I’m Addicted to Fake Facials


Is writer Natalie Meehan an Internet weirdo, or simply on a higher sensory plane than mere mortals?


Everyone has their own quirks. I like to know exactly how old everyone is. If I’m watching a film and there is an actor I’ve not seen before on the screen, I immediately IMDB them to find out their age. Chris (my boyfriend) does the same, but with birthplaces. If one us is regaling the other with a story about this amazing new singer/actor/writer we’ve discovered, the other will immediately ask “Where are they from?” or “How old are they?” It’s just a thing we do.


Another thing I do is fall asleep every night with earphones in, listening to YouTube videos of nice ladies with strong accents pretending to give me a facial.  NORMAL.


You may have read about ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) before. If you haven’t, here’s a thing I wrote about it previously, so you can get yourself up to speed. In short, it’s the nice, tingly feeling that some people experience when watching or listening to people (mainly women) do things carefully and slowly – brushing their hair, folding towels, making origami, brewing tea. I discovered this YouTube subculture a couple of years ago and machined my way through playlist after playlist of people unboxing things, or making swans out of napkins.


Now, I very much subscribe to the whole ‘treat yo’self’ philosophy of life. I like to treat myself to a piece of jewellery every now and again. I like to buy myself the nicest clothes I can afford. I’ll splash out on some new boots if I’m feeling really fancy. Hell, I even bought myself the poshest peanut butter on the shelf the other day – it’s organic and got no added sugar or salt or anything remotely fun in it. For some reason, though, I seem to think that getting a facial or a massage is something really over-indulgent. I only ever get one if it’s a really special occasion – a birthday, New Year’s Eve, as a present. I absolutely love them, though. I love every aspect – my face being touched, fingers sliding over my forehead and under my eyes, the application of a thick, creamy masque. I love feeling so clean and new and expensive afterwards, like I’ve been reborn as an Olsen twin.


When I was stuck down an ASMR rabbit-hole late one night, I soon discovered – to my frugal joy – that there’s a whole corner of the internet full of nice ladies (and some men) with really relaxing voices who eagerly pretend to be giving you facials. Life changed. Pretty much every night now, I fall asleep whilst listening to a soft-spoken Russian woman talking me through a make-believe facial.


The soporific sounds of having my face (virtually) steamed, having lotion applied and then wiped off with cotton balls, of being talked through the whole process in a gentle voice, is just so pleasant that I keep going back for more. I search out different versions of skincare routines, done by different ‘ASMRtists’, feeling slight elation when I see a new upload entitled ‘Dermatologist’s Roleplay’, or ‘Skincare Routine’ and know that I can fall asleep whilst pretending I’m just that little bit richer than I really am.


Do you know what, though? I might just indulge in a real one next month. It is my birthday, after all.





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  • Sue

    Was your Russian facialist Maria of Gentle Whispering, by an chance? I love her voice!
    Yes, I’m a fellow tingly-headed internet weirdo. 🙂
    Listening to ASMR vids or MP3s feels so incredibly relaxing and lovely that it makes you feel sorry for anyone who it doesn’t affect.

    • Natalie Kate M

      YES! Oh my god she is an angel sent down from the heavens.

  • Fi Nightingale

    Nat, astonishingly, the most mind boggling thing here, is how the hell you can sleep in headphones.

    • Natalie Kate M

      I can’t sleep without them now. It’s a sickness

      • Fi Nightingale

        I can’t even wear earplugs in bed. Your skin looks lush in that pic.

        • Natalie Kate M

          apart from the GIGANTIC chin spot 🙁

          • Fi Nightingale

            Didn’t notice it. Too busy looking at the big white hair coming out of your chin. *runs away*

          • Tindara

            Sleepphones! They’re a revelation. I like to go to sleep listening to odd stuff too.

  • Jenna

    I think you just saved my life. When I can’t sleep I listen to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter but I’ve listened to them so many times now I can no longer tune them out- rather I start to anticipate the next bit. I’m so going to try this out! Thanks 🙂

    • PlumPie

      I listen to Harry Potter too! Listened as a child and restarted in my late teens when I couldn’t sleep. Boyfriend did the same, and while he’s fine with Potter I’m not sure I could persuade him that this would be just as good…

    • Lillie Langtry

      Me too! Harry Potter got me through the nights of chemo, basically.

