestry would not be as comprehensive as hoped.

Apart from that, those residing outside the states or countries where these firms have offices would have to engage a forwarder to import the kit. That’s not all – outside help (via Airfrov, for example) might also have to be enlisted to mail the DNA sample to the laboratory from the same country stated in the order. All of these point to considerable additional expenses that the user has to incur on top of the cost of the kit – in US dollars. Hence, I had been sitting on the fence about getting a DNA ancestry test until GeneLife finally rolled out their own in July. In fact, Singapore is one of the two countries (the other being Taiwan) selected for this soft launch! Yay!

Image courtesy of GeneLife.Asia

Specifically developed for the Asian population, GeneLife Generations aims to bring users on a personal journey through time to discover what their DNA reveals about their ethnic mix and lineage. Their reports will shed light on the origins and possible migration routes of both their maternal and paternal lineages from approximately 150,000 to 270,000 years ago, as well as comprehensively predict the shared genetic composition of their ancestors. Ethnic groups in their database include, but are not limited to: Chinese Dai, Northern/Southern Han, Singaporean Malay, Vietnamese Kinh, Filipino, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Punjabi, Taiwanese, etc.

View the complete list of ethnicities your DNA would be tested for!

The collection process and steps involved in processing the sample for this ancestry-focused test kit are the same as its predecessors (e.g. Genesis 2.0). You would first need to create a GeneLife account on their website (for first-time users) and register your kit (which returning users would only need to do after logging in).

The packaging

The packaging

Expires roughly 1 year from month of purchase

Expires roughly 1 year from month of purchase

The unnoticeable seal

The unnoticeable seal

Unboxing the kit

Unboxing the kit

Everything in the box

Everything in the box

All the paper work

All the paper work

On the box

On the box

Once the aforementioned steps are done, spit in the test tube provided until the secretion reaches the black mark indicated on the instrument before shaking it. Finally, enclose the sample (sealed in a small ziploc bag provided) in the pre-addressed prepaid envelope with the completed consent form and post it out to GeneLife headquarter. Easy peasy lemon squeezy 😝

The cap at the bottom would be used to close the tube later on

The cap at the bottom would be used to close the tube later on

After spitting into the test tube..

After spitting into the test tube..

Mixing my saliva with the solution

Mixing my saliva with the solution

Ready to mail!

Ready to mail!

Lo and behold, my DNA results are in!

As anticipated, GeneLife constantly updated me on the progress of my sample via e-mail throughout the four-week wait. However, my results could only be viewed on the GeneLife 3.0 app this time ’round.

Some disclaimer you’d have to sit through before being able to access your results

More disclaimer..

What greeted me the moment I accessed my results! *shocked Pikachu*

What greeted me the moment I accessed my results! *shocked Pikachu*

The majority of my DNA - couldn't say I wasn't surprised! I'm pretty sure most Singaporean Chinese fall under this category too.

The majority of my DNA – couldn’t say I wasn’t surprised! I’m pretty sure most Singaporean Chinese fall under this category too.

My minority DNA. Any other Dai Chinese around? Hit me up!

My minority DNA. Any other Dai Chinese around? Hit me up!

More information about my ancestors' possible migration route

More information about my ancestors’ possible migration route

The "maternal" tab showed a rather detailed write-up about where my ancestors could have potentially travelled

The “maternal” tab showed a rather detailed write-up about where my ancestors could have potentially travelled

Oh, bummer! Perhaps my Dad could take the test.. 😆

Oh, bummer! Perhaps my Dad could take the test.. 😆

To be honest, a tiny part of me had wished that there was mixed blood somewhere in my family heritage (because exoticism is so cool) so the results were rather disappointing to say the least. Oh well, facts are facts, and I now fully embrace my pure Chinese DNA!

That said, since testing with different genetic companies can yield contrasting results (as they depend on how extensive the customer bases of these companies are), perhaps using multiple kits would offer fresh insights into my genealogy and origins (#neversaydieattitude😝). Therefore, if the opportunity arises for me to take other DNA ancestry tests, I will not hesitate to go through the process all over again.

