Why Is Slime the Internet’s Latest Wellness Obsession?

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Some people find clarity in the sweat of a 45-minute soul cycle session and others enlist the help of meditation teachers, but a growing segment of #GramGen is choosing the simplicity of slime as their preferred stress outlet.

With more than 3 million Instagram posts tagged #slime and a seemingly endless number of YouTube tutorials teaching you how to make your own goo, there seems to be something universally appealing about slime.

The trend is not about the neon green liquid Nickelodeon releases on stars at the Teen Choice Awards or the substance that collects at the bottom of your trash can when the liner bag breaks. On the contrary, one of the defining qualities of internet slime is attractiveness.

“When I started making slime, it was because I came across Thai videos where it looked really pretty,” Prim Pattanaporn, of the Instagram account SparklyGoo, said. “I wanted to purchase it, only I couldn’t find a vendor. I just felt like I had to touch it.”

Ideal slime apparently has dazzling visual elements, but it also has to make viewers want to play with it themselves. Somewhere between art and a stress ball, the trend that started with Thai teens most closely resembles the ’90s Nickelodeon toy “Gak.” But, unlike its corporate counterpart, the current fascination with slime has to do in part with creators finding the perfect formulas. Some variations include clear slime, butter slime and holographic slime.

“Its definitely a form of art,” Pattanaporn told us. “You can get creative with it. You can change how the colors will look and how it will feel.”

Is It Actually Therapeutic?

Although slime is spreading like wildfire across the web, part of what makes the trend popular is that it counteracts the sensations we get from interacting with Smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Art therapist Nadia Jenefsky says that, as people are being exposed to more and more screen time from earlier ages, they crave different sensations.

“What’s changing nowadays is that kids are spending more time with screens, so they are getting an excessive amount of one type of sensory input, which is the smooth rubbing of a finger on a screen or keyboard,” Jenefsky told Highsnobiety. “Children in general are getting less sensory and tactile input from playing outside and picking up sticks or making patty cakes out of mud. Slime has come in to take the place of those activities that we are less inclined to do because we don’t want to make a mess or can’t go out in nature as much.”

Aside from the visual and tactile elements of slime, the sound it makes when people play with it provides a type of ASMR relief. There are even those who add a fourth sensory pleasure to their creations by including essential oils in their recipes, giving it aromatherapy properties.

Jenefsky added that sedentary lifestyles also contribute to our desire to play with slime.

“We are all more stressed and just having something to fidget with or play with in your hand is a good way to discharge tension or stress energy,” she said. “Especially if you are stressed because you have to sit at a desk or on the subway. Our high levels of stress, combined with high levels of inertia, make us want to discharge physical energy through stress balls, slime or coloring books.”

While at first glance slime may resemble play dough or clay, creating sculptures is not the point.

“There is a difference between process-oriented therapy which is about interacting with the thing that you are making, and product-oriented therapy which is about working towards a finished piece that you want to keep and look at. Slime is about mixing ingredients and experimenting with different colors and supplies,” Jenefsky said.

Slimey Money

Teenage girls, who serve both as the trendsetters and the businesswomen slinging their top goo mixtures for roughly $7-10 per tub, almost exclusively run the slime market. At 23, Pattanaporn is actually a grande dame of slime, with other creators being as young as 11.

Still, she has carved her space in the DIY business, selling tubs when home from University. Last year she sold more than $600 worth of slime. Other accounts operated on a more regular schedule, such as CraftySlimeCreator, run by 15-year-old slimestress Alyssa Jagan, have managed to bring in more than $6,800 in even less time.

For many creators, the drive to go into the slime business comes more from popular demand than a desire to make money. In Pattanaporn’s case, the fans twisted her arm.

“People were asking in my direct messages to buy my slime, but I was a bit scared of the shipping process,” the Vancouver native said. “I wasn’t an expert at selling; I just like art. Then this person from Florida wanted to buy my slime and he said he didn’t mind paying the shipping fee, which can be expensive from Canada to the U.S. It took off from there.”

But large chains have also got on the bandwagon. U.S. craft supply giant, Michaels, has opened an online “Slime Headquarters,” selling ingredients and accessories for slime creators.

Many slime ingredients like shaving cream, detergent and glue are things people already have around the house, but glitter, micro-beads, coloring and confetti can be crucial to getting a unique blend.

Why Germans Don’t Touch It

Although slime also has German fans, one of the main components in many recipes is Borax, a cleaning agent banned from home use in Germany, owing to its link to infertility.

“I really want to make it myself and have looked up a lot of recipes, but you just can’t get Borax in Germany,” Louisa R., 22, of Berlin told Highsnobiety. “What draws people to slime is that it is natural and almost a primordial form,” she added. “Perfect geometrical and electronic forms dominate our world today, and I think that people want something else.”

Still, there are many people, like Louisa, who reap the relaxing benefits of slime without ever touching it. Just watching the colors and textures of the goop being kneaded and handled can be soothing.

“I watch the videos at night before I go to bed in order to relax, or when I have a break at university,” she said. “Everyone has their preferences when it comes to slime, but I love ones with air bubbles that pop. It’s a release for me.”

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