Dry Brushing 101

Our skin is the body’s largest organ, so shouldn’t we take the extra steps to care for it? Because I can never turn down the chance to be a guinea pig, I jumped at the opportunity to try the Aromatherapy Associates brush, pictured here. What is this contraption that looks just like a horse grooming brush, you might ask? It’s actually for humans, and it’s commonly referred to as a body polishing brush used in the popular spa technique called “Dry Brushing.” While dry brushing has been around for quite some time now—it started as an ancient Greek ritual—it just recently crossed my path in the quest for cheap, effective beauty techniques. Here’s the 101:


What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a technique widely known to improve skin tone, slough away dry skin, and improve circulation. Naturopathic doctors use this to release toxins from the body through the lymphatic system and it’s known to “improve the health of the liver and kidneys” and “stimulate the nervous system and improve its function.”  Perhaps more enthralling is its apparent ability to “banish cellulite,” and some beauty gurus suggest we include dry brushing in any anti-cellulite routine.

How Does it Work?

Use light but firm strokes all over your body moving toward your heart—this direction helps the detoxification process. Start with your ankles and move upward, covering your legs. Switch to clockwise strokes for your stomach and chest. Work the brush over your arms and back, changing direction to continue the flow toward your heart.

Because your skin may be a little pink from the brushing, dry brushing is best done before your daily shower. Afterwards, lather up with oil (see my post on coconut oil, which is what I have been using as moisturizer this summer) and drink warm lemon water to kick start your day, which also aids in digestion. You should brush anywhere from twice a week to once a day, depending on your skin sensitivity. Make sure you avoid any areas with cuts, psoriasis, eczema, or other irritation.

Is it worth a try?

I can’t say I’m sold on the ability to “banish cellulite.”  While dry brushing helps to improve circulation and plumps your skin to reduce the appearance of cellulite, it certainly won’t expel the damn cottage cheese lumps from our thighs. According to Prevention Magazine, “despite what you’ve heard about trapped toxins or poor circulate being to blame, cellulite is one thing—fat.” To realistically rid cellulite from your body, you “have to reduce the underlying fat stores and replace lost muscle tissue.” In other words, start hitting the gym and maintain a healthy diet!

But don’t let this dissuade you from trying it! I’ve found that it really does help with dry skin (this will be especially helpful as we head into fall and winter) and tightens up my skin for a healthy, glowing appearance. Bottom line: it’s cheap, effective and something healthy to add to our beauty routines. I can tell you I’ve added it to mine and haven’t looked back.

If you’re down with dry brushing you’ll want to find a brush with natural bristles. You have the option between a paddle-type brush, like the Aromatherapy Associates brush shown above that I use, or a brush with a long handle for hard-to-reach areas like your back. The Eight Body Moisture Sisal Body Brush ($20) is a popular choice, as is the Earth Therapeutics Far-Reaching Body Brush ($8.99). Generally, dry brushes are cheap and easy to find.

Think you’ll give dry brushing a try? Share your techniques and experience in the comments!


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