Ever feel like there’s a new beauty ingredient you can’t stop seeing and hearing about? That all of the sudden, it’s in every product and all over your Instagram feed? This is what our Beauty Buzzwords series is all about – helping you learn more about these mysterious ingredients and why everyone is raving about them.
Dry brushing has received a lot of hype over the last few years. So, what is it and why should you try it? Let’s start the with the basics.
What is it?
A dry brush is typically a wooden, natural bristled body brush that’s meant to be used dry (as the name suggests!). They come in all shapes and sizes—some with short handles, some with long handles, and some with no handles at all.
Face brushes are also a thing, but we’ll get into that later…
Why should I do it?
The most common reasons for dry brushing are to increase circulation, exfoliate the skin, and assist lymphatic drainage.
The lymphatic (or lymph) system works in connection with your circulatory system; it’s primarily a network of vessels that transport lymph fluid to your lymph nodes which, in turn, filter toxins and fat. You’ve most likely experienced enlarged lymph nodes in your neck when you have a cold, but there are many other lymph nodes in the body—for example, in the armpits and groin, and behind elbows and knees.
The lymph system doesn’t have a regular pump within the body (like the heart is for the circulatory system) and may slow down for a number of reasons, such as inactivity or sickness. That’s why many wellness experts advocate the use of regular activity such as walking, yoga, working out—or dry brushing!—to help lymph fluid move through the body and be filtered out.
Like many wellness practices, there are competing views on whether dry brushing actually helps lymphatic drainage. Some experts say there are better ways to detox the body and that there’s no science to back up the benefits of dry brushing on the lymphatic system. But while the experts duke it out, I’m going to keep dry brushing since, at the very least, it’s a great way to exfoliate and invigorate the body.
When should I do it?
The best time to dry brush is first thing in the morning before a shower. Not only does dry brushing loosen dead skin, which will then rinsed off, but it also stimulates the nervous system, making you feel more awake and revitalized.
You can dry brush daily but if you have sensitive skin due to hormones (for example, during pregnancy or menopause) or other skin conditions like eczema, keep dry brushing to 1-2 times per week to avoid irritating the skin.
How do I do it?
Always on dry skin, move the brush gently in circles from your feet towards your heart. For lymph drainage, brush the areas where your lymph nodes are, including your armpits, groin, and behind your knees.
- Start with the soles of your feet and move up the legs, give the backs of your knees a few gentle circles, then up over your thighs to your hips and buttocks.
**Just a note here: there’s no evidence to back up claims that dry brushing gets rid of cellulite. Dry brushing can increase blood flow and reduce fluid in areas though, which may temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite
- From the buttocks, move to your lower back and tummy (although note that skin may be more sensitive here)
- On your arms, start on your hands (front and back) and brush up to your elbows, paying close attention to inside of the elbows and armpits, then over upper arms to shoulders and upper back.
- Finish off in your heart centre, giving your décolleté and lower neck a few strokes (if the skin is not too sensitive).
To avoid irritation, a few strokes in each area are enough. And never use a body brush on your face! The bristles are too coarse. Instead, try using the Province Apothecary Daily Glow Facial Dry Brush. This goat hair brush is very gentle and can help reduce puffiness in the face—perfect to use every morning!
What should I look for in a brush?
Make sure the brush is not too abrasive and made with natural bristles. As for the handle, that’s a matter of personal preference—you may prefer a long, short, or handheld brush.
Try these if you’re not sure where to start:
- Axel Kraft Natural Bristle Body Brush
- Upper Canada Naturals Wooden Back Brush
- Merben Jute Handheld Body Brush
Now that you know the basics of dry brushing, give it a try! Incorporate it into your daily routine as an invigorating morning ritual to revitalize the body and get smoother skin. And, of course, let us know how it works for you in the comments!
Seanna Cohen is a certified skin care therapist and founder of the Clean Beauty School, an online destination to learn skin care tips & tricks and get personalized advice. As a trusted skin care expert, she inspires others to take a holistic approach to beauty and find sustainable practices through her skin care coaching, webinars, and classes.