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I’ve experienced positive benefits of dry brushing and I believe that it’s worth incorporating into your personal care routine.
With that being said, there’s not much research (if any) on it and people disagree on some of the the benefits. If nothing else, dry brushing falls into the “can’t hurt” category (with one exception that I discuss later in this post).
I’ll be honest, though, when I first heard about dry brushing, I thought it was a little “woo woo.” But I ordered one anyway because I figured, “Why not?”
I bought my first dry brush more than two years ago, but I never really used it consistently until a few months ago. And of course I’m kicking myself because it’s helped me clear my embarrassing keratosis pilaris naturally. (I can’t find the brush I have anywhere online, but here’s another one.)
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the benefits of dry brushing, along with:
- What is dry brushing?
- Who shouldn’t do it
- When to do it
- How to dry brush
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that involves rubbing dry skin with a dry, coarse, natural-fiber brush. It’s also called Garshana (pronounced gar-shun-uh), which means “rubbing.”
The benefits of dry brushing
As I wrote earlier, people disagree on the benefits of dry brushing, so I’m sharing some of the discussions around each claim.
1. Exfoliates your skin (Definite yes)
This is the one claim that everyone agrees on, and the one that I have benefited from most. Dry brushing removes dead skin, leaving the skin’s surface smoother. In addition, exfoliating when skin is dry is more effective because it increases friction. It also allows the skin to absorb moisturizers more effectively after cleansing.
2. Stimulates sensory nerves (Fact)
Many experts recommend dry brushing in the morning because it stimulates sensory nerves and makes you feel more invigorated and awake. I’ve noticed a tingling sensation when I dry brush that seems to make my limbs feel a little more alive. I know it sounds weird, but I love the feeling.
3. Increases blood circulation, which temporarily reduces appearance of cellulite (Yup!)
When people claim that dry brushing reduces the appearance of cellulite, it’s most likely because it increases blood circulation and temporarily plumps up the skin. It won’t, however, produce a permanent reduction in cellulite.
Because dry brushing increases circulation, it may even help with restless leg syndrome. I saw this post about dry brushing in a Facebook group, and this woman says that it has given her legs relief at night after using this brush.
4. Drains/detoxifies your lymphatic system (Maybe?)
This is where opinions on the benefits of dry brushing really start to diverge.
First, what is the lymphatic system? It’s a major part of your immune system and is a “network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that make and move lymph from tissues to the bloodstream.” The lymphatic system defends “against invading microorganisms and disease.”
So as you can imagine, anything that helps the lymphatic system work better is a great thing to have in your wellness toolkit. The question here is whether or not dry brushing actually stimulates the lymphatic system and detoxifies your body. I’ve read many articles quoting doctors who disagree that it removes toxins (like this one and this one).
But again, I figure that it can’t hurt!
5. Aids digestion (Probably not)
If you have digestive issues, you should probably try things other than dry brushing. A gentle stomach massage may help relieve mild constipation, but there are better options for improving digestion.
Who shouldn’t do it?
Don’t use a dry brush on inflamed or broken skin, including areas with cuts, rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. Also, don’t use a body dry brush on your face because the skin is too thin and sensitive.
If you have sensitive skin, dry brushing may be too rough. You can try raw silk massage gloves, which are the original tools of choice in Garshana.
Dry brushing is a personal care item and I recommend that you don’t share brushes with anyone in your family. Have one brush for each person using one. (But if you have little kids like me, you might just end up sharing your dry brush with the dog…)
When to do it
I dry brush in the morning before a shower. As I mentioned earlier, dry brushing gives me energy so I don’t do it at night. But some people find it relaxing and incorporate it into their nighttime routine. It’s really a personal preference.
Dry brushing can be a daily ritual or you can do it a few times a week.
Because I’m loosening dead skin, I shower after I dry brush to wash away the gunk.
How to dry brush
Dry brushing should not hurt or irritate the skin. If it does, reduce the amount of pressure you’re exerting on the brush. You can always work up to a more firm pressure.
Take about 3-5 minutes to brush your whole body. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll just focus on my upper legs, upper arms, and back where I need exfoliation.
Start at your feet, then move to your lower legs, upper legs, buttocks, lower back, and arms using long, smooth strokes. Brush toward your heart, or the center of the body where the lymphatic system drains.
Use a circular motion on your stomach, and short strokes on your chest toward your heart. Dry brushing my back is awkward so I use a mix of long and circular strokes; whatever I can manage to do. 😉
Apply less pressure to your chest where the skin is more thin.
One more thing…
Just like you should regularly wash your makeup brushes, you also need to clean your dry brush. You should wash it at least every two weeks, but more like once a week if you use your dry brush daily. But if I’m honest, I’m not very good at cleaning mine regularly.
Do you dry brush? If so, what benefits have you noticed? Tell me in the comments!