What is dry brushing, and does it really do anything?
You may have heard celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow or Miranda Kerr talk about their love for dry brushing, but what is it, and what does it do? Let's start at the beginning.
by Kate Grant
A year ago
Dry brushing is a classic wellness ritual that involves exfoliating your entire body with a special medium bristle brush using strategic movements reported to stimulate lymphatic drainage and help with detoxification. The technique dates back as far as ancient Egypt. It has been reported that Cleopatra used to dry brush and then pour sour milk or wine over her body for extra exfoliation. Now, we're not about to rub sour milk on our bodies – dry brushing on its own should do the trick.
This particular dry brushing technique has been used for centuries in Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Russia. On the other side of the globe, Asian cultures have had their own version of dry brushing for thousands of years. To this day, they use the dried fibers of a squash or gourd fruit to dry brush the skin – what we now know as a loofah.
Dry brushing gained popularity after Dr. Paavo Airola used the technique on his patients in Finland about 30 years ago, and it is still popular in spas worldwide. The good news is that you don't need to go to a spa to get the benefits of dry brushing. It's an easy 5-minute technique you can work into your regular daily routine.
How To Dry Brush Your Skin?
Dry brushing is a simple technique using a brush with dense natural bristles over the entire body. You want to start at the feet and work your way up using quick, firm, but gentle strokes towards the heart. Once you get to your arms, you'll want to start at your hands and continue working towards the heart. For the stomach and chest, you want to work in a clockwise circular pattern. Keep in mind that harsh exfoliation is not the point – you should not be scratching or damaging the skin.
The technique can be energizing, so we prefer to do it in the morning just before a shower, but you might want to test this for yourself.
What Are The Benefits Of Dry Brushing?
There haven't been any formal clinical studies on the effects of dry brushing the skin. However, experts do agree that there are some benefits.
Dry Brushing Is Great For Exfoliating The Skin & Preventing Ingrown Hairs.
Dry brushing is an easy and affordable alternative to expensive exfoliation treatment products for the body. Our body’s ability to shed skin cells and turnover new glowing skin slows down as we age. Dry brushing helps that process along and also prepares the skin to more readily absorb your moisturizing products. Because it exfoliates dead skin cells, it effectively prevents ingrown hairs as well.
Dry Brushing Can Increase Circulation & Lymphatic Drainage.
The body's lymphatic system works hand in hand with the circulation system to remove waste and detoxify the body. When you speed up circulation, you help drain the lymph system of built-up metabolic waste faster. As the lymphatic system is stimulated, it will work to flush excess water (which causes bloating) from various parts of the body. To be fair, the best way to accomplish this is through exercise, but dry brushing can help support the process as well.
Increased circulation also helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all cells throughout the body, which can have a stimulating effect – increasing energy levels and improving metabolism, which is why we recommend dry brushing in the morning.
Dry Brushing Can Reduce The Look Of Cellulite.
One of the more promising benefits of dry brushing is its ability to help diminish the look of cellulite. Real talk here… while it won't get rid of cellulite entirely, what it does is increase circulation, which causes vasodilation (your capillaries widen, allowing for increased blood flow to skin). This causes a temporary plumping up of the skin, making cellulite look less visible.
Dry Brush Skin Benefits:
- Softens the skin
- Prevents ingrown hairs
- Reduces the look of cellulite
- Allows for better absorption of body products
Dry Brushing Internal Benefits:
- Increases circulation
- Stimulates lymphatic drainage
- Boosts metabolism
- Increases energy naturally
- Aids in detoxification of metabolic waste
Does Dry Brushing Work On Sensitive Skin?
Even those with sensitive skin can benefit from dry brushing. You will need to get a brush that is a little softer and experiment with the pressure. Don't forget to apply a moisturizer after your treatment. If you find that your skin is more irritated since starting dry brushing, it is best to scale back the frequency, or to stop altogether.
If you have a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or any sort of open wound, you will want to skip this technique as it can make these conditions worse.
Is There A Specific Type Of Dry Brush?
Finding the right dry brush is somewhat subject to personal preferences. In general, you want to use a brush with a medium stiff bristle that isn't too abrasive on the skin. We have included some of our favorites below.
Best Overall (and Vegan Friendly) Brush:
Best For Hard To Reach Places:
Best for Sensitive Skin:
Best Budget Brush:
Learn more about exfoliating in the winter months HERE.
Want the basics on exfoliation? Check out this article.
Not sure how to layer your skincare? We've got you covered. Read THIS.