I recently posted a poll on Instagram asking my followers if they’ve ever heard of dry brushing, and if so, do they do it. I was surprised to find that about only 40% knew what dry brushing was and of that 40%, NOBODY actually did it! So that’s why we’re here today to talk about all that is dry brushing.
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is a type of Ayurvedic medicine* that’s been around for centuries. Basically like the name states, it’s brushing the skin in a particular pattern on dry skin using a dry brush, usually before showering. You should start at your feet, and brush lightly over your skin and moving towards your heart. You’ll remove dead skin cells, improve circulation, and help stimulate your bodies natural detox system. It’s really a very simple technique that has so many health benefits, so let’s dig in!
*(Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.)
Benefits of Dry Brushing
1. Lymphatic Support
This is my absolute favorite benefit of dry brushing. Our lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs (think lymph nodes) that help rid the body of waste, toxins, and other unwanted materials. (When I was in my Anatomy & Physiology class, I always referred to the lymphatic system as our bodies trash man as an easy way to remember its function.) The lymphatic systems transports lymph, a clear fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells, all throughout the body, which means that the lymphatic system is incredibly important in supporting the immune system. What’s more, it also helps us absorb fatty acids and transport fat to the circulatory system.
Dry brushing actually helps stimulate the movement of lymph throughout your body, similar to the same way a massage helps stimulate that movement too. Depending on the amount of toxins and waste that are built up, you may experience soreness or discomfort after a massage or dry brushing. This is totally normal and a sign that your body is working to remove that from your body.
This is usually what people notice the very first time they dry brush. Using a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps to loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating the skin. This can help your skin feel softer and also opens up your skin to better absorb any scrubs or moisturizers you apply to the skin later. I, personally, really like Beautycounter’s Lemongrass Sugar Scrub and Lemongrass Body Butter. They’ve helped me combat my dry, itchy skin in this dry Colorado climate.
3. Reduces Cellulite
Now, evidence for this is anecdotal at best, but lots of people claim that regular dry brushing helps to reduce cellulite. It’s known that cellulite is largely genetic (grrr), but it makes sense that lymph can get a little sluggish in some areas (think the back of your thighs) and stick around and create that appearance of cellulite. There isn’t a ton of research to back up these claims, but with the lymphatic support and exfoliation alone I’d be more than happy if cellulite reduction is an additional benefit.
4. Natural Energy Boost
The act of dry brushing helps to stimulate your sensory nerves, helping you feel revitalized afterward. Because of this, many recommend that you only dry brush in the morning prior to showering, however, I do this in the evening before I take a hot bath and I’m just fine. That said, I also am one of those people who can drink espresso for dessert and sleep soundly… but if I eat something with sugar or drink wine, I’ll be up all night (go figure). So, if you’re sensitive to caffeine then you may want to try this first in the morning.
How to practice dry brushing
Now, this isn’t something you need to do every single day, unless you really like it and want to. You’ll experience the benefits simply by doing this 2-3 times a week. To start, use a natural fiber brush with a long handle… I emphasize the long handle because I, personally, do not have a long handle on my dry brush which results in my having to contort my body to try and reach my back. Trust me, you want a long handle. From there, follow these steps:
1. Start at your feet and move up your body. Always brush towards your heart.
2. Brush your skin using wide, circular motions.
3. Use light pressure in areas where your skin is thin and harder pressure on thicker skin, like the soles of your feet.
4. Brush your arms after you have brushed your feet, legs, and mid-section. You should brush upwards toward your armpits.
5. After dry brushing, take a shower or a bath to remove the dry skin.
6. After your shower, dry off and moisturize.
So, I encourage you to give dry brushing a try sometime. At a minimum, it just feels lovely and is a great addition to any self care routine.