You wouldn’t expect a bristled paddle brush to reduce cellulite and eliminate toxins from the body, but some beauty and wellness enthusiasts are swearing by the newest dry brushing craze, claiming that regular brushing of the skin helps enhance energy levels and keeps dryness at bay.
Dry brushing is beneficial, if done carefully
Running dry bristles all over your skin may feel a bit strange, but doing so for a few minutes each day can stimulate the body’s circulation and lymphatic systems, according to celebrity facialist Ildi Pekar.
“Since your skin is the largest organ, the stimulation helps increase the functions of detoxifying your body of excess water and toxins,” Pekar says. “And aside from exfoliating your skin, it can help improve digestion and kidney function.”
Natural and effective, body brushing works best with serious commitment. To dry brush correctly, holistic expert Elissa Goodman recommends brushing five minutes in the morning, using your brush on the body (arms, legs, etc.) in circular motions.
“Dry brushing clears dead skin cells and allows your cells to breathe, giving the toxins (you’re getting rid of) an escape path,” Goodman says. “I recommend spending five minutes in the morning brushing your skin in circular motions.”
Take caution when brushing
But as you brush, it’s important to do so with caution.
“Be careful not to brush the skin too roughly or too frequently and don’t go over the same area too many times,” cautions Tsippora Shainhouse. “Chronic rubbing of the skin can cause skin irritation, thickening and potential post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”
And when brushing continuously, keep in mind that chronic stretching and scrubbing of the skin can really affect your pores over time. Harsh motions and pressure from your brush can only clog and enlarge pores, which can lead to scar tissue if you’re not careful.
So is it really worth the risk? While exfoliation can be achieved through continuous use of your favorite sugar scrubs and loofahs, dry brushing takes the concept to new levels. Regular brushing of the skin can keep it velvety smooth, while also helping your skin care essentials work better than before.
“Gently brushing the skin can help lightly exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving skin feeling softer, smoother, and prepping it for better absorption of moisturizers,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, Beverly Hills dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California.
And while the jury is still out on dry brushing’s other reported health benefits, adding this practice to your routine really can’t hurt if you proceed with caution.
“When you squeeze, stretch and scrub skin, you’re contributing to the formation of fine lines, inflammation and irritation, all of which can affect pore size over time,” says dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “Harsh motions and pressure also make the transfer of oil, bacteria and other impurities from your hands more of a risk, which can lead to clogging. When you repeatedly and aggressively clean out all pores, whether they need to be cleared or not, they can become permanently stretched and even develop scar tissue and a deeper indentation.”
So if you are interested in testing this trend out, remember that moderation is key. Be sure to brush with caution, and limit your brushings to under five minutes a day. This will help you avoid brushing too hard, or too long. For a gentle brush to add to your routine, try using the Bon-Skincare B.O.N. Dry Body Brush ($20) on your skin before you shower or take a bath.