If you’re like me, you may have heard recent buzz about this phenomenon called "dry brushing" and wondered what the fuss is all about. Is this just another “wellness trend” or is it something worth considering? Since I have always had extremely dull, dry skin, I thought I would give it a try. I did some research, read some articles and reviews, and selected a body brush and a facial brush (since the skin on your face is very sensitive, it’s recommended to choose a separate, special type of brush) and went to town. The benefits were almost immediate. The first time you try it, you will get a rush of stimulation; if you’re ticklish, it will be pretty intense, but in a good way. After the initial sensory input, I felt a sense of invigoration, a burst of energy that I usually don’t have first thing in the morning. My skin also became a lot smoother (goodbye little red and white bumps on the back of my arms!), my circulation felt better (less cold hands and feet) and best of all, the skin on my face had some color to it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been pretty pale and sallow, but after dry brushing, my cheeks are apple pink, flushed, and healthy, no blush required!
Here is some more scientific information about dry brushing and why it works, along with links to my favorite dry brushes. It just might be worth the extra few minutes in your morning routine!
What is exfoliation? Your skin is composed of several different layer, the outermost being the epidermis. As skin cells mature, they move from below the surface to the outer layer of the skin to eventually be sloughed off, taking any build up of toxins with them, while new skin cells take their place. As we age, this process slows down and cell layers become “stickier” and less able to generate new layers. As a result skin looks dull and less toned. The process of mechanical exfoliation facilitates the desquamation process, allowing new skin cells to come to the surface! Cue the entrance of the dry brush…(trumpet fanfare!).
Exfoliation facilitates lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is a collection of vessels that run through your body, along with arteries and veins, except instead of blood, they carry lymphatic fluid. The function of the lymphatic system is to rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. Lymph nodes and white blood cells called lymphocytes are also part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains towards the heart and back into the circulation to be filtered by the body. Dry brushing is thought to stimulate and promote lymphatic drainage by following the path of the lymphatic fluid, from the extremities towards the heart, but no studies have been done to see if this is the case. Personally, anything that might get the junk to the trash faster sounds good to me!
What about cellulite? While no one knows exactly what causes cellulite, it is thought to arise from the accumulation of fat trapped between the skin and fibrous tissue. It’s most often found around the hips, thighs and buttocks, and more common in women. It tends to be genetic and increases with age and pregnancy. Vigorous massage is thought to help reduce the appearance of cellulite, but again, we don’t have any research to support this. Anecdotally, I do think I have less cottage cheese accumulation since I started dry brushing, so it might be worth a try!
Can I use any brush? Dry brushing starts with getting the right kind of brush. I opted for an all-wood one specifically made for body brushing, with natural cactus bristles (don’t worry, they don’t hurt!) that many people swear by. It’s a bit pricier than some of the plastic ones, but as I’m always trying to avoid plastic wherever I can, this was a great choice. I also like that it fits easily in the palm of my hand with a nice cotton strap to keep it in place. Some people prefer brushes with a long handle so they can reach tricky spots in the middle of the back, but I really like the size of this one and the fact that you can really control the pressure and angle. For my face, I got a specific facial brush from Germany that is just amazing – it’s tiny, but packs a punch and really makes my skin glow. And it’s European, so you know how serious they are about wellness!
How do I do it? I dry brush in the morning before taking a shower and applying moisturizer. It’s important never to get the brushes wet as they can get moldy and not work as well (yuck). Start at the bottom of your feet and brush upwards in even strokes towards the heart, back and front, then do the same with the other leg. Sometimes I throw in some circular strokes on the stomach and bum area, just for fun (go crazy!). Then move to your arms and again, brush upwards towards the heart. When you get to your back and chest, brush downwards towards the heart. Voila, you’re done! Now hop in the shower and enjoy your new glowing skin. I'll admit sometimes I forget to do this until AFTER the shower (dry off first) and have found it works, too!
Try it for a week and see how you feel! After dry brushing I also love to apply my Beautycounter Plumping Facial Oil #2 – it’s a moisturizing, juicy blend of seven botanical oils and is a cleaner, better option to most beauty products out there!
Here are my current dry brush favorites:
Aromatherapy Associates Body Brush
Redecker Face Brush
Have you tried dry brushing? How did it work for you? What’s your favorite brush? What are some other morning rituals that add wellness to your life?
Dr. Zarya Rubin is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Wild Lilac Wellness. I help smart, burned out women recharge their batteries through clean eating and simple lifestyle swaps. Contact me today to reclaim your health! firstname.lastname@example.org