How Dry Brushing Can [+ Can’t!] Help Your Skin

Dry brushing is an ayurvedic practice called garshana [learn more about ayurvedic on a CHAARG podcast episode here] + is the process of using a brush with stiff bristles against the skin to help exfoliate dead cells from the surface + enhance blood flow. The “dry” aspect comes from the brush + your skin being dry when using. Dry brushing vs. using a loofah in the shower differs as blood can circulate without getting robbed of moisture that hot water can do — this is also why you shouldn’t do your face wash in the shower [who knew!?].

Did you know — one-third of your body’s toxins are excreted through the skin? Dry brushing can help unclog pores that become trapped under the skin. It can also be great for dry, brittle winter skin, but it’s definitely not the *miracle* product some claim it to be. Here are some of the real benefits to this ancient healing practice —

EXFOLIATION

There’s no denying dry brushing has exfoliating benefits. NYC dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D explains, “When you exfoliate on dry skin, the friction is increased as opposed to when the skin is wet. The more friction is increased, the more exfoliation is effective.”

ENHANCING SKIN’S APPEARANCE 

While there’s some debate on the claims people have made about dry brushing, some users reported brighter + tighter skin. In general, rubbing the skin [whether with a dry brush // applicator // even your hand] will increase blood flow. Whether or not dry brushing has any real benefit in increasing blood flow even after brushing isn’t known.

UNCLOGGING PORES

As with any exfoliator, dry brushing helps to unclog pores + in turn, helps your skin to absorb more nutrients. If you apply moisturizer constantly but still deal with dry skin, try using a dry brush or exfoliator to prepare your skin for the moisturizer.

One benefit that is often talked about but hasn’t been proven is the increasing drainage of lymphatic fluids. Dermatologist Joshua Zeichner M.D says, “Dry brushing is used on the surface of the skin + your lymphatic vessels are deep under the skin surface. So, there’s not any good data showing that a treatment like dry brushing is truly effective for lymphatic drainage.”

HOW TO DRY BRUSH

Above all, be gentle! Dermatologists say you don’t need much pressure to benefit from dry brushing. Those with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or excessively dry skin should refrain from dry brushing as this exfoliating can aggravate these conditions. On the other hand, people with keratosis pilaris [KP] might find the exfoliation of dry brushing to be effective [though this isn’t a proven claim].

Some words of caution — do not brush over skin that is sunburnt, broken [cuts, scrapes, sores] or shows signs of infection. It’s also not recommended to use the brush on your face as it can do more harm than good with this delicate area. We recommend using a medium-firm [plant-based brush] with a long stick to reach all over the body, but a hand-shaped one is good as well! Look for natural [non-synthetic] ones as well — the environment + your skin will thank you ; )

#1] Get in the shower // bath. Being in the tub helps to catch the falling skin [gross, but good].
#2] Starting at your feet, move in long motions towards your heart — upper left of your body
#3] Using long, sweeping motions, brush the same spot a few times, then move on to the next spot — overlapping is okay too!
#4] Work your way up your body, don’t forget your hands + back!
#5] Shower as usual with the exception of refraining from using a loofah — your skin is already exfoliated!
#6] After drying off, lather your body in moisturizer + feel your fresh + smooth skin.
#7] To clean your brush, use soap + water [I use my body wash!] after use + leave to dry in a clean, sunny spot.

Be careful around more sensitive areas such as your chest, stomach, + breasts — with these, you can move in circular motions to relieve some of the pressure. Like with any exfoliating regime, you should refrain from dry brushing too much! Most dermatologists recommend brushing 1-2 times a week at most, with some even saying 1-2 times a month is good enough! Brushing too harshly or too often can cause micro-cuts in the skin, causing irritation and dryness.

Use your time dry brushing as a part of your self-care + shower routine! Play some music, think of it as a massage + use it to start the power of your shower.

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