What is Dry Brushing for Skin?

What is dry brushing benefits and how to

You probably brush your hair, and your teeth (hopefully with natural toothpaste), but do you brush your skin? And why would you?

Dry Brushing for Skin

I’ve mentioned dry brushing before and it seems like the ancient practice is gaining modern popularity. I’ve even noticed “dry brushing” as an offering on the menu at spas in hotels I stayed at recently.

So what is it and why should you consider doing it?

Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like… brushing the skin in a particular pattern with a dry brush, usually before showering.

In dry brushing, the skin is typically brushed toward the heart, starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

I’ve been dry brushing my skin for years, mostly because it feels great and makes my skin softer, but there are other benefits as well:

  • Lymphatic Support: The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally.
  • Exfoliation: This benefit is often noticed the first time a person dry brushes. The process of running a firm, natural bristled brush over the skin helps loosen and remove dead skin cells, naturally exfoliating skin. I noticed much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after I started dry brushing and my skin has stayed soft. Dry brushing is one of the simplest and most natural ways to exfoliate skin.
  • Clean Pores: The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Though it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face unless you have a special, more delicate brush, dry brushing helps improve pores on the rest of the body.
  • Cellulite Help: Though the evidence is anecdotal, I’ve found many accounts of people who claimed that regular dry brushing greatly helped their cellulite. I talked about this and my other cellulite remedies here. There isn’t much research to back the cellulite claims, but dry brushing feels great and makes skin softer, so there isn’t really any downside to trying it!
  • Increased Energy and Blood Flow: I wouldn’t recommend dry brushing at night because it tends to give me a rush of energy. One theory is that because it increases circulation, it also increases energy. Either way, dry brushing is part of my morning routine.

Selecting a Dry Brush

I use a firm, natural bristle brush with a handle, which allows me to reach my entire back and easily brush the bottoms of my feet and the backs of my legs. There are many options in dry brushes, just make sure to find one with natural bristles. You can probably find a brush in a local store, or here are some good online options:

How to Dry Brush

Dry brushing can be done daily, preferably in the morning before showering. Here’s what I do:

  1. Starting at the feet, I brush the bottoms of my feet and up my legs in long, smooth strokes. I typically brush each section of skin 10 times. For lymph flow, I always brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains
  2. Repeat the same process with the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart. Again, I brush each section of skin 10 times.
  3. I then repeat the process on my abdomen and back and my face with a more delicate brush.

Note: Don’t brush too hard! A soft and smooth stroke often works best. I find my skin is slightly pink after brushing, but it should never be red or sting.

I brush before showering and use a natural lotion after showering.

Have you ever dry brushed? Will you try it?

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Reader Comments

  1. Thanks for the attention to skin brushing. YES, absolutely I have and do skin brush, though not as consistently as I could. Have a small brush for my face I’ve not tried. Airola Paavo called A Million Dollar Health and Beauty Secret, recommends doing it on rising before a shower, and brushing ‘everything’, and all strokes toward the groin. The lymphatic nodes there are closest to the intestine. Mucous in the stool may become apparent.

    Also says brushing can make your skin cleaner than washing can. And I think mine feels FRESH and alive. And he says a stiff vegetable brush can be used when the skin is accustomed to it. I do now and LOVE it, though in the beginning I was reluctant to use even a soft brush. Thought it would feel awful. Sure does not.

    Happy brushing, all. It’s terrific. I try to do it before rebounding or other exercise to better prepare my skin for waste removal, and it feels GREAT!

  2. I’ve looked at this before but haven’t tried it. Would you recommend doing this with a toddler, specifically one with eczema? If so which brush would you recommend?

    • Yes I’ll give it a try.

  3. I have dry brushed in the past and have been thinking that I should add that back into my routine. Thanks for the reminder. I sometimes get knots under my arms, possibly do to detox issues, that generally happen when other Fibro symptoms also seem to be getting worse. These knots are greatly reduced when I add dry brushing back into my care. I should really just always dry brush instead of waiting until I start feeling cruddy.

