A Guide to Dry Skin Brushing

Two vegan dry skin brushes lie against a white marble background.

You’ve probably heard of dry skin brushing before, as it’s gained a lot in popularity in the last few years. Health bloggers and wellness enthusiasts alike swear by it for its numerous health benefits.

Curious to know why and how it all works? This little guide breaks it down for you!

 

So, why dry brush?

Skin is our largest organ and one of the main ways our body gets rid of toxins (along with the liver, kidneys, digestive system and lungs). If our skin is clogged and blocked, we’re missing out on the opportunity to detoxify properly. Covering our skin with creams, oils, and other pharmaceutical products – which, if you’re not using natural skincare products, is the equivalent of spreading dozens of chemicals over your skin daily! – contributes to blocking our pores even more.

This is where dry brushing comes in handy, as it helps to get things moving. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to naturally stimulate the lymphatic system, improve blood circulation, and help the body eliminate accumulated impurities. All in all, it supports healthier skin, a stronger immune system, and overall vitality.

 

What are the benefits of dry brushing?

1. Supports the body’s detoxification process

Our lymph – the liquid located just under the skin that circulates through the lymphatic system – is like water in a swimming pool. If we neglect it, it becomes stagnant and impurities and waste start to accumulate.

When we brush the surface of our skin, we stimulate the circulation of the lymph that’s just underneath. This helps it move all the way to the lymph nodes, which are those small filtration organs whose main function is to eliminate bacteria and impurities. Dry brushing basically speeds up the elimination process and makes it easier for your body to do its job.

 

2. Increases circulation and blood flow

Dry brushing naturally improves circulation and increases blood flow. This means a better supply of oxygen to the organs and muscles (if you’re thinking “enhanced athletic performance?” you’re right!), and a better distribution of nutrients to the cells. It also stimulates the transport of fatty acids from the digestive system to where we need them, including to support the brain and nervous system (the body’s ability to use fat as fuel is one of the reasons the ketogenic diet is said to improve brain function). As a result, we have more energy and a healthier body.

 

3. Strengthens the immune system

The lymphatic system is one of the most important components of the immune system – the two are closely related. When it’s clogged, our defences are weakened and the risk of infection increases.

On the flip side, a healthy lymphatic system helps to protect us from infections and allows us to better get rid of pathogens that may have entered the body. Brushing is an easy way to maintain a strong immune system and prevent and fight disease.

 

4. Exfoliates, tones and clears the skin

Forget those expensive scrubs and exfoliants; dry brushing is the best natural exfoliant you will find! It quickly removes dead skin and impurities from the surface of the skin, and makes hydration more effective when a moisturizer or oil is applied afterwards.

Brushing clears the pores, lets the skin breathe and stimulates the natural production of sebum, which results in smoother, tighter, more glowing skin.

 

5. Reduces the appearance of cellulite

Some will claim that regular dry brushing can even help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. By stimulating circulation, brushing is said to help distribute fatty deposits evenly throughout the body and remove stagnant toxins, resulting in a more even skin.

Close-up shot of a wooden vegan dry skin brush with a black handle on a white marble background.

Now, how do we do it?

1. Choose the right brush

First, make sure you choose a brush with natural fibres. Avoid synthetic fibres as they can be too harsh on your skin, and avoid brushes with leather handles or animal hair for a more ethical, sustainable and cruel-free purchase. The bristles should be stiff; this is normal. I personally use and love this lovely vegan brush.

 

2. Brush in the morning

Because dry brushing increases blood flow and is energizing and invigorating, it’s recommended to do it in the morning before you shower. It will help to kick-start your day and will give you a little energy boost. If this period doesn’t suit you, choose a moment that works for you. You can do it any other time of the day, but just know that doing it before bed might not be the best idea.

 

3. Always brush towards the heart

First, always brush on dry skin. Start with the bottom of your feet and make small circular movements with the brush. Gradually work your way up your legs, one at a time. Then do the mid-section of your body, front and back, always brushing upwards. Brush your hands and arms towards your shoulders.

It’s important that you always stroke the brush in the direction of your heart to follow the natural movement of the lymph. Never brush back and forth. Spend time on each part of your body, brushing about 7-8 times on each section. Avoid sensitive areas like your face and nipples. Make sure to brush the armpits, groin, neck and behind the knees; those are important sites in the lymphatic system.

 

4. Apply the right amount of pressure

Apply enough pressure to properly stimulate your lymph nodes, but be gentle enough not to scratch your skin. Brushing can be uncomfortable the first time you do it and can feel a bit weird or itchy, but this is normal. Your body will get used to it very quickly and it will actually become enjoyable.

 

5. Enjoy it!

Brushing can take as little as 2 or 3 minutes, but it can take up to 10 minutes if you take your time. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. Just do what feels right to you. Take this opportunity to relax. Enjoy this little moment of self-care and even turn it into a meditative session if you feel like it. Rather than seeing brushing as a chore, turn it into special “me” time.

After your first session, you should feel energized and invigorated. After a few times, your skin should feel softer and smoother. Gradually, your body will become stronger and healthier.

 

(All photos courtesy of Sophie Bourdon)