I Masturbated My Way to Better Skin, Because the Orgasm Glow Is Real

Photo: Getty Images/Aleksander Nakic
I'm willing to do pretty much anything for the sake of better skin. I've given up sugar and dairy, slathered my face in every "gross" ingredient you can imagine—including, but not limited to, snail mucin, human foreskin cells, and snake venom—and I've let someone stick straight-up needles into my cheeks on more than one occasion. But when I read that the real secret to the dewy skin I'd been lusting after was lots and lots (and lots) of orgasms (how great is the internet, huh?), I immediately volunteered myself to conduct an experiment. To the ex-boyfriends, coworkers, and family members who are reading this now, #sorrynotsorry.

First things first: There is (at least a little bit of) actual science out there to support the fact that Os will make you glow. In a study published in Secrets of the Superyoungauthor David Weeks found that participants who reported having sex four times a week looked approximately 10 years younger than their actual age. Super scientific? Nahhh. The best we have? Well, kind of. TBH, there aren't any academic journal publications that specifically link sex to skin health, however, sex therapists confirm that the "sex flush," which increases circulation to certain areas, and can give you a temporary all-over glow, is a thing.

The lack of research but distinct abundance of anecdotal evidence is pretty simple to explain, according to dermatologist Jaimie Glick, MD, of Marmur Medical. "These studies are not so easy to do." But, she confirms this: "Orgasms can induce flushing, which is a sign of cutaneous blood flow. Sweating during sex and orgasms can also contribute to a 'glow.'"

Given how closely skin health is linked to your hormones, there's another reason your Os might make you radiant. "Orgasms trigger the release of a hormone called oxytocinOxytoxcin and its receptors are located in the skin and have been shown to play key roles in decreasing inflammation and improving wound healing," says Dr. Glick. Oxytocin, she explains, can also suppress cortisol levels, which can cause the breakdown of collagen and even acne breakouts. 

And it's not just the Os themselves that can help with the glow. Because of the hormonal release, there are secondary benefits as well. "Sex often leads to a good night’s sleep, and good sleep habits are associated with cell repair, balanced hormones, improved eating habits, less stress, happier relationships, and a strong immune system—all of which are likely to contribute to healthy, glowing skin," says Jessica O’Reilly, PhD a sexologist and relationship expert who works with We-Vibe, the makers of my favorite vibrator ever (which is technically supposed to be used with a partner, but trust me, works just fine without one).

I wasn't going to let the fact that I'm a single woman without a regular sexual partner get in the way of my orgasmic glow. So I grabbed my vibrator, cued the Hailey Steinfeld, and got to work. While I'll spare you the details of my self-love sessions, I will tell you that they were a hell of a lot more fun than applying snail masks or sitting for facial acupuncture. I started and finished my days with an orgasm for the better part of a week, and in addition to making me a happier, more relaxed person in general (seriously—my outgoing emails were like, a lot nicer than usual), my skin looked freaking awesome.

Immediately after my solo romps—which, unlike my usual sex-capades with dudes, always ended in an orgasm—my face had a nice, radiant flush to it. There was a bit of a sweat-induced glisten, too, which gave things a dewiness that no highlighter has ever been able to achieve.

So just what do the pros have to say about this? "I do feel regular orgasms can induce better skin, as they decrease cortisol levels leading to a decrease in stress as well as enhanced collagen synthesis," says Dr. Glick. "Stress contributes to inflammation, which can lead to breakouts, rosacea flares, and even wrinkles." 

If I'm being totally honest though, I can't say for sure if an orgasm or two a day kept the lines, pimples, and dullness away. After all, I did continue to use a 10-step skin-care routine throughout the experiment. But I can confirm with 100 percent certainty that it definitely didn't hurt. And it's a whole lot cheaper than retinol.

Let's talk (even more) about sex, baby: Here's why you should never ask a lesbian couple whether or not they scissor; Plus everything you ever wanted to know (but were too nervous to ask?) about pegging

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