Dry Brushing: The Most Amazing Natural Skin Care Technique You Aren’t Using

I recently joined the Church of Dry Skin Brushers and would like to convert you. So let’s talk about the best natural skin care technique you probably aren’t using. It’s called dry brushing and it’s…heavenly.

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You want reasons to dry brush? Mr. Google will give you plenty:

Benefits to Dry Skin Brushing

  • Removes dead skin cells and unclog pores, leaving skin very soft.
  • Leaves skin more receptive to moisturizers and oils.
  • Boosts surface circulation and leaves skin with a healthy glow.
  • Improves lymphatic drainage and stimulates more effective natural toxin clearing.
  • Reduces the appearance of cellulite and increases skin tone.
  • Awakening and invigorating.

Who wouldn’t want all that? I will admit that my impetus for trying dry brushing was the height of superficial. Lymphatic health be damned, I tried it out for the promise of natural, inexpensive cellulite reduction.

At this point I’d like to apologize to all the dudes still reading, since cellulite is something that seems to concern ladies almost exclusively. But I have had two babies and lost 110 pounds over the past decade, which means that there are areas of my body where my skin has had to accommodate some major volume changes, and a few (sure, a few, let’s go with that) non-strategic dimples are the price I’ve paid.

I hoped that dry brushing would be a natural, low-cost way to perhaps improve my skin’s texture in some of these hard working areas, so I gave it a shot. This photo from a HuffPo assessment of weird home remedies for cellulite looked like Hope In A Bottle stuff to me, but I figured I didn’t have anything to lose that I wouldn’t be just fine parting with.

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After a few weeks of diligent, daily dry brushing, here’s what I’ve found.

Dry brushing in the morning wakes me up like a cup of coffee. Seriously. And regular readers know that I do not mess around when it comes to my caffeine consumption. This Seattle girl knows how to tip back a cuppa or four. After a good dry brushing I feel awake and ready to get moving with my day.

My skin is soft. Really soft. Like, baby-ass soft. Even the areas that are perpetually dry and cracky in winter, like my ankles and elbows, are soft. Many people advocate rubbing skin with coconut oil, castor oil, avocado oil or another natural moisturizer after dry brushing, and sometimes I do but usually I don’t. The softness is coming just from the dry brushing.

I think I’m actually seeing improvement on the cellulite front, too. I am predisposed to skepticism about this kind of thing (don’t they always tell you there is no cure for cellulite?), but I really do think the dry brushing is helping. Now, I’m never going to look like a bikini model or anything – and don’t expect any revealing personal before and after pictures of my thighs on this blog – but my tush and legs do look a bit smoother to me. And honestly? Even if all the skin improvement claims are bogus, dry brushing still feels great to me.

One of the YouTube Videos I watched on dry brushing said that once you try it, you’ll start to evangelize it. As this post proves, that’s true for me.

In fact, my mom came over the other day after going for a swim. The skin on her poor legs was so dry. My mom has really lovely skin – she has that Mediterranean olive complexion that just glows in the sun – but she had been neglecting skin care of the body.

I broke out my body brush and dry brushed her. With every brush stroke, a puff of dead skin clouded the air. After dry brushing I rubbed coconut oil into the skin on her arms and legs. The effect was amazing. Her skin went from dull and greyish to warm and golden, and from rough to smooth, in the ten minutes it took to dry brush and moisturize.

My mom was sold on dry brushing, too. She asked me to buy her the same body brush I use next time I place an Amazon order. (You can get the brush I use for about $9 here.) Yay! One person converted already!

Dry brushing is simple. Don’t make it too complicated. You get a skin brush, and use long, smooth strokes to brush your nekkid skin pretty much all over, going in towards your heart with each stroke.

That said, you need the right brush. These things run $5 – $15 depending on how fancy you get, so this is not a bank-breaking investment, particularly if you compare a dry brush to the cost of a tube of almost-certainly-useless cellulite goo.

What To Look For In A Dry Skin Brush

  • Natural bristles that are stiff but supple enough to not scratch skin. No plastic brushes!
  • A shape that fits easily in the palm of your hand. This will give you the most control over your brushing.
  • A removable handle for brushing the back or a second brush with a long handle if you plan on brushing your back.
  • I’ve been super happy with the Yerba Prima Brush I use.

How To Dry Brush Your Whole Body

Use long, smooth brush strokes. Start with your lower body. I find it’s easiest to prop the leg I’m dry brushing up on my bathtub or a step stool. Brush your feet, working back towards your core. I usually give my ankles and the soles of my feet a little extra buffing. I circle one calf, brushing each area several times, then buff my knees and dry brush up my thighs to my hip. I swap legs and repeat on the second leg.

Next I brush my arms, starting at the hands and brushing up towards my shoulders. I give my elbows a little extra love and continue on to brush the back and upper back as part of doing my arms.

Finally I tackle the torso. I start at my back, brush up my tush (no harm hitting this area twice, I figure) and toward my lower back. At this point I reach around my rib cage and brush following the lines of my ribs toward my front.

On my front, I start on each side and brush from hip, up my obliques, to the armpit. Then I brush my stomach from my left oblique to my right, stopping at the bra line. Sometimes I then brush from the front of my shoulders down and in towards the heart, over the décolletage. Since the skin in this area is quite delicate I’m very gentle.

Some dry brushers recommend that you brush the stomach area only in a clockwise motion to follow the directionality of your digestion. That might be a better way to do it, but I’ve been happy keeping all my strokes long and smooth.

Things To Keep In Mind

Brush skin while it is dry. In the morning before a shower is ideal. If you are new to dry brushing, a lot of dead skin may come off your body. You might want to brush in the shower (water off) to contain some of that skin dust.

Your dry brush should stay dry too – it’s not meant to hang around in your shower getting mildewy. Periodically clean your brush with a teeny bit of mild shampoo or liquid soap. Wash the brush and bristles well, then blot as much water out of the brush as you can onto a clean towel. Hang or prop up the brush to dry completely. Keep it away from standing water.

Tougher parts of your body, like your legs and feet, can be brushed more firmly. Delicate areas like the inner thigh, neck and décolletage should be brushed very gently, if at all. The skin of the face is too delicate to brush with a dry body brush. Softer brushes are made for the face.

If you have a cut, abrasion, rash, etc. on your skin, don’t dry brush that area. Use pressure that feels nice to you. Use common sense.

So what about you? Do you dry brush? If not, have I convinced you to give it a try?

Comments

  1. How’s come I feel like a peeping tom reading this?

  2. You have totally convinced me. I am buying the brush and I love your posts. thanks!

  3. Kay Bradley says:

    I’ve been brushing in the shower for years. I have arthritis and it does *wonders* for the pain (doc approved too!).

    One quick question – is clockwise on your torso from the left side to the right, or from the right side to the left? (am I looking down to determine clockwise or exterior POV?)

    Thanks!

    • It actually doesn’t matter which POV you choose. They both end up going the same direction. If you take your left hand and put it on the left side of your abdomen (not crossing the imaginary symmetry line) that’s your descending colon and the part you should brush down. Then you can proceed in a circle from there.

  4. Mary Frances says:

    I’m convinced. I had certainly heard about dry brushing, but had never had it explained so thoroughly (including the benefits) – thanks, Erica! Now I’m off to find a wonderful brush and start. (I definitely going to be creating a cloud of “skin dust” in the [dry] shower stall … hey, does that mean there will be less of “me” to vacuum throughout the house? Yikes!)

  5. After reading this, I had the thought, “I wonder if this would help with keratosis pilaris?” KP can be otherwise known as “chicken skin”, hard little bumps of dry skin (they look like goosebumps) especially on the backs of arms and thighs/calves. Ours is hereditary: my mom has it, I have it, and my 7 year old daughter has it. I googled, and dry brushing gets rave reviews for helping KP! Yay! I’m off to buy a couple brushes! Thanks, Erica!

  6. I’ve done this before but fell out of the habit–you’ve inspired me to start up again. I agree, baby soft skin.

  7. Converted! Thanks!

  8. My naturopath had me start doing this as part of an anti-inflammatory regimen to reduce my migraines. I have to admit at first I thought, that’s crazy, but then I read about its cellulite reducing properties and I was like, SOLD! I haven’t really noticed any results in that arena though, unfortunately. She also has me do it at night before bed for some reason. I don’t know think it is the dry brushing alone that worked (I’m also on a fairly strict diet) but I haven’t had a migraine since March.

  9. I cannot get a good tub soak very often as I have loved to do all my life. I have trouble getting out because of back problems, torn meniscus and torn rotator cuff. My skin is getting ashy and I can just scrape it off. For weeks, I have wondered what to do. Now I know. Now, I need a brush! I am converted without trying it.

    My heels are smooth in summer in sandals. When I wear shoes and socks in the winter, I get huge cracks in my heels. Maybe this will fix that problem.

    I use my hands/fingers to slowly and softly rub downward on neck and top of shoulders to “milk the glands” and stop ear and throat infections. So, this all makes sense to me.

  10. I might try this using my home grown loofas. there are certainly lots of posts about the benefits.

  11. I read somewhere that dry brushing children with behavioral issues actually helps them recover. When I did it to myself I felt calmed like a petted kitty. Prrrrrr.

    The brushes… one with a handle and one without… genius! I need to get one with a handle to reach back there. Merci.

    • My son has been going to occupational therapy and dry brushing was suggested as a way to stimulate his brain to get his body more active. It worked.

    • So glad to hear about this; I will advise it to my friends/family with kids having such concerns. I can totally see how this could work for them. Aside from the circulation, I’m sure the one on one attention the child gets from their parent during the process would help emotionally as well. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Rachel Greenfield says:

    I’m sure it’s wonderful for most people, but to me it sounds absolutely terrible. I can barely stand to wear jeans because they’re too scratchy… applying any kind of brush to my skin sounds like the worst idea ever, especially with no soap or lotion to lubricate the thing. I use combs on my hair rather than bristled brushes, I haaaaate brushing my teeth even though I have to do it anyway. Exfoliating with soft soapy cloths is unpleasant.. using a brush on dry skin just seems like a medieval torture device to me LOL. Sensitive skin aside, I have some sensory issues and synesthesia going on so brushes of all kinds are pretty much anathema for me… the less things that are touching me at a given time the better. When I’m brushing the fluffy cat and her bristle brush goes onto my leg, I get this horrid metallic licking-a-9-volt-battery taste in my mouth (don’t ask me how I know this) and an indescribably unpleasant sensation that seems to go deep under my skin. Imagine when your foot falls asleep, then imagine someone tickling you at the same time, but in a kind of painful way like they’re tickling you with needles and bony fingers… that’s what it feels like. Thanks but no thanks Erica, normally your ideas are brilliant, but I’ll pass on this one. My skin hurts just THINKING about doing this to it.

  13. This is such a great post. I was just reading about dry brushing for lymphatic drainage. I think I’ll be hopping on the dry brush train as well! Thanks for this!

    Hilary x thehealthycollective.com

  14. Well – I’d like to tell Mr. Money Mustache that I’d never feel the urge to impulse buy something… but I reallllllly want one. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I just got a face brush and a body brush for $12… that’s what happens on late Sunday nights. I was told by a dermatologist that my face needed much more exfoliating (and I had just used my scrub the night before!), so I’ve been meaning to try it anyway.

  15. hooray! I have been neglecting researching this for some time and you made it easy for me to get started! I have read that you shouldn’t ‘share’ brushes, and that everyone should have their own brush for dry brushing. any thoughts?

  16. Great post – I’m in. I use a loofah in the shower and have great skin, but I’d love for cellulite to go away. Might have to blog about this as a thrifty way to stay healthy and smooth ;) I’ll link over to you.

  17. PennyLea Mackie says:

    You can take dry brushing to the next level by following it with hydro-therapy in the shower…alternate hot and cold water for about a minute each for 3-5 rounds and I SWEAR I come out feeling like superwoman! I then use a wee bit of coconut oil where needed, including what I’ve switched to using on my face instead of facial moisturizers, and it has changed the entire texture of my skin. Pores are no longer large…my skin looks like it did when I was thirty years younger.
    So, the whole dry brush/hydro therapy regimen has helped me to quit coffee (no easy feat at 60). I still think fondly of coffee, but coming out of the shower feeling like superwoman has been life-altering. And…there is no dogma in the Church of Drybrushing!

  18. I am a bacon fat convert for my face so I figured this was worth a try, love it! It’s invigorating — that alone will keep me hooked. Thank you Erica!

  19. Erica, I found your website while looking for canning recipes…SO glad I found you!

    I’ve heard of dry brushing for a long, long time. Going to try it.

    In my 50′s, and have the orst of both worlds, wrinkles and breakouts. I tried a 50/50 blend of EVOO and castor oil as my night-time facial cleanser. I’m very happy with it…and my DH has noticed, too! Win!

