You’ve probably heard celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracee Ellis Ross extolling the benefits of dry body brushing. Those in the know, including well-qualified nutritionists and functional health doctors, seem to love it. Said to offer myriad health and skin benefits–more on which later–I’ve dabbled with a quick dry brush here and there in my time, but never really committed. But, since “dry brushing” is trending on TikTok (with 130.5 million views and counting), I decided to give it a proper try.
What actually is dry brushing?
True to its name, dry brushing involves running a bristled brush over dry skin, most commonly on the body, rather than the face. “It is a powerful Ayurvedic practice that both exfoliates the skin and opens detox pathways to support lymphatic drainage and boost immunity,” says Lauren Berlingeri, co-founder of HigherDose.
A simple pre-shower ritual, it isn’t just used in Ayurvedic medicine to stimulate the skin and the body’s lymphatic system, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine too. It’s a practice that has stood the test of time, which is always a good sign when trying to understand whether a wellness “trend” is really worth its salt.
As well as stimulating lymphatic drainage, which helps to escort toxins out of the body, dry brushing is supposed to be great for removing dead skin cells, boosting circulation and reducing puffiness and water retention. It is also a great way to invigorate body and mind, especially at the start of the day. Some also say it’s great at reducing cellulite, but from my personal research, this seems somewhat unfounded.
How to dry body brush effectively
It’s been a breakout search term on Google Trends in the past 30 days, but what actually is the right way to dry body brush effectively? I was taught to do it as follows: whip the brush lightly in upward strokes towards the heart. I always start at my feet, move my way up, then move to hands and brush inwards towards my chest.
There are different ways of doing it, though: “We always recommend starting at the hands and feet, then stroking upwards with small, circular motions towards the lymph nodes,” explains Berlingeri. “When you do your stomach, brush down towards your groin.” To yield maximum results, she says, brush before working out or hitting the sauna, and aim to spend three to five minutes on it, three times a week.
My experience with dry body brushing
Like I said, I’ve used a dry body brush during episodic health kicks previously, but rarely consistently. What I’ve most noticed since making it (at least) a four-times-a-week thing is that my skin is infinitely less lackluster. It’s an excellent way to quickly slough off the dead skin cells that form a grey veil over what was previously an okay summer tan, and it’s certainly a good way to wake yourself up in the morning.