Benefits, How to, and Risks—According to Experts
If you’re looking to amp up your self-care routine with a practice that’s both meditative and skin-friendly, you might like dry brushing — a centuries-old Ayurvedic technique that uses a stiff-bristled brush to “wipe away dull skin.” skin surface,” explains Tammy Fender, holistic skincare expert, spa owner and esthetician based in West Palm Beach, Florida.
At the very least, it’s an invigorating sensory experience, but the benefits of dry brushing may actually surprise you. Ahead, our experts share the benefits of how to dry brush your skin and the potential risks associated with the practice.
What is dry brushing?
It’s pretty much what it sounds like — dry brushing consists of using a dry, natural-bristle body brush “primarily to exfoliate your skin,” explains Nicole Hayre, MD board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Cosmetic Dermatology Center in McLean, v.a. As the name suggests, it’s done without water or any kind of lube, usually before a bath or shower, adds Joie Tavernise, medical esthetician from New York and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare.
Benefits of Dry Brushing
You may have thought about using a drybrush before, but is it worth it? Read on for the benefits.
The most obvious and promising benefit of dry brushing is physical exfoliation. Like a good body scrub, the brush’s stiff bristles remove dead skin cells, leaving skin smoother and softer than before. dr Hayre says this process also allows for better penetration of moisturizers.
There are several ways to get the blood flowing and dry brushing is one of them. Efficient circulation is crucial to maintaining good health – it helps the body deliver vital oxygen and nutrients to all of our muscles and organs. That’s not to say that dry brushing gets the blood pumping in the same way that a long walk does, but Dr. Hayre says it provides stimulation that leaves a plumping effect on the skin. For this reason, some people try to dry brush cellulite.
Dry brushing is said to activate the lymphatic system. “When done in the direction of lymph flow – toward the heart – it can help improve lymphatic drainage,” says Dr. Hayre. However, there is little research to support this.
Best of all, the dry brushing ritual is a welcome respite after a long day. “Relax and engage in a few minutes of self-care,” says Tavernise.
So brush your skin dry
Fender recommends two brisk minutes of drybrushing before showering, “starting on the soles of your feet and working long strokes up your legs, working toward your heart.” Follow with the arms, torso and back, and, more subtly, chest and neck, she adds. dr Hayre says once or twice a week should be enough.
Avoid dry brushing your face, be sure to use gentle pressure, and if you have sensitive skin, look for a brush with softer bristles. Overall, a natural fiber brush with a wooden handle is ideal. “I recommend using long-handled brushes so you can reach different areas of the body more easily,” says Dr. Hayre.
“When I’m done, I like to take a cool shower to rinse off any remaining dead skin cells, then massage in a nourishing body oil,” adds Tavernise. “It feels wonderful and leaves my skin incredibly smooth.”
Risks of dry brushing
Just like over-exfoliating can wreak havoc on your face, too much dry brushing can wreak havoc on the rest of your body. “Brushing too hard or too often can irritate the skin and even cause abrasions,” says Dr. Hayre. “If performed over a wound or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis, the condition can worsen and even become infected.”
If you’re concerned you may have a skin condition, it’s probably best to avoid dry brushing and consult your doctor.
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer covering all things health and nutrition for men’s health, women’s health and prevention. Her hobbies include constantly sipping coffee and pretending to be a chopped contestant while cooking.