You may or may not be familiar with dry brushing, which is technique used for lymphatic drainage that is increasingly going mainstream. As its name indicates it involves brushing the skin with a dry brush, which isn’t particularly pleasant. It doesn’t hurt per se, but especially for those of us with sensitive skin, it can irritate. The benefits outweigh the “pain,” however, in my opinion and it’s one of the best and cheapest things you can do to energize your body and help sculpt your legs (most brushes go for $15 or less). To find out more about what is actually involved and the benefits I interviewed massage therapists and experts who work with two leading brands for dry brushes: Rosena (this is a good option if you’ve never dry brushed or have very sensitive skin) and Zen Me Naturals (this is the brand Elle Macpherson says she uses).
What, in your opinion, are the benefits of dry brushing?
“Dry brushing has a lot of great benefits that mainly stem from stimulating the lymphatic system and promoting circulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating metabolic and cellular wastes and toxins that accumulate in the body. This is why it’s very important to have good lymphatic flow and dry brushing the skin aside from moving the body can be a great way to support better lymph flow and thereby help the body remove toxins through the kidneys.
It also enhances skin health by removing old and dead skin cells allowing the skin to ‘breathe’ better. The skin is considered our 3rd kidney and a very important elimination organ and, of course, a healthier skin also means a more youthful and beautiful skin. Improving cellulite is another benefit, which again is due to stimulating the lymphatic system and helping remove toxins and wastes embedded under the skin causing the appearance of dimples and bumps called cellulite. Better overall circulation, which can result in improved digestion, kidney function and overall organ function is another benefit. Lastly, it work to stimulate the nervous system especially brushing your hands and feet since there are nerve endings. This can even help to energize in the morning and replace coffee or other stimulants,” says Claudia Seifert of Zen Me Naturals.
How would you recommend going about dry brushing?
“The most important thing to remember when beginning to dry brush is to choose a suitable brush. It should be made of natural bristles, be soft enough and feel comfortable on the skin. Most recommend a boar bristle brush as that will have the right texture, but if you’re vegan, you should consider synthetic bristles,” says message therapist Olivia of Rosena. Here’s how she recommends dry brushing:
Claudia adds that you should brush in an upward direction for about seven repetitions on each area and that it’s important to not brush back and forth. Each session should last 3-5 minutes.
How long should you spend/how many days a week?
“Dry brushing can be done daily over the whole body. You can dry brush at any time of day, but I recommend doing it right before you shower because you want to help your skin breathe by washing those dead skin cells away that are still laying in your body. If you have ultra-sensitive skin, try dry brushing once every couple of weeks. If you build up a tolerance to it, then transition to one to two times a week,” says Olivia.
What would you say to people who are worried about it being “painful”?
“We all have different skin types. If you are new to dry brushing it might hurt at the beginning. Some have more sensitive skin than others do and for them, brushing can feel like a thousand needles scratching the skin, while tough-skinned don’t feel the bristles at all.
Natural boar bristles are definitely the best and most effective for brushing the skin, but shorter the bristles are, the stiffer it will become. If you are having sensitive skin, you would probably search for longer bristles. For non-sensitive skin, then you’d like to have shorter bristles. It’s always important to feel and listen to your own body.
Start dry brushing with soft pressure. Gradually, your skin will get used to it and after that, you can increase the intensity based on how you feel. Avoid sensitive areas, don’t use overly firm bristles, and stop if bothersome symptoms occur. If it hurts at all, use less pressure! Over time, you can increase the pressure. If the boar bristle brushes are still too rough, you might want to try synthetic bristles that are extra soft for skin. They might not provide as good results as boar bristles do, but that’s a good way to start practicing dry brushing and slowly increase the firmness of brush to achieve all these amazing benefits that dry brushing provides us.
Our smaller brush have these massage nodules and we have specially developed them to be softer than other similar brushes. Combined with our bristles, they provide wonderful massage and comfort at same time and it’s perfect also for beginners,” says Olivia.