Hello, lovelies! In this post, I’ll be sharing my personal experience of dry skin brushing for the last 3 years (or more). I’ll be talking about how it’s benefited me and how cheap and easy it is to do dry skin brushing.
How I Started
I remember very well when I started to do dry skin brushing because it was an unforgettable time of my life. I was at a very low point. I had lost my job and was in chronic pain from nerve and muscle diseases exacerbated by overwork.
With a professional’s help, I started to eat cleaner, exercise, get more sleep, and put some distance between me and my stressful lifestyle.
I also started experimenting with things like grounding, meditation, dry fasting, and dry skin brushing amongst other things. (A more adventurous friend was doing cryotherapy and coffee enemas.)
The point of everything at the time was to listen to my body and find out what worked for me, and one of the things that worked was dry skin brushing. As lazy as I am, I’ve kept it up for the past 3 years because:
- I feel that it’s doing wonders for my circulation;
- It helps me with digestion (explained further below);
- And it helps keep my skin supple and smooth.
I feel a distinct difference on the days I dry brush and days I don’t. And to think that it’s such a simple, simple thing that I do for just 5 minutes a day before a shower.
What Is Dry Skin Brushing?
Dry skin brushing is exactly that — brushing all over your body. But it’s a bit more intentional than it sounds.
I’d say that there are three conditions to meet in order to call it dry skin brushing. These are:
- using a dry skin brush
- making firm sweeping strokes in a particular motion
- doing it while the body is dry
You can get a dry skin brush from any store that sells personal care items. It’s usually stocked alongside loofahs, pumice stones, and exfoliating bath wash cloths. You can also easily buy one online.
How To Dry Brush
- You can do dry brushing in the morning before your shower. Make sure you are still dry and to remove every article of clothing in order to do a thorough brushing of your skin.
- Start from your extremities. You can choose to start from your feet, or you can start from your arms. If you start from your arms, begin brushing your fingers, then hands, and going up your arm.
- Your strokes should be long and firm. There should be pressure behind your strokes.
- Always brush towards the heart, the center of the body where the lymph system drains.
- For your belly and armpits, make circular clockwise movements with your brush instead of straight strokes.
- I personally avoid the breast area because I tend to have cysts (and am high risk for breast cancer). Always listen to your body.
- Use a softer brush for areas with more sensitive skin like the face and armpits.
Watch The Video
Ashley from Ashley’s Green Life does a great job of showing exactly how it’s done. You can see how dry brushing really exfoliates the skin.
Another video I highly recommend you watch is Dr. Mindy Beck’s video. Dr. Beck is a naturopathic doctor. In her introduction, she talks about how dry brushing improves circulation, calms the nervous system and supports the cardiovascular system. She then proceeds to demonstrates how to brush correctly.
What I find valuable in her video is how she explains the science behind and how your body works.
Pro-tips & Contraindications
I am sharing some tips gleaned from my own personal preferences and experience with dry brushing.
- You can choose from a long-handled dry brush like the one I have or a brush with no handle.
- Don’t brush wet. It doesn’t work. I’ve made mistakes wherein I already stood under the shower only to realize I hadn’t dry brushed yet. I tried doing it while wet and it was a fail.
- Avoid dry brushing at night. I usually find myself energized after a good bout of dry brushing and this might keep you from falling asleep.
- I sometimes experience my heart speeding up and racing as if I had done my run around the park. This is when I feel that dry brushing is really doing something for my circulation.
- From personal experience, doing circular motions with my brush on my abdomen stimulates my digestive system in the morning. This especially works with a warm lemon drink and maybe even some jumping jacks.
- You should NOT dry skin brush if:
- You have skin conditions like skin asthma or psoriasis
- You have open wounds or abrasions
- Have sunburn, allergies, or inflamed skin
- Learn more about your lymphatic drainage system. I’ve tried to explain it in simple terms below.
Understanding The Lymphatic Drainage System
Do you know blood? Everybody knows blood. You see lots of it in slasher and horror movies. Our first experience with it as a child is probably from a scraped knee or elbow.
Now what about lymph? Not too many know about lymph. Lymph, like blood, is also a fluid in the body. It is clear and looks like water. If you’ve ever had a wound and clear liquid leaked out instead of blood (or alongside blood), then that was lymph.
Similar to blood, lymph fluid is all over our body. The blood has a network of vessels and tissues and is pumped throughout the body by the heart. Lymph fluid also has a lymphatic system of vessels that carry it throughout the body, however, interestingly enough, there is nothing similar like the heart to pump it along the body.
Instead, it relies on the motions of our muscles and joint pumps. This means, if you don’t move much, your lymph doesn’t move much too, especially as you age.
But why is it important? Here’s what the lymphatic system does:
- It collects extra lymph fluid that are continuously leaking out of our capillaries and returns it back to the blood.
- It defends your body from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The lymph nodes filter out, trap, and then destroy these disease-causing organisms.
So an elderly person’s swollen hands or a pregnant woman’s swollen feet? It’s most likely edema from lymphatic fluid that has built up in the body’s tissues.
Remember your throat infection? The doctor would have checked for swollen glands (more accurately, lymph nodes). When you have an infection, germs collect in your lymph nodes.
How Massage Helps In Lymphatic Drainage
In 2016, a study was conducted where they found that Manual Lymphatic Drainage (a form of light massage therapy) was effective in preventing swelling in patients with orthopedic injuries.
Looking at the literature on MLD, it explains further how the light pressure moved excess fluid back into the lymphatic system to lessen swelling. The strokes “start distally to the edema, and gradually move toward larger vessels in the groin, armpits, and neck area.” This is most likely because the major lymph nodes are located in these areas.
Now what about everyday life? As we grow older, we tend to move less. We live more sedentary lives compared to the frenetic activity of our youths. The results? We feel sluggish. We get infections more. We sometimes have swollen extremities.
From everything that I shared, you already know the fix. An active lifestyle is the primary solution.
For example, taking the stairs instead of that oh-so-convenient elevator ride. Incorporating an early morning run a couple of times a week. And then we can do pampering rituals like massages and yes, dry skin brushing.
From everything we’ve talked about today, you can gather that dry brushing:
- exfoliates dead skin cells
- improves circulation
- gives a rejuvenating and relaxing feeling
If you are a younger person than me, you will benefit from the exfoliating effect. If you are on the wrong side of
30 40, you can benefit from the improved circulation as our body tends to need more help as we age.
One thing that I’ve seen that dry brushing doesn’t help with is cellulite. I’ve read several articles claiming that it helps lessen cellulite in the legs and arms, for example. I have seen no evidence of this.
A study I stumbled upon also came to the conclusion that MLD (light massage therapy) was not effective as an isolated approach to cellulite management.
If your primary concern is cellulite, I would recommend exercise. By building muscle, the appearance of cellulite becomes less noticeable.
All in all, the trick is to age gracefully and take care of the mind, body and spirit. Live clean and always have a positive outlook. You are beautiful, everyone!
Author: Mary Lou
In the Before Times, Maru spent vacations traveling and making stops at showrooms to test the latest massage chair models. Nowadays, she’s hunkered down in her small sunlit home dotted with her ever-growing collection of fiddle fig trees, indoor plants, and Himalayan salt lamps. Find her at LinkedIn.