The low down on dry brushing…
Updated: Feb 23
Dry brushing is believed to have originated in India as part of the holistic healing practice, Ayurveda, over 3000 years ago!
Its supposed benefits range from detoxification, improved skin tone, relaxation, down to the holy grail… reduction of cellulite.
It is the practice of exfoliation, using a brush with firm, natural bristles across your whole body, sweeping towards your heart.
This is generally done before showering or bathing, whilst your skin is dry or with a small amount of oil and essential oils.
I know that the sound of brushing your skin sounds pretty fucking weird and painful but, bear with me!
Skin is the largest organ of the human body with the average amount on a person being 22 square feet. It is also an organ of elimination, much like the liver and kidneys that work to reduce toxins, pollutants and other substances in the body that shouldn't be there.
Taking care of it is pretty important so, why should you add dry brushing into your schedule?
I’ll start with its benefits on your lymphatic system - I think this is a pretty big one!
The lymphatic system helps your body to balance and remove waste fluids in your body acting much like its own sewage system, reacting to bacteria and other cells in our body that cause diseases. Much of the lymphatic system is just below the skin, the area directly involved with dry brushing thus, it is directly stimulated by the practice - Hence the theory of dry brushing being ‘detoxing’ for your body as it flushes everything through that filtering sewage system.
Keeping the lymphatic system circulating properly through exercise, lymphatic massage and dry brushing keeps everything moving as it should, helping you to avoid and reduce water retention (puffiness in the body) whilst improving circulation and immune function.
Big tick in dry brushings favour already!
The same applies for your circulatory system (blood). Again, your circulatory system needs to keep moving to ensure oxygen and nutrients are flowing around your body, keeping your cells healthy and waste products out. Dry brushing stimulates blood flow to the skin giving it a temporary glow whilst leaving you feeling invigorated… Another big bonus for the brush!
The next part may be down to the invigorating feeling of blood flow in your body or down to the fact that you are taking a little time for self care but, increased energy and relaxation are also known ‘side effects’ of dry brushing too! Start your day the Zen way!
This could be especially true if you are brushing with a carrier oil and essential oil such as Lemongrass or a more calming scent such as Sweet Orange.
Now you’ve done some of the internal work for your body, what does dry brushing do on the outside?
Exfoliation of the skin. Sounds weird AF but, you are brushing your body here thus exfoliating away dead skin cells that help to leave the skin beneath fresh and glowing!
This exfoliation also helps to open up the pores of your skin which can get clogged with dead skin, pollutants and other products that you use on your skin therefore taking some of the strain away from your liver and kidneys as they aren't processing what you have sat on your outer layer!
And finally… Cellulite. Does dry brushing really reduce it?
In short, no, there isn't any research to show that fat cells' shape or size are affected by dry brushing. However, I personally find with better blood flow, lymphatic drainage, brighter and tighter, invigorated skin that my cellulite looks reduced and not so dimply.
This could be due to dry brushing stimulating collagen production which in turn thickens and lessens the appearance of fat cells but does not reduce them in size/ shape… I’ll take that win!
I should add in here that mine isn’t incredibly noticeable but, I do certainly feel that the dry brushing makes my skin tone appear better and has gradually improved over the time I have been brushing consistently.
Still intrigued? How do you do it?
Firstly you’ll need to get a brush. Duh.
You’ll need to look for a natural brush with a long handle so that you can reach your whole body including your back.
Most of these brushes are wooden with natural fibres from plants however, boar hair is sometimes used too! Brushing yourself with a pig… it’s a no from me!
I got my pig hair free brush from Neal's Yard (I was ordering from there anyway) * but, there are loads available online from anywhere that sells bath/ shower/ self care type products. Trusty Google will direct you to the right places!
The next part is optional but, I use Sweet Almond Oil and a combination of Lemongrass and Grapefruit Essential Oils on my body BEFORE I dry brush. Lemongrass is known for invigoration and Grapefruit for skin and stress. You could easily insert any oil that you like here or just go for the carrier oil if you have sensitive skin!
Normally I’ll get home from the gym, whip everything off and cover myself in a thin layer of the Almond and Essential Oil Combo (please only use a few drops of the essential oils as they can cause skin irritation if they aren’t diluted enough… I burnt patches on my arse on them in the bath before. FFS).
Then head back downstairs, prep everything I need for the day before heading upstairs to brush then shower. I find that this gives me the time to absorb the moisture from the Almond Oil and enjoy the scents from the oils too!
Starting from your feet… it is literally what it says on the tin! Brushing! Up from your feet to your legs, torso and back and finally your arms.
You need to use short, firm, upward strokes or small circular movements towards your chest area where your lymphatic system drains.
On your stomach it is best to work in a clockwise direction as this encourages the flow of digestion.
The aim here is gentle exfoliation, you shouldn't be bright pink, bleeding or in any discomfort. It is a bit of an odd sensation to start with but you can always start very gently and gradually build up the pressure over time.
Relaxation is key, not feeling like you're having your skin peeled off!
After you’ve brushed your body it is always best to shower, after all you are exfoliating dead skin away and you don't really want to take that around with you all day!
Cue…feeling fabulous, revitalised and glowing all day!
Old wives tale for cellulite or not I believe that there are plenty of benefits to be had from dry brushing… plus it makes me feel great in the mornings!
Recommendations say to dry brush once or twice a week, oiling your body however, you can do every day to keep beautifully moisturised.
Let me know if you try it!
* Neal's Yard Remedies | Body Brush (nealsyardremedies.com) I bought mine from the UK site. (Not a paid AD. This is just the brush I use myself)