why i dry brush

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I’ll admit it. I was totally skeptical of dry brushing. Perhaps it was the fact that there seemed to be a cult of dry brushers that had drunk the dry brushing kool-aid. People swore by its magic to transform skin, fight fatigue, detoxify the body, and boost circulation, and I thought it was too good to be true. And then I tried it.
 

My First Experience

I first succumbed to the hype by buying a natural fiber brush for $5 at Whole Foods. It was the middle of winter, my fingers and toes were permanently frozen, and I was willing to try anything to jumpstart my poor circulation. $5 seemed like a minimal investment.

I knew there was a method to it, so I did some googling. The main idea is to brush lightly in small circles, beginning at the feet and moving towards the heart. You’re to mimic the flow of blood and lymph back to the heart. It was ticklish at first, and then as I got the hang of it, I kind of enjoyed the ritual of brushing. I scrubbed places I hadn’t really tended to except for a brief swipe of soap, and my skin felt pleasantly tingly. I hopped in the shower, did my usual lather, and hopped out to dry off. While my skin felt smoother and my body oil absorbed more quickly I was still not convinced of the magical powers of the dry brush. Exfoliation of any kind would have that impact. So the verdict was still out. I liked the immediate effects, but I was hoping for those transformative properties that frankly a good scrub with the washcloth doesn’t possess.

After about two weeks of dry brushing every other night, I started to notice a real change in my skin, my sleep, and my overall energy. It was subtle, but definitely there. My skin, usually a canvas of purple-pink splotches in the winter was now just a little pink. I was sleeping better, and whether it was because I was sleeping better or because of the dry brushing itself, I don’t know, but I loved it.

I now do it 2-3 times a week, right before I shower at night as I not only enjoy the glow-getting effects, but I also look forward to the nightly ritual of it. Some sources suggest doing it for 10 minutes, but I find that a focused 1-2 minutes has positive effects. Quality > quantity, I say. I’ve been rubbing Osmia Organic's Sunset Body Oil on right afterwards, but any body oil, like jojoba oil (which mimics skin's natural sebum) should work. I’m just smitten for the warm and relaxing scent of the Sunset Body Oil and my skin soaks it right up without any greasy residue.

So for any of you are curious about the dry brushing hype, I’ve got a few tips for making the most of it.

TIPS FOR DRY BRUSHING

Dry brush before you shower. Some people do it afterwards, but I feel like the shower rinses away dead skin, leaving a fresh canvas that’s ready to soak up a moisturizing oil.

Use light pressure. For any exfoliation on the body or face, let the product do the work. You can do more harm than good with more force as it can cause more inflammation in the body.

Go slowly. Part of the benefits of dry brushing are the ritual of it. In yoga, you’re taught to focus on the breath to stay in the present moment. Think of focusing on your strokes to keep you in the moment while you dry brush.   

Brush towards the heart. Start at the feet, and move upwards. At the chest, make slow figure 8’s around the breasts. Don’t forget the inguinal area, the underarms, and the neck. These areas are delicate so be extra gentle here, but it’s where lymph nodes reside so it is important to stimulate them.

Moisturize afterwards. You’ve shed your protective layer of the skin that helps keep moisture in, so it’s important to replenish it and lock it in. Use a body oil or a favorite body butter.

Find the frequency that works for you. Aim for 2-3 times a week and see how your skin responds. Just as you wouldn’t exfoliate your face everyday, avoid over-exfoliating your body. Over-exfoliation has several negative consequences. First, it can cause trauma to the skin leading to inflammation. Second, it disrupts the skin’s natural barrier to bacteria causing more breakouts, which can be an issue if you’re susceptible to back acne. Thirdly, over-exfoliating can actually lead to more dryness; it causes an imbalance in the skin’s natural oil levels as well as removes the skin’s natural lipid barrier which protects it from moisture loss.

 

Photos by: Katie Hennessey  |  @iamkatiehennessey
Model: Janet Hertz
Thanks to the Lokal Hotel | @lokalhotel for letting us borrow their beautiful new space in Philly!