Get GeneLife Generations

Keen to learn more about your ethnic roots through GeneLife Generations? Great news! GeneLife has kindly offered a special rate of S$129 (U.P. S$199) for my readers! Simply enter fionaseahgs as the promo code upon checkout to enjoy the discount 🤩

And because holding back awesome deals isn’t something I’d do, here’s another way to score GeneLife Generations at an even lower price (sort of at my expense because I don’t get any benefit out of this. But meh, good deals are meant to be shared!) – from GeneLife’s store on Shopee! Be sure to keep a lookout for it at the Flash Sale section and utilise the shop vouchers 😉

What are your thoughts about GeneLife, or any other at-home DNA test kits for that matter? Let me know your views (and how accurate your results are if you’ve taken one) in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

GeneLife Generations is available on GeneLife.Asia and SHOPEE.
Product was supplied by GeneLife.Asia for my editorial consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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REVIEW: NALC Moisturizer All-In-One Gel for Tone-up, Wrinkle and Acne Care

Hello everyone!

With more sectors of our economy allowed to resume operations progressively, it is only a matter of time before our borders reopen and we are able to jet off again (though probably not as extensively as before), or, at the very least go on a staycation; hence perhaps it’s about time we gear up with all the travel necessities so that we would be ever-ready for an impromptu getaway, especially once the restrictions are finally lifted.

Don't we all miss finding out our boarding time and gate in front of the FIDS? (Image by Jan Vašek)

Don’t we all miss finding out our boarding time and gate in front of the FIDS? (Image by Jan Vašek)

Much as my wanderlust itch is dying to be scratched, there is always this one small First World problem that makes travelling a little less enjoyable for me, and that is packing. As one who prioritises vanity, I mean, spares no effort on the upkeep of my appearance, my toiletries usually take up a lot of room inside my luggage, and this exacerbates if my destination is experiencing the height of winter, thereby leaving a limited amount of space for other essential items, and adding unnecessary weight to my precious load. For my trip to Japan last December, for instance, I had to pack my facial cleanser, toner, exfoliator, moisturisers (one for outdoor use) and acne treatment on top of my shower products (my sensitive skin doesn’t quite jive with some of the body wash provided by hotels so I tend to bring my own) into my luggage. And let’s not forget about the unpacking after everything is done and dusted. Oh, so lazy…

Thankfully, all this is about to change with the All-In-One Gel Moisturizer (also known as Three Protect Gel) by NALC, a Japanese unisex skincare brand that was previously featured here for their amazing waterproof sunscreen.

NALC All-In-One Gel Moisturizer (S$45)

NALC All-In-One Gel Moisturizer (S$45)

Touted as a handy all-in-one medicated gel that replaces your regular facial serum, moisturiser, cream and leave-on night mask altogether, it helps to tackle three major skin issues – wrinkles, acne and discolouration – with ingredients that lock moisture in the skin (i.e. ceramides and hyaluronic acids) and maintain its supple texture (i.e. collagens and amino acids). Dipotassium glycyrrhizinate, an active ingredient in the formula, prevents acne, heat rash, frostbite, chapping and cracked skin under extreme weather conditions while tranexamic acid suppresses the production of melanin to reduce the appearance of spots and freckles.

Protective seal

Protective seal

Ingredient list

Ingredient list (click here for complete list)

The tube

The tube

You might also be interested to know that this is actually a quasi-drug (approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan) which ultimately means that the ingredients are recognised as effective, or more so than cosmetic products.

Medicated, another way of saying quasi-drug

Medicated, another way of saying quasi-drug

The "医薬部外品" label is what you need to look out for on the packaging to check if the product is a quasi-drug

The “医薬部外品” label is what you need to look out for on the packaging to check if the product is a quasi-drug

Moreover, it contains several natural ingredients such as white fungus polysaccharide, artichoke extract, scutellaria root extract, soybean extract, almond extract and bilberry leaf extract to promote better skin health.

Clinically proven to be hypoallergenic, this gel moisturiser is formulated without ingredients that are known to aggravate the skin (i.e. alcohols, fragrance, mineral oils, petroleum-based surfactants, artificial colouring, and parabens), therefore making it suitable for sensitive skin. In fact, this product is so gentle on the skin, it can also be applied on children of at least 7 years of age, and the elderly!

[First try] Didn't read the directions before I applied it for the first time. You only need 1/5 of this amount!

[First try] Didn’t read the directions before I applied it for the first time. You only need 1/5 of this amount!

[First try] But since it's already on my hand, let's not waste it :) Look how clear it is once it's been spread out!

[First try] But since it’s already on my hand, let’s not waste it 🙂 Look how clear it is once it’s been spread out!

[First try] Ta-dah! Barely noticeable! You wouldn't know it's there until you touch the area where you applied the moisturiser!

[First try] Ta-dah! Barely noticeable! You wouldn’t know it’s there until you touch the area where you applied the moisturiser!

This unscented gel moisturiser has a light and slightly milky consistency that spreads easily on the skin. A little goes a long way, so you would only need a small amount of it (less than 1 cm in diameter) to cover the whole face. Otherwise, you may run the risk of having to deal with the tackiness it leaves behind. However, you can dispense a larger amount (about 1.5 cm in diameter) if you intend to use it as an overnight mask (but do be prepared for any product to transfer onto your pillow).

Okay, now, trying it out on my face. This is how much you need. No kidding!

Okay, now, trying it out on my face. This is how much you need. No kidding!

Simply dot it on your forehead, cheeks, the tip of your nose and philtrum. There's seriously enough to go around!

Simply dot it on your forehead, cheeks, the tip of your nose and philtrum. There’s seriously enough to go around!

Then, spread it out! Be sure to spread it outwards, like how you should when you apply other products on your face, to prevent premature sagging and wrinkles ;)

Then, spread it out! Be sure to spread it outwards, like how you should when you apply other products on your face, to prevent premature sagging and wrinkles 😉

All done!

All done!

Having tried the moisturiser in the day and at night for a week already, the whitening effect seems to be the most noticeable on my skin because the hyperpigmentation left behind by maskne has lightened quite a bit. Granted, it did not really do much in preventing blemishes from me wearing my face mask for an extended amounts of time (this can’t be help, can it?), but it sure expedited their healing process. Within the third day, the zits had more or less flattened and the redness had also reduced drastically. While I can’t attest to its effectiveness in combating wrinkles (because I am lucky enough not to have any visible ones.. yet 🥺), I am confident that this moisturiser would do an equally great job at banishing those fine lines!

Most importantly, this, too, does not cause any irritation to my sensitive skin.

Before (taken on 30 June 2020) and after (taken on 7 July 2020) using NALC All-in-One Moisturizer!

Before (taken on 30 June 2020) and after (taken on 7 July 2020) using NALC All-in-One Moisturizer!

What are your thoughts on this all-in-one gel moisturiser? Let me know what you think in the comments below or take a quick poll!

Thanks for reading!

NALC All-In-One Gel Moisturizer is now available on SHOPEE. For more information on NALC, follow them on FACEBOOK or visit their official WEBSITE.
PRODUCTs WERE SUPPLIED BY NALC FOR MY EDITORIAL CONSIDERATION. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN.

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IN MY DNA: What GeneLife Genesis 2.0 Told Me About My Health Through Genetics Testing

Life is unpredictable.

News of people who seem physically fit (especially those who partake in vigorous exercises regularly) falling victim to life-threatening illnesses saddens me every time because it makes me wonder: if it can happen to them, it can happen to us – to me, to you, to anyone. Am I doing enough to prevent myself from suffering the same fate? What if all the frequent workouts and healthy eating habits that I’ve been practising don’t actually make any difference to my general well-being because the likelihood of contracting some chronic diseases is already imbued in my DNA?

The only way to find out more (apart from looking into my family’s medical history which isn’t very helpful, to be perfectly candid) is to undergo a DNA test which can now be easily done through at-home test kits. Quite a number of consumer genetics-test makers have sprung up when this industry boomed, but only one remained catered to the Asian market with a Singapore headquarter, and that is GeneLife.

GenelLife Genesis 2.0

GenelLife Genesis 2.0

GeneLife?

Created by Genesis Healthcare (a privately-owned Japanese genetic testing and research company), GeneLife Genesis 2.0 is designed to analyse one’s DNA using saliva samples to determine the individual’s potential risks of acquiring common chronic diseases (such as hypertension, stroke and type 2 diabetes.. oh, the list is extensive), and to establish the metabolic type and genetic diet. Through this test kit, one would also be able to uncover his/her unique physical and behavioural traits, like skin type, drinking patterns and sleep behaviour. Furthermore, unlike other DNA test kits that are based in USA, GeneLife has a wider gene pool of Asiatic population so chances of accuracy are way higher (although I feel this would be more applicable to DNA tests for ethnicity).

