Welcome your sex toy as the newest member of your skincare routine.
by Emily Cieslak Nov 23, 2020
From NARS’ “Orgasm” blush to Benefit’s “Better Than Sex Mascara,” there’s no shortage of beauty products alluding to sex. Sure, you may chuckle or roll your eyes as you scroll, considering these names as gimmicks. The truth is that these companies are onto something.
In fact, if you could put sex into a bottle, it would be a miracle, all-in-one beauty elixir with multiple skin benefits, Julie Russak, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic and Russak+Aesthetic Center in Manhattan, tells Intrigue. But dare to dream.
“There is no one [skincare] product that can mimic all the benefits of sex,” she says. “You just have to have [sex].”
Under normal circumstances, we would be rejoicing. I mean, lots of sex in place of hundreds of dollars worth of products? Sign me up! But it’s 2020, and truthfully, this year has been weird. Between breakups and lockdowns, it’s understandable if you’ve been going through a sex dry spell or haven’t even given sex a second thought.
But if you want to take matters into your own hands, grab some lube and read on, because a solo sesh is just as beneficial for your complexion, says Dr. Russak, just as long as you experience as much pleasure alone as with a partner. And in case you’re wondering, there is no minimum amount of orgasms required to reap skin benefits, she adds. Although the more the merrier.
As if you need any more convincing to get down and dirty, here are six ways sex — or a little self-pleasure — can make your skin, well, sexier.
Your skin will glow.
It’s no secret that sexual arousal gets your blood pumping — you can literally feel your heart beating in your chest — but have you ever thought about what this means for your skin? According to Dr. Russak, dilated blood vessels help improve blood and oxygen circulation, the culprit behind sex flush aka rosy cheeks.
When blood supply increases, more nutrients are delivered to your skin, helping it better repair and appear healthier and glowing, she says. Increased circulation can even speed up the body’s healing process and improve the physicality of wounds and dark under-eye circles.
You'll have unclogged pores.
Along the same vein (sorry, couldn’t resist), the physical exertion of sex can leave you hot and sweaty. One small study of heterosexual couples in their 20s found that penis-havers burned about 100 calories per 30-minute session, while vagina-havers burned about 69 calories. What this means for your skin is loosened pores, which make it easier to remove dead skin cells and bacteria, and some experts believe, the release of toxins like lead and cadmium that can build up in your body, although research on this topic is limited and benefits, if any, are still unclear.
But just because sex can somewhat double as a spa treatment doesn’t mean you should skip your post-coital shower or ditch your normal skincare routine. After a steamy session, follow up with an exfoliating cleanser to remove sweat and bacterial buildup that can lead to clogged pores and a moisturizer or serum to replenish any moisture loss.
You'll experience less inflammation and irritation.
Besides acting as a DIY steam facial, sex triggers other mechanisms that can help rid pores of impurities and stop acne in its tracks. During intercourse, oxytocin aka the “love hormone” is released and cortisol, the "stress hormone" that sends sebum and oil production into overdrive and often leads to breakouts, decreases. The result? Clear skin.
Similarly, if you suffer from stress-induced skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, sex and masturbation can help alleviate symptoms. A reduction in cortisol levels lessens skin inflammation that’s typically caused by the stress hormone, says Dr. Russak.
You'll look younger.
Not only can sex provide an instantaneous glow, but it can also help your skin look younger. By reducing your cortisol levels, sex helps prevent the breakdown of collagen, a result of the stress hormone.
“As a dermatologist, I’m always talking to my patients about how to prevent aging, and one of the reasons why we have earlier signs of aging with stress is because cortisol increases the release of enzymes that break down collagen,” says Dr. Russak. As collagen breaks down, your skin loses elasticity and firmness, resulting in wrinkles. While you could always try collagen supplements or fillers, getting intimate with yourself or a partner is cheaper and a lot more fun.
Your skin will be better hydrated.
If puberty hasn’t already taught you, sex hormones play a key role in how your skin behaves. During the deed, there’s a spike in estrogen in women and in testosterone in men. As you age, studies show a drop in these sex hormones as well as a decrease in skin hydration, firmness, and elasticity. In other words, more wrinkles. However, stimulating hormone production through sex can help stave off signs of aging in premenopausal women and preandropausal men.
“Anything that boosts [sex hormone] production will improve the health and way the skin looks in terms of hydration,” says Dr. Russak. Hydrated skin is supple, smooth, and protected from environmental damage, according to The International Dermal Institute. Who doesn’t want that, especially with dry winter air on its way. As Lizzo says, “Come water me.”
You'll look better after a night's rest.
If your best sleep ever is after an orgasm, you’re not alone. More than half of 1,200 Americans rely on masturbation for reasons other than to receive pleasure, including as a sleep aid, according to a 2016 survey by sexual wellness company TENGA. Makes sense considering the cocktail of hormones sexual arousal creates can leave you extremely relaxed and sleepy—especially the hormone prolactin, which increases the duration of REM sleep and provides deeper rest, per the National Sleep Foundation.
And better sleep leads to better skin. During the night, your body repairs its organs, including the skin, and not getting enough shut-eye can lead to increased signs of aging and a loss of skin barrier (the outermost layer of your skin responsible for keeping moisture in and pollutants out). Studies have also found that those who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to suffer from acne.
Consider sex the best motivation to hit the sack early if you’re having trouble clocking out at a reasonable hour. Not only will you get some instant gratification, but you’ll also wake up to a better-looking tomorrow. Hey, it’s called beauty sleep for a reason.