During the early months of the pandemic, it quickly became clear that many women were spending more time on their skin-care routines. Whether that’s because of Zoom (you can’t always keep your camera off), an excess of free time, or a combination of the two, our cleansers, moisturizers, and exfoliants were suddenly in heavy rotation. According to findings from The NPD Group, 40 percent of skin-care users reported reaching for their products more often than they did pre-COVID-19.
While there’s nothing wrong with a good radiance-boosting, multi-step routine, who wouldn’t mind a shortcut now that the novelty of sheltering in place is starting to wear off? As it turns out, there is one overlooked activity that could give your skin an instant boost: masturbation. “There are so many benefits to masturbation and orgasms; it is hard to believe it has been stigmatized for so long,” says Molly Murphy, co-founder of the Kiki de Montparnasse Pleasure Product Division. The link between sexual pleasure and good skin hasn’t been extensively researched yet, but the science that’s out there suggests that the Big O doesn’t just put a smile on your face—it can make it look healthier, too. “Overall, the dermatological benefits of orgasms are not very well studied, but regular sex could possibly lead to better skin,” says Dr. Marie Hayag, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics in New York City.
Read on for the perks of getting it on more often—and why you should take matters into your own hands.
What Are The Skin Benefits Of Sex?
Looking into a mirror isn’t typically the first thing you do immediately after climaxing, but if you did, you’d see that the post-O glow is real. “When you have an orgasm, there is an increase in your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure that all contribute to increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin,” says Dr. Hayag. “Afterwards, your complexion may look both flushed and brighter. For most people, this extra glow lasts up to two hours.” The boost in circulation may also help to stimulate the production of collagen, a protein in the body that keeps your skin looking youthful.
Orgasms also have the potential to calm inflammation in the skin. “For women, sex can help regulate levels of estrogen and oxytocin, which could prevent or minimize menstrual-cycle acne flare-ups,” says Dr. Hayag. Another reason to pleasure yourself: It melts away worry. When the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released, it reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress—one of the worst things for your complexion.
The relaxed feeling that washes over you after climaxing also promotes a more restful night, as we tend to sleep better post-orgasm. In addition to a radiant and refreshed look in the morning, the benefits go beyond the surface. Good sleep has been linked with cell turnover, balanced hormones, healthier relationships, better productivity, and a more resilient immune system. As for the ideal number of orgasms needed for results that’ll rock your world, Dr. Hayag says, “There is no solid amount, but it would be good to aim for three times a week.” It’s the rare to-do list item you’ll look forward to checking off again and again.
Does Solo Sex Count?
Your skin can’t tell how many people are in bed with you, so your complexion will reap the benefits of having an orgasm “with or without a partner,” says Dr. Hadley King. Masturbation may also be the best way for you to experience the highest level of ecstasy. “Many women cannot orgasm solely from penetration with a partner, so masturbation can help in two ways: It allows you to engage in pleasure for yourself, and it helps you communicate better with a partner,” says Murphy. If the thought of touching yourself still feels a bit embarrassing, take comfort in the fact that self-love is becoming less taboo. According to a recent report from Tenga, a pleasure product brand, 80 percent of Americans say that masturbation counts as self-care. (No arguments here!)
Tenga’s survey also found that 31 percent of women were masturbating more often during quarantine than before COVID-related restrictions went into effect. “I think social-media-based sex education, like what’s on TikTok and Instagram, is doing a lot to boost visibility and decrease taboos surrounding masturbation for all genders,” says Yana Tallon-Hicks, a relationships therapist and sex educator based in Western Massachusetts. Getting off on your own also means you don’t have to worry about performance anxiety. “When you’re masturbating in the privacy of your home, there is no audience and no sex Olympics judges waiting to jump out of your closet waving scorecards. You can do whatever you want! No one is watching,” says Tallon-Hicks.
How Can I Spice Up My Self-Love Sessions?
To make masturbation even more exciting, add a battery-operated friend to the mix. “Sex toys are finally being recognized for the tremendous positive impact they can have on your sexual well-being. Vibrators operate at a frequency you can’t achieve with your hands alone. This stimulation is a great way to explore solo sex,” says Murphy. And just because you’re by yourself doesn’t mean you can’t create a nice ambiance. “Find a comfortable space where you aren’t going to have many distractions, and use lighting, music, and scent to set a mood,” suggests Tallon-Hicks. Then get ready for a steamy night and a gorgeous morning after.