    I will also say, that though it does give a surge of energy, sometimes it is helpful for me to get up and dry brush on nights when I am really struggling with actually falling asleep, especially when my legs are feeling restless. I think because it helps with circulation issues.

    • Shala,

      I’ve had the knots under my arms before too, and also have fibro. Mine would get swollen, red and warm and I my doctor said they were swollen lymph nodes (which goes along with what you said about the detox issues). I haven’t had them in a long time, since I switched to using an aluminum-free deodorant. Have you tried that?

      I agree that dry brushing helps with circulation issues. I often take a detox bath before bed and dry brush before hand. It’s relaxing.

  4. I’ve been dry brushing for a few months now and I absolutely see the difference in my skin since incorporating this into my routine. The small bit of acne I had on my back and arms has totally disappeared. My skin is very soft and seems to absorb the after shower coconut oil better. Almost like I don’t have to use as much. One thing. I have pretty bad varicose veins and so I have to brush my legs very lightly. Heavy brushing over the already stressed vein walls will exacerbate the problem. I read somewhere that it increases the pressure in the veins if you use too firm a stroke. So I go lightly on the legs and a little firmer on the rest of my body.

    • Try taking astaxanthin and Diatomacious earth to improve your vessel integrity

  5. Thanks so much for this! I started dry brushing about a year ago and I LOVE it. As a holiday gift, I made up a nice little gift basket for my mom with a dry brush, homemade body scrubs, body washes, body butters, oils, etc. because her skin gets so dry in the winter. She absolutely LOVES it too! My skin and body thanks me each time I do it:)

  6. I tried it, but even light strokes were painful to me. The brush was extremely scratchy and didn’t feel good at all.

    • Sarah, maybe try a different brush? I have the same exact brush that Katie provided the link for (it’s on Amazon). It’s firm but has some give. I hope that helps.

    • Try starting with a dry wash cloth. That often helps. And what is important is not the brush per so but the method of stimulating the lymphatics, which lie just below the skin, to drain but brushing toward the heart.

    • try again – i found it painful/uncomfortable the first couple days as well but you will quickly get used to it. just try again!

      • TJ, I discovered the same thing. The first couple of times hurt, the next few were uncomfortable, and now it just feels wonderfully amazing and there is no pain at all. I just get this wonderful warm thrumming sensation, especially when I do my back and the backs of my thighs. Now that I’ve started, I will never not do this. It is SO wonderful.

    • I found a toe brush, (I think ghats what its called, it comes with pedicure kits), are softer, and they work very well too!!

  7. Would a natural loofa sponge used dry suffice? Not sure if the bristle brush is the key or just the exfoliation and stimulation. Thanks!

  8. I do it. I especially do it before an epsom salt bath or ion detox foot bath, or before taking a hot shower. I do feel like it helps.

  9. I’d be interested in trying this. How often do you recommend cleaning the brush and what is the best way to do so?

  10. I’ve intended to try it, but I always forget and just do it wet in the shower! I’ve been happy with that. I wonder how much the two techniques differ.

    • I always forgot, too, so I started leaving my dry brush on the shower faucet. Can’t turn on the shower without taking off the brush . . .

  11. Katie, do you mean you brush the same place on your arm or leg 10 times, or do you mean you brush the entire area (like your arm) 10 times in different places around the arm, sometimes overlapping? I feel like if I brushed over the same section of skin 10 times it would start to hurt and get a little raw.

    Tanks!

    • The entire area… I like a firm brushing, but I agree: that might be a bit much 😉

  12. I love this idea! You mention using a different brush on your face……what brush do you recommend? Also, how often should we change out the brush? Thank you!

    • Never get brush wet….never share brush….never have to replace….been using same brush over 15 years.

      • why do you recommend not sharing the brush?

  13. I’ve been using my ‘dry’ brush in the shower for many months now. I put a little Dr Bronner’s on it and happily scrub all over. Is this method providing the best results? Once I did start this I found I loved it. With winter though I’m finding that I’m a little more dry than I like. Suggestions? And can you clarify the difference between wet and dry brushing?
    Thanