It’s getting more and more press, but it’s definitely not a new fad. Dry brushing has been around in many cultures since the ancient times of Hippocrates in Greece. The ancient Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, and Turks all knew the skin benefits of dry brushing. Do the benefits live up to the hype?
In short, yes. Using a dry brush stimulates and cleanses the lymphatic system. This is a major part of our immune system, and helps detoxify our entire body. Our skin contributes to 25% of the body’s detoxification every day. The skin is the largest organ of the body and is sometimes called the “third kidney” due to its role in the elimination of waste from the body. By dry brushing a few times a week, you not only help your body eliminate waste products and toxins, you gently remove dead skin cells and improve blood circulation. It’s also great to prevent ingrown hairs!
To properly dry brush - first pick the right kind of brush. Dry brushes can be made of plant bristles, synthetic, and animal hair. Plant based bristles are more gentle, but are (still) coarse enough to properly exfoliate. I personally think these are best - and as a bonus they are cruelty free. They can be made from Jute or Tampico (Agave plant). Synthetic bristles are too smooth to grab the dead skin cells. Animal hair, such as boar or goat, is also commonly used in dry brushes.
Dry brushing should be performed when the skin is - you guessed it - DRY. Brushing with dry plant bristles on dry skin exfoliates the skin, stimulates the circulation and lymphatic system all at the same time. If the bristles are wet, they will be too soft and scratchy and will not exfoliate or stimulate the skin as effectively.
I like to dry brush when I’m waiting for my shower to warm up, or waiting for a bath to fill. It’s a simple, 5 minute routine that makes a huge difference. Some people start dry brushing a few times a week and work up to every day.
With gentle sweeping motion, start from your toes and work your way up to your heart. This is the path that the lymph normally flows, so go with the flow, always towards your heart. Next, work your way up your arms starting with your hands. If your dry brush has a long handle, you can brush your back from the neck down.
Never brush over inflammed skin, open sores, sun burnt skin, or skin cancer.
Special extra-fine dry brushes are made for the face, but typical dry brushes should be used from the neck down. Facial dry brushing can work wonders for your skin by softening fine lines, improving the texture of your skin, and gently detoxifying the same way dry brushing works on your body. If you find a facial dry brush, remember to be gentle! Apply very gentle pressure and only dry brush your face 2-3 times per week. Always clean your dry brush after each use!
To clean your dry brush, spray Tea Tree Hydrosol on the brush after each use and hang it dry in a well ventilated space. Deep clean your dry brush every seven to ten times you use it. Wet the brush and clean it with hot water and tea tree soap and hang in a well ventilated place to dry.
About Dr. Dilks
Mary Claire Dilks is a licensed Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine/ Chinese Herbs and owner of Emerging Energy Acupuncture in the Jewelry District in Providence. In practice for over 13 years, Dr. Dilks completed a year long advanced herbal training in Dermatology with a world renowned herbalist from the UK. She makes natural skin care and aromatherapy products and has been named Best of Rhode Island (“Best Inner Healing”) by Rhode Island Monthly.