  • Indigo

    For me, it’s joint cracking – I search ‘chiropractor’ and similar on YouTube. Neck cracks are a particular favourite… My OH thinks I am very odd! I do also like the massage videos for a bit of ASMR (thank you for giving me a name to give to this!).

  • Gingerahoy

    I’ve just tried one out – I wasn’t expecting it to be half as effective as it was, good grief. Care to drop us any links for your favourites? 😀

  • Clairebear

    I’ve been doing this for about a year – GentleWhispering is fabby, as is ASMRrequests, FairyChar! OneLilium has some good stuff and Heather Feather, although I find them less sleep inducing..
    I do feel a bit of a freak though when I try and describe it to other people so I tend to waffle about “mediation” stuff…

  • Katka

    For me it’s the Radio 4 In Our Time Podcast. I last literally seconds.

  • Sarah

    I haven’t tried the facial ones. I absolutely love the magazine turning ones though. I can’t go to a library for fear of nodding off due to the sounds of page turning.

  • Jane Porter

    I couldn’t sleep in headphones

  • Thea Everett

    I have ASMR too! I heard about it on This American Life and couldn’t believe not everyone had it. The ASMRtists don’t do it for me though. It’s mainly when I watch people really concentrating on something, or hear soft sounds like someone typing on a keyboard or rustling a paper bag, or frying onions in a pan. It’s so much fun.

  • Sali Hughes

    I have spent my entire life not being to describe AMSR to people. The only person I’ve ever known who gets it too is my ex boyfriend. He and I would discuss it a lot. We didn’t know it was an actual thing so we called it The Feeling. I get it watching children make things, when people are super nice in shops, when my hair is being combed at the hairdresser, when someone is just being very sweet etc. I’ve had it since I was a child. I never knew it was a proper thing until I was editing Nat’s piece. Revelatory.

    • Claire McDonnell

      I’ve had it since a child Sali and call it The Dreamy Feeling. I get it mainly with voices or people performing repetitive tasks. Have only met one other person who gets it but then again have not discussed it with many x

  • Fiona

    I only discovered the ASMR tag about a year ago, ever since then I’ve been watching people fold towels, clean mirrors and ‘apply’ makeup to me through via youtube. It’s like getting the loveliest, most gentle brain massage, I don’t like when they’re too whispery though, that kills it a bit for me. Watching people clean is the most relaxing thing ever for me, or flicking through paperwork………………..Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • lucymwood

    So fascinating, love this and the comments. Am a horrible neurotic sleeper, tried loads of things. Can’t sleep without ear plugs AT ALL or nose strips (expensive habit). Will have to give this a try.

  • Jenny King

    For so long two of my favourite things to look at on the internet have been Sali’s articles and ASMR videos. To have both communities cross over like this is so strange, haha! As for so many people it was a feeling I experienced for a long time before I realised there was a name for it or that people made videos like this. If you want to try it out, GentleWhispering is amazing x

  • Nicola Rossall

    I never knew this was a thing but it makes me happy that it is! The crackles you get when playing vinyl make my head tingle. I also used to be obsessed with watching Painting with Bob Ross for the same reason.

  • Hattie Kennedy

    Thanks Nat, I had no idea this was an actual thing. I am off to make myself a bedtime playlist now!

  • wendyt

    I’ve had AMSR all my life, but never had a name for it until I read an article by Rhodri Marsden last year. My earliest memories of it happening were when the football cup draws were on telly in the 70’s. A serious-looking man would hold a bag of marbles (?) & an equally serious peer would pick one out of the bag, then read out the corresponding team. I found the sound of the marbles clicking together mesmerising. This YT video, along with Space Travel Agent is my favourite & combines AMSR and nail polish-a subject close to the heart of many on here. Win-win. I watch from 2.00 minutes in at least once a week. I am not joking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKv3kiaanHY

  • Ceridwen

    Are there any CDs that use this technique? I would love to listen in bed…

  • widowspider

    I totally have this! I used to get it when my music theory teacher would carefully write out music. I also get it when I have my hair cut, and watching makeup tutorial & beauty videos. Yes, including you Sali. It’s such a nice feeling. 🙂

  • KatharineCox

    Oh my god! I get this with reading about reviews of treatments on The Good Spa Guide site and watching stuff about make up and skincare on QVC. Just checking out Maria, amazing.

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