Just like brushing teeth, brushing skin should also be a part of our daily routine. It is even more important to brush the skin when it is dry rather than scrubbing down it in the shower. Just visit your nearby spa and you will likely find ‘dry brushing’ as one of their offerings. The practice has become quite a rage now for supposedly doing everything from exfoliating the skin to reducing body weight. Here, we will give you the low-down on dry brushing for weight loss. But before we dig into it, let us talk about how dry brushing works, what it offers, and how to dry brush your skin the right way.
What is Dry Skin Brushing?
Dry skin brushing is one of the easiest and simplest ways to pamper the skin and improve its health, which again helps in enhancing our overall health and well-being. Dry brushing is basically an Ayurvedic practice that has been around for centuries. It has also been practiced by many other cultures like Greeks and Japanese since ancient times. Dry brushing involves massaging the body from toe to head by scrubbing down the dry skin with the help of a dry, rough, and firm-bristled brush. Although it might sound a bit awkward, it is believed to help us by exfoliating, detoxifying, breaking down cellulite, and shedding additional pounds to some extent. Being a relaxing yet stimulating indulgence, dry brushing is offered as a part of different spa treatment packages. It can also be practiced as a luxurious DIY treatment to leave the skin feeling clean, soft, and smooth. (1)
Dry brushing is called ‘dry’ because both the skin and the brush remain dry throughout the procedure. But some people may feel uncomfortable about it and apply a little amount of body oil to the brush prior to using it for the massage.
Benefits of Dry Brushing
There is a lack of formal studies as well as scientific evidence to support the effects of dry brushing on the skin or body systems. But based on the anecdotal data, experts concluded the ritual to have the following potential benefits (2):
1. Exfoliates the Skin
The mechanical action of dry brushing helps the skin look softer, smoother, and healthier by exfoliating dead cells from its surface layer. Though it acts just like any other body scrub, being a dry procedure, it sweeps away flaky skin without stealing its natural moisture content.
2. Unclogs Skin Pores
Dry brushing helps in exfoliating the skin manually, which also opens up the clogged pores in it. This removes all sorts of dirt, dust, grime, excess sebum, dead cells, etc. from the pores and lets the skin breathe.
3. Stimulates Blood Flow
You can trigger the flow of oxygenated blood to your skin cells by dry brushing the skin thoroughly. This improves the overall circulation of blood throughout the body as well as delivers essential nutrients to the cells, thus leaving the skin healthy and glowing.
4. Boosts the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system in our body helps in keeping infections away by strengthening immunity. When you dry brush your skin, it gets stimulated and the flow of lymph becomes normal, activates all detoxifying organs in the body too. However, the procedure is not as effective as manual lymphatic drainage massage. (3)
5. Eliminates Toxins
As dry brushing opens up skin pores and triggers the lymphatic system, all the detoxifying organs in the body get activated. This speeds up the release of ‘stagnant toxins’ from the body and prevents premature breakdown of connective tissues.
6. Improves Digestion
Dry brushing leads to the removal of toxins from the body, which may optimize the functionality of the digestive system. It is also believed that dry brushing the stomach gently helps in aiding digestion by alleviating the problem of mild constipation.
7. Rejuvenates the Skin
Exfoliation, pore-unclogging, increased blood circulation, better lymph flow, and detoxification – all these cumulatively help in rejuvenating the skin thoroughly. Consequently, you get a fresh, smooth, and polished look.
8. Delays Aging
Dry brushing sloughs off dead cells from the outermost layer of the skin and accelerates cell regeneration at the same time. This softens the signs of aging and prevents their further appearance by creating a youthful look. It also helps in toning the muscles and tightening the skin.
9. Promotes Weight Loss
Experts say that dry brushing may turn out to be a natural and safe way to give your weight loss efforts a significant boost. How? We will discuss it in the next section.
10. Reduces Cellulite
While there is no scientific evidence to confirm that dry brushing reduces the appearance of cellulite, it may give you a temporary fix for the issue by creating massage-like effects (4). It increases blood circulation all over the body and plumps up the skin to make the ‘cottage cheese’ appearance of cellulite look less obvious.
11. Relaxes and Energizes
If you indulge in the practice of self-care through dry brushing, you will feel completely relaxed and highly energized. It enhances blood flow and stimulates the nervous system to make you feel good, de-stressed, and invigorated after the session.
How Does Dry Brushing Help Weight Loss?
Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It detoxifies one-quarter of the body each day and dry brushing helps it in doing its job in a far better way. This eventually facilitates cellulite reduction and promotes weight loss. Let’s delve deeper into it:
- Dry brushing works just like a body massage in which light pressure is put against the skin in a particular direction. It boosts surface circulation on the skin and delivers oxygenated blood to the organs so that they can do their jobs more effectively and support internal detoxification. (5)
- It also helps in stimulating the lymphatic system, which consists of a series of lymphatic ducts, draining into the vascular system right above the heart from the tissues. Usually, dry brushing toward the heart makes it easier for the lymph fluid to flow through the lymph nodes and discharge all the metabolic wastes and accumulated toxins properly from the body. (6)
Both of these encourage help in developing a healthier and stronger immune system, which makes weight loss easier and faster.
Dry brushing alone cannot promote weight loss. You should not replace your weight loss diet and exercise routine with it.
How to Choose the Right Brush?
