ASMR: New-Age YouTube Therapy Delivers Tingles by The Millions

Soft hands gliding across your face, the smell of lavender, the sound of a waterfall gently whispering down a wall… ahhhhh, the pleasurable sensations of the spa are endless! But do any of your sensations ever feel like… The Tingles? Specifically, tingles starting at the top of your head, trickling down your spine, and perhaps rushing through your limbs, leaving you in a happy, meditative trance? Are you familiar with a strange, pleasurable feeling (a headgasm, if you will) that you look forward to during a scalp massage, haircut… or when your therapist gently folds a towel or speaks softly about the treatment you’re about to receive?

Some of you may be looking at me sideways – I don’t understand what you mean by The Tingles! Because you may, in fact, not have them. But if this DOES sound familiar, you aren’t weird. You may not be in the majority, but you also aren’t alone. There’s a tingly sensation making waves right now: It’s called ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. According to Wikipedia’s definition, ASMR is an alleged biological phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, olfactory, and/or cognitive stimuli. Although it’s up now, at one point ASMR naysayers had the Wikipedia page taken down due to lack of scientific evidence.

Widely unresearched and undocumented, ASMR was only identified as such in February 2010 after small communities began to form online. The ASMR subreddit has nearly 43K subscribers, and many tinglers have created dedicated ASMR Twitter and YouTube accounts, to keep it separate from their “real life.” The triggers of ASMR are vast and personal, from scalp massages and body massages to gentle whispering voices, nail tapping, gentle hair brushing, paper cutting, and delicately, deliberately doing a repetitive activity like folding clothes or playing with legos or lightly touching a glass bowl and a bottle of perfume. I’ve gotten ASMR from physical touch for my entire life and didn’t think I’d be into the videos, but this one put me into a pretty awesome trance the other night.

There are a lot of role play requests, resulting in “Hey sweetheart, you look beautiful today,” followed by a scalp massage, eye exam or ear cleaning. Thanks to the Internet, over the past three years ASMR has been brought into a very niche limelight, giving anyone seeking ASMR a place to get their mesmerising tingle fix. As Nicholas Tufnell, a writer who was the first to confess his ASMR addiction in a Huffington Post article, put it: “If someone walks in on you watching porn,” he says, “it’s easier to explain than if they walk in on you watching ASMR videos.

I first discovered the ASMR craze in my YouTube recommendations, via a woman who performs various scalp and back massages and tickles while narrating what she’s doing. It was around this time I tried searching for a spa that offers ASMR massage so that I could check it out myself. I soon learned this did not exist.

If you don’t have ASMR, you may enjoy the tickling, but an eight minute video of a woman tapping her nails may very well be the most boring thing you’ll ever see on the Internet. 71,000 views, is this a mistake!?

You’ll sit in utter confusion as you watch a young lady named Violet pretend to give a haircut and shave for 43 minutes, wondering who these half a million viewers are who had 43 minutes to spare.

And with over 2.3 million views and 12,000 likes on this 16-minute video above, you may be very surprised to learn that Maria “GentleWhispering” does not at any point take off any of her clothes.

Maria, a blonde woman who speaks softly in an Eastern European accent, is the reigning Queen of ASMR—according to video views and everyone I’ve spoken to about it. We Skyped the other day, and I learned a ton.

Maria, the Queen of ASMR

“I am an ASMRtist,” Maria told me in her famous tingle-inducing voice. “That is what we’re called – people who make ASMR videos for others to enjoy. It’s about being creative. We’re ASMRtists.” Maria started making videos in 2009, a time when she estimates there were maybe 1000 people around the world tuned into it. She guesses that now, after a slight media boost last Spring, there are about 100,000 people in the community worldwide, 85,000 of whom subscribe to her channel.  “A lot of people think it’s weird,” she told me. This is apparent in many forums: people are quick to poke fun, to the point where many ASMRtists do not allow comments. Through it all, the ASMR community sticks together, proud to be amongst the blessed ones who experience such therapeutic sensations.

Amal Dabit, ASMRtist

I spoke to another popular YouTube ASMRtist, Amal Dabit, who at first couldn’t believe the response to her soft-spoken ramblings online. She explained that she likes to use humor in her videos (the most recent one being a 36 minute nail polish change), because “People deal with a lot of stress and anxiety in their lives, and they watch my videos to escape. Humor is another way to help people do that.”

The other night, I interviewed a young woman named Jenny Jaffe, a comedy writer for MTV: “I fall asleep to ASMR videos every night,” she said. She was concerned her tingles were getting less intense because she watches so much. “I get a ton of ASMR when I go to spas. I go to spas for that reason. Even when I didn’t know what I was feeling, it was a place I knew I would get that feeling.” And it goes beyond the touch. “Different spa sounds are really nice. It’s all deliberate sounds in a quiet environment – which is a huge trigger.” Research or not: ASMR is therapy for people.

