Dry Skin Brushing: Benefits & How To Do It

A flower, and a jar of cream for aftercare, next to a brush needed to achieve the benefits of dry skin brushing.

At a Glance

  • Dry skin brushing is the technique of brushing the skin in specific ways to stimulate and refresh the skin.
  • There are many benefits to dry skin brushing including improving the appearance of the skin, decreasing cellulite, increasing circulation and stimulating the lymphatic system
  • It is important to use the right equipment and the correct techniques to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of dry skin brushing.

According to some celebrities, dry skin brushing is the answer to all of our problems! Well maybe not quite all – it’s not going to abolish all poverty or create world peace, but it does apparently have some impressive health and beauty benefits.

Dry skin brushing has been around for a long time. It’s been referenced in ancient Greek texts and has been a part of Japanese culture for generations.

Dry skin brushing is also included in the Indian Ayurvedic practice of medicine which dates back more than five thousand years.

Back to the modern day where we have Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr and Tracee Ellis Ross all loving a bit of regular dry skin brushing to get rid of cellulite, feel great and get that beautiful radiant look.

So what’s it all about? What exactly is dry brushing? Does it really work – and does it actually do everything people say it does? In this article we’ll take a look at dry skin brushing benefits and how to do it.

What Is Dry Skin Brushing?

Dry skin brushing is the practice of using a brush to stimulate the skin while it’s dry. It’s certainly not rocket science, however it is important to use the right equipment and perform dry skin brushing in the correct way.

People not only report glowing, healthier skin and reduced cellulite after dry skin brushing, many people also report a feeling of vitality and well-being.

Why Should I Dry Brush?

A wide array of dry skin brushing benefits have been reported in the media. What we really want to know, however, is how many of these benefits are actually based in scientific fact.

Here’s the lowdown on what science says dry skin brushing can actually do for you.

Exfoliation

Most of us know how important it is to remove the dead skin cells from the surface of our bodies.

We already know that we shed old, worn out skin cells on a daily basis; a large proportion of them end up as the dust we end up having to sweep from our floors. Many of us regularly exfoliate our skin. It makes sense, then, that dry brushing the skin is going to help dislodge some of those skin cells, revealing those glowing, active skin cells beneath. This is one area where common sense tells us as much as research would.

Target the Trash

Scientists estimate that approximately one third of the toxins and impurities processed by our body each day are excreted through the skin. Some toxins are also stored within the skin.

Experts at the Cleveland Clinic report that the circulation boost delivered by dry skin brushing helps to release these stored toxins for excretion as waste products as well as helping to unclog our pores. (source)

Give Your Immune System a Brush Up

We rely on our immune system on a daily basis for protection from the environment, to defend us from sources of infection and illness. The immune system is at the heart of good health.

Just as dry skin brushing helps to give the circulation a boost, it also helps to promote lymphatic system flow. This is the system in the body which produces many of the white blood cells used by the immune system to fight infection.

So by stimulating the circulation and the lymphatic system, dry skin brushing also helps to boost the immune system and keep it functioning in tip top condition. (source)

How to Dry Skin Brush

First select a brush that’s designed for the purpose of dry skin brushing. Just using any old hairbrush is not recommended. The brush should have natural bristles which are firm enough to stimulate the skin but not so firm as to be uncomfortable when used.

When purchasing a dry skin brush look for one with a long handle to make it more practical to use especially on those hard to reach places. Once you’ve got a good brush to use, you don’t need any other equipment.

That said, if more than one person in your family is going to be dry skin brushing, everyone needs their own personal brush, and they should be cleaned regularly.

Make sure your skin is bone dry before starting. A good time to do your dry skin brushing is in the morning before you shower or bathe. This works well because the dry skin brushing gets all the dead skin cells and the toxins moving while bathing helps to get rid of them.

Start gently and slowly, brushing the hands and feet first making sure the brush strokes move towards your heart. In fact, the strokes used on all parts of the body should be aiming to brush towards the heart to help improve the circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system.

Gradually work in short strokes up your arms and legs towards your torso, aiming to pass the brush over your body only once to avoid irritating any particular area of skin.

The entire process of dry skin brushing the whole body should only take a few minutes and should not involve any brisk scrubbing back and forth movements.

When dry brushing the stomach, use small clockwise movements to brush the skin and also support the digestive system, encouraging its contents towards the general direction of the colon.

When you feel that you’ve mastered your own routine of dry skin brushing you can increase the pressure of the bristles a little to up the stimulation, but do this gradually over time to avoid skin irritation.

It’s completely normal for the skin to appear flushed with rosy color after dry skin brushing, but it should not be bright red or feel irritated. If this is the case try using less pressure in your next dry skin brushing session.

After you have finished brushing your whole body, retreat to the shower to reveal your new glowing skin. Use warm water first, followed by cool water to close the pores. Finish off by giving your skin a treatment with olive oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil.

Dry skin brushing can be done once or twice a day if you find it’s not causing any skin irritation. Alternatively, many people report glowing skin and other health benefits from dry skin brushing two or three times a week.

If you find that the brush you are using makes the skin too red or sensitive, try using a brush with softer bristles. We are all different, and this includes skin sensitivity, so some people may be well able to tolerate much firmer bristles (and pressure) than others.

 

What Dry Skin Brushing Doesn’t Do

Woman in a blouse in bath full of white foggy liquid.

So now we know what the health benefits of dry skin brushing are and we’re clear on how to actually do it, it’s time to dispel some myths.

Cellulite Reduction

At present, there isn’t any clear scientific evidence to support the claim that dry skin brushing helps to reduce cellulite. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help at all to reduce or improve cellulite; it just means that dry skin brushing has not been proven in research trials to reduce cellulite by a significant amount.

People who regularly dry brush their skin notice that their skin feels smoother and softer after dry skin brushing. It’s possible that the boost to the circulation also plumps up the skin a little, and helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Whatever camp you’re in, if you’re interested in dry skin brushing and you have cellulite, there’s nothing to lose by trying it for yourself and monitoring the results.

Does Dry Skin Brushing Aid Digestion?

The method of dry skin brushing in clockwise, circular movements suggests that this technique may have an effect on the digestive system.

It does makes sense to brush your skin with movements which correspond to the natural direction your body works. However, as yet there is no research which indicates that dry brushing aids digestion.

Why Not Just Have a Good Old Scrub in the Shower?

This is a very good question! Unless it’s a cold shower – which not very many of us are partial to – the warm water of the shower relaxes the muscles and opens the pores.

This allows moisture as well as dirt and dead skin cells to escape from the body. Dry skin brushing allows us to exfoliate the skin and increase the circulation while keeping as much moisture as possible inside.

Showering afterwards then opens the pores briefly to cleanse the skin and get rid of the old skin cells that are dislodged by dry skin brushing.

Who Should Avoid Dry Skin Brushing?

There are some important points of caution for dry skin brushing – it’s not recommended for everyone.

As a general rule for everyone it’s important not to dry brush your skin too often or too vigorously, as this can potentially cause micro trauma to your skin which could potentially become infected.

The Ayurvedic practice of medicine recommends not brushing the face, neck, genitals and chest areas.

People with sensitive skin may find that even the softest dry skin brushing routine irritates their skin, so they may want to avoid this technique altogether.

Anyone with broken skin should avoid dry skin brushing in the affected area so as not to cause any further damage.

People with extremely dry skin or conditions such as eczema are often advised to avoid dry skin brushing by dermatologists since it can potentially irritate the skin.

Dry Skin Brushing: Final Thoughts

So now we know quite a lot about dry skin brushing, the health benefits, and how to do it. It’s clear that dry skin brushing does have some significant health and beauty benefits. It certainly is a good way to exfoliate the skin, stimulate the circulation and give your lymphatic system – and therefore your immune system – a boost.

Dry skin brushing helps to exfoliate the skin, clearing out all the old, worn out skin cells and letting glowing new skin shine through. It also helps to improve health by improving the circulation. Many people report they feel energized by dry skin brushing.

What dry skin brushing may not do is live up to the claim that it reduces cellulite, and there isn’t any good quality research to suggest that it helps to facilitate digestion in any way. However, it’s also highly unlikely that dry skin brushing is going to do any harm in these respects, so many people may want to give it a try despite the lack of scientific evidence and judge the results for themselves.

Unless there are any specific reason why you shouldn’t try dry skin brushing, such as very sensitive skin, a dry skin condition which could potentially be irritated by this technique, such as eczema, or broken skin – or you are prone to skin breakdown – it seems that there are some very good reasons why we should give it a shot.

Once you have a good quality, natural bristle brush, it’s not a difficult technique to master, and it only takes a few minutes of your time, which in my schedule is always a bonus!

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