PSA: Sex Is Actually Really, Really Good For Your Skin

by Rebecca Norris · Updated November 22, 2022
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Is sex good for your skin? Read up before you go down.

When it comes to caring for your skin, there’s a good chance that your first instinct is to apply a series of products (such as vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinol) and drink as much water as possible. And while research has proven that active ingredients can improve your complexion (and dermatologists swear by a simple, consistent routine), it’s not the only way you can get glowing skin. For example, there are foods you can eat for clear, bright skin. But what if we told you catering to your complexion can be a whole lot sexier?

That’s right: Sex has several benefits for skin. We spoke to experts about how exactly spicing things up in the bedroom can soothe your complexion. Read on to learn more about the link between sex and skin.

Is Sex Good for Your Skin?

In short, yes, sex is good for your skin. That’s because sex is a form of exercise, and exercise is good for your skin.

“There are known health benefits to regular exercise,” NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD, says. “For example, an increased heart rate moves blood through the body at a faster rate. [This] can increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, and ultimately usher away toxins.”

But it’s more complex than just getting physical that leads to the benefits of sex for your skin. Here, we break down exactly how and why getting busy will leave you fresh-faced.

Gay couple in bed after sex, smiling with the post-coital glow

5 Benefits of Sex for Skin

To fully understand how having sex is good for your skin, read about the five complexion-enhancing pros of getting it on.

1. Sex Delivers a Post-Coital Glow

Does sex make your skin glow? Yes, according to experts. “A post-coital glow is similar to a glow you may get after an intense workout, in which increased blood flow, a glisten from sweat, and an endorphin rush temporarily improve one’s complexion,” Dr. Camp says. So if you feel like your skin looks lit from within after doing the deed, it’s not in your head. It really does give you a glow.

2. Sex Can Reduce Inflammatory Skin Concerns

Research has shown that higher levels of stress are strongly correlated to an increase in acne severity. Plus, stress can worsen conditions like eczema and psorasis. But getting it on could help—in a similar way that working out can too. “Sex and exercise may reduce stress,” Dr. Camp says. And a reduction in stress means a potential reduction in inflammatory skin conditions exacerbated by excessive worrying.

3. Sex Can Boost Collagen Production

Collagen is a protein that acts as the building block of skin. As we age, collagen levels decrease, but our levels can also be negatively affected by stress. Studies have confirmed that stress impacts the skin’s collagen by releasing cortisol, which breaks collagen down. But according to board-certified dermatologist Jennifer MacGregor, MD, of NYC’s Union Square Dermatology, sex actually reduces cortisol (the stress hormone). This makes way for collagen production and maintenance to promote fresh, rejuvenated skin and sidestep fine lines and wrinkles.

4. Sex Leads to Better Sleep, Which Leads to Better Skin

While sleep can boost your immune system and improve your mental health, it can also help your skin. How? “Sex often leads to a good night’s sleep,” says sexologist and We-Vibe sex expert Jess O’Reilly, PhD. “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.” It’s true: Research found that poor sleep quality is associated with increased signs of skin aging, decreased skin barrier function, and lower satisfaction with overall appearance.  Plus, your skin’s cell renewal rate peaks between the hours of 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., which means a good night’s sleep can lead to a bright, clear complexion.

5. Sex Can Help Defy Signs of Aging

As Dr. O’Reilly points out, frequent sex improves skin (and hair!) quality, which leads to a more lively and refreshed appearance overall.

“Researchers believe that these beauty benefits are triggered by increased levels of DHEA during sex. Neuropsychologist Dr. David Weeks’ studies suggest that the more often you have sex, the younger you look,” she says. “Those who reported having sex an average of four times per week looked approximately 10 years younger than their actual age.”

One Caveat

Take note that there’s one potential con linked to sex and skin health: It can potentially lead to breakouts. Just as exercise can cause post-workout breakouts, Dr. Camp says that sex can lead to breakouts without proper post-coital skincare. “If a buildup of sweat, oil, and grime lingers on the skin, it can contribute to clogged pores and the formation of acne,” he explains. Because of this, cleanse your face sooner than later. Or, if you’re prone to body acne, take a quick rinse (partner optional.)

Woman clutching bed having an orgasm and experiencing the benefits of sex and healthy skin

The Takeaway

Yes, sex is good for your skin. But here’s the real kicker: You don’t need to have partnered sex to enjoy the benefits of sex for skin. That’s right—you can usher in your most radiant complexion by masturbating (with or without sex toys).Whether you’re intimate with a partner or solo, having orgasms will cause a spike in oxytocin, a key component in all the benefits listed above. Consider this your sign to get it on: Sex and healthy skin go *hand in hand.*


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