Dry Brushing. It has a long history of being one of the most go-to forms of self-care, but does dry brushing really work? It's beginning to pick up popularity again, and you may be wondering if you should hop on this train or not.
Today let's uncover if dry brushing should be part of your regular self-care routine or if it's an overrated fad.
What is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is a classic ayurvedic ritual that works by giving yourself a daily massage with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. While many people think it just exfoliates the skin, it does more than just exfoliating (even though that is a nice perk)!
Dry Brushing Benefits
Encourages Lymphatic Drainage
Aids in Lymphedema
Supports Immune Function
Enhances Skin Health
Dry Brushing for Lymphatic Drainage
When you dry brush your skin, it encourages blood circulation. Since your lymphatic system requires proper blood circulation for optimal functioning, it's essential that you are supporting that flow. If not, it could lead to infections, blockages, and more serious health consequences.
Dry Brushing for Detoxification
Body brushing for lymphatic drainage can be hugely beneficial in eliminating toxins from your body. Better circulation supports lymphatic drainage, which means your body is better capable at ridding toxins!
Optimal detoxification is essential to keep your body in a balanced state and to prevent imbalances, inflammation, and chronic diseases in the future.
While daily movement and avoiding toxins should be your first option in encouraging peak lymphatic and detoxification function, dry brushing can be a simple self-care practice that supports this process as well.
Plus, it's nice to have a little extra "you" time, right?
Dry Brushing for Lymphedema
Dry brushing can also aid in lymphedema issues, a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in your tissues, causing edema (aka swelling). Dry brushing encourages lymph flow, reducing the stagnant fluid.
Dry Brushing to Support Immune Function
Since your immune function relies on your lymphatic system to produce and release lymphocytes (aka white blood cells), dry brushing can benefit your immune health. If your lymphatic system is sluggish, it could inhibit your immune function from operating at its best. Not what we want, especially during these times!
Dry Brushing for Better Skin
Dry brushing helps exfoliate your skin by ridding your dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. This is usually done with a dry brush before you hop in the shower.
Think about all the chemicals in your water, air pollution, toxic beauty products, and in your food because of pesticides. These contribute to the build-up of toxic substances inside your body and skin. One way for these toxins to get out is through your skin. But, if your pores are blocked up with dead skin and other nasty grime, it makes it harder for those toxins to get released.
When you practice dry brushing a couple of times a week, it not only improves the look of your skin, making it appear more smooth and refreshed, but it helps clear out that dead debris that's blocking your pores. Opening up your pores allows your skin to detox more effectively- escape, you pesky toxins!
How to Body Brush Properly
To fully experience these dry brushing benefits, there is a particular way you'll need to brush your skin. To make it easy, I've broken it down for you so you'll be a pro next time you have your self-care day!
Choose the Right Brush
You want to purchase a dry brush that has natural stiff bristles but isn't too abrasive. There are a couple of different options you can choose from. You can pick either a synthetic bristle brush or one that contains natural bristles (like boar bristles) that many recommend.
There are dry brushes with long handles to get those areas that are impossible to reach with just your hand (like your upper-mid back) and ones that fit right into your hand. These help make those circular motions a bit easier and more controlled. There isn't really a "right" one. It's more about your preference and which one you think you'd like better.
Here are my top recommendations:
Easiest Set Up for Dry Brushing
The most convenient spot to perform your dry brushing routine is right in your shower (before you turn on the hot water and soap up). This way you can, first, strip down and remove all your clothing so you can get to all the necessary areas of your body.
Then once you've finished the entire dry brushing process, all the dead skin cells that get sloshed off won't be floating around the room, and the debris can easily be rinsed down into the shower drain. Easy peasy!
Time to Scrub
Now for the important part... How do you actually dry brush? There is a specific way you should dry brush to get the most benefits out of it.
You want to brush your skin towards your heart, starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest. You should put medium pressure on your skin without causing too much irritation. Take big long brush strokes to really encourage your lymphatic flow upwards. Try to go over the same area a couple of times, overlapping some sections.
When you come to a joint or small area, you can change your strokes to smaller, faster motions.
Where to Start Body Brushing?
The ultimate goal is to push the lymph towards your heart and chest. To do this, you want to proceed in sections. First, start with your extremities. Begin at the top of your feet, then make your way to your lower legs and calves, then to your knees, then to your upper thigh.
Don't forget the back of your thighs and bottom and then finish the lower part of your body by brushing your lower back and stomach in long strokes.
Then move to your hands, brushing the tops, moving to your forearms, elbows, and then upper arms. Since there are lymph nodes in your upper arm, pay extra attention here! Keep moving those brushstrokes across your body towards your heart.
Finally, as you finish up, you'll be above your heart. Because of this reason, you'll want to actually brush down from your chin and move toward your chest.
How Often Should You Dry Brush Your Skin?
You don't have to dry brush every day. It's actually recommended to practice a dry brush routine one to two times a week.
So, when you are getting ready to have that extra-long "Queen Shower,"... you know the one I'm talking about. Not that 5-minute quick rinse off one. I'm talking about the one where your legs get shaved, and your hair actually gets washed and conditioned. Why not add in some dry brushing to it to experience for yourself all those dry brushing benefits!
Interested in Optimizing Your Lymphatic, Detox System, & Overall Health?
I can help. I'm Jessica Meyers, an Integrative Health and Herbal Expert. I work closely with health clients over a 6-month period to get to the root cause of their symptoms, often optimizing detoxification and lymphatic flow.
As part of my offered care, I suggest herbs, supplements, nutrition guidance, and lifestyle changes. Click here to connect with me to see how we can best address your health concerns together.