Medically reviewed on July 13, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Table of contents
For many of us, staying in tune with our health mostly happens at the office of our healthcare provider. But if you’re hoping to improve your wellness or simply want to know where you stand, it can help to have options that meet you where you are.
Enter at-home cholesterol tests—a valuable way to shed light on your health at home.
Cholesterol home test kits allow you to test your cholesterol levels from home and track your health in between scheduled medical visits. However, there are several different types of at-home cholesterol test kits to choose from. Understanding your at-home testing options, what they include, and how they work can help you determine which option will meet your needs the best.
Much like a cholesterol test you might take at a healthcare facility, at-home cholesterol test kits usually works by taking a sample of your blood. This blood test is used to measure the following: 
How much information the test kit provides depends on the type of test you choose. Some may only give a reading of your total cholesterol, while others may give a breakdown of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Understanding the difference between LDL vs. HDL cholesterol as well as comparing the different kinds of tests available, can help you determine which will provide the information you need—and in a way that works for you.
Cholesterol home test kits come in several different formats, and each one will require you to complete different steps during the process.
Your at-home cholesterol testing options include:
Let’s dive into the details of each so that you can decide which at-home cholesterol kit best meets your needs.
As their name indicates, strip-only cholesterol tests consist of strips of paper that contain color-changing enzymes. When you place drops of blood on these strips, the paper changes color, indicating your cholesterol levels.
Although strip-only tests might seem pared down in terms of medical technology, they’re actually quite technical and efficient. According to a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Chemistry, strip-only cholesterol tests are excellent in terms of their selectivity and sensitivity. 
This test offers practicality in the sense that you need minimal supplies to complete it. Strip-only test kits typically include the following:
Most strip-only cholesterol tests follow the same steps to collect blood samples and analyze cholesterol levels. These steps include:
Strip-only tests are noted for their usability, convenience, and affordability. They can be an advantageous option if you want a test that requires minimal supplies, or need an easy option while traveling. However, their results may not be as accurate as other cholesterol kits—especially lab tests.
What’s more, strip-only kits may pose difficulties when it comes to interpreting results. Learning how to understand cholesterol test results is very important and with strip-only tests, it can be a challenge. While color-change mechanisms can give accurate readings, it can be difficult to interpret the results if the color on the test strip is dull or inconclusive.
Imagine this scenario: after applying a drop of blood to your strip-only cholesterol test, the paper strip reveals a color that’s neither red nor orange—or that features only a faded, inconclusive hue.
While you could guess your cholesterol level based on this unclear color, you risk underestimating or overestimating your good and bad cholesterol levels. But what if there was a way to combine the convenience of strip-only testing with a more accurate reading?
This is where the meter test comes in handy.
Combining the simplicity of strip-only tests with the technical capabilities of modern-day labs, cholesterol meters (sometimes known as cholesterol monitors) provide an electronic meter that reads and analyzes your strip.  This can make it much easier to read and interpret your test result.
Most meter kits include paper strips, lancets, and blood collection droppers. But if you want to know how to test lipids the electronic meter is the lipid-analyzing star of the show.
Similar to electronic glucose readers used to read blood sugar levels, cholesterol meter readers record the color change after you apply a blood droplet to a testing strip.  The meter then converts this color change into a numerical reading.
Additionally, the most advanced meters are capable of storing data from hundreds of tests. This stored data can provide a better picture of your cholesterol levels over time.
How your electronic cholesterol meter works may differ depending on the model you choose. For this reason, it’s always important to follow the instructions that come with your test.
That said, most meter tests follow the same procedure: 
Although most meter tests use the same strip and lancet technology as strip-only kits, they provide one distinct advantage: results that are clear and easier to interpret.
By giving you a numerical reading, meter tests provide more objective results. Some cholesterol meters can also test for more than one cholesterol type.
However, meter tests tend to be more expensive than strip-only tests—and depending on the meter’s technical aspects, it can also be more difficult to use at first. In addition, researchers have found that different cholesterol meters can vary in accuracy, so the precision of your results may differ depending on the meter available to you. 
When it comes to at-home cholesterol kits, the lab test sets the standard for accuracy. That’s because lab tests involve multiple sets of eyes: yours, and those of certified physicians who analyze your results and provide you with verified cholesterol readings.
As a result, most at-home lab tests follow the same procedure:
While some labs will mail you your results, the best testing kits provide digital results in a much quicker timeframe. All you need to do is register your at-home cholesterol test kit with the testing company and send your sample to the lab.
Your lab test kit may vary depending on the one you choose. However, the most comprehensive at-home lab kits typically include the following:
The only tool missing from these kits is the lab itself. After all, it’d be tough to mail board-reviewed physicians and state-of-the-art equipment to your doorstep. Fortunately, you can still gain their expertise with nothing more than some postage.
As stated above, most cholesterol lab tests rely on similar procedures. After collecting the sample at home, you send the sample to a certified lab for a detailed analysis. The lab then sends you your results in a couple of days.
One difference you may experience is the level of guidance provided after the test is complete.
Some at-home lab kits go further when it comes to analyzing your cholesterol levels. In addition to providing you with your cholesterol numbers, the best kits give personalized and actionable results.
Out of the three at-home cholesterol kits, lab tests provide the most accurate results. They’re also capable of testing for more than just total cholesterol—they also test for HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.
However, lab tests do come with a few drawbacks. Some cholesterol lab tests can cost more than strips or meters and can take weeks to return your results.
That said, there are at-home lab tests for cholesterol that are both cost-effective and efficient: some return your results in a matter of days and offer affordable pricing options.
Cholesterol kits provide a safe, accessible, and effective alternative to testing your cholesterol at your healthcare provider. If it’s your first time using an at-home test, however, it’s easy to wonder if you’re doing everything right.
To ensure your at-home testing experience goes smoothly, follow the below tips:
Understanding how to test cholesterol at home is important if you wish to keep track of your cholesterol levels on your own schedule.
Fortunately, the Cholesterol & Lipids Test from Everlywell can make at-home cholesterol testing easier than you ever thought possible.
To begin, simply register your kit with Everlywell.com. Then, collect your sample and mail it back. We’ll take the rest from there—including sending your sample to a CLIA-certified laboratory for detailed analysis. You’ll then receive your results in just a couple of days.
Test your cholesterol accurately and confidently with Everlywell. It’s time to take the work out of bloodwork.
How to understand cholesterol test results
What are good cholesterol numbers?
How long to fast for a cholesterol test