In Elite Daily's Life Behind the Likes series, we talk to the people you know on the internet to find out who's really behind the screens. In this piece, we get the inside scoop from the woman running the ASMR TikTok account you can’t get enough of.
Molly Begnaud is the reason you can’t pull yourself away from TikTok. Well, she’s one of the reasons. Begnaud recently celebrated a year of posting autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos on the app, and there are no signs of her Molly Mashes TikTok account slowing down. As you scroll her colorful ASMR account, you’ll find a calming blend of clay-cracking, soap-cutting, and slime videos — and it’s all thanks to a quarantine hobby that actually stuck.
Begnaud’s journey with ASMR began when the satisfying-to-watch videos flooded her Instagram feed. “I don’t know how or when exactly I started seeing soap-cutting videos on my Instagram. They would just pop up on the Discover page, and I was obsessed with them,” Begnaud says. After two years of watching ASMR videos of people cutting soap, cracking dried clay, and squishing slime, Begnaud decided to jump on the other side of the camera when she found herself feeling bored while working from home as a first grade teacher in Redlands, California, during quarantine in March 2020.
I bought a little phone holder from Amazon ... got some soap from the dollar store — and I literally just started it.
The first Molly Mashes video was an Instagram post shared on May 3, 2020, and it featured Begnaud delicately slicing layers of a lavender bar of soap that she had pre-cut to ensure the pieces fell off in little cubes. “I bought a little phone holder from Amazon, went to Michael’s and got stick-on vinyl paper, put it on a little table, got some soap from the dollar store — and I literally just started it,” she says. Soon after, Begnaud created the Molly Mashes TikTok account on June 29, 2020, sharing a video of herself cutting a bar of glycerin cubed soap. As of July 13, the 26-year-old has more than 1.5 million TikTok followers, nearly 43,000 Instagram followers, and more than 6,000 subscribers on her YouTube account.
A large following wasn’t the goal, but Begnaud couldn’t help but notice some ASMR accounts had a lot of followers. “It was always in the back of my mind when I saw those bigger accounts. It was like, ‘Whoa, 20,000 followers, that’s insane. I wish I could get to that level,’” she says.
It didn’t take long for Begnaud’s numbers to grow, and she credits a January 2021 clay experiment posted on TikTok for one of her biggest bumps. “I got hundreds of thousands of followers in just a couple of days,” Begnaud says.
After watching just one of Begnaud’s eye-catching videos, which she records with her phone and “a little $30 mic,” you’ll understand why people can’t look away. Her color palette features bright neons and shimmering metallics — and you’ll want the sound all the way up for a calming ASMR hit. Clay-cracking vids show Begnaud lightly tapping on the surface before breaking the layers of nail polish, which makes a crackling sound like a fire. Slime clips showcase the kitschy decorations (like a plastic lime in the “margarita” slime) before Begnaud mesmerizingly pulls the slime to get the distinct “squishing” noises, and the soap-cutting videos show cubed, dried, or painted whole soap bars meticulously being sliced layer by layer.
Each video satisfies in a different way, and Begnaud has learned over time what works best on which platform. “I aim for one-minute ASMR videos, but I have noticed that shorter videos do much better on TikTok to allow for replays,” she explains. She’s also found 15 seconds is her sweet spot for clay-cracking videos. On Instagram, Begnaud enjoys the ability to share multiple clips in one post: “If I have a two-minute video, I can break it up into 30- to 45-second clips for them to flip through.”
My favorite reactions are the comments I get that say my videos help them with their anxiety.
Since her hands are in every video, Begnaud tries to match her nail polish to the colors she’s using, which she does with the help of gel stick-on polish. She also keeps it low-key when it comes to her jewelry. “The simpler, the better, so slime doesn’t stick to [the rings],” she says. Begnaud only recently put her face on camera in a February 2021 TikTok after some prodding by her brother-in-law. “He was the one [who] was telling me, ‘Molly, you need to make yourself a character or show your personality. That’s what people want to see,’” Begnaud recalls. Her brother-in-law also pushed her to start her YouTube channel, where he helms the filming and editing and they share longer videos dabbling in other ASMR forms like crunching food.
Begnaud runs all of her accounts while holding a full-time job as a first grade teacher, so filming and editing are centered on her free time when she’s not teaching. “I record maybe five [or] six videos in one sitting, and that’s on the weekend or after school,” Begnaud explains. “Then, I just edit at night when I’m watching Netflix with my husband [or] just here and there when I want ’cause it’s fun. It’s not a chore,” she adds.
Video requests from followers help keep Begnaud inspired, but filming isn’t as simple as the videos make it seem. Her soap-cutting videos only take a few minutes, but as her TikTok account grew, many of them were reported as “dangerous acts” and taken down because she uses a blade to cut the soap. “I was terrified. I heard another soap cutting account — she had 2.3 million followers — got her account banned for the blades. I don’t want to risk that,” Begnaud explains. She now exclusively shares that content on Instagram.
If I could just make someone’s day, make them happy ... that’s so, so cool.
Her other ASMR content forms — slime and clay cracking — require more time. Slime takes about 25 minutes to film and edit, while clay-cracking videos take two days to complete. Begnaud applies two to three coats of nail polish on the clay (which takes 30 to 40 minutes to dry in between coats), and then they need to dry overnight. “The nail polish fumes are awful, like absolutely awful, stinks up my whole house — my husband gets mad,” Begnaud laughs. “Of course, it’s the most popular.”
It can be stressful posting on Instagram and TikTok every day, but she also sees the positives of running the accounts. “My favorite reactions are the comments I get that say my videos help them with their anxiety if they’re feeling really stressed or overwhelmed with their schoolwork,” she says. Begnaud also likes to reassure viewers she does her best to reuse all the materials. “I try really hard not to be wasteful,” she says.
Begnaud hopes to one day expand beyond videos. “My biggest goal would be to open my own slime shop,” she says, adding that she’d also love to do merch like stickers and school supplies. Merch or no merch, though, it’s still all about spreading joy for Begnaud: “If I could just make someone’s day, make them happy ... that’s so, so cool.”