Holistic health practitioners have long been promoting the benefits of dry skin brushing, though at first glance it might seem little more than a mild exfoliation. While bristled shower brushes were once perceived to be for lathering soap, many of us now know what their real benefits are. People who dry brush say their skin is more comfortable (read: less dry and itchy) and it boasts a healthy glow, thanks to waking up the oil glands. Some even say it reduces cellulite (we’re skeptical) and helps detox your body by opening up your pores and simulating the lymphatic system. Whether you’re looking for some T.L.C. or seeking the greater good of dry brushing, here’s what you need to know.
How to dry brush:
Start off by choosing a firm, natural bristled brush, like this one, which has a removable handle so you can keep it in the palm of your hand for more pressure control. “You want to get the most abrasive, the hardest bristles, because you start off by brushing really gently with a hard bristled brush,” says Meghan Telpner, holistic nutritionist and author of UnDiet. “Then you get a small one with softer bristles, again natural fibre, for your face. You can also use it on your bikini line to avoid in-grown hairs.” When you’re ready to go, stand in your tub and brush in circular movements, always toward your heart, from your toes to your head. Then, go ahead and shower. If you want to amp up the fun factor, add a high-quality essential oil to the ritual. “You just put a little on your palm and you rub the brush on that,” says Telpner. “Using an oil like lavender or eucalyptus, or there are different ones that would stimulate your lymphatic system a little bit more, gives you that little extra perk.”
The detox benefits:
If you think about all we slather on our skin, and all that we try to sweat out, it makes sense that we’d want to do a little extra scrubbing. According to Telpner, “The skin [the largest organ of the body] is one of the elimination pathways of the body. So dry brushing essentially is sloughing off dead skin and better allows the skin to breathe, meaning it can better sweat out the toxins in your body.” But another boon, which indirectly impacts the detoxification, is how it stimulates the lymphatic system. “Unlike our blood, which moves through the body through a pump, which is the heart, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so the way we move lymph through the body to detoxify it through our lymph nodes—which we have in the groin, the armpits and the neck—is through movement,” says Telpner. “So things like rebounding and more high-intensity aerobic exercise stimulates the lymph nodes. Additionally, when you skin brush, you’re stimulating the lymphatic system and moving the lymph through the body.” Though this might sound complicated, you could just forget all of this and do it because it feels awesome.
Dry brushing for breast health:
Being in tune with our breasts, and doing regular self-examinations, is among our top priorities of being a healthy woman. And Telpner has a tip that not only could make us more aware of changes in our breasts, but also boosts circulation. “You can get a lighter bristled brush, similar to the one you use on your face, and you can use it on your breasts, which helps to stimulate the breast tissue,” she says. “Where blood flows, energy goes, so if we can stimulate blood flow to the breast tissue, it’s bringing in fresh oxygen and that is really healing.”