In a society ruled by western medicine, ancient rituals are ironically coming full circle. The early tradition of dry brushing has reemerged as one of the simplest and most therapeutic forms of detoxification and skin exfoliation.
The skin is our body’s largest organ. It’s also our first line of defense to potential invaders and one of the primary ways we eliminate toxins from the body. Taking care of our skin is essential to our health. While dry brushing can be a great way to take care of our skin, the benefits are more than just skin deep.
What are the benefits of dry brushing?
Stimulates our lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that work to drain, cleanse and filter body fluid, then return it to the blood stream. The lymphatic system is often considered synonymous with our immune system. Think of the lymphatic system as an overflow mechanism that takes “lymph” (fluid filled with white blood cells) from the blood and into lymphatic circulation. This lymph is then circulated through our lymph nodes whose role is to filter pathogens or other cellular waste found throughout the body. This is why, when you’re sick, your lymph nodes are enlarged. They are working extra hard and are potentially backlogged doing their best to filter out whatever harmful substances are in your body.
The ritual of dry brushing can stimulate our lymphatic system, promoting elimination of pathogens and excess cellular waste. While our body does a great job of this on its own, it doesn’t help to give it a boost!
Dry brushing also stimulates our circulation, increasing blood flow currents throughout the body and up towards the surface of the skin. Increased circulation is associated with improved digestion, cardiovascular and muscular system function. Dry brushing has an invigorating feeling. You may experience a gentle tingling sensation that simultaneously energizes yet relaxes. This is why many people incorporate dry brushing into their self-care routine as its benefits can be both physiological and therapeutic.
Exfoliates the skin and unclogs pores
Most people associate clogged pores with just their face. However, clogged pores and dry skin can happen all over the body as a result of our normal day to day. This can lead to in-grown hairs, random bumps or blemishes, dull looking skin and make it harder for our bodies to excrete toxins. Dry brushing gently sloughs off dead skin, unclogging pores and leaving our skin feeling softer and smoother than before.
May reduce the appearance of cellulite
While there aren’t studies or research to support this, many dry brushing advocates swear by the ritual’s ability to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Some say it’s a temporary side effect due to the boost in circulation and lymph currents, others believe it’s more permanent, and some question this claim completely. Of all the reasons why you should incorporate dry brushing into your routine, I don’t believe this should be number one. However, consider this an added bonus if it works for you!
So how do you dry brush?
Dry brushing can be easily incorporated into your daily beauty routine or your more intentional self-care rituals. Choose a brush with natural bristles. One of my favorites is the Aromatherapy Associates brush because it’s made with all natural cactus sisal bristles. Dry brushing is most effective just before you shower, priming your skin to receive and soak in moisture. Due to its invigorating effects, many people prefer to dry brush in the morning, but the best time will be what works for you.
To get the most out of your ritual, consider incorporating body oil. I love the Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil from Aromatherapy Associates. It’s all natural and made with coconut oil, patchouli and sandalwood and smells amazing! Add a quarter size amount to your palm, then using your hand, coat the end of the bristles in the oil. Essential oils are another great option. Apply similarly using just 1-2 drops.
Begin brushing from the bottom of your feet, working your way up the body in a long, smooth motion. A good rule of thumb is to always brush towards the heart. Use moderate yet gentle pressure. Your skin should tingle, but not feel irritated. Spend more time on areas that need extra stimulation or that may harbor dry skin. A few upward motions per area is enough, adjusting for more sensitive regions like the stomach and chest. When dry brushing your belly and lower abdomen, use a clockwise motion when looking down, mimicking the direction of your natural digestion.
After dry brushing, be sure to moisturize well. Aromatherapy Associates Muscle Gel is also one of my favorite products to apply post moisturizer to soothe sore muscles. The cooling and warming effects of this gel perfectly compliment the energizing effects of dry brushing.
If you have any history of skin conditions, it’s best to avoid dry brushing. For people with sensitive skin, use very gentle pressure and avoid dry brushing every day. Pay attention to how your skin responds and adjust frequency and pressure as needed.
Dry brushing is a simple, affordable and effective way to maintain healthy skin and boost our body’s natural detoxification process. Try it out and see what you think!