What Is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: brushing the skin with a brush when dry.
Skin brushing is beneficial as a form of manual exfoliation that can be used to remove dead skin cells and increase the skin's blood flow which can help maintain healthy muscle tone. No water or topical products (moisturizers, lotions, oils, etc.) should be used.
Skin Brushing & Cellulite
You may have heard claims that dry brushing can treat cellulite? "Eliminates toxins" has become a buzz phrase of late. Juicing, hot yoga, and yes, dry brushing, all supposedly detoxify your body.
Sorry but, no matter how hard or often you brush, it's not magic. There is no medical literature that substantiates dry brushing to treat cellulite or remove toxins from the body. Your body doesn't really need help with detoxing. The body’s liver and kidneys are the only organs responsible for detoxification, and unless someone has a liver or kidney disease, these organs do a superb job of detox on their own.
Unfortunately, you can't brush toxins out of the body.
What’s The Point?
Although there haven't been any formal studies done on the effects dry brushing has on the skin experts agree that it does have its benefits. Here's what we know.
Dry brushing exfoliates the skin much like the more commonly used body scrubs do, via physical exfoliation. The bristles of the brush manually sweep away dull, rough, flaky skin cells. After a dry brushing session, your skin will feel softer and smoother.
It Increases Circulation
The brisk brushing stimulates circulation. This leaves skin looking more radiant, albeit temporarily. By increasing circulation, we encourage new blood and oxygen to the skin (so in our opinion waste products are eliminated).
It's Invigorating and Energizing
Maybe it's the increased circulation, maybe it's simply the few extra minutes indulging in a self-care ritual, but most people feel invigorated and energized after a dry brush session. And there's no denying dry brushing just feels good on the skin (if it doesn't, you're probably brushing too hard, but more on that later).
How Do You Begin Dry Brushing?
A pure bristle brush is essential. Plastic or synthetic fibres can cause micro wounds or scratches on the skin and have no beneficial effects.
Once your skin is used to daily brushing, you may find pure bristles too soft to use. For greater stimulation you can buy vegetable brushes, made from natural fibres, often coconut, and very hard wearing.
Let's Get Started
You've got your brush and you're ready to start! The dry brushing process isn't complicated, so don't be too worried about doing it "right." Once you've done it a few times, you'll develop a technique that works for you.
Some people suggest doing your dry brushing in the morning, rather than before bed, because of its stimulating and energizing quality. But really you can dry brush whenever is convenient for you.
1. To begin, strip down to bare skin. Some recommend standing in an empty bathtub or shower, but anywhere you're comfortable and won't slip is fine. Starting at the feet, brush upward toward the navel with light, smooth strokes. Dry brush the entirety of each leg, working up to the upper thighs.
2. Continue with the buttocks and back (provided you can reach; if not, no worries. It's OK to skip it).
3. Move on to the arms, starting at the backs of the hands and work upwards to the shoulders, again using light, smooth strokes.
4. The stomach and chest are more sensitive than the arms and legs, so lighten your touch a bit here. You can continue with upward strokes here, or circular ones, depending on which is more comfortable to you. Don't brush over breasts (for women) or nipples (for everybody).
5. If you'd like to also brush your face and neck, switch to a smaller, softer brush. Brush lightly upward on the neck, then gently across the face from chin to forehead.
6. After your dry brushing session, shower or bathe, then finish with an application of lotion, body balm, or body oil.
It's Not Right For Everybody!
The most common side effect of dry brushing is irritated skin. This is more likely to happen if you brush too hard, brush too often, or if your skin is especially sensitive. While your skin may be a bit pink after a session, you most definitely don't want to see redness or abrasions on the skin. Your skin shouldn't burn or sting afterward, either. Dry brushing should feel good; if it doesn't, you're being too aggressive.
Never dry brush over eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wounds, sunburn, or irritations. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to skip dry brushing altogether. In any case, if your skin seems to be getting irritated by your newfound dry brush routine, scale back the frequency or stop dry brushing altogether.
A Word From Better-Bodies
Dry brushing can be a relaxing yet stimulating indulgence to leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. The key to remember through all dry brushing sessions is to treat your skin gently. Rough brushing won't gain you better results. Be realistic about the results you're expecting and listen to your skin.