What is Dry Brushing?
If you’ve ever wondered what that bristly long-handled wooden brush is hanging next to the homemade soaps and essential oils at your local natural pharmacy - it’s called a “dry brush” also known as a “skin brush” or “body brush”. It is purported to be the latest health and beauty miracle cure to all sorts of things ranging from flushing the adrenals to getting rid of cellulite. While there hasn’t been any scientific evidence substantiating those claims there is one thing we do know that dry brushing does really well - exfoliate the skin. The idea of dry brushing is exactly as it sounds - using a brush with slightly firm bristles and brushing your dry body with it to get rid of the dead cells on the skin's surface.
Benefits of Dry Brushing
If you’ve read any of my other blogs on anti-aging and beauty - you will already know that I’m a big fan of exfoliating as a form of detoxifying the skin. Exfoliation is simply the process of gently removing the dead skin cells that look dull and lifeless on the top layer of your skin to reveal the more youthful radiant layer of skin below.
Our skin is the biggest organ in the body. It is also the organ that releases the most toxins; over 30% of our toxins are released through the skin. We don’t really think of it as an organ or as having any functionality other than protecting us, and either looking good, or bad or old or young. But the skin is so much more than that.
Exfoliating not only helps our skin with the detoxification process but it also helps unclog pores (leading to less breakouts), smooth the skin and even out our skin tone and texture. Another benefit of dry brushing is improved circulation which can enhance your skin's radiance and make you feel invigorated and ready to take on the day! Because of this invigorating effect - most people dry brush first thing in the morning to reap the full benefits.
How to Dry Brush
There is no perfect way to dry brush. There are different types of brushes - some that fit perfectly in the palm of your hand for greater control and others with long wooden handles so that you can access hard to reach places like your back. Ideally you would have one of each!
I recommend you dry brush your skin daily. Brush towards the heart with gentle strokes on dry skin (DUH). I like to start brushing on my feet in a brushing motion going upward. I use the same process for my arms, starting at my hands and brushing upwards using firm, small strokes or working in a circular motion. For the stomach, work in a clockwise direction. Take about 3-5 minutes.
This eliminates toxins that are released on the skin and form crystals on its surface. Think of it like cleaning the countertops in the kitchen. You wouldn’t leave food and crumbs on the counter tops (or maybe you would but it certainly would get gross).
Dry Brushing with Oil
Although the idea is to use the brush on dry skin - some people prefer to add a bit of body oil to the brush to add a moisturizing element and soften the bristles a bit. If you plan on adding some oil - I recommend dry brushing after taking a shower when you are towel dry so that your skin can fully absorb the moisturizing oil. If you decide not to use oil on the brush - take a shower afterwards and then apply oil onto your damp skin afterwards for optimal absorption.
Remember - damaging your skin with harsh exfoliation is not what we want - so find a brush that creates enough friction to remove the top layer of skin without damaging the layers beneath. You wouldn’t wipe you marble counters clean with a metal sponge would you? If you have sensitive skin or skin issues like psoriasis or eczema - dry brushing might not be for you and could potentially cause more harm than good so be sure to assess whether your skin is a good match.
Take home points: dry brush daily in the morning before or after you shower, wash your face before bed and detox your skin daily with a natural cleanser (soap). Clean off the grime from the day: make-up, sweat, negative people – get rid of it all before slumber - repeat :)
Until next time,
Dr. Alexes Hazen