ASMR: Tingling In the Head

Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is something you’ve likely experienced but not put a name to. If you’ve ever felt a pleasant tingling down the spine when your hair is stroked or someone leans in close to whisper, you’ve had the same response that millions are chasing nowadays on video sharing sites like Youtube.

ASMR Tingles & Whispers

© Keith Hopper via Flickr cc

Growing up my sister and I had thick heads of hair. It was too much for my mother to deal with alone so she enlisted my father in an effort to tame our tangles. After she shampooed, his job was to massage oil into our hair.

He would do this absent mindedly while watching the game – football, basketball, baseball – whatever was on at the moment. After my mother’s mistreatment of my scalp, I came to enjoy this part the most.

My father talking to the TV under his breath about the athlete’s lack of skill, the smell of the oil, and rubbing my head combined for a very relaxing effect, and I usually fell asleep. Fast forward a few decades and it turns out that many people find the combination of whispers, scent, and head massage to be very relaxing.

We’re all looking for ways to relax and wind down that don’t include drugs. For many people, the personal attention that comes from a massage or haircut gives a sense of well-being, but it may also trigger ASMR.

ASMR Triggers

One of your ASMR triggers could be when a masseuse leans in close and whispers, How’s the pressure? Another ASMR trigger could be when a stylist brushes the hair from your collar.

I’m going to share a video from my favorite ASMRtist, Olivia Kissper. For me, she has the perfect breathy whisper. I usually watch right before bed, and her scenarios have such a relaxing effect on me that I usually drift off to sleep quickly.

 Scalp Massager

According to Reddit, other common triggers include:

  • Slow speech patterns, accents, soft-speaking voices and whispers
  • Lip sounds/smacking/eating
  • Clicking sounds, brushing sounds, white noise, etc.
  • Painting/drawing
  • Instructional videos
    Watching other people performing simple tasks
  • Getting close, personal attention from someone (eye-exam, make-over, etc.)
  • Haircuts, people playing with your hair
  • Bob Ross

Before you’re dismissive of the ASMR trend, check out the number of views that ASMR videos receive. It’s not uncommon for a single video to receive over 100,000 views. Other ASMRtists on Youtube are Jellybean Green, GentleWhispering ASMR, and MassageASMR, but there are many more to choose from.

To help you get your tingle on, consider getting a scalp massager. The tines are thin and flexible with plastic nibs on the tips so they don’t scratch, and you can use it on other parts of the body besides your head.

While there is not a lot of scientific research on the phenomenon, there is a large ASMR community. If you’d like to learn more, check out ASMR University or ASMR on Reddit.


  1. Nicola Gill says:

    It’s interesting, gentle massage is personally best for me when it comes to the head, and I can relate to this post. Hairdressers, in my opinion, are too forceful with their massage techniques and I often leave after an appointment with a throbbing headache.

    • Natural Health Ideas says:

      Yeah, I’m a massage freak too. It cures all ills 🙂

  2. Robin says:

    I have one of those scalp massagers and they are divine! I love it! It’s even better when someone else does it for you!
    Robin recently posted…Get Beach Waves for Straight Hair with Sea Salt Hair SprayMy Profile

    • Natural Health Ideas says:

      I agree – it’s a nicer experience if you can get someone to d it for you.

    • Lesley says:

      I absolutely love those scalp massagers. I would never be dismissive of the ASMR trend but I wonder if has something to do with food, genetics, vaccines – we may never know the real answer. Very interesting though.

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