In my quest for beauty and glowing skin, I’ve tried a fair few things:
- Fish pedicure (feels weird, but really effective at removing dry skin!)
- Soaking my hair in beer and sitting in the sun (supposedly to develop red highlights – mainly just attracted insects!)
- Putting honey on my face (oh wait, I still do that and love it!)
Now there’s a new one for the list: dry body brushing
Actually, I don’t find this weird. Dry body brushing is a beauty and health boosting technique that’s been used for generations. But as I discovered recently, lots of people don’t know what it is, or how good it feels!
Oh wow, it feels good. Invigorating. Refreshing. Cleansing. Ahhh.
I admit you may have to try it a few times to get past the ‘scratchiness’ of it all – but stick with me here.
Dry body brushing can help reduce cellulite, boost circulation AND exfoliate, all in one motion. It’s inexpensive, it’s quick to do – and it just feels good.
Ready to brush your body? Read on.
What is dry brushing?
As you might guess from the name, dry brushing uses a firm brush which you brush in sweeping motions across your skin.
There are two main styles of body brush – the hand-sized version (my favorite), and the long-handle version (useful for reaching your back).
Dry brushing is a very vintage beauty practice. While we don’t seem to know the exact origins of dry brushing, it has appeared in traditional skincare throughout the world. In Japan, they would dry brush with a loofah before taking a bath. Cherokee Indians used to dry brush with corncobs. Ancient Greeks would scrape their skin with metal spatulas. And even today, you can find people hitting their skin with birch twigs in a Finnish sauna.
The idea behind all of these practices is the same: get the blood and lymph circulation going to cleanse the body!
Your lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and plays an important role in your immune system response. Have you ever gotten a cold and had the lymph nodes in your neck swell up? (Or in a more extreme case – have you had mono or glandular fever? If so, you’ll definitely be familiar with your lymph nodes!) That’s your lymphatic system in action.
With dry brushing, we’re moving the lymph (and all of the waste products its collected) back towards the heart where it can cleanse and recirculate.
So what does that mean for you?
Benefits of dry brushing
- Increase lymph and blood circulation – this is the key reason why dry brushing improves your skin. By bringing fresh blood and lymph to the area (and circulating them, to remove toxins / waste products) – your skin cells and collagen-rich tissue are getting maximum nutrition! You can think of it like house-cleaning – with the body brush, you’re helping your body to sweep and scrub any toxins and waste products out of your body. Try using the body brush any time you’re recovering from an illness or feeling run-down. (Of course, drink lots of water too, to flush out any waste products!)
- Reduce cellulite – almost everyone has cellulite. Cellulite happens when fat cells push through a stiff network of collagen under your skin, making an uneven appearance. (source) Body brushing increases the circulation (lymph and blood) to the area, which both nourishes and softens the collagen, as well as speeds removal of any waste products / toxins. Both of which are supposed to reduce cellulite. Increased blood flow often plumps up the skin and makes it look better too – also helpful for disguising cellulite!
- Brush off dead skin cells – A good dry brush before the shower will loosen and slough off your dead skin cells, to be rinsed away in the shower. Ahhh, smooth!
- and oooooh it feels good!
How to dry brush your skin
The mantra with body brushing is ‘towards your heart!’
If you remember that, you’ll do just fine.
You’ll also want to avoid sensitive areas (you know what I’m talking about), your face, and any broken/damaged skin. (Don’t dry brush a sunburn – ouch!)
- The easiest time to dry brush your skin is before a shower or bath (since you’re naked already! I often dry brush while waiting for the water to get hot.)
- Use whatever pressure feels good to you. Start more gently and over time you can increase the pressure.
- With the dry brush, start at your feet, and brush in long sweeping strokes up your feet and up your legs (go up all sides of your legs, constantly sweeping upwards with each stroke).
- Brush your thighs (give an extra-firm brushing to the parts with cellulite!)
- Brush your lower abdomen and buttocks.
- Once you get to heart level, you need to switch direction.
- Start with one arm and dry brush long sweeping strokes from the hand up towards the body. Repeat with other arm.
- Brush down your shoulders towards your heart.
- Brush down your upper back towards your heart.
- Brush anywhere you may have missed – towards your heart! (Don’t brush your face – it’s too scratchy)
- Finish with a shower to rinse off any dead skin cells.
Dry brushing tips
- It’s worth repeating – don’t brush sensitive areas, your face or any broken/damaged skin!
- Dry brushing is not a competition. You don’t need to do it ‘the hardest’ or ‘the fastest’ or in a certain way. In fact, unless you are a dry brushing exhibitionist, no one will see you doing it! So just dry brush how it feels good to you (towards the heart, of course).
- You can buy a dry brush at most drugstores or beauty supply shops. Look for a brush with natural bristles (you can also find vegan-friendly natural bristles made from cactus)
- Wash your dry brush every couple of months using a gentle shampoo or castille soap.
Now I’d like to hear from you!
Do you dry brush your skin? What results have you noticed? Share your dry brushing tips in the comments below!
Let's Trace the Roots of You
(Re)discover the foods, places, traditions, and rituals that make you, YOU.
Sign up for weekly insights to get unstuck + create a life of meaning!