Self-care routines are becoming more popular, and if you’re looking for a fun way to relax after a hard day, dry brushing may be your hidden key to optimal wellness!
What is Dry Brushing?
Brushes may have started out as a beauty tool for styling hair, but today they’re used for other things as well. Simply put, dry brushing is when you brush your skin in a rhythmic, systematic way.
The concept of dry brushing initially came from ancient India as part of their Ayurvedic style of medicine (6). Instead of the typical wet scrubbing you would get when you brush in the shower, dry brushing is when you literally “brush” your skin while it’s dry.
What does dry brushing do? While there are a host of potential health benefits, many are anecdotal at this point.
- Detoxification: one of the ways your body gets rids of waste and impurities is through sweat. Dry brushing is believed to stimulate your skin, open your pores up, and encourage detoxification through your sweat glands (1).
- Stimulate lymphatic system: Your lymphatic system runs along similar paths as your circulatory system and are responsible for maintaining proper fluid levels throughout your body. When illness or disease causes a blockage in this system, lymphatic drainage massage can help restore normal “lymph” fluid motion (2). Dry brushing may have a similar effect..
- Skin exfoliation: You don’t have to be a beauty guru to enjoy the benefits of regularly exfoliating your skin. Using a dry brush to remove dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin (called your epidermis) can improve the overall quality of your skin from a variety of aging signs, such as wrinkles or dark spots (3). This can help keep you looking younger longer.
- Helps break down cellulite: If you’re a woman above the age of 12, chances are you’ve noticed a part of your thighs or buttocks that looked a bit lumpy. While not the most appealing look, it’s quite common across all ages and demographics. In fact, cellulite affects nearly 85% of women over the age of 21, regardless of weight or age (4). While the exact cause is unknown, massage has been shown to temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite (5), and since dry brushing can feel very much like a massage, applying firmer pressure when dry brushing may produce the same effect.
While research is still ongoing, thousands of years of practice holds firm to the belief that dry brushing is more than meets the eye.
Perhaps the common theme among all of these is movement. When your lymph and blood get moving, your cells are invigorated and start to speed up processes you need to thrive.
Are There Any Risks to Dry Brushing?
The good news is, dry brushing holds very little risk. That said, it’s not the best idea if you currently have:
- A skin condition like psoriasis, poison ivy or poison oak
- An open wound
- An active skin infection
Running a brush over these areas may irritate your skin further, leading to complications down the road.
If you’d still like to give it a go, make sure you avoid these areas of your body.
How to Practice Dry Brush
Unless you have a previously mentioned skin condition, dry brushing can be a safe, fun, and easy way to take care of yourself.
Curious about what dry brushing can do for you? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how the pros recommend you do it (5):
- Set the Tone. Find a nice, quiet place where you can sit and relax.
- Clothes aren’t necessary and may interfere, so make sure you’re in a bathroom. You’ll be rinsing your body off afterwards so it may be best to do this in the shower.
- Grab your brush and begin at your feet. Applying a medium pressure, gently sweep the brush from your toes up towards your knees.
- Continue long, sweeping motions up each leg until you get to your groin. Then, repeat with circular motions.
- The goal is to encourage lymph towards your core (abdomen) where it can be reabsorbed or excreted through your bloodstream, sweat or respiratory system.
- For your arms, follow a similar pattern. Starting with your fingers, glide your brush across your hands and up your arms. It’s ok to overlap strokes. Aim to guide the lymph back towards your heart.
- Finally, it’s time to refresh your neck and décolletage area. Be extra gentle because the skin is typically thinner here. Starting at your jawline, gently brush down each side of your neck until you reach your collarbone. Run your brush from your shoulder towards your heart, repeating on the other side.
- Rinse off in the shower, and pat skin dry. Hydrate with your favorite herbal skin oil and you’re ready to go!
It’s called “practicing” because it may take a few rounds before you get familiar with the process. If you find you don’t enjoy it, that’s ok! Dry brushing is meant to add to your wellness, not take away from it.
This self-care activity requires only two things: you and a brush! The best brushes for dry brushing include one with firm, natural fibers. Having a long handle can also help you get those hard-to-reach areas.
And how often should you dry brush your body? While it may be tempting to do it every day, experts don’t find it necessary. Once or twice a week is plenty, or right before you get into the shower (7).
Health and wellness take on many forms. Eating well, getting exercise, and learning to rest and recover are all parts of this grand puzzle.
Ancient civilizations have embraced the art of dry brushing the body. This practice is said to help revitalize and invigorate, increasing blood flow.
Does dry brushing help with cellulite? It may help reduce the appearance of it but may not address the underlying causes.
While mostly safe, take caution if you have an ongoing skin condition. Make sure to only use natural fibers, and to enjoy the process. It’s not right for everyone, so give it a try and see how you like it.
Do you know someone who would like to mix up their wellness routine? Share this article with them today!
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author