Choosing the right supplies is important to put just the right amount of pressure on the skin and make the most of a dry brushing session at home. Make sure that you keep the following points in mind while purchasing the right brush from any of your local health food stores:
- Pick a bath/shower brush with coarse, firm, natural fiber bristles (made of jute, sisal, or cactus fibers)
- A long handle will help you reach all those hard-to-reach parts at the back
- Using a loofah gloves brush with a removable handle will also do
- You can also go for dry brushing kits but they are a little expensive
- Stay away from brushes with super stiff, hard bristles that abrade the skin or cause red marks on it
Keeping the body brush clean and well-maintained is essential. Rinse it after each use and at least once every week. Wash its bristles with a mild soap and plain water, and let it completely dry in an open, sunny area to prevent mildew. Otherwise, you can rub the bristles of the brush with rubbing alcohol and a damp cloth occasionally in order to sanitize it.
How to Dry Brush the Skin?
It is said that if practiced regularly in the correct way for 3 consecutive months, dry brushing can aid in weight loss. If you learn the technique followed in most of the spas, you can do it yourself effortlessly. So, here is the method for dry skin brushing for you:
- Begin at the soles of your feet and brush all the way up the legs (always opt for one at a time), butt and waist. It will support the pathway of the lymphatic system of your body the most positive way. You can either use long uniform sweeping strokes or move the brush in brisk circular, clockwise motions.
- Now, slowly move up your torso and abdomen brushing towards the heart in a circular, counter-clockwise motion. Move the brush the same way across your chest area.
- Then, reach your fingers and work up your arms towards your armpits. Brush your shoulders and neck slowly but steadily towards the collar bones.
- Once you are done with the brushing, take a shower with fresh cold water to get rid of all dry skin cells. Pat it dry.
- Finally, massage your skin nicely with natural moisturizing oils like olive oil, almond oil, or coconut oil.
Time for Dry Brushing
As it is ‘dry brushing’, you can not do it in the shower or use a wet brush in anyway. So, do it any time of the day, when your skin is completely dry, as per your preference. However, being a process of stimulating and energizing the entire body, it is recommended to be done in the morning right before having the shower. Each session should, ideally, continue for 5 to 10 minutes. Also, practice it every single day for the best possible results.
Tips and Tricks for Dry Brushing
And now, here are some extremely useful tips and tricks that will help you dry brush your skin perfectly:
- Start with gentle and light brushing and increase the pressure gradually as your skin becomes used to it.
- Always move the brush toward the heart as it facilitates the drainage of lymph.
- Use only a couple of strokes for a particular area of your body to avoid irritations.
- Apply light pressure to the areas of your body where the skin is thin and vice versa.
- Do not brush sensitive areas, such as broken skin, cuts, wounds, rashes, bruises, infections, and so forth.
Risks of Dry Brushing
Though dry brushing is known to be a very safe practice, it should not be started without knowing about the associated risks. We have listed them below:
- Using too hard brush, being aggressive, or practicing it too many times a day may lead to dry and/or irritated skin.
- People with sensitive skin may experience redness, stinging or burning sensation, or abrasion on the skin after the procedure.
- Dry brushing the skin in the wrong direction (away from the heart) may cause or worsen varicose veins.
- It is not suitable for people with sunburns, eczema, psoriasis, etc. and may cause adverse effects by worsening the conditions.
Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic practice that involves massaging the body from toe to head by scrubbing down the dry skin with the help of a dry, rough, and firm-bristled brush. It is called ‘dry’ because both the skin and the brush remain dry throughout the procedure. The procedure is a relaxing yet stimulating indulgence, which helps in enhancing our overall health and well-being. It exfoliates the skin, unclogs skin pores, stimulates blood flow, boosts the lymphatic system, eliminates toxins, improves digestion, rejuvenates the skin, delays aging, reduces cellulite, and relaxes the body. As it detoxifies one-quarter of the body each day through improved blood circulation and stimulates lymphatic functions, our immunity becomes stronger and we lose weight faster. However, it alone cannot promote weight loss and you should not replace your weight loss diet and exercise routine with it. You need to pick a brush with coarse, firm, natural fiber bristles and a long handle and practice dry brushing regularly in the correct way for 3 consecutive months to promote weight loss. Do it in the morning for 5 to 10 minutes right before having the shower. Be gentle, follow the right direction, and avoid sensitive areas of the skin while dry brushing your skin. You should also know about the risks associated with the practice before including it in your daily routine.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Dry Brush Twice a Day?
Dry brushing twice a day is not at all recommended as it may damage the skin in many ways. Rather, limit it to one session every day or 2-3 sessions a week.
Do I Have to Shower after Dry Brushing?
Having a shower after dry brushing allows you to get rid of all dead cells and flaky skin the right way. Hence, it is preferred by experts.
Should You Dry Brush Your Face?
Facial skin is delicate and sensitive. Hence, dry brushing may damage its protective barrier and cause adverse effects by over exfoliating.
Does Dry Brushing Help Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs?
Yes, dry brushing exfoliates the skin beautifully and removes ingrown hairs. It also prevents the further development and growth of ingrown hairs effectively.
Can You Dry Brush with a Loofah?
Yes, using a loofah for dry brushing is exclusively helpful for beginners. However, it does not give access to the hard-to-reach areas at the back.
- “Dry Brushing the Skin“, VeryWellHealth.com
- “The Benefits and Risks of Dry Brushing“, Healthline.com
- “Manual Lymphatic Drainage: Exploring the History and Evidence Base“, MAGOnlineLibrary.com
- “Cellulite and Its Treatment“, OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com
- “The Dirt on Dry Brushing“, Shape.com
- “Slough It Off: Ayurvedic Body Scrubs for Radiant Skin“, YogaJournal.com