  20. I looked at brushes and thought about this. I cannot stand a makeup brush or putting on lipstick with a brush. Brushes, especially natural bristle brushes, make me itch.So, I decided that a washcloth will do for the “brushing” part. I am going to take a ruler to attach a washcloth to do what I cannot reach. I can whip the washcloth on with a needle and thread, and I can take it off each day to use a fresh washcloth. I know it will work. But, you gave me the germ of the idea.

    My nurse friend approved the soft finger work I do from jaw and ear to my collar bone. So, it is an approved method of clearing out whatever from glands. She is the one who told me I was called milking the glands. I had never heard of it, but it seemed natural. So, we mortals who have not studied medicine often hit upon something that works and find out that it is a protocol after all.

  21. susan in alaska says:

    living in Alaska I’m up for anything that helps with the dry skin. I didn’t want to wait for an amazon order so I picked up a brush with a long removable handle at Fred Meyer and gave it a go this morning. I wasn’t sure how it would be since loofas and scrubs usually irritate my skin and make me itchy but so far so good! I used some satsuma oil from the Body Shop after my shower and haven’t been itchy all day! yay! :)

  22. Thanks for the great write up on dry brushing. I posted your link to my business facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pinksharlene, to share with my customers. I’m a consultant with Pink Papaya providing in home spa and beauty products. We have a dry brush and I’ve never really talked about it much. But that will change now! Thanks so much! :)

  23. The results in the before and after photo really speaks for itself. Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to try this.

  24. I’ve had a dry brush for a few years. I was really into a few years ago, but it’s fallen to the back of my drawer. I might have to pull it out. I’ve been having problems with dryness, but most of my showers are after workouts. I might have to try the drybrush/coconut oil method you mentioned in the post.

    Thanks!

  25. Men’s approach to skincare should be quick and easy to follow. I prefer the Garnier Man Blog for Skin care tips

  26. OK, you just kept sending me up dates, so I bought the darn thing. I came back here to learn how to use it. I read this,” Brush your feet, working back towards your core.” Is a “core” something only women have, or do I have on also?
    Is it not sad that old farts like me have nothing better to do but to “dry brush” my skin?

    • Hi john: The core is in reference to the centre of your body; or your heart region. Just start from your extremities and work your way in. Always stroke towards the direction of your heart as well (but try to do semi-circular motions as well; not just straight lines). Hope this helps.

  27. Kirsten McCulloch says:

    Wow, you have actually sold me on dry brushing! Which is impressive as my general beauty routine involves splashing some water on my face under the shower, and *maybe* brushing my hair (unless I wash it, when I comb it right through). But as good as coffee? That I’d like to see!

  28. OK, I have used this brush a few times. I’m not superman, and I still need my morning coffee, but I am very much aware of the feeling of my skin. I hope this is good.

  29. GayLee Kilpatrick says:

    Now that you have been dry brushing for a while, do you feel like the cellulite improvement is real? I like what the dry brushing does for my dry skin (big win there), but after 4-6 weeks of brushing, I haven’t seen any change in my cellulite patterns.

  30. I’ve been using your dry brushing techniques, with my homemade lotion, to battle the loose skin during weight loss. I blogged about it here http://bit.ly/1gGsppX today. I linked to your site and your dry brushing page. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  31. I have recently started this and am pretty psyched! Dumb q though…I’m only really worried about my legs/butt…do I have to do the whole body to get useful results?

  32. NOTE TO ALL: You can totally trust this post! I am a 44 y/o male wh0 has been brushing my body and face since I was 30. It feels strange at first, but you soon get hooked, and then you can’t live without it! It really is like having a coffee (from the outside), and you feel like you’ve been massaged afterword, but without the post-massage lethargy. Aside from having amazing skin, I often get taken for being in my late 20′s – sometimes early 20′s if the light is right ;) night clubs, mostly (hehe). Along with regular exercise and no smoking, rare alcohol consumption, and lots of water; brushing is largely responsible for my youthful skin tone and texture. Without sounding like an ego-maniac, nobody I know near my age; friends or family, has the kind of skin I do or looks as healthy. My goal was only to take care of my health, but I’m happy with the esthetic results, too. Hey; nothing wrong with lookin’ your best, right!? Best of all; ZERO chemicals. No peels or AHA ever, and just the cheapest, simplest moisturizer. And, at the risk of sounding anything less than a gentleman, it actually makes your body more sensitive and responsive during “intimate” relations. In short, there’s absolutely every reason to get into this…AS OF YESTERDAY!

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