Celebs and models like Miranda Kerr and Molly Sims swear that dry brushing is the secret to super soft and smooth skin. Dermatologists aren’t so excited.
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is exactly what the name describes: scrubbing your body from neck to toe with a bristled brush right before a shower. It’s supposed to exfoliate and act like a mini-massage that detoxifies and drains the lympathic system. Supposedly it fights cellulite and lifts and tones the area.
Can dry brushing really do all that?
Yes, dry brushing can exfoliate. The bristles will help slough off any rough spots like knees, elbows and feet. It’s also great for areas that we miss when we’re rushing through a shower: the back, inner arms, and the backs of our legs.
These areas are what dry brushing supports call “stagnant areas”. Since most of us sit in front of a computer the whole day, we don’t really get good blood circulation in our outer limbs. Toxins can accumulate and skin cells don’t get their full daily delivery of oxygen and nutrients.
Can dry brushing detoxify the skin?
Yes and no. it works a lot like a massage: the pressure can help move lymph fluid into the lymph nodes – basically, the way that your body naturally gets rid of toxins, but you’re giving it a little boost.
But dermatologists say that this “body detox” isn’t going to magically erase any skin issues that come from a really bad diet and lifestyle. It just complements your other skin habits. Eat smart, apply a good lotion so your skin cells are healthier, use a good sunscreen so you don’t get UVA and UVB damage. These will do a great more for your skin than a daily dry brush. In the end, it’s more of a beauty bonus than a big cure-all.
Can dry brushing erase cellulite?
Sorry, but dermatologists say no. Any effects are temporary. The skin plumps up and swells, but the fatty deposits are still there. So go ahead and dry brush if you just want a quick fix before you wear your bikini – but like Cinderella, the magic ends at midnight. If you really want them to disappear go for an aesthetic treatment. (Find cellulite treatments on our sister site, Aesthetics & Beauty)
What’s the right way to dry brush?
Movement matters. Start at your feet and brush upwards – legs, thighs, torso, back and then your chest. Focus on areas like the inner thigh and the backs of the arms. All this should take about two minutes.
Don’t do this every day, because you’ll irritate the skin. Follow the same rule you do for exfoliating your face: twice or thrice a week, and even less if you start to see dryness and irritation.
Should I dry brush even if I have sensitive skin?
No. Dermatologists discourage dry brushing if you have sensitive skin, skin allergies or reactions, or conditions like eczema, skip dry brushing. Your skin has a compromised skin barrier and needs extra gentle and more moisturizing and nourishing.
Instead of dry brushing, massage your skin with a body oil and slough off dead skin cells with a chemical exfoliant. Look for ingredients like salicylic acid and alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA). If you have very sensitive skin go for the milder lactic acid.
How do I prevent skin reactions?
Take inspiration from spas! They always follow up dry brushing with hydrating creams and body oils. So after your shower, immediately lock in moisture with a body lotion with a rich formula. The good news is that the nutrients will penetrate deeper. Dry brushing opens pores and gets rid of dry flaky skin that can stop bodycare products from being absorbed.
Bottom line: is dry brushing worth the time and effort?
It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re just after exfoliation, body scrubs can do the same job. If you’re after cellulite control, aesthetic treatments will give more dramatic and long-lasting results.
But if you want a relaxing treatment that leaves your skin feeling smooth and tingly, then go for it. Dry brushing can be your beauty escape. It’s really cheap to do (you can buy the brush anywhere!) and you can squeeze it into your routine whenever you want to.