Are you considering incorporating dry brushing into your skincare routine? Learn how to do dry brushing plus its skin benefits of detoxification and getting rid of body odor, cellulite reduction, increased energy, and healthier, smoother and softer skin.
What is dry brushing? In essence, dry brushing is a combination of exfoliation and massage that involves brushing the skin in a slow, circular motion with a dry brush. The firm bristles of the brush exfoliate your skin while the pressure stimulates the lymphatic system and helps to detoxify your body and eliminate toxins.
How Effective is Dry Skin Brushing—plus How to Dry Brush for Detox
Everyone should consider including dry brushing as part of their regular hygienic routine. Before I tried dry brushing, frankly, I didn’t get it. I believed the claims that have been made about it were untrue. And I didn’t have time to incorporate it in my morning routine anyway (the best time to dry skin brush is before you shower). But after trying it, I have done a full 180.
Not only is it incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine, it’s inexpensive, doesn’t take up too much of your time, and it can actually be done at any time. It’s one of those rare things that feels just as good when you do it yourself.
Your skin not only detoxifies harmful substances from the body but also absorbs a lot of harmful toxins from the environment. When done regularly, dry brushing removes dead skin cells and toxic substances from your skin plus improves its appearance.
It also stimulates the lymphatic system—responsible for collecting and transporting harmful toxins and waste from cells—and can help you remove this waste more efficiently and fight off infections. So dry brushing is an effective detoxing tool to clean out your body and reset it.
Dry Skin Brushing Benefits
Dry brushing feels great. It makes my skin softer and makes me feel happier, more energized, and to have more clarity. I feel as though every nerve ending has been awakened in the nicest possible way. I can’t recommend the practice enough. It gives me a chance to check in with myself, keeps my skin exfoliated, smooth and glowy, and makes me enjoy my shower much more. But there are other benefits as well:
1. How Does Dry Brushing Stimulate The Lymphatic System?
As mentioned above, the lymphatic system is a major part of your body’s immune system that fights off infections and removes waste from your body. It is made up of organs, lymph ducts and nodes, plus lymph vessels that carry lymph, a clear fluid, throughout the body. Since many of the lymph vessels run just below the skin, regular dry brushing helps stimulate the normal flow of lymph within the body and aids in its natural detoxification.
Dry brushing helps your body release toxins through sweat. The brush’s natural-fiber bristles stimulate the pores, opening them up, and making it easier for the body to sweat. This in turn reduces the amount of toxins flowing through the lymphatic system.
2. How Does Dry Brushing Help Your Skin?
Your skin is the most obvious beneficiary of dry brushing. Brushing the skin dry sloughs off old layers of dead skin and allows the growth of new cells. The soft but densely packed bristles are even better for skin exfoliation than a good sugar scrub or salt scrub!
If your skin cannot efficiently release toxins and your system gets clogged up, you may experience acne, body odor, hives, itchiness, rashes, or even eczema and psoriasis. Adding dry brushing to your daily routine eliminates more waste from the body than any soap could. It also helps get rid of body odor.
An added benefit to dry brushing is your skin doesn’t lose its natural oils needed to keep it from becoming too dry. This leads to more touchable skin that is clearer, brighter, softer, and smoother. It also gives skin a rosier, glowier appearance. This benefit is often noticed the first time you dry brush your skin.
3. How Does Dry Brushing Get Rid of Cellulite?
Reducing the appearance of cellulite is one of the most touted benefits of dry skin brushing. A massage temporarily reduces the appearance of cellulite and people who sing these praises claim that dry brushing has similar effects on the body as massage. There is, however, not yet much scientific data to support this theory.
Whenever I dry brush my skin, it appears as if my cellulite has reduced, but it probably may be just a temporary plumping up of my skin from the increased blood circulation from the massage. Either way, the dry brushing feels great and makes my skin smoother and softer, so there isn’t really any downside to trying it!
4. What Else Does Dry Brushing Do For You? A Natural Energy Boost/More Energy
Another possible benefit of dry brushing is a short-term energy boost. I can’t explain it but I always get a temporary jolt after dry brushing. This is the reason why it’s usually recommended for the morning instead of at night. One theory is that the increased energy is a result of the increased circulation.
There are times, though, that I have dry brushed at night. Since the increased energy is short lived, I do it early enough so the effects wear off before I’m ready for bed.
