Originally, dry brushing was practiced as part of the ancient medicine system Ayurveda in India. Known as Garshana, which translates from Sanskrit as “to rub”, this practice involves using a bristle brush or gloves over the entire body in order to help stimulate lymph flow, improve detox, exfoliate, and increase circulation.
This ancient practice has now made its way into modern culture, with brushes made specifically for dry brushing popping up in most health stores and shops.
Let’s dive in to the reasons you should grab a brush for yourself, as well as how to choose the right brush and how to brush correctly.
BENEFITS OF DRY BRUSHING
Lymphatic System and the Removal of Toxins
The lymphatic system helps your body fight off infections. Fluids flow through the system and are filtered through the lymph nodes. If you’re sick or exposed to a lot of toxins, the system may become backed up and clogged. That is why your lymph nodes often become swollen when you have a cold.
Proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin helps the body release toxins through sweat. The course bristles on the brush stimulate the pores and open them up. This makes it easier for the body to sweat, which in turns reduces the amount of toxins flowing through the lymphatic system.
This benefit is often noticed the first time a person dry brushes. The process of running a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating skin. You can notice less dry skin and much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after dry skin brushing. You skin will stay soft thanks to this built-in way to exfoliate.
Dry brushing is an excellent way to unclog your pores, which can help not only to expel toxins but also to better absorb nutrients from your favorite skincare products.
In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends unclogging pores first in order to allow topical skin treatments to penetrate deeper. So, if you’ve been using that expensive body oil without unclogging your skin first, you may be simply allowing it to sit on top of the clogged pores without penetrating, which you definitely don’t want!
If you’ve noticed that your skin is red after dry brushing, it’s not just a result of irritation, and it actually isn’t a cause for concern. The redness, which is just a bit of inflammation, is the result of increased circulation in the areas you’ve been dry brushing. Your body is simply pushing more blood to those areas.
Cellulite is a condition that mostly affects women. Areas affected by cellulite have a rippled or “cottage cheese” appearance. The cause is not fully known.
Massage has been shown to temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite. Some claim that dry brushing can reduce the appearance of cellulite because it has similar effects on the body as massage.
Another benefit to the various types of massage, is its ability to help reduce stress levels. Since stress can definitely be considered toxic to your body and mind, anything that reduces it is going to essentially qualify as a detox.
Research shows that massage can significantly help reduce stress while also promoting mental health and improving quality of life.
Invigorating and Energizing
Maybe it’s the increased circulation, maybe it’s simply the few extra minutes indulging in a self-care ritual, but most people feel invigorated and energized after a dry brush session. And there’s no denying dry brushing just feels good on the skin (if it doesn’t, you’re probably brushing too hard).
FIND YOUR BRUSH
The nice thing about dry brushing is you don’t need much to get started, just a brush. And since dry brushing has become fairly popular, brushes are easily found. Try your local health food or beauty supply store, or search online. Brushes are sometimes sold at big box stores in the skincare aisle too.
Most dry brush experts recommend a natural bristle brush. These are made from plant sources like jute, sisal, even cactus fibers.
A brush with a long handle makes it easier to reach those awkward areas like the back, behind the shoulders, and the backs of the legs. A smaller brush that fits in the palm of your hand is less unwieldy to use. Some brushes offer the best of both worlds with a removable handle. Check out a few styles to see what appeals to you.
Don’t be tempted to buy a brush with super stiff, hard bristles. Firmer bristles don’t mean a better dry brushing. If it feels like you’re running a wire grill cleaner across your skin, get a different brush. Your brush should never leave red marks or abrade the skin but should feel good.
HOW TO PRACTICE DRY BRUSHING
Follow these steps:
- Start at your feet and move up your body.
- Brush your skin using wide, circular, clockwise motions.
- Use light pressure in areas where your skin is thin and harder pressure on thicker skin, like the soles of your feet.
- Brush your arms after you have brushed your feet, legs, and mid-section. You should brush upward towards your armpits.
- After dry brushing, take a cool shower to help remove the dry skin.
- After your shower, dry off and then consider adding natural plant oil, such as olive or coconut oil, to moisturize your skin.
When you first start dry brushing, it’s best to begin with light brushing. As you get used to it, you can increase the pressure.
Avoid sensitive areas and anywhere the skin is broken. These include areas with rashes, wounds, cuts, and infections. Also, never brush an area affected by poison oak, poison ivy, or psoriasis. Don’t dry brush your face unless you’re using a softer brush made for that purpose.
If you don’t want to dry brush yourself, you may be able to find a local spa that offers dry brushing. If you have a treatment done at a spa, ask them how they clean the brushes and let them know about any areas they should avoid.
Make sure you rinse your brush after you have completed your brushing routine. Dry it in an open, sunny area to prevent mildew. Clean your brush once a week using soap or baby shampoo and water. You should also avoid sharing your brush with anyone. This can help prevent the risk for infection.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU PRACTICE DRY BRUSHING
Since dry brushing can leave your skin feeling a little, shall we say, raw (it is total-body exfoliation, after all), it’s up to you (and the strength of your skin) to decide how often to do it. As a general rule of thumb, though, dermatologists recommend dry brushing no more than one to two times per week.