Whether performed at home or at a spa, dry skin brushing has become an increasingly popular way to exfoliate and boost overall skin health. Various sources credit dry brushing with a plethora of skin benefits, ranging from softer, clearer skin to reduced appearance of cellulite—could it be so? Many devotees of dry brushing also swear by its ability to rid the body of toxins.
In a New York Times article, professor of dermatology Dr. Tina S. Alster separates dry brushing myth from fact. She is dubious that the process provides any serious detoxification since the liver, not the skin, is the largest eliminative organ. There are several benefits to be had, however. Comparing its effects to those of a “brisk walk” and a “massage,” she acknowledges that dry brushing increases circulation, removes dead skin cells, decreases bloating, and aids the lymphatic system (the lymphatic system carries fluid to the heart and plays a key role in immunity). As far a cellulite is concerned, we may be hoping for too much. Cellulite involves fat within fibrous connective tissue, and according to dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob, dry brushing cannot alter those fibrous bands. Shoot.
Nonetheless, dry brushing may be worth a try. In my own experience, dry brushing every morning helps me feel at once alert and relaxed. It’s my preferred method of daily exfoliation (as much as do I love DIY body scrubs) since it makes my skin soft without over-drying it. It’s also super easy and mess-free.
If you’re interested, here’s how to dry brush:
1. Find an awesome brush. While loofahs and exfoliating gloves may help you achieve similar results, they can often be too harsh for sensitive skin. If you are concerned about skin irritation but want to try dry brushing, use a very light touch the for the first few weeks and monitor how your skin reacts. Gradually increase the pressure as you see fit. Hydrea London makes an ethically sourced vegan body brush. If you’re like me and are concerned about cleanliness, wash your brush with gentle soap and warm water once a week. In my experience, dry brushing has improved pesky body acne.
2. Brush before you shower. The entire brushing process takes somewhere between two and five minutes depending on your pace.
3. Always brush toward the heart. Brushing in long, upward strokes, begin with the bottoms of your feet and work your way up both legs, making sure to brush every side. Follow this technique on your arms and back. Some guidelines instruct brushing your stomach counter clockwise with the theory that tracing the intestinal tract aids in elimination. Avoid brushing delicate areas. Your skin should feel pleasantly warm and tingly—not irritated.
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Photo: Young and Raw via Flickr