Dry brushing, which is also called dry skin brushing or dry body brushing, seems to have been trending on health and beauty blogs lately. With Spring just around the corner (we hope), and the imminent revealing of various body parts that have been under layers of clothing through winter, it seems a good time to explore what appears to be just a trendy form of exfoliation.
Where did dry brushing originate?
Dry brushing is apparently a traditional Ayurvedic technique, originating in traditional Hindu medicine over 5000 years ago. Known as Gashana, this five minute massage, starting from your feet and working towards the heart, is supposed to stimulate your skin and lymphatic system, increasing blood circulation. Ayurvedic medicine claims that this releases toxins, though dermatologists say that the skin doesn’t eliminate regular environmental exposure and toxins.
So what can you expect from dry brushing?
What are the actual benefits you can get by doing regular dry skin brushing?
- Exfoliation. Your skin is your largest organ. We shed our entire outer layer of skin every 2-4 weeks. In Winter, due to the cold, dry air, toasty fires and extra hot showers, our skin is even drier. So by the time Spring comes around, when we shed a few layers and get out in the sun, our skin can be flaky and dull. Exfoliation will get rid of those dry flakes. You can exfoliate in the shower with a scrub or a puff, but dry skin brushing is done before you get in the shower. It will leave your skin feeling much softer and smoother. Although it’s not really necessary in our teens and twenties, as we age, our skin cells become a little ‘stickier’ and tend to accumulate. Exfoliating makes it easier to remove all those dead skin cells.
- Moisture absorption. After you’ve brushed off all those dead skin cells, your skin not only feels smoother, it seems to absorb moisturiser better, too. Whether that’s because you’ve removed dead skin, and that allows the moisturiser to absorb more easily, or whether it stimulates oil and sweat glands in your skin to provide more moisture, we’re not sure.
- Temporary firmness and reduction in cellulite. Once again, there are many places around the web that you’ll see claims of cellulite reduction once you start dry brushing. Unfortunately, the claims don’t appear to be true. Cellulite is made up of fat deposits beneath the skin, and there’s no proven method of removing it. Dry body brushing may seem to have an effect on the appearance of cellulite, but the effects are only temporary. It seems that the roughness of the brushing causes your skin to swell and plump, which reduces the appearance of cellulite, but as soon as the swelling goes down, the cellulite reappears. Dry brushing is also said to tighten the epidermis, contributing to the breakup of fat and connective tissue. As it stands today, there’s no conclusive evidence to support the claim. That’s not to say that regular dry brushing, or dry brushing in the morning before you head out to the beach is not worth doing. But to achieve a permanent reduction, you’d have to be dry brushing so much that it would be detrimental to your skin – leaving you with itchy irritated skin or a red rash.
- Dry brushing feels good. You’ll need to be the judge of that, but a 5 minute dry brush can be quite therapeutic. It’s five minutes (or even just a couple of minutes) where you can exfoliate your skin on auto-pilot, five minutes you can quieten the mind for a brief meditation as you focus on the upward motions, or perhaps for some it will be five minutes of mental planning for the day ahead. Either way, if you feel good following your dry skin brush, then it’s a great addition to your daily routine.
What do you need for dry brushing?
- For the modern version – just your brush! Choose a natural plant bristle brush with a long handle for those hard to reach places like your back. You may want to start with a soft bristled brush until you get used to the feeling, or move straight to a brush medium firmness, and just apply gentle pressure in the beginning.
- You can also use an exfoliant glove dry or wet.
- For the Ayurvedic version, you can use raw silk gloves, a soft sponge or your brush.
- Alternatively, you can dry brush with a salt scrub like the one from Eco Tan. Use this dry, then jump into the shower and rinse off. It’s perfect for removing fake tan and preparing for your next one, too.
How to you do dry body brushing?
- Before you shower, whilst your body and brush are still dry, take your brush and start at the soles of your feet (if you’re not too ticklish) moving in an upwards motion.
- Brush using long upwards strokes towards the heart and major lymph nodes, working from left to right. The process need only take around five minutes.
- Gently massage your stomach in a clockwise motion.
- Avoid the face, breasts and other sensitive areas of the body.
- Avoid sores, inflamed skin and sunburn.
- Shower after you brush to wash off the dead skin cells.
- Do the same to your brush – clean off dead skin cells and don’t leave your brush where it’s damp.
Have you tried dry body brushing? Did you see any improvements to your skin?
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