Although dry brushing has gained momentum in beauty and wellness circles over the past several years, the practice is nothing new. In fact, dry brushing dates back thousands of years, all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Cleopatra herself is rumored to have implemented dry brushing as part of her extensive beauty routine. Ancient Roman, Chinese, and Indian cultures also had their own methods of dry brushing.
To put it simply, dry brushing is the practice of using a coarse bristled brush to exfoliate your skin and invigorate your body. It sounds so easy, and it is. So what’s all the hype about? People love dry brushing because it’s a beauty routine and a wellness routine rolled into one. In addition to improving the appearance of your skin, dry brushing also stimulates your body’s flow of blood and lymph, which can have fantastic health benefits. Not to mention it’s affordable and super simple once you have the method down pat.
Evie's product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.
The Benefits of Dry Brushing
Cosmetically speaking, the benefits of dry brushing can be summed up in one word: exfoliation. The firm bristles soften your skin, making it more glowy by gently sloughing away dead skin cells. Additionally, this exfoliation works to unclog your pores, meaning your skin will absorb lotion and oil better.
Some people find that dry brushing reduces the appearance of cellulite. While there’s not much official evidence to back up this claim, I can say from personal experience that I notice less of the dreaded cottage cheese texture on my thighs when I’m consistent with my dry brushing routine. So, hey, it’s worth a shot!
The cosmetic benefits are great – who doesn’t love soft, smooth skin? But the most dramatic benefits of dry brushing actually lie under the surface. Since it stimulates the lymphatic system, dry brushing can aid in detoxing your body, meaning improved function of your digestive system and immune system. Dry brushing also improves your circulation, which is beneficial for every system in your body.
How To Dry Brush
The key to dry brushing is starting with the right tools. Luckily, you really only need one thing: the perfect brush. Look for one that’s made of natural materials – a handle that’s made of wood or bamboo is more sustainable and feels nicer than plastic. Look for soft yet rigid bristles made of stiff plant fibers or animal hair (horse and boar are common). Here are a few of our favorites:
Ideally, dry brushing should be done right before you shower. That way, you can rinse off the dead skin cells that you’ve just sloughed away. But if your routine doesn’t allow for that, don’t fret – there’s really no bad time to get your dry brushing in.
Before you start brushing, stimulate your lymph nodes. Using the pads of your fingers, rhythmically tap the areas around your main lymph nodes, including your groin, underarms, and collarbone. This doesn’t have to take long, maybe 20-30 seconds total. Follow with a few long massage strokes to the area. As tempting as it is to get right into the brushing, don’t skip this step. Waking up your lymph nodes allows for better drainage, which will give you better results.
Now that your lymph nodes are geared up and ready to go, it’s time to start brushing. A common directive you may often hear is to brush toward the heart. While there’s some truth to this advice, what you really want to focus on is brushing toward the lymph nodes. We have lymph nodes located throughout our body, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on those in the groin area, underarms, and near the neck and collarbone.
A common directive is to brush toward the heart, but what you really want to focus on is brushing toward the lymph nodes.
To brush your legs, start closest to the inguinal lymph nodes in your groin, using short, brisk, upward strokes as you travel down your leg toward your feet. Do this all around your legs, front and back.
This is different from many tutorials you’ll find online that suggest starting at the feet, but stay with me. This method is actually going to be more efficient because it won’t create extra congestion in your lymphatic system. Think of it like this: Your lymphatic system is like a highway, and your lymph nodes are the exit where your lymph – or, to stick with the analogy, the car – needs to get off. If you start brushing your lymph from the foot all the way up toward the node, you’re going to create a traffic jam. You need to clear your exit ramp first so that the traffic can flow properly and there aren’t any backups.
Don’t forget your booty! After you’ve done your short, upward strokes working your way down your leg, it’s time to work on your rear. Start again at your groin and work your way back to your backside using those same quick strokes toward the front of your body. Repeat on the other side.
Once you’re finished with your brisk strokes, you can follow with a few longer, sweeping strokes toward your groin. These strokes can start down at feet now if that feels good – you’ve already cleared your exit ramp, so we don’t have to worry about that lymph getting clogged up. The idea here is to clear your lymph still, but those longer strokes feel more soothing and relaxing.
After you’ve completed dry brushing your legs and butt, move up to your torso area. Starting below your belly button, do those same short, quick strokes again toward your groin.
After you’ve gone all the way around your body under your belly button, move to your upper torso. Start at your chest and do your short, brisk strokes up toward your collarbone and underarms, and work your way down to your belly button. Do lighter strokes around your breasts (and skip over your nipples, because ouch).
You’re almost finished. Starting at your underarm, work your way toward your hand using your quick little brushstrokes (by now, you’re likely a pro at these), directing the stroke toward your underarm. Don’t be afraid to change the position of your arm to get the entire surface. Again, you can follow these up with longer, sweeping strokes, just like you did with your legs.
And now you’re done! Hop in the shower and rinse off the dead skin cells you brushed off. Pat your skin dry, apply your favorite body oil, and voila: beautiful, glowing skin from head to toe – and a stimulated lymphatic system to boot! Not sure which body oil to use? Here are some that we love:
Things To Keep in Mind
Don’t even think about using your body brush on your neck and face. I’m a big believer in dry brushing facial skin, but do yourself a favor and invest in a softer, smaller brush specifically designed for your face. Your body brush is way too coarse for your face’s delicate skin.
Don’t dry brush over rashes, open wounds, or sunburns. Just work around those areas, if possible. Additionally, dry brushing is generally safe for all skin types, but if your skin is super sensitive and you notice any persistent redness afterward, it may not be the best regimen for you.
Clean your brush regularly. Once a week is ideal. Just scrub it with a castile soap or other gentle cleanser and leave it bristles down on a towel to dry.
With the right tools and a mindful routine, dry brushing might just be your new favorite beauty and wellness secret. Happy brushing!
Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.