Since our genes do not change in the course of life, taking the test just once is sufficient to help us make better health and lifestyle choices based on our risk profile. Even so, such test kits don’t come cheap and can set you back at least S$200 which I don’t feel comfortable parting with. Therefore, when Genesis GeneLife 2.0 was made available in the Shopee flash sale for S$97.75 (after further discount, and no shipping fee!), I knew right away that I should not pass on that deal. I mean, spend only S$97.75 to get key insights of my health destiny? Why the hell not?!

Taking the test, and why?

The test kit was delivered to my doorstep two days later – considerably fast given the current situation then. There was a consent form found in it for me to complete, as well as an instruction sheet that directed me to sign up for an account on the GeneLife website to register my kit. Also included in the kit were a user guide, an information booklet detailing all the items that my sample would be tested for, a tube where I would be spitting into, a screw-on funnel to prevent spillage, a zipper bag and an envelope to mail my sample back to the local GeneLife headquarter. Analysis results were expected to be released on my GeneLife account within the next 4 to 6 weeks. Once they were ready for viewing, I would be notified via e-mail.

Hand-delivered!

Hand-delivered!

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (front)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (front)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (back)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (back)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (seal)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (seal)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (expiry date)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (expiry date)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (inside)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (inside)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (contents)

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 packaging (contents)

Consent form

Consent form

I had to refrain from eating and drinking (plain water is fine) one hour prior to collecting my own DNA sample to prevent contamination. Once I had produced enough saliva in my mouth, I placed the funnel close to my lips and spat until the secretion reached the black mark indicated on the tube. Then, screwing off the funnel, I noticed some solution inside the tube flowing into and mixing with my saliva sample. With a few shakes, the tube was now ready to be sent back to GeneLife by post. The whole collection process took no more than 10 minutes! Easy and convenient.

Test tube and funnel in zipper bag

Test tube and funnel in zipper bag

The black mark to indicate the amount of saliva

The black mark to indicate the amount of saliva

After spitting

After spitting

After shaking and screwing off the funnel

After shaking and screwing off the funnel

Sample ready!

Sample ready!

Packed sample in the zipper bag

Packed sample in the zipper bag

Ready to mail

Ready to mail

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Signing up for a GeneLife account

Registering my kit online

Registering my kit online

Registration successful!

Registration successful!

Before looking at the results, I thought it’d be more meaningful to have some expectations set, somewhat as a gauge for accuracy. Since most of my late grandparents had diabetes and hypertension of some sort, I highly suspected myself to be carrying these genetic illnesses too so in a way, I wanted a confirmation. The investigative reporter in me also hoped to see if the test was able to pick out my known inherited disorders, like asthma, acne vulgaris (not sure if this is considered genetic since none of my immediate family members has this condition.. sadly) and ichthyosis vulgaris (from my Dad).

*drum roll*… My DNA test results!

From acknowledging receipt of my sample at the Singapore’s office, to its arrival at the laboratory in Japan, and finally informing me of my test results, GeneLife constantly kept me updated on the progress via e-mail throughout the whole duration of the four-week wait.

E-mail updates from GeneLife

E-mail updates from GeneLife

What greeted me before I saw my results

What greeted me before I saw my results

Due to privacy reasons, only results that are worth mentioning or are particularly of concern would be shared here (trust me, there’s a lot more to what you see below).

Some questionnaire to fill out before my results were revealed to me, perhaps for GeneLife to gauge the accuracy of their findings based on my responses (which would not affect the outcome of my test)

Some questionnaire to fill out before my results were revealed to me, perhaps for GeneLife to gauge the accuracy of their findings based on my responses (which would not affect the outcome of my test)

The last questionnaire under the diseases category was the worst.. 56 QUESTIONS!?!?! Gimme my results already lah! 🤬

The last questionnaire under the diseases category was the worst.. 56 QUESTIONS!?!?! Gimme my results already lah! 🤬

My risk of various types of infection (click to view image in full size)

My risk of various types of infection (click to view image in full size). Based on the additional information, 99.9% of the test participants are susceptible to norovirus infection 😂

My risk of respiratory diseases (click to view image in full size)

My risk of respiratory diseases (click to view image in full size). Notice that my risk of asthma and childhood asthma is “normal” and “slightly low”? 🤔

My risk of bone/joint/skin diseases (click to view image in full size)

My risk of bone/joint/skin diseases (click to view image in full size). Acne is marked “high”. This kit doesn’t test for ichthyosis vulgaris but I think psoriatic arthritis comes close.

