Woman listening to music - headphones (Photo : Pexels/Sound On)

Listening to the tunes of artists like Taylor Swift, SZA, and Drake isn't just beneficial for your mental health -- it also works wonders for your skin, according to a study.

An October study investigating the therapeutic effects of tranquil sounds uncovered that music can significantly influence people's emotions, ultimately benefiting their skin health.

"Relaxing music can have a profound effect on how we feel -- physically and psychologically," Micheal Bonshor, professor of music psychology at the U.K.'s University of Sheffield, said in the research conducted by luxury skincare membership club BeautyPie.

Bonshor pointed out that how the brain processes sound impacts the limbic system. Therefore, listening to calming music aids in emotional regulation and a number of other health-related benefits.

"The neurological pathways which process sound affect the brain's limbic system, which is responsible for emotional responses, memory and behavior. So listening to 'relaxing' music helps us to regulate our emotions," the professor explained. "It can also reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol, [which is] the stress hormone."

Now, how does this benefit the skin?

According to WebMD, stress triggers a chemical reaction within the body that heightens skin sensitivity and reactivity. Furthermore, it can impede the healing process of skin issues and aggravate psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.

According to the publication, stress can trigger the release of hormones such as cortisol, which prompts skin glands to increase oil production, leading to acne breakouts.

Given the findings indicating that music lowers stress levels, indulging in relaxation therapy through music could also benefit the skin.

BeautyPie researchers analyzed 1.4 million songs from Spotify playlists tagged with terms like "skincare," "wellness," "relaxing," and "self-care" to identify the artists, genres, and songs that foster a soothing ambiance for the skin.

"We calculated the total number of times each musician and song were included, then ranked them to discover which artists and tracks help us to unwind the most," the researchers said.

The research suggested that Swift is "the world's most relaxing musician." 

Bonshor explained that the tempo of a song holds the greatest importance in defining its relaxation potential. 

He also mentioned that a tempo range of around 60 to 80 beats per minute (bpm) is commonly associated with relaxation, aligning closely with the average resting heart rate during periods of relaxation.

Bonshor noted that while Swift's music typically has a faster tempo, averaging around 108 beats per minute, people's focus shifts to the pronounced emphasis on the first and third beats of the musical bar during relaxation. This emphasis creates the perception of a slower, recurring two-beat pattern in the music.

"This means the Taylor Swift catalog has a relaxing 'pulse,' and our bodies naturally synchronize with [it]," he said.

Taylor Swift (Photo : Getty Images/Angela Weiss)
Taylor Swift arrives for the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 12, 2023.

Lana Del Rey and the Canadian band Little Symphony secured the second and third positions in the researchers' list of top 25 artists with the most relaxing music.

Meanwhile, hip-hop emerged as the most relaxing musical genre, featuring artists like The Weeknd, Drake, Frank Ocean, Doja Cat, and Kendrick Lamar, each known for their tranquil rhythms and melodies.

"Hip-hop songs typically sits around 80 bpm. Repetition also contributes to the relaxing properties of a song, and hip-hop is famous for having a repetitive, cyclical beat that many fans of the genre deem more important than the lyrics," said Bonshor.

He explained, "Repetitive melodies, lyrics and steady rhythmic patterns that we can quickly tune into and remember, make for a soothing listening experience."

The study identified Ariana Grande's "Moonlight" as the most calming song. 

Bonshor explained that although the song maintains a tempo of 102 beats per minute when considering all four beats in a bar, perceiving the stronger emphasis on the first and third beats creates the sensation of a slower pace.

"[I]f we focus on the stronger first and third beats in the bar, we 'feel' the music pace as two slow beats in every bar, giving us a restful 51 bpm," the professor explained.

In the study, SZA and Kali Uchis emerged as notable R&B artists, with SZA's track "Kill Bill" specifically recognized as the best song to "accompany a skincare regimen."

Bonshor said, "Melodies in many relaxing songs tend to be limited in range and move up and down in small steps; not only SZA's music but also Taylor Swift's 'Cardigan,' and Kali Uchis' 'Telepathía.'"