You probably brush your hair, and your teeth (hopefully with natural toothpaste), but do you brush your skin? And why would you?
I’ve mentioned dry brushing before and it seems like the ancient practice is gaining modern popularity. Scan almost any spa menu, and you’ll likely find an offering that mentions dry brushing. The practice—which involves scrubbing down your dry skin with a scratchy brush—sounds far from pampering, if not a bit austere. But spa pros and enthusiasts alike swear by it and sing its praises for supposedly doing everything from exfoliating to reducing cellulite.
So what is it and why should you consider doing it?
Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like… brushing the skin in a particular pattern with a dry brush, usually before showering.
In dry brushing, the skin is typically brushed toward the heart, starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest.
I’ve been dry brushing my skin for years, mostly because it feels great and makes my skin softer, but there are other benefits as well:
Lymphatic Support: The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally. Exfoliation: This benefit is often noticed the first time a person dry brushes. The process of running a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating skin. I noticed much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after I started dry brushing and my skin has stayed soft. Dry brushing is one of the simplest and most natural ways to exfoliate skin. Clean Pores: The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Though it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face unless you have a special, more delicate brush, dry brushing helps improve pores on the rest of the body. Cellulite Help: Though the evidence is anecdotal, I’ve found many accounts of people who claimed that regular dry brushing greatly helped their cellulite. I talked about this and my other cellulite remedies here. There isn’t much research to back the cellulite claims, but dry brushing feels great and makes skin softer, so there isn’t really any downside to trying it! Increased Energy and Blood Flow: I wouldn’t recommend dry brushing at night because it tends to give me a rush of energy. One theory is that because it increases circulation, it also increases energy. Either way, dry brushing is part of my morning routine.
I use a firm, natural bristle brush with a handle, which allows me to reach my entire back and easily brush the bottoms of my feet and the backs of my legs. There are many options in dry brushes, just make sure to find one with natural bristles. You can probably find a brush in a local store, or here are some good online options:
A dry brush with handle I currently use Another natural bristle brush I’ve used in the past (no handle, very firm) Delicate brush specifically for face
Dry brushing can be done daily, preferably in the morning before showering. Here’s what I do:
Starting at the feet, I brush the bottoms of my feet and up my legs in long, smooth strokes. I typically brush each section of skin 10 times. For lymph flow, I always brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains Repeat the same process with the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart. Again, I brush each section of skin 10 times. I then repeat the process on my abdomen and back and my face with a more delicate brush.
Note: Don’t brush too hard! A soft and smooth stroke often works best. I find my skin is slightly pink after brushing, but it should never be red or sting.
I brush before showering and use a natural lotion after showering.
Your skin should feel softer and smoother after just one session. Some people even say the detox and circulatory boost helps with digestive issues and skin problems such as acne; others claim to feel more energized, most likely a result of the increased blood flow.
You can test if you’re releasing toxins: Wipe your body with a dry washcloth right after brushing, then store the cloth in a sealable bag. After a few days later, give it a whiff. You will recognize that toxins were released.” A tad icky, but if that’s your thing, go for it!