Other lifestyle-related risks (click to view image in full size)

Other lifestyle-related risks (click to view image in full size). Hypertension is given a “normal” rating.

My risk of eye/ear/nose/throat diseases (click to view image in full size)

My risk of eye/ear/nose/throat diseases (click to view image in full size). As a short-sighted spectacle wearer, I’m baffled that I’ve been determined to have normal risk of myopia.

Other risks (click to view image in full size)

Other risks (click to view image in full size).

A click on each of the "Details" buttons directs you to a pop-up window similar to the above

A click on each of the “Details” buttons directs you to a pop-up window similar to the above

Some of these health revelations (e.g. slightly high risk of colorectal and bladder cancers) definitely came as a surprise to me because there isn’t any known family medical history of such illnesses, whereas there are few (e.g. high risk of acne, alopecia areata and atopic dermatitis) which were pretty much expected as I’ve already experienced them. What worries me most, though, is my high susceptibility to almost every lung-related disease listed (but strangely, I’m at normal risk of asthma?). This might have been inherited from the hardcore smokers on my paternal side because I don’t smoke, and I steer clear from secondhand smoke as best as I can. To mitigate these risks, GeneLife put forth a few preventive measures (as is similarly done for other risks identified) which include reducing exposure to polluted air by wearing face masks and installing indoor air purifiers, and consuming soy isoflavone and cancer-fighting fruits.

Now, onto my physical traits.. A closer look at my orientation/behaviour (click to view image in full size)

Now, onto my physical traits.. A closer look at my orientation/behaviour (click to view image in full size)

Some of my (innate?) abilities (click to view image in full size)

Some of my (innate?) abilities (click to view image in full size)

My body type (click to view image in full size)

My body type (click to view image in full size). Good to know that I would be pear-shaped if I ever become rotund.

More on my bone/joint/skin (click to view image in full size)

More on my bone/joint/skin (click to view image in full size)

As for my behavioural traits and abilities, the indisputable ones would be my high hoarding tendencies (my exploding makeup collection is the best testament to this), my preference for evening hours (I’m a late-nighter as my productivity level rises after midnight) and low mathematical performance (this explains why I was perpetually failing the subject back in primary school, and why I’d need to use a calculator even for the simplest calculations – Math just isn’t in my blood!). And who would have thought that my natural complexion has actually been dark all along?!

This test has, no doubt, revealed a lot of previously unknown genetic facts about myself. You’d probably need to sit down for a couple of hours to look through all the results because they are rather extensive. That said, such tests only assess your risk of diseases, so having normal risk does not mean that you have immunity to them; it just implies that you shouldn’t go overboard with your lifestyle choices. Since my chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes is on the high side, this probably means that I’d have to cut down on my bubble tea intake 🤪 Huehuehue..

On a side note, once you have determined your susceptibility to certain diseases or genetic disorders, you can also start deciding on your next step in life. For instance, should you buy certain life-insurance policies moving forward as a safety net? Should you still procreate and risk passing on your genetic mutations (if any) to your offsprings (I’m fully aware of this particular IVF technique that allows you to choose your embryo.. but let’s not go down the rabbit hole of ethics)? I, for one, am glad to know the illnesses that would potentially befall me so I can act on taking the necessary precautions to prevent them. Most importantly, understanding my risk profile has also solidified my decision to be childfree.

Now, let’s see if I’m able to get my hands on a DNA test kit that traces my ethnic mix (i.e. ancestry). For that, I have my eyes set on 23andMe and CircleDNA! Any advice on which would be a better kit for Asians?

What are your thoughts about GeneLife, or any other at-home DNA test kits for that matter? Let me know your views (and how accurate your results are if you’ve taken one) in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

GeneLife Genesis 2.0 is available on GeneLife.Asia and Shopee.

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