How to Tell if Your Body is Due for a Dry-Brushing Detox
There are many signs that your lymphatic system may be backed up and your body is in need of a dry brushing boost. If you notice swelling of your lower legs, near your ankles and feet. If you experience brain fog, frequent colds, fatigue, inflammation, acne, body odor, or even mood swings. These may be signs of an out-of-whack lymphatic system. But consult your primary care provider to make sure your symptoms aren’t a result of another issue.
Selecting a Dry Brush
I use a natural fiber brush that has no handle but I’m still able to reach my entire back and easily brush the bottoms of my feet and the backs of my legs. You may prefer a brush with a long handle which allows you to reach all areas of your body. This brush is my favorite because the bristles are firm. When I started dry brushing, my skin was much more sensitive and I preferred a softer brush, but now I much prefer a firmer brush. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to start with a softer brush and light brushing. As you get used to it, you can change the brush and/or increase the pressure.
How to Dry Brush Effectively—and How Often to Dry Brush Your Skin
If you’re ready to give your lymphatic system a boost, grab a natural-bristle brush and start brushing. You’ll want to start with dry skin. Start at your feet and hands and brush toward your chest. Brush your skin using long fluid strokes on your limbs and wide, circular, clockwise motions on your torso and back.
Use lighter pressure on the sensitive skin of the abdomen, breasts, and neck, and harder pressure on the thicker skin on the soles of your feet. You can use downward strokes on your back.
Generally, dry brush once a day then shower immediately after to wash off any toxins that have been released from your body and dead skin cells. Using a natural body wash after dry brushing ensures your skin doesn’t absorb chemicals found in conventional soaps while your pores are still open. I use Grapefruit & Tea Tree Body Wash and follow it with the gorgeously-scented Invigorating Organic Detox Body Oil while my skin is still wet. Applying a natural oil or lotion after showering puts moisture back into your skin.
Dry Skin Brushing with Essential Oils—and Dry Skin Brushing After Shower
I prefer to use the brush on its own, but others put a bit of body oil onto the brush before they use it to maximize benefits. If you’re using an oil on the brush, it’s recommended to shower before skin brushing.
I first dry brush, shower afterward, then apply a detox body oil that contains juniper berry, patchouli, and rosemary essential oils. Dry skin brushing is also fantastic to do in conjunction with a sauna or steam.
Dry Brushing Instructions
To dry brush, use a brush with medium-soft natural fibers. If you have difficulty reaching the middle of your back, get a brush with a long handle. This will help you reach all areas of your body. Then follow these steps:
- Use firm strokes upwards or in a circular, clockwise motion. Be sure not to press too hard or to use a brush with very stiff bristles. Harsh exfoliation is never the point of dry brushing. The strokes should be soft and smooth and shouldn’t break the skin. The skin should be slightly flushed and plump after brushing, but it shouldn’t sting or be red. Use less pressure if it hurts at all!
- Start at the feet and brush your legs in long strokes upwards. Don’t forget to brush the bottoms of your feet.
- Similarly when it comes to the arms, start at the hands and brush up toward the heart.
- For the stomach and armpits, brush in a circular clockwise pattern.
- Use long, downward strokes on your back and light, circular strokes on the face.
How Long Does Dry Brushing Take?
As a good rule of thumb, brush each section of skin about 10 times, and always brush toward the center of the body and up toward the heart and chest area. The whole process takes at least five to ten minutes so be sure to dedicate this time to brushing.
The dry brushing process is simple: brush, shower, then moisturize like crazy. It may add another five to ten minutes to your pre-shower routine but it isn’t too much of a commitment.
Who Shouldn’t Try Dry Brushing?
Done the right way, most people should benefit from dry brushing, as long as they listen to their bodies and heed warning signs like discomfort, redness, itchiness, or even pain. For dry brushing to be of benefit, don’t use too-stiff bristles, avoid sensitive areas, and stop if bothersome symptoms occur. However, there are a few people who shouldn’t try it.
If you have hypersensitive skin or you have any kind of sores or wounds on your skin, you certainly need to think twice before using this somewhat abrasive method of detoxing.
Also if you have a history of eczema or other skin conditions, you may want to skip this routine as aggressive skin brushing could irritate sensitive skin over time. And pregnant women or nursing mothers should consult their primary care provider first before starting a dry brushing routine.
As a gentler detox option for sensitive skin, try other natural detox methods instead of skin brushing.
I personally like dry brushing because it gives me smoother skin and a natural energy boost without having to drink caffeinated beverages, but give it a try and see what you think.