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Though dry brushing is a comparatively new trend in the skincare world, it has amassed an impressive 130.5 million views on TikTok under a hashtag by the same name.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr are fans of the beauty ritual which speaks of its popularity. As for its effectiveness, research has yet to confirm its benefits to our skin and body, however, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that’s worth considering.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what it is, how it can help our skin, its potential risks, and more.

What Is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a simple pre-shower treatment that has been around for centuries.

The practice hails from Ayurveda, the ancient medical system which originated in India some 5,000 years ago. Locally, it is known as “garshana,” a Sanskrit word that translates to “friction by rubbing.” Accounts of dry brushing have also been found in traditional Chinese medicine.

As the name implies, the process involves brushing the surface of the skin with a dry brush with firm, natural fiber bristles. The brush gently massages and exfoliates the skin to improve skin texture and health.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

Although extensive research has yet to validate the use of dry brushing for health and wellness, experts agree that it has a lot of potential when done right.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the following benefits:

It May Boost Circulation

Dry brushing is a form of superficial skin massage that stimulates mild inflammatory responses which boosts circulation. By improving the flow of blood, it ensures a steady transfer of nutrients and oxygen to the target areas which supports healing and leaves you with a temporarily healthy, younger-looking complexion.

It May Exfoliate the Skin

Like body scrubs, the stiff bristles of a dry brush can slough off dead, dull, flaky skin cells from the surface of your skin, leaving behind soft, smooth skin.

Since exfoliation unclogs pores and dislodges the layer of dead cells and oil from the outer layer, it increases skin cell turnover. This means it replaces the constantly shedding skin cells with fresh, healthy ones to make your complexion glow and make you look younger.

It May Ensure Better Product Absorption

Exfoliation leaves you with a smooth canvas and unclogged pores. By removing the top layer of the skin that’s covered by dead skin cells, it can pave the way to better absorption of topical formulas, making them much more effective.

It May Leave You Feeling Refreshed

Dry brushing is believed to stimulate the nerve endings which could lead to more efficient functional recovery. The act of taking time to give your skin some TLC is another factor that’s believed to leave you feeling invigorated.

Incorporate this practice into your morning ritual to start your day on a good note.

It May Stimulate the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system plays a key role in protecting your body against invading microorganisms, preventing infections, and keeping body fluid levels in balance.

Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it should. When that happens, your body is no longer capable of detoxifying your system. The fluid doesn’t drain properly, causing the tissues to become swollen with liquid.

Dry brushing may eliminate this concern by unblocking your vital lymphatic flow, which is essential for the optimal functioning of your immune responses. It encourages lymphatic drainage by consistently aiding fluid movement in the body.

Does It Reduce the Appearance of Cellulite?

Even from an anecdotal point of view, the benefits of dry brushing are far-reaching.

Cellulite is fat that accumulates and pushes against the fibrous connective chords beneath the skin. But dry brushing only brings superficial benefits, meaning it treats only existing or occurring skin conditions or problems on the surface level.

Hence, it shouldn’t affect cellulite. But many find that it does thanks to its exfoliating benefits. It boosts blood circulation and lymphatic drainage which can have a smoothening effect on the skin. This makes your skin plumper which can help reduce the appearance of cellulite!

This is backed by research that showed that manual and mechanical lymph drainage could be an effective treatment for cellulite.

Note that its effects are temporary and only last as long as you’re consistent with the ritual.

How To Practice Dry Brushing

Want to tap into the many benefits of dry brushing? Get a natural fiber brush (made of wool, raw silk, cotton, etc.) and follow these steps:

  • Start with dry skin and a dry brush.
  • Begin brushing your feet using long, circular motions. Gradually move up your body with long strokes as you move towards your heart.
  • Use light, rhythmic pressure to repair and rejuvenate your skin in sensitive areas, but build up the intensity in areas with tough skin, such as the feet.
  • Dry brush your mid-section, covering the buttocks, back, and core in a clockwise motion. Then, brush upwards from your arm towards your armpits.
  • You can even dry brush your face. Just use a softer brush and light pressure.
  • Take a cool shower to rinse away the dead skin cells. Then, apply lotion, olive oil, or coconut oil to moisturize your skin. Now would also be a good time to apply topical skincare products as brushing facilitates their absorption.

Limit each session to 3 to 7 minutes and do it 3 to 4 times a week. If you do it more frequently, you may irritate the skin.

Risks To Consider

While dry brushing is generally considered safe, it has its fair share of downsides.

For starters, it’s not for individuals with extra sensitive skin, open wounds, rashes, and severe skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In such cases, dry brushing can cause microtears in the skin where bacteria can enter and cause infections.

Additionally, if you brush too often and too rigorously, you could end up with red and inflamed skin that’s more vulnerable to irritation.

Take Home Message

Dry brushing is a great self-care ritual with promising benefits for the skin and mind. Incorporate it into your routine, but be realistic about the results you’re expecting since its advantages have yet to be thoroughly established by scientific research.

It’s always a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider before adopting dry brushing into your routine to minimize risks and avoid adverse effects.