For those obsessed with Dr. Pimple Popper and her graphic videos, there is a new bizarre breed of videos meant to induce a different kind of dry heave and chorus of "umm, no thank you": dandruff-scratching.
As you probably did when pimple-popping videos took off, you’re probably wondering, Who the hell is going out of their way to watch these things? A lot of people, judging from the number of views on YouTube. One, titled “BIG DANDRUFF FLAKES ASMR” (yes, in all caps—for emphasis, we suppose), has a casual 2.6 million views. Another, titled “Dandruff Scratching: Big Flakes, Minimal Talking Pt. 1,” has nearly double that amount. Since there’s literal strength in numbers, it's clear dandruff-fetishists are a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s satisfying to see it all removed and the sound it makes,” Sam Latrece, a regular dandruff video watcher explains. “It also makes your scalp tingle, as if they are scratching your head.” Latrece is also a fan of watching lipoma- and blackhead-removal videos. She says they’re both fairly similar concepts, and she’s drawn to them for the same reasons: Both show something “dirty” becoming “clean.” “With blackhead removals, the person is popping it out, and the skin is becoming clear and clean,” she tells us. With the dandruff videos, people are having the flakes scratched off their head, revealing a clean scalp in its place. Hazel Eyed Energy, or @wondermann5 on Twitter, says it’s almost like you’re watching someone accomplish a difficult task while you silently root them on from behind a screen.
Outside of watching videos, Latrece also has her own YouTube channel called “LatreceASMR.” ASMR (or autonomous sensory meridian response) is something that’s blown up in the past couple of years. It’s often described as something that makes your skin tingly and gives you pleasant chills. That’s a pretty vague definition because it’s a pretty hard thing to explain. Your preferred ASMR might come from Janet Jackson tapping or listening to someone snack on pickles. One of Latrece’s most popular videos involves her giving a simulated ear exam while chewing gum. Whatever your preference, you likely gravitate toward that particular “kink” for the same reason those who enjoy watching dandruff-scraping videos do: It soothes you, relaxes you, and takes you out of your head for a couple of minutes.
“I watch these videos the most late at night when I'm restless and can't sleep,” Katie or @Chaotic_Fave on Twitter tells me. “Watching someone else be put at ease makes me feel comfortable and actually puts me in a frame of mind to sleep.” Latrece, similarly, says she watches them at night, noting that it calms her before bed.
And this is where the dandruff-loving bubble bursts slightly. As soothing as these videos may be for some, they are a real example of "don't try this at home," because irritating your scalp while you have dandruff isn’t advised. “Scratching is never okay,” dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco tells us. “It can disrupt the outer layer of skin and leads to microscopic cuts and abrasions that can be infected.” Instead, she recommends getting rid of flakes with shampoos formulated with zinc pyrithione.
So, you can continue watching dandruff scraping videos if you want, but keep in mind the practice is not dermatologist-approved. Another thing Dr. Fusco recommends for dandruff sufferers is to add a tablespoon of sugar to shampoo “and gently, using the balls of fingers, massage the sugar into the scalp.” She says that this will “dislodge and loosen and exfoliate the flakes.” Maybe that can and should be the next big obsession instead? Cleaning your scalp the healthy way while still getting your flake fix. These videos of handcrafted ceramics are cute and comforting, too.
“To each their own,” @Chaotic_Fave says. “Everyone is interested in something a little weird.”