Have you ever tried brushing your skin? Do you brush your skin before showering like you do your hair or teeth? If not, it may be about time to try it. Dry skin-brushing is an ancient practice that has been gaining in popularity and is now even listed at spas in many hotels.
Though it is not meant to be a medical treatment and should not be considered as one, skin-brushing has many potential benefits, from smoother skin to helping with lymphatic drainage. Not only does it exfoliate your skin, brushing can also help to support the immune system, reduce stress and detoxify the body.
Though there’s little data to support the benefits of brushing, for most people there’s also little harm in practising it.
Here are some of the health benefits of dry brushing:
Stimulating the lymphatic system:
Dry brushing can help stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body. Brushing the skin regularly can stimulate the pores, opening them up and making it easier for the body to sweat. This in turn can reduce the amount of toxins flowing through the lymphatic system.
Supporting the immune system:
Dry brushing can help the body to release toxins through sweat. This helps to detoxify the body, which in turn helps the immune system.
Exfoliating the skin:
Dry brushing can naturally exfoliate the skin by brushing away dry and dead skin cells. This can give your skin a glowing and smoother and more youthful appearance.
Unclogging the pores:
Dry brushing opens the pores and helps the skin to absorb more nutrients.
Regular dry brushing can help to reduce cellulite. Brushing stimulates the cells that help with circulation and break down toxins beneath the skin. Though there is no scientific data to support this claim, dry brushing can reduce the appearance of cellulite because it has similar effects on the body as massage. It also gives a great feeling and makes the skin softer.
Similar to a massage, dry brushing can help you feel more relaxed and help to reduce stress.
A natural energy boost:
Because it improves the circulation and helps to expel more toxins, dry brushing can also increase energy. Experts recommend doing it early in the day as part of a morning routine.
Health benefits of dry brushing
But before you just grab a brush and start scrubbing your face, get the facts first from dermatologists and beauticians on how to maximise the benefits of this age-old practice.
Purchase a special face brush and two natural bristle brushes with long handles and different firmness, so you can reach those hard-to-reach places like your back, the bottoms of your feet, and the backs of your legs.
Rinse your brush after you’ve completed your brushing to remove dead skin cells. Dry it in an open, sunny area to prevent mildew. Clean your brush once a week using soap and water.
You should also avoid sharing your brush with anyone to help prevent the risk of infection. Replace the brush every six to 12 months as the bristles will eventually wear out.
To maintain results like a smoother-looking skin, you need to dry brush daily over the whole body, preferably in the morning before showering. Start with a gentle brush and soft pressure. Work up to a firmer brush and firmer pressure over time.
Start with the bottoms of your feet and brush with long strokes, overlapping towards your heart. Brushing away from the heart is said to cause ruptured vessels and varicose veins.
Similarly, when you start on your arms, begin at the hands and work upwards. Use firm, small strokes upwards, or work in a circular motion. For the stomach, work in a clockwise direction. Harsh exfoliation is never the point; be sure not to press too hard or use a brush that is too stiff. A soft and smooth stroke works best.
It should take about four minutes to brush the entire body except the face. As soon as you’re done, get in the shower.
To get the best benefits, you can moisturise after showering with an organic natural lotion or your favourite essential oil. It is best to avoid moisturisers with chemicals. If you have sensitive skin or a history of eczema or other skin conditions, don’t include dry brushing in your daily routine, as aggressive skin-brushing could irritate sensitive skin.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 June, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly