Dry Brushing: What, How, and Why

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I remember being 8 years old and receiving a dry brush for my birthday, along with some fabulous smelling all natural body scrubs, soaps, and lotions. At the time I had no clue what dry brushing was. The brush looked, to me, like a hairbrush with an extra long handle! I kept it in my bathroom along with all of the other bath goodies I had received.

Fast forward quite a few years and I now have a thorough understanding of the human body’s anatomy and physiology. With that, I can appreciate that body brush that I received so many years ago and wish I had used as more than bathroom decor.

What Is A Dry Brush?

A dry brush is basically what it sounds like. It’s a brush, that looks similar to a bristled hairbrush, that is used on your skin. I prefer my dry brush with natural (vegetable fiber) bristles and a long handle. The long handle makes it easier for me to dry brush my entire body without having to bend, twist, and contort into uncomfortable positions.

What Are The Benefits of Dry Brushing?

There are multiple benefits to dry brushing. These benefits encompass the whole body. Benefits of dry brushing include external physical benefits, internal physical benefits, as well as mental and emotional benefits.

A dry brush is used on your skin. Our skin is the largest organ of our body. Skin accounts for approximately 16% of your body weight and covers approximately 22 square feet.

But our skin is more than just the covering over our skeleton. Our skin provides a barrier against moisture, harmful sun rays, and infection. This organ is not only responsible for protecting us from external factors but it also communicates directly with the brain in regards to senses such as touch.

Our skin takes quite a beating on a daily basis. Considering it is an organ, we need to protect it and care for it. Dry brushing is one method of caring for our skin and our bodies.

Dry Brushing for Exfoliation

The act of dry brushing helps to promote skin exfoliation. As the cells of our skin age, they move towards the surface of our skin and flake off. Dry brushing can aid in removing these dead skin cells. This results in a brighter skin tone and softer skin.

Dry Brushing for Lymphatic Drainage

Dry brushing helps to stimulate and move lymphatic drainage. When you gently stroke your body, especially along the lymphatic system, you are assisting the body in removing toxins and waste.

Dry Brushing for Cellulite

Though dry brushing cannot eliminate cellulite. There have been numerous reports of it improving cellulite. When you dry brush, you stimulate the fat cells under the layer of skin. Once these cells are stimulated they become softer and therefore may be distributed under the skin more evenly. As fat deposits become more evenly distributed the overall general appearance of cellulite diminishes.

Dry Brushing for Improved Circulation

Touching and rubbing skin results in an increase in circulation and blood flow. When you use a dry brush you are promoting circulation. Improved circulation helps with your body eliminating waste, your circulatory system including your heart, and the aesthetic appearance of your skin.

Dry Brushing for Stress Relief

Dry brushing is like a light touch massage. It promotes blood flow and invokes a calming, relaxed sensation. I find dry brushing to be calming and meditative. I go slowly and in a very detailed order. It helps to clear my head. All of these which helps to reduce stress.

Dry Brushing for Improved Kidney Function

When you dry brush your skin, you help to clear the outer layer of dead skin cells which may be clogging your pores. When our pores are clogged, our body is not able to release those toxins through our skin, meaning our kidney has to work even harder. By dry brushing, you are aiding your body in keeping your pores clear, which helps to release toxins from our body and relieves our kidneys from added stress.

Dry Brushing for Energy

I always feel more energetic after dry brushing. The stimulation of my skin along with the other health benefits gives me a boost of energy. Along with that energy comes brighter healthier looking skin which also makes a person feel more energetic and confident.

Learn about the benefits of dry brushing your skin, including how to dry brush, why to dry brush, and how to care for your dry brush. #cellulite #lymphaticsystem | simplywellfamily.com

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How To Dry Brush?

Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like. You use a dry brush to brush along your dry skin. However, there is a method to follow when dry brushing.

Using a Dry Brush

First, it is important to remember to use long gentle strokes when dry brushing. Also, you will want to follow a specific sequence as you move along your body with the brush.

Start at your feet and move gently up your leg towards the center of your body. You may need to overlap areas so as to not to miss any spots. Once you have brushed your legs, move towards your arms and using long gentle strokes, brush up from your fingertips up your arms towards your heart. You can then brush from your neck down to your shoulders and up your back from your bottom towards your shoulders. In front, brush from your neck down towards your heart and from your lower abdomen up towards your heart. Do not use a regular dry brush on your face or breasts.

