Can sex give you better skin?

Orgasms have plenty of benefits for skin (Cottonbro)
Orgasms have plenty of benefits for skin (Cottonbro)

There is a video on YouTube hailing from 2018 in which Sienna Miller is chatting away to her make-up artist and confidante Wendy Rowe about her beauty secrets. She of course mentions the usual rules spouted by celebrities of towering beauty: sleep, yoga, removing make-up before bed, and so on and so forth. Then Sienna bashfully says between giggles: “I think a good love life makes people glow, doesn’t it?”

This moment — that one little candid, naughty, between-we-friends admission — is precisely why this video remained lodged in my memory; it’s rare to see an A-lister deviate from the accepted party lines about beauty, rarer still for one to so candidly bring sex up as part of her glowing skin arsenal. I returned to it the other day to double check that Sienna had, indeed, equated sex with glow because it felt topical now that we are all collectively in the pursuit of her level of luminosity.

In my experience, Sienna’s aside is categorically correct; there is nothing quite like the flush of sexed up skin. But to find out whether Sienna’s sex for superior radiance tip held up under scrutiny, and not just in my estimation, I turned to the experts for insights.

Facialist and founder Teresa Tarmey (who has by the way treated Sienna’s skin plenty of times) says, “Sex can improve blood circulation, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells more quickly. After sex, our skin appears more oxygenated and plump, with a brightened complexion and pink lips.” The benefits don’t end there, says Tarmey. “Sex can also boost collagen production, which plays a vital role in skin construction and regeneration, leading to reduced wrinkles.”

Sienna Miller (AFP via Getty Images)
Sienna Miller (AFP via Getty Images)

Pam Marshall, a clinical aesthetician known for treating acne, agrees, but adds that sex also has a positive effect on acne by reducing stress. “If we lower our stress hormone cortisol, the amount of oil being produced lowers, meaning the pilosebaceous unit is less likely to create a spot.” She also issued the following sage advice. “You don’t need a partner to get those particular results; a simple toy does the job just as well.”

This brings me more specifically to orgasms. Yes, sex is good for skin — but if you really want that lit from within thing, an orgasm is necessary — a fact Francois Nars was clearly mindful of when creating his cult blush, Orgasm, which is designed to mimic that freshly-out-tangled-sheets cheeks-suffused-with-colour thing. (As an aside, he did a great job of blending pink, peach, and gold pigments and I’ve relied on it plenty of times when needing to fake it — the glow, that is, not the orgasms.)

So it’s worth putting in the time and effort to have orgasms regularly, whether with a partner or solo. Marie Morice, clinical sexologist and founder of Lilith Your Life, encourages a hearty approach not only for the “multiple health and beauty effects from burning calories to reducing blood pressure to boosting the immune system, to relieving pain to helping cardiovascular health,” but also for the ancillary joys such as it being “an amazing sleep inducer — and post-sex sleep is restorative, so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, with reduced under-eye circles and puffiness.”

She has words of encouragement if you read all this and think it sounds great but don’t think you have the time/energy for so much action. “The more you have sex, the more you want to have sex. The more sex you have, the more body confidence you have. The more body confidence you have, the more self-esteem… you get my point.”

Roger that — but before you go off and, well, do some rogering (sorry; couldn’t resist), a final word of warning from Marshall. “Sex may have all those wonderful effects on skin, but be aware that kissing can cause abrasion, which can lead to spots for those prone. The answer to this is simple: cleanse afterwards so the saliva and sweat doesn’t hang around for long on your skin.”