Best ASMR by Type: Intentional and Unintentional

Some creators make videos expressly to induce autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). The most popular of these ASMRtists have millions of subscribers all over the world. Several of them also sell their own branded T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other logo items.

Other stars of ASMR died before the term was even coined in 2010 — by a woman named Jennifer Allen, who started an ASMR Facebook group. Since ASMR wasn’t even recognized as a phenomenon when these ASMRtists were actively filming, the works of these people are considered unintentional sources of the effect.

The Superstar of Unintentional ASMR: Bob Ross

The five-star standout among unintentional ASMRtists is the late painting instructor Bob Ross, who died in 1995. A search for “unintentional ASMR” does turns up other creators. But no one else even comes close to the popularity of big-haired Ross, who created dozens of instructional videos to teach people to paint nature.

The sound of his brush on the canvas and the scraping sounds as he mixes paints on his palette, along with his calm voice act as the ASMR triggers.

According to the website Discover ASMR, “Most [unintentional ASMR videos] focus heavily on a trigger called ‘focusing on a task.’ It’s unbelievably relaxing to watch someone do things confidently while being at ease.”

Other Sources of Unintentional ASMR

Another well-known unintentional ASMRtist is Baba Sen, the Cosmic Barber, from Pushkar, India, who died in October 2018. Baba was known for giving head massages as well as haircuts to both men and women, and the videos of the massages have proven relaxing to those viewing them as well as those receiving them. Many of his videos can still be seen online.

A few other videos that show people focusing on tasks, and that may provide an ASMR experience, include:

Many more examples can be found on the Best Unintentional ASMR channel or by searching YouTube for “unintentional ASMR.”

Popular Intentional ASMRtists

Intentional ASMRtists have created and continue to create a huge variety of videos with the goal of bringing on the tingly, relaxed response known as ASMR in viewers. This variety reflects the fact that many different types of sights, sounds, and vicariously experienced sensations can serve as ASMR triggers.

Some videos are elaborate role-plays, such as a suit fitting, an optical exam, or a trip to outer space. Many others have no narrative content at all — just one auditory trigger after another, such as tapping, scratching, brushing hair, crinkling paper or fabric, or rubbing on hand lotion.

The most popular intentional ASMRtists tend to fall into a certain mold. Most of them are soft-voiced, attractive white women with long flowing hair. Some are wholesome all-American types; others have slightly exotic foreign accents. This categorization applies to the following giants in intentional ASMR:

  • Gentle Whispering Maria, creator of this popular YouTube channel, has reached superstar status among ASMR enthusiasts. In one of her large library of sought-after ASMR videos, she promises, speaking with her pretty Russian accent, to “help you relax and forget about your trouble, whatever it is.” Gentle Whispering on YouTube
  • Whispers Red Emma, who speaks with an English accent, creates videos in her online “hair spa” where every action “focuses on your comfort, your well-being.” Whispers Red on YouTube
  • ASMR Darling Speaking American English, this ASMRtist takes a playful approach to the whole endeavor of inspiring relaxation. Triggers she favors, she writes, include “tapping, scratching, affirmations, compliments, hair play and hair brushing, as well as personal attention … and face touching.” ASMR Darling on YouTube

RELATED: The Best ASMR YouTube Channels

Massage, Simulated Medical Exams, and Other ASMR Themes

Massage shows up in intentional as well as unintentional ASMR. For example, many of the videos found on MassageASMR, created by Dmitri, of Queensland, Australia, simply show him giving a massage to another person. Dmitri also makes role-play videos, such as a simulated medical exam of the head and neck.

Medical exam role-plays are also a common theme of Iriss, who has recorded “visits” with a cardiologist, a medical acupuncturist, an eye doctor, and an allergist nurse practitioner.

Positive affirmation videos show up on many ASMRtists playlists, including these:

  • Bohemian Whisper offers reassurances along with timed inhalations and exhalations for those who are anxious or down in the dumps. Bohemian Whisper on YouTube
  • Freds Voice steps in, in his words, to affirm any listeners who are experiencing troubles or unhappiness and assure them they’re not alone — he’s there. Freds Voice on YouTube
  • PJ Dreams mixes rain noises and mouth sounds into his positive messages to the viewer, encouraging healthy habits and “good sleep.” PJ Dreams on YouTube

Eating is another common activity depicted in ASMR videos. A couple of ASMRtists who post eating videos include these:

  • Good Eating mixes hands sounds — tapping, rubbing hands together, snapping — with sounds of eating great piles of fast food and, once, a pound of raw honeycomb. Good Eating on YouTube
  • SAS-ASMR eats a broad variety of foods, from sashimi to noodle soup to strawberries, as well as “edible” soda bottles, chalk, and glue. SAS-ASMR on YouTube

History- and science-themed ASMR videos are a smaller niche but well-loved by some users. Some options in this category include these:

Cultural Diversity Among ASMRtists

People from all backgrounds are making ASMR videos. Some are just getting started, while others have a solid library of videos. If you enjoy some variety in your ASMR viewing, try some of these ASMRtists.

Asian ASMRtists:

  • Donghwa speaks mostly in Korean, in a deep, intimate, voice, and also uses the sounds of a campfire, a thumb piano, handwashing, mouth sounds, and other sources in his videos. Donghwa on YouTube
  • Tingting has a series of videos on her channel that draw on Asian culture. In some she takes on the part of a Chinese princess; in others she writes calligraphy, makes tea, or mixes herbs together to make Chinese medicines. Tingting on YouTube
  • Yanghaiying, perhaps in the spirit of Bob Ross, posts videos of how to paint watercolors, as well as the occasional inspirational video. Yanghaiying on YouTube

African-American ASMRtists:

  • ASMR Power of Sound is created by Matt, who covers the gamut of popular ASMR triggers: physical exams, tapping and other noises, role-plays, massage, hair care, and even zombies and Big Foot. ASMR Power of Sound on YouTube
  • Batala’s ASMR features a broad variety of aural triggers, such as mouth sounds, plucking sounds, tongue clicking, and tapping, as well as visual triggers, such as gentle face touching and “tingly” hand movements. Batala’s ASMR on YouTube
  • Samdrogynous focuses on hair care of various types, including a sudsy shampoo and an “Afro kinky conditioning massage.” Samdrogynous on YouTube

Of course, this is only a sampling of the many people, representing many different cultural groups, creating ASMR videos. So if there’s a type of ASMRtist you haven’t found yet but think you’d enjoy, just keep looking.

RELATED: Resources for ASMR

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