Keeping up with all the wellness fads that are supposed cure-alls is a job in and of itself, so Wellness Inspector takes out the magnifying glasses and closely examining these trends to see if they are all they’re cracked up to be. In the era of ever-evolving health and wellness fads, skincare ASMR has risen in popularity, with people claiming that the sound of low vibrations can help you achieve healthier skin—we explore.
Most of us are familiar with autonomous meridian sensory response or ASMR for short. It’s defined as “a calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation,” although more colloquially, it’s referred to as “brain tingles,” a “brain massage,” or “head orgasms.” The feeling, which seems to originate in the brain and radiate outward to the rest of the body, can be elicited by certain “triggers,” such a tapping, whispering, chewing, and even visual stimulation (the sky’s the limit). With so many content creators and so many triggers, there are hundreds of ASMR videos uploaded to YouTube and Instagram every day. Those who watch these videos say they encourage calm, relaxation, and even better sleep (some even claim that ASMR can cure insomnia).
That’s one thing, but now, the ASMR trend has expanded even further. Skincare ASMR, as it’s called, is the latest trend to emerge in the beauty and wellness space, and it involves introducing a sonic facial device into one’s routine in order to feel that same sense of calm and relaxation usually achieved through the watching of ASMR videos. This got us thinking. Could skincare ASMR have any real and measurable benefits? What, if any, could those benefits be? We took our questions to the experts. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about skincare ASMR.
Let’s get a little more background on ASMR itself before we start talking about Skincare ASMR. While ASMR is certainly popular, it’s not universal. Take it from Sanam Hafeez, M.D., , NYC Neuropsychologist and Columbia University Faculty Member. “We don’t know what percentage of the population experiences ASMR. Self-reporting and anecdotal evidence show that some people immediately identify with the working definition of ASMR, and some people don’t, even when they are exposed to common ASMR triggers. It could be mean that some people just are not hard-wired for this type of method.”
People who don’t experience ASMR might find the content strange and even slightly creepy, but for those who do, it can lead to an almost euphoric feeling.
So, while scientific data is scarce, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in ASMR videos if you find them helpful and relaxing. “For people who respond to it, it can be a useful tool,” Dr. Hafeez says. “There are a wide range of ASMR videos from cooking, to makeup application, whispering, crinkling, page-turning, massaging, etc. I would suggest this to my patients as an adjunct to more scientifically proven methods such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness.”
So, how does all of this tie into skincare? The short answer is that people are introducing sonic cleansing devices into their skincare routines because they claim that the pulsing sensation and buzzing sound have a calming effect on the mind and body, similar to that they receive from watching an ASMR video. Let’s dissect that claim, shall we?
It all goes back to stress-relief. As we know, chronic stress messes with our skin. It can cause everything from inflammation, premature aging, and skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. According to David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology, life stressors don’t exactly cause breakouts, but they do trigger them.
Gretchen Frieling, M.D., , a board-certified dermatologist, agrees that not only does stress elicit a chemical response that makes the skin more sensitive, but it also tells the skin’s glands to produce more oil, and as she puts it, “oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems.”
Cleansing devices don’t directly address these issues, and neither dermatologist thinks it’s absolutely necessary to use one. However, if you find that the use of a cleansing device calms your mind and body, then it’s probably worthwhile. “There is no evidence to support that ASMR directly benefits the skin, but anything that lessens stress (ASMR included) might help with breakouts,” Dr. Lortscher says. Likewise, Dr. Frieling shares that “anything, be it ASMR or other healthy methods that reduce stress, will likely have a positive effect on the skin.” So, in the end, it’s not necessarily the devices themselves, but the reduction of stress that that will lead to better skin.
One more thing—skincare ASMR aside, there are pros and cons to cleansing devices. Here are the pros according to Dr. Frieling: Cleansing devices increase circulation for an enhanced glow, and they can remove makeup more effectively than your hands. If you use them occasionally, they can provide the skin with good “trauma” that encourages cellular repair and regeneration. Here are the cons: If you use them too often, dryness, hyperpigmentation, and even irritation might result.
Lortscher cautions against the overuse of cleansing devices as well. “These devices might feel ‘soothing,’ but it’s important to know that physical methods of exfoliation may cause some low-grade irritation, so they should not be used too aggressively.”
The verdict? Listen to yourself and your skin. If you find the use of a cleansing brush, and thus Skincare ASMR, soothing, go for it. If listening to YouTube videos and podcasts of people speaking in low voice helps you unwind, by all means go ahead. It could release stress and benefit your skin overall.