Dry body brushing has become a hugely popular health and beauty ritual over recent years, but this simple practice actually dates back to ancient times.
The Japanese used to vigorously brush their skin prior to bathing, as did ancient Greek athletes in a bid to encourage circulation after physical exertion.
More recently – in the last 30 years or so – a Finnish doctor actually prescribed this technique to his patients to help them detoxify, exfoliate and stimulate their skin.
With all the attention we give to ensuring our face is preened and pampered, isn’t it about time that we started taking care of the rest of our skin?
What is Dry Brushing?
Basically, this type of brushing involves using a coarse, dry brush (this is the best one the market) to brush the skin in a particular pattern in order to improve skin quality and overall health.
While you may not come across much scientific research on dry brushing, it is frequently recommended by naturopaths and beauty professionals. What’s more, there is a wealth of praise for the practice from its ardent followers. They say dry body brushing can:
1. Remove Toxins
Our lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste products from the body. Lymphatic tubules are located throughout the body in order to collect waste from the tissues and transport it through the blood to be eliminated.
A sluggish lymphatic system means waste and toxins won’t be moved out of the body as quickly as possible, leading to build-up in the tissues. This lymphatic congestion is believed to play a role in inflammation and disease.
Dry skin brushing is a fantastic tool to boost lymphatic drainage and keep the whole system moving – meaning you’ll stave off illness, and prevent toxin build-up.
Given that we are exposed to between 700,000 and 2.1 million different toxic chemicals a day – in everything from our food to our personal care products – dry brushing is a wise addition to any personal care routine!
2. Boost Circulation
Dry brushing the skin really gets the blood moving, increasing circulation and promoting overall wellness.
There are many symptoms caused by poor circulation, including a weakened immune system, coldness in the hands and feet, swelling and numbness of the extremities, varicose veins or fatigue.
Avoid all these, and more, through the simple act of body brushing.
3. Reduce Cellulite
It’s estimated that 98% of women get cellulite, that horrible dimpled skin on the thighs, knees and buttocks. So dreaded is this almost-inevitable skin texture that the anti-cellulite industry has grown into a €62 million dollar one!
Most of the lotions and devices on the marketplace are highly ineffective and a complete waste of money. Instead, experts recommend cutting out sugar and high-sugar foods, and sticking to a Mediterranean Diet.
They also say that stimulating circulation and lymphatic drainage – through massage and dry brushing – may help stave off cellulite by removing the toxins that lead to the breakdown of connective tissue.
4. Improve Digestive Function
Due to its detoxifying effects, dry skin brushing may even support a healthy digestive system.
5. Beat Bloating
Many health and beauty specialists use dry brushing to combat bloating because, once again, this stimulates the lymph nodes to remove the excess water and toxins that lead to that swollen feeling.
Follow your dry brushing session with a glass or two of warm water to stay hydrated and really help your body let go of that surplus water it’s retaining.
6. Exfoliate the Skin
Our bodies shed between 30,000 and 40,000 dead skin cells…every minute! And as we get older, the process of cell regeneration slows down – meaning the procedure of shedding old skin cells and making new ones takes longer. These old cells then begin to accumulate on the surface of the skin, leaving it looking dull and dry.
That’s why the crucial step of exfoliation should be a part of everyone’s beauty routine. Unsurprisingly, dry body brushing is a fantastic way to flake off these old cells and expose the fresh, new cells beneath – giving you a health, glowing appearance.
Don’t forget to moisturize afterward with coconut oil or shea butter – these natural oils will be even more effective now that they can penetrate the new skin without having to go through the old first.
7. Reduce Acne & Blackheads
Exfoliation isn’t just important to prevent the skin looking dull – it can also reduce blackheads and acne. The build-up of dead skin cells often results in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to these skin blemishes.
While it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face (unless you have a delicate facial brush), dry brushing helps reduce acne and blackheads on the rest of the body.
8. Get Rid of Keratosis Pilaris – Those Tiny Bumps on Your Skin
This is a common, painless skin condition characterized by tiny bumps on the skin – usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that regular body brushing and moisturizing can help reduce the appearance of these bumps, or eliminate them completely.
Keratosis pilaris is also caused by low levels of vitamin C – so make sure you’re not deficient in this important nutrient.
9. Relieve Tension
When you take time out of your busy day to brush your skin, you may be surprised to find yourself relax.
Not only is the repetitive motion quite soothing (once you get into the swing of it), it can ease sore muscles and reduce whole body tension.
10. Boost Energy
Because dry brushing gets the blood flowing, proponents often say it gives them a much needed burst of energy. For this reason, dry brushing is best done in the morning, rather than at night.
How to Dry Brush Your Skin
In order to reap the full benefits of dry brushing, follow these steps:
Choose a Quality Brush
You can pick up a dry brush at most health stores. Make sure to purchase one made from natural fibers and not synthetic ones, as natural fibers are much gentler on the skin. One with a handle is best so you can brush all those hard to reach areas. This 3 Piece Dry Brush Set is a brilliant option. It includes one brush with soft bristles, one with hard bristles, as well as a facial brush. The handles are interchangeable so you can opt for a short or long handle.
Pick the Right Time
Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Japanese and Greeks and always brush dry skin before you shower. This means you’ll be removing the maximum dead skin cells, and washing them down the drain.
As dry brushing is an energy booster, most people prefer to brush in the morning, but it can be done at any time of the day.
Learn the Correct Technique
- Start at your feet and use long sweeping motions, brushing toward your heart. Remember to always brush toward the heart.
- On the stomach and armpits use a circular, clockwise brushing motion.
- Use a gentle pressure at first, gradually working up to a firmer one over time.
- You’ll need to brush several times in each area, overlapping as you go. Once you have spent 10 to 15 minutes brushing your body in this manner, you can shower off and enjoy your newly revitalized skin. To further boost circulation, it’s recommended to alternate between hot and cold shower water.
- Repeat this ritual daily.
If you’re struggling with the technique, this video is a great resource:
Dry Brushing Tips and Aftercare
- Even when using gentle pressure, you may notice that dry brushing can leave your skin feeling a bit raw or sensitive. Once your skin becomes used to being brushed, this sensitivity will soon diminish.
- Avoid brushing sensitive areas such as cuts or wounds, and any patches of eczema or psoriasis.
- After showering, it’s a good idea to hydrate your skin with a moisturizing, natural oil. Remember, these can now penetrate the skin more deeply as the old layer of dead skin is gone! Coconut, sweet almond, avocado or argan oil are all guaranteed to give you beautiful skin.
- Once you have moisturized and dressed, try drinking a glass of hot water and lemon juice to further jumpstart your digestive system, improve skin health and so much more!
- Clean your brush once a week to reduce the dirt and bacteria which lead to skin outbreaks. Leave to dry in a sunny area to avoid any mildew on the brush.