Hmmmmm. Therapy. That is what we do here at Spa Week: We seek out new ways to provide therapeutic experiences to the masses. Is an ASMR massage experience something spas should consider incorporating into their menus? Does the lack of scientific research and explanation outweigh the very real ways ASMR has been proven to soothe people’s bodies and minds, bringing them a sense of peace and happiness?

ASMR community and spas alike – I would love to hear your thoughts on all this. Please share in the comments below!

Wellness Is Better With A Friend Like Foo Foo

What do cake, vacations and life have in common?

They’re all amazing on your own, but even better sharing with a friend.

Same goes for spas. It’s amazing to have a ME-day, but there’s nothing quite like being able to share in the wellness lifestyle with someone you love. That’s where our MyWellness Rewards program comes in! This free program lets you earn points to redeem on spa services and goodies, and now through April 30th, we’re encouraging you to sign up with a friend. ONE MyWellness Rewards member will be selected at random to win 1000 bonus points, plus a spa day for two! So if you signed up already, send your friends here to sign up. Still not a member? Hurry and join now! Keep reading on for a little more inspiration on why this is so important.

Watching a friend go through a positive transformation is quite astounding, especially when you’re one of the catalysts. A trip to the spa can kickstart a spiritual awakening or introduce someone to a new healing method. Or even simpler… spa-ing with a friend creates a memory that will last forever.

When my old friend Foo Foo starting getting down in the dumps, I knew there was only one thing to do…

Foo Foo the spa bear

Wellness Gone Wild! The Spa Week Spring 2012 Video

From perming my lashes to cleansing my colon, it’s safe to say I’m a spa addict. Have you watched the official Spa Week Spring 2012 video yet? Wellness has officially gone wild:

A trip to the spa is always an adventure – especially with a camera in hand. Okay, Michelle: don’t let the camera get under the Vichy shower… keep your hand steady even though this is the best scalp massage of your life… oh no, move the tripod a little more left because your butt is most definitely showing. I may not be entirely relaxed and zenned out on my many filming escapades, but I’m definitely still enjoying myself and reaping all the benefits of each therapy.

YOU, on the other hand, have only one thing to think about during your Spa Week adventure April 16-22: YOU. Your health, your bliss, your moment. Spend an extra half hour reading VOGUE in the relaxation room, tell your massage therapist HARDER if you want it, and learn about skincare from your esthetician, even if you can’t understand half of what she’s saying.

This season I had a full Saturday of beauty at Spa Martier, where Yuki, my favorite nail artist in NYC, created a glittery manicure masterpiece while Murad gave me a gorgeous blowout after delivering THE greatest hair wash/scalp massage of my LIFE. I discovered how much I never knew I wanted a lash perm at Skintology (home of vacation-like tropical walls). Mascara shows up so much better now! I downward-dogged with Stephanie Eris, the mind-body manager at Exhale Spa and she taught me the nuances of achieving the best upward dog possible, and at Perfect Spa I learned that freshly shredded apple makes for an extremely natural scrub – and that Vichy showers are really difficult to film by yourself. Bunya Citi Spa Thai’d me up in a dynamic mixed-modality massage then purified every last pore on my face, including that sweet spa rave.  Completely Bare lasered off my unwanted bikini hair, and Laser Cosmetica lit up my face with a photo facial to smooth out unwanted redness. Andddddd I pooped again.

Book your $50 appointments, and get ready to turn OFF your phones – unless you feel compelled to Instagram it all like I did…

Travel Tuesday: The Ice City in Harbin, China

Have you heard of the Ice City of Harbin in China? It’s misspelled in the video below, but it’s still pretty magical. Happy #TravelTuesday.



Photos via

Spa Week Fall 2011 Booking Begins… Spa, Sing, Celebrate!

Today’s the day… booking for Spa Week Fall 2011 presented by Carefree®, October 10-16, has officially begun!

It’s time to log onto www.spaweek.com, select your state under the $50 directory, and begin to map out your Spa Week adventure. Browse all the treatments available in your area, call up the spas, and book your bliss. For this, the 15th installation of the Spa Week event, we are thrilled to partner with some of the top spas across North America in order to deliver the wellness lifestyle to YOU at an affordable price.

Let the official Spa Week Fall 2011 video above remind you that spa-ing isn’t a stuffy pleasure for the rich and famous… it’s an essential part of a happy, healthy lifestyle, and beyond the pampering, a trip to the spa can be a whole lot of fun. Enjoy, and book those #50dollartreatments! Please share this on Facebook and tweet the love; let everyone know that the incredible spa lifestyle is theirs for the taking. Happy Spa Week Season!

TWEET TWEET: National @SPAWEEK Fall 2011 is OCT 10-16, and booking has begun! Get those amazing #50dollartreatments —> http://spaweek.com