Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the feeling I get when people play with my hair, talk to me in a soothing voice or scribble on a whiteboard. It felt as if my brain was tingling with energy, which then traveled along my spine and settled onto my shoulders.
I become immediately propelled into tranquility and felt inclined to fall asleep. Little did I know that in only a few short years this comfort would be spread to the mainstream, by today’s “ASMRtists.”
Up until earlier this year, I wasn’t aware that this tingly feeling had a name. It’s called autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) and for the past several years, people have been flocking to YouTube to experience videos made by ASMR artists (ASMRtists) that elicit this sparkly sensation.
Although some videos consist of extravagant roleplays, such as being abducted by aliens and measured, the majority of ASMR is evoked through mundane tasks, such as flipping through a magazine. Some popular triggers include gentle voices, hair brushing, tapping and crinkling.
For every tingle addict, there are those who think the entire phenomenon is phony and don’t have any physiological reaction whatsoever. Some even accuse ASMR of being sexual, which, in most cases, isn’t true at all. Many who enjoy ASMR are not aroused by it and are simply relaxed — although there is a specific genre of ASMR created to do so.
Even though this mysterious feeling was first mentioned online in 2007, the science behind it is murky. Popular theories label ASMR as a primal response to bonding, and that the response produces endorphins, which then stimulate the release of a number of different neurotransmitters. Immunity to the tingles may depend on genetics, past experiences and more.
Unfortunately, indulging in these brain massages too frequently eventually leads to users becoming desensitized to the tingles. In fact, I experienced this myself while conducting my research. While numerous videos claim that they can help get the coveted tingles back, the best course of action is to take a short break.
When it comes to finding your favorite ASMRtist, everyone has their own preferences. This list was compiled based on a combination of the opinion of yours truly, overall popularity, creativity and quality of content.
1. Gentle Whispering
Maria is known as the queen of ASMR, and it’s not difficult to see why. Her Russian accent combined with her soft-spoken voice is pure bliss, while her passion is evident from her bright eyes and effervescent smile.
Her videos run the gamut from roleplays, simple whispering, Russian culture and more. Sometimes, she will make both an English and Russian version of a video. Whenever I’ve hit a tingle impasse, Gentle Whispering’s channel is sure to provide the cure.
One of Maria’s newer videos is a nature-focused work of cinematic art.
2. Goodnight Moon
Erin’s videos feature creative stories and settings, as well as top-notch editing. She has played numerous quirky characters, such as tea shop owners, inn keepers and witches.
The eccentric shopkeeper at Maybell’s Menagerie is straight out of a Harry Potter movie.
For those of you who prefer to listen to a deeper timbre, Fred is arguably one of the best male ASMRtists out there.
With his uncanny resemblance to Thor, it’s no wonder why he had finally given into to fan requests and did an Avengers’ themed ASMR video.
He also does a variety of rude roleplays and whisper videos.
Known affectionately as the Mom of ASMR, Emma is known for her red hair and British accent. Her channel consists of a wide variety of content, including videos that play up her motherly side, with teacher roleplays and sleep time routines. She also has several videos that feature her impressive collection of crystals.
Emma is a natural fit as the host of The Sensory Hour radio show.
Also with a British accent and red hair, Charlette is reminiscent of a young WhispersRed and is seriously underrated in the ASMR industry.
Her strongest series of videos are her Doctor Hastings roleplays.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t been adhering to a regular upload schedule lately, but when she does produce, it’s a real treat.
The elegant ARDRA makes a variety of visually creative videos, often with a focus on art.
Her channel includes a chocolate covered strawberry tutorial and a video that explains how to put a mug in Jell-O, inspired by the famous prank Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) plays on Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) in the classic NBC comedy, “The Office.”
This trance-inducing video conjures up memories of watching the unintentional grandfather of ASMR, Bob Ross.
For those who want more than just a person and their binaural microphones, ASMRSurge provides high-quality audio and satisfying visuals for anything from soap carving to mixing paint.
This unique ASMRtist can help you figure out your triggers of choice.
8. Olivia Kissinger ASMR
Like many successful ASMRtists, Kissinger has a peaceful disposition and angelic voice. Her channel is populated by videos featuring hypnosis, spa treatments and fast ASMR.
Viewers who are able to keep their eyes open will revel in her graceful hand movements.
This non-verbal video features tapping, page-turning and soothing messages written out in ballpoint pen.