The idea is to follow the track that your lymph follows towards your heart. Follow the same method of brushing towards your center, or heart, as you brush your back and front. Be careful around sensitive areas of your skin.

Remember to use long, gentle, soft strokes. You do not want to brush vigorously or with enough pressure that your skin turns red. Always stop brushing or use less pressure if it feels at all uncomfortable.

How often should you dry brush?

There are recommendations to dry brush daily or even twice a day. However, there are concerns that dry brushing that frequently can be bad for your skin. My recommendation would be to start out by dry brushing weekly. You can then increase the number of times a week you dry brush to two, then three, then five. If you find that you enjoy dry brushing and that your skin tolerates it well it is safe to dry brush daily. However, the key is to be gentle and to stop if you notice irritation.

Does Dry Brushing Work?

Yes, dry brushing does work. It has been around for centuries and is still common practice in parts of the world. However, each individual will see their own results from dry brushing. I have met many women that insist dry brushing has had a drastic impact on the appearance of their cellulite. I personally see improvement in my skin tone and feel healthier, both emotionally and physically, when dry brushing.

Where To Buy A Dry Brush?

I purchased my dry brush from Amazon here. You can also find dry brushes in health food stores.

Natural Bristle Brush

However, you want to be sure you are purchasing a high-quality natural bristle brush. I like brushes whose bristles come from vegetable fibers. It is important to know about the fibers since there are a lot of brushes out there made from animal hair, as well as brushes made from synthetic fibers. I also prefer my brush to have a long handle.

How To Care For A Dry Brush

A dry brush needs to stay dry. However, considering your dead skin cells are being sloughed away each time you dry brush the brush does need maintenance.

Wipe it Down

To maintain your dry brush you will want to wipe down the handle with a soft cloth. But more importantly, you need to clean the bristles which might be holding on to dead skin cells and such. However, it is also important that the dry brush stays dry during cleaning.

Clean the Bristles

The one way that I’ve found to be a good way to clean my dry brush involves a shallow bowl and some essential oils. If you don’t have essential oils then a gentle cleanser, such as an unscented castile soap could work as well. However, whether or not you already use essential oils to clean, I recommend that you read this post here and learn about five of the best oils for cleaning.

First, take the shallow bowl and place some lukewarm water in the bottom, so that when you dip the brush bristles into the water they will be covered about 2/3-1″. After adding the water, add in tea tree oil essential oil or your castile soap. Then place the bristles into the water and gently swish around to release the dead skin cells from the bristles. You’ll want to be careful to not wet the head of the brush or where the bristles come out from.

After you have washed the bristles you want to follow the same steps but without a cleaner. So again add enough water to your shallow bowl to cover 2/3-1″ of the bristles. Then gently dip the ends of the bristles into the water and swish around.

Once the bristles of the brush are clean, gently shake excess water off the brush into your sink and pat the bristles dry with a towel. You’ll then want to lay the brush down with the bristles hanging over your sink, to let them air dry without water seeping into the head of the brush where the bristles come out.

How often should you wash your dry brush?

The frequency of washing that your dry brush requires will be dependent on how frequently you dry brush. If you are dry brushing at least once a day, then you will want to wash your dry brush every week. This will likely reduce the life of your dry brush. If you are dry brushing one to two times a week then monthly washing should be sufficient.

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is full of benefits. It benefits and aids our largest organ, our skin, as well as our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A simple task that takes approximately 5 minutes each time can lead to more energy and a healthier you.

Dry brushing helps with exfoliation, lymphatic drainage, cellulite, circulation, stress, kidney function, and energy.

It’s simple to do, taking about 5 minutes each time you dry brush. The cost of a dry brush is minimal as well, you can easily find a good quality brush for under $20 (USD).

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Brooke has been helping families as a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, since 2007. Prior to that, she spent 4+ years working as a Registered Nurse in both pediatric and postpartum nursing. Brooke holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing. Additionally, she is dual-licensed in her state as both an APRN and RN.


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