Dry brushing involves using a dry, stiff-bristled brush on the skin as a form of mechanical stimulation. Dating back to ancient times in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, this massage technique purportedly offered various skin health benefits, including exfoliation and potentially reducing cellulite. Discovering and deciding whether to incorporate this practice into your skincare routine could be worthwhile.
On today's agenda:
Fact or myth: exploring the benefits of dry brushing
Soft and glowing skin: steps to dry brushing your body and face
Effective dry brushing: additional tips to reach results
Precautions you should know: potential side effects of dry brushing
Benefits of dry brushing
There is no direct scientific evidence to prove the benefits of dry brushing. However, some anecdotal research studies suggest possible advantages.
Exfoliating. Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin buildup and stimulating cell turnover. Dry brushing serves as a mechanical form of exfoliation, with the brush's bristles physically removing dead skin cells while enhancing the skin's texture and tone.
Improved lymphatic drainage. Dry brushing is a practice resembling lymphatic drainage massage. The pattern of movement when brushing through the skin involves circular motions. The superficial movements stretch the skin and enhance lymphatic flow.
Increased blood flow. The mechanical pressure points during massage therapy promote an increase in blood flow. A 2020 study revealed that massage therapy not only increased blood flow in the treated leg but also in the surrounding areas. Similarly, dry brushing, as a mechanical agent, stimulates the skin and may also enhance blood flow.
Does dry brushing manage cellulite?
Another benefit revolves around the idea that dry brushing may address cellulite. Although this potential benefit has no scientific support, it may temporarily plump the skin due to its massaging techniques.
Research suggests deep massages break up fat cells, improve lymph drainage, and enhance collagen production, resulting in a thicker skin layer and a decrease in cellulite appearance. In one study researchers divided 60 women into three groups to receive non-invasive massage treatment methods to manage cellulite. The researchers found that all groups showed improvement in subcutaneous fat reduction after treatment.
Choosing the right brush
Before starting the technique, the first step is to select a brush. Generally, you want a shower or stiff-bristled brush with natural fibers and firm bristles. Avoid selecting plastic or synthetic brushes. You can also opt for a small brush to dry brush around the face, but make sure the bristles are made up of soft natural fibers that are gentle enough for facial skin.
Steps to dry brushing your body
Apply light pressure on thin skin and moderate pressure on thicker skin. The strokes should be in a clockwise circular motion, moving from feet and other body parts upwards. Focus on each area for 30 seconds.
Now let's go through the motion step by step.
Begin with your feet and move up toward your legs and buttocks in circular motions.
Continue with circular motions around the abdomen and back.
Continue around the chest. Avoid sensitive areas like the breasts and nipples.
Finish in upward circular motions focusing on your arms and shoulders.
After you finish body brushing, take a cool shower to clean your skin. Avoid using hot water, as it can dry out your skin. Apply a lotion at the end.
Can you use dry brushing on your face?
You can use dry brushing on your face. However, while it is effective as an exfoliation method, its additional benefits have yet to be scientifically supported.
Always use the technique on clean and dry skin before applying any oils or lotions. It's best to start at the top of the forehead and move down toward the heart.
Start at the forehead, moving the brush in circular motions.
Guide the brush downward from the cheeks to the chin while continuing circular motions.
Brush under the chin to guide the fluid down the neck toward the collarbone.
After face brushing wash your face with cool water. Follow with moisturizer and sunscreen. Avoid using harsh chemicals as they could irritate the skin.
Additional tips for dry brushing
Here are some additional tips to guide you as you embark on your journey with dry brushing and incorporate it into your skincare routine:
- The best time to dry brush is before showering. You can dry brush in the bathtub to avoid flaky skin from landing on your bathroom floor.
- Dry brushing could take 2–5 minutes. How often you exfoliate will depend on your skin type. Since dry brushing can be harsh on the skin, you should use it once or twice a week.
- Clean your brush to help decrease the chances of infection. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to clean your brush. If instructions are unavailable, after using your brush, wash with gentle soap, rinse, and allow it to air dry. Avoid leaving it in damp areas.
- Individual results may vary. It is difficult to guarantee when you will see results from dry brushing as there is a lack of scientific evidence. However, if you remain consistent with your routine and dedicate a few days a week, you may notice changes in your skin after two weeks.
Side effects and risks when dry brushing
Dry brushing is a stronger form of mechanical exfoliation, so potential side effects may include acne breakouts, flaky and itchy skin, or redness and irritation.
Furthermore, dry brushing is not suitable for all skin types. Individuals with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin may find using a mechanical exfoliator too irritating. This caution also extends to those with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, who should consult their physician before attempting dry brushing.
Additionally, individuals with darker skin tones or who are prone to hyperpigmentation could risk developing more dark spots from dry brushing. Avoid dry brushing on areas of the skin with sores, open wounds, and rashes.
Ultimately, the decision to integrate dry brushing into your skincare routine is a personal one, influenced by your skin type and preferences. While dry brushing lacks direct scientific evidence to support its benefits, it remains an accessible, efficient, and relaxing practice that can promote skin health.
Does dry brushing help cellulite?
There are no proven studies that support dry brushing to reduce cellulite. Some anecdotal research suggests massage techniques break up fat cells, promote lymph drainage, and enhance collagen production. Because of its massaging techniques, dry brushing may temporarily plump the skin, reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Should I moisturize after dry brushing?
Yes. After showering, dry your skin and apply a thick moisturizer to restore moisture. If you go out, apply sunscreen as well. Skip using serums containing harsh chemicals or acids, as these could irritate the skin.
How long does dry brushing take to see results?
Since no formal studies on dry brushing skin exist, it is hard to say when the results are guaranteed. However, if you remain consistent with your technique, you might notice results within two weeks.
Dry brushing is a technique you can use on the face and body.
Anecdotal research studies have suggested the potential advantages of dry brushing, including exfoliating, stimulating lymph drainage, improving blood flow, and temporarily plumping the skin.
Skin improvements could appear within two weeks with consistent use of dry brushing.
Dry brushing is not suitable for all skin types.
Dry brushing is a stronger form of mechanical exfoliation with potential side effects, such as acne breakouts, dryness, redness, and irritation.
- Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice. Kanpumasatsu: a superficial self-massage with a dry towel to enhance relaxation and immune functions.
- Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open. Skincare bootcamp: the evolving role of skincare.
- Journal of Applied Physiology. Lower limb massage in humans increases local perfusion and impacts systemic hemodynamics.
- Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology. Effects of mechanical massage, manual lymphatic drainage and connective tissue manipulation techniques on fat mass in women with cellulite.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to exfoliate at home.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin.