Maybe you’ve heard about dry brushing before. From a woman in your life or your wellness-obsessed, yoga-going coworker. Perhaps you’re not familiar with dry brushing at all. In any case, let us break it down for you and dispel some of the myths surrounding the phenomenon.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai, explains dry brushing like this: It’s simply the process of using a brush with stiff bristles against the skin. The dry refers to you doing this while your skin and the brush are both dry—not in the shower. “Typically, the brushes that are used have long, natural bristles that offer firm resistance against the skin,” he says. “Which, in turn, helps exfoliate dead cells from the skin surface and enhance blood flow.”
With roots in ancient healing practices, dry brushing has suddenly become wildly popular in the US. The process is surrounded with the usual detox “mumbo jumbo” that comes with most wellness fads. And while there’s no evidence that it does anything for your kidneys or liver, there are some real benefits to be had. Here’s why you should pick up a brush.
First and foremost, running the brush over you skin before your morning shower feels pretty damn great. The first few passes have a subtle hurts-so-good sensation. Then you become somewhat accused to the feeling and it becomes almost therapeutic and meditative. But the stimulation leaves you feeling energized.
There are real health benefits
You skin is your largest organ and regular exfoliation is key to keeping it healthy by shedding dead skin. Dry brushing also increases blood flow to the surface of the skin which encourages cell regeneration. And according to the Cleveland Clinic, it stimulates and promotes lymph flow and drainage. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood—crucial for optimal immunity—which is why dry brushing is often touted as “detoxifying.”
You look and feel better
Your skin will be noticeably smoother after regular dry brushing, thanks to exfoliation. But you might also notice more muscle tone in the mirror as well. Dry brushing activates the nervous system, which stimulates the muscle fibers located just below the skin. The boost in circulation also delivers a surge of oxygen-rich blood to muscles to help with recovery and toning. Through this mechanism, dry brushing is able to tighten skin, improving its overall texture.
It takes less than five minutes
Start at your feet and brush upward towards your heart. Similarly, when you start on your arms, begin at the back of your hands and work up toward your shoulder. Brush up your stomach toward the heart, and in from the shoulders over your chest. Use firm, small strokes but don’t press too hard or go over an area too many times. A quick once over a few times a week will suffice.