Have you heard of dry brushing? If you’re any kind of beauty aficionado, there’s a good chance you have as its made its way onto the top of the all the wellness charts these days. With big promises to help drain and detoxify, one can’t help but wonder, is dry brushing really worth all the hype or is it just another fad
Good question. We’re going to answer that and just about every other question you have about this intriguing beauty ritual.
What is Dry Brushing?
The act of dry brushing is pretty much exactly what you think it is. You use a firm, bristled brush to gently sweep your skin from head to toe. The hope is to remove dead cells, eliminate toxins and increase circulation to uncover a more youthful, healthy glow. The reason it’s called dry brushing is because it is just that: dry. You’re not using it in the shower or bath with soap and water, this ritual is typically performed before a body cleanse.
Where Does Dry Brushing Come From?
Though this is a fairly new trend in the beauty realm, the practice of dry brushing goes back centuries. Traditionally called Garshana. the ritual of stimulating the skin by dry brushing has been used in several cultures from Ayruveda, a healthy-lifestyle system that people in India, Egypt and China have used for over 5000 years.
India – Ayruveda is India’s 5000 year old holistic health care system and Ayurvedic dry brushing, much like today, was used to stimulate blood flow and aid in circulation. It was traditionally performed using raw silk, linen gloves, or a natural bristle body brush.
Ancient Egyptians – Ever the trailblazers of extraordinary beauty rituals, it’s been said that the Egyptians used the dry brushing technique for thousands and thousands of years, exfoliating with natural enzymes from sour milk and wine for lusciously soft skin.
Greeks & Romans – This culture was known to use strigils (a bronzed instrument with a curved blade) coated with oil to remove all the toxins from the day, like dirt, sweat and impurities. In fact, it was such an important part of their lives, many were often buried with their strigils.
What Are the Benefits of Dry Brushing?
This one’s a total no-brainer. No one wants an ugly build up of dead skin cells manifesting into unsightly dry patches. No one. Having said that, it’s also a good alternative for those who have tried traditional in-shower exfoliation method to no avail. In fact, exfoliating with say, a loofah, in the shower may not be the best solution, especially for those with sensitive skin. The hot water combined with the aggressive surface of the loofah can actually rob your skin of the precious moisture it needs and makes skin problems worse over time.
Aids Lymphatic Drainage
The lymphatic systems main job is to protect and defend our bodies from unwelcomed attackers. The problem is, it’s easily triggered and will start producing white blood cells at the first sign trouble (even if there’s no real threat to be had). In the absence of any actual illness to fight, these white blood cells build up and eventually cause inflammation in the body.
One of the biggest reasons people start dry brushing in the first place is to help detox the system. Not only does it promote the body’s natural lymph flow, it helps discard those extra white blood cells to keep things moving along as they should.
You know how when you pinch your cheek, the skin turns red almost immediately? That is the mark of vessels underneath your skin hard at work, dilating to rush more blood up to the surface trying to reduce the inflammation caused by the pinch.
It’s the same idea with dry brushing. The sensation of brushing the skin all over your body brings the blood to the surface, stimulating flow. The hope is that one, the increased blood flow will improve the skin’s appearance, promoting that ever-loving glow we all so desperately want. Two, it’s thought that stimulating blood flow on the skin’s surface, will kick things up a notch beneath the surface as well, thus improving circulation throughout the entire body.
Helps Reduce Cellulite
Though diet and exercise are your best bets to ward off cellulite (or take control of what you already have), dry brushing may be able to help in that department as well. Because cellulite is caused by poor circulation, loose skin and diminishing collagen, dry brushing may be able help in these three ways:
- By helping break up fatty deposits just below the surface of the skin.
- By improving circulation (as we just spoke about) reducing the appearance of cellulite and discouraging more from forming.
- By working to tighten the skin, again helping reduce the appearance of those unsightly dimples.
Because cellulite is essentially made up of fat deposits deeps below the skin’s surface, you’re never going to be able to brush it away (if only it were that easy!) but you will be able to help diminish it’s appearance, if only temporarily.
Promotes Stress Relief
Maybe it’s because it helps keep the blood flowing. Maybe it’s because the mild, rhythmic brushing is soothing and meditative. Whatever the reason, dry brushing has been said to help reduce stress and soothe anxiety, which we all know will lead to sunnier days ahead.
Helps Smooth & Tighten Skin
Again this one has to do with flow. As dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, blood flow increases and toxins release, giving the skin’s surface a more taut appearance, and therefore a more youthful glow. It also helps reduce puffiness and the appearance of dark circles.
Boosts Energy Naturally
It should come as no surprise that when everything is moving as it should, your entire body is in a healthier state. With all the toxins out of the way, your body can’t help but feel good giving you that perfect little energy boost you need to get through the day (making a strong case for adding dry brushing to your morning routine versus your evening one).
What Kind of Dry Brushing Tool Should You Use?
One of the biggest barriers to getting started with dry brushing is understanding what kind of brush is right for you. Of course, you want something adequately exfoliating, while being comforting to the touch, but with all the options available on the market it’s hard to know which one will be best. So when choosing the dry brush that’s right for you, try to factor these things into consideration:
Brush Strength – Prefer softer bristles to tougher ones? Luckily the range in bristle strength is about as wide as the materials that are used make them.
Material – Natural bristles. Synthetic bristles. Vegan bristles. There’s even oil-charged copper bristles (made for experienced brushers only). Whatever your preference, there’s a brush for that.
Handle – Some prefer a handle for harder to reach extremities, some prefer theirs with a strap on the back for more controlled brushing. Again, there are a ton of options available to suit your needs.
Face vs. Body – Wait, you can dry brush your face too? Absolutely. Though the facial variety run on the (much) softer side, these special brushes sweep the skin in a much gentler way than the body kind, but are just as beneficial.
How Do You Practice Dry Brushing?
Now that you’ve chosen the tool that’s right for you, it’s time to get brushing. When is the best time to do it? Just before you’re ready to take a bath or a shower is best for many reasons (more on that later). And always, always, always remember that dry brushing should never feel uncomfortable or painful. If you do feel discomfort at any time, ensure you’re doing it properly or speak to a dermatologist to see if it’s right for you.
Follow these 7 techniques to make sure you’re dry brushing right:
#1: Starting with the feet, start brushing in circular motions working your way up to the heart to properly manage the lymphatic system. It’s important to note that you should not under any circumstances, brush over areas of inflammation, scratches or open sores. Doing so will just irritate the area and open the door to infection.
#2: Use long sweeping motions on the arms and the legs. Make sure to keep the pressure at gentle level throughout, being particularly careful around extra-sensitive areas that have thinner skin, like armpits. Thicker skinned areas, like the soles of your feet can take a little more pressure.
#3: On the stomach, make the circular motion run clockwise as this works in the unison with the inner-workings of the intestines by moving things along toward the colon.
#4: Brush with strokes that lead up to the heart to make sure you’re draining the lymphatic system in the right direction. That means massaging feet upward and brushing from hands to shoulders, as they move towards the heart.
#5: Dry brush for as long as you like, but make sure you give it at least five minutes to ensure your system is reaping the benefits. If you’re comfortable and enjoying the process, better yet, you’re treating it as a form of meditation, go for 10, 20, 30 minutes.
#6: Once you’ve completed the process, jump in the shower and rinse away the baddies. As we chatted about earlier, dry brushing brings dead skin cells, toxins and other impurities to the skin’s surface and they need to go. Start with a quick rinse in hot water, followed by cold water. Go back and forth a few times (if you can take it!). This continues to maximize the blood flow you just stimulated by dry brushing in the first place.
#7: Last but certainly not least (in fact it may be one of the most important steps in the process), gently towel dry off and apply a non-toxic, uber-hydrating moisturizer all over your super smooth, soft skin (to help keep it that way!).
How Often Should You Dry Brush?
There are a lot of opinions on this one. While it is safe to practice dry brushing daily, it’s definitely not recommended. The last thing you want to do is over-brush and negate all the good stuff you’re doing for your skin. Once or twice a week should be sufficient enough to see and feel results.
Are There Any Side Effects to Dry Brushing?
Unfortunately, all effective beauty rituals come with some kind of a price. And though the positive benefits far outweigh the negative ones, there are some possible side effects that can happen as a result of dry brushing.
Skin Irritation – This one has to do with your skin’s pain threshold. Because the act of dry brushing is quite literally dry, it causes friction and exfoliation, which can unfortunately bring some roughness along with it. If your skin is on the sensitive side, you might want to give dry brushing a go with a softer bristled tool.
Dry Skin – If you find that your skin actually feels more dry after performing the brushing, you may want to try applying a little bit of oil before getting started. Try a patch test on your arm or leg before brushing the entire body to see if that approach works for you.
Aggravating Skin Conditions – If you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, you will definitely want to avoid those areas completely when dry brushing. Aside from exacerbating the inflammation, it could spread the problem to other areas on the body.
Micro-Cuts –Dry brushing too aggressively, too often or with bristles that are too hard, may cause tiny cuts on the skin’s surface. These little abrasions pave the way to possible infections and inflammation. Again, you only need to practice dry brushing once or twice a week to see results.
What About Dry Brush Aftercare?
When it comes to dry brushing, how you care for your skin afterwards is just as important as the act itself. Choose a moisturizer that will soothe your skin, better yet, choose one with sunscreen as the process can make skin a little more sensitive to the sun.
And there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about dry brushing, but were afraid to ask. As you can see, there’s a reason (or 6!) that dry brushing is such a favourite among wellness-worshipers. But as with any new beauty ritual, you have to determine if it’s right for you and your precious palette.As we mentioned earlier, if you have sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or psoriasis, you will definitely want to check with a dermatologist to see if dry brushing is right for you.