Ah, dry brushing. One of my favorite winter practices. For those of you who have heard of dry brushing, you may have heard all sorts of claims of its benefits.
Some of these claims include, but are not limited to:
- reducing cellulite
- eliminating dead skin cells
- making your skin glow
- increasing blood circulation and lymphatic drainage
- stimulating the nervous system
- increasing muscle tone
- improving digestion and kidney function
- cleans out pores
- increases energy
- also makes julienne fries!
Ok, just kidding about that last one, but I couldn't resist an Aladdin quote (for shame if you didn't catch it).
If you haven't heard of it, it's an ancient practice that uses a dry bristle brush on dry skin. It's been used for many years because of all of the benefits listed above.
In massage school, I learned various spa techniques that incorporated dry brushing, but I never thought of it as a personal daily practice until about a year or so ago. It's now a regular part of my routine, and I really have seen improvements in my overall health.
But, like all self care practices, it's just a piece of the pie for a healthy life. If dry brushing was the only thing I did, I probably wouldn't see many benefits. But it does enhance all of my other efforts of having healthier skin, stronger immune system, and the like.
Realistically, what can you expect from dry brushing? The top two reasons are to promote a heathy lymphatic system and to improve the health of your skin.
Your lymphatic system is a system of vessels and nodes that carry fluid throughout the body, transporting good stuff, killing off bad stuff. And it works in tandem with your immune system.
BUT, the lymph system doesn't have it's own pumping system, so it needs some help moving things along. Dry brushing is a great way to keep that lymph fluid pumping.
Dry brushing will also make your skin happier and healthier by getting rid of dead skin cells, reducing fine lines, perhaps reducing cellulite (really it could help, but you need to combine it with reducing the fat cells as well, aka weight loss), and bringing the natural glow back to the skin. And it cleanses the skin to make it a better organ for protection and filtering through what gets absorbed.
Secondary benefits are the rest of the above benefits, but one to highlight is that it can improve the quality of your muscles. The brushing can stimulate blood flow back into the muscles and even reset some trigger points to reduce pain and discomfort.
So, how do you incorporate dry brushing? Here are some tips.
1. Choosing a Brush
Some resources say the rougher the better, as far as bristles go. I disagree because I'm a "no pain, all gain" kind of person. And I have sensitive skin, so the softer the better for me. But whatever your preference, it will still get the job done.
You can find them in person at your local health food store or places like Target. That way you can feel them for yourself. Or you can shop online at places like Amazon so you can read the reviews. Just search "dry brush."
And make sure it has a long handle so you can reach the back of the body.
It's best to perform with a dry brush on dry skin, hence the name. The dryness makes it easier to brush off dead skin cells. The bristles can also get a better grip on the skin to pump the lymphatic system that lies just underneath the skin's layers.
And be gentle. No matter the texture of the bristles, you must use very soft pressure. You don't want to damage your skin by brushing too hard, and too much pressure isn't very effective for the lymphatic system.
3. Direction of Brushing
Since one of the main benefits is to improve the lymph flow, it's best to brush in the direction of the flow.
This photo shows the direction of flow leading to the major lymph nodes (the green dots). Don't get too overwhelmed with memorizing it, but when it doubt, brush up towards the joint areas, especially the armpit and the hip creases.
4. When to Dry Brush
I suggest dry brushing in the morning before you shower. Brushing really only takes a few minutes. For bonus points, apply a high quality coconut or sesame seed oil right after. Let it soak in for 5-1o min. as you do your other morning rituals and then hop in the shower or bath to rinse off the remaining dry skin and oil.
Your skin with LOVE you even more if you soak it in lovely oil afterwards, but for now, think if it as an added perk.
I wish you the best on your dry brushing endeavors. Start with trying it once a week for now. Or maybe you go through phases with it. I definitely do it more during the cold and dry winter months when my skin needs a little extra love.
Already practice it? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments, good or not so good :)
Until next time,
Take good care.