If you type 'soap cutting' into YouTube or Instagram you will be met with countless videos that have amassed thousands of likes. And the term is not a euphemism or code for anything other than exactly what it sounds like.

The videos show soaps of every shape, colour and size being shaved with knives or razors and people evidently enjoy watching it.

The trend taps into a community of people with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) - a name coined in 2010 when a woman named Jennifer Allen created a Facebook community group for it. Some call it 'head orgasms' or 'brain tingles', and describe the symptoms as a tingling sensation in their head, neck or body in response to a stimulus.

From the sounds of fingers tracing on a page to whispered words, an influx of videos were designed to give a select few the tingling they craved.

In the past few years, mainstream awareness about ASMR has grown despite confusion as to how many people experience it. Because trends in YouTube videos catered to those people, it is now an activity widely publicised on the internet. For example, if you search 'ASMR' on YouTube, over 11 million suggestions will come up consisting both stimulating videos and people sharing their stories of experiencing it.

A post shared by @soap_fetishist on

This video is from a user called 'soap-fetishist'.

Whilst little research has been done into ASMR, the first foray into the trend was an investigation by Swansea University in March 2015. Researchers asked 500 ASMR enthusiasts what type of ASMR videos they watched, its effect on their moods and why they watched the videos. The results found that whispering worked for the majority of people, followed by videos involving some sort of personal attention, crisp sounds, and slow movements. For the most part, participants reported that they watched ASMR videos for relaxation purposes with only five percent of participants citing sexual stimulation as the reason for watching them.

So popular were the videos that a woman called Maria (who chose not disclose her surname) became so successful online as GentleWhisperer by uploading ASMR videos of whispering and touching her hair on YouTube - that she left her job to pursue it full-time, Cosmopolitan reported in 2015.

As for the current popularity in soap cutting, there really is a huge variety in the videos available. Whilst some already have scores or bumpy textures (thus making the shaving process drastically different to smooth soap) others are cut in short erratic movements.

With thousands of likes and comments, soap cutting accounts have a loyal community of watchers online too.

Whilst they specifically target individuals with ASMR, this does not exclude other people from enjoying their apparent therapeutic benefits.

One user said: "Somehow I ended up watching soap cutting ASMR videos on YouTube and it was the most satisfying hour of my life ."

Another said: "I just accidentally sat on my phone for 30 min just watching people cutting up bars of soap on Instagram."

It seems that whatever the reason, soap cutting is arguably social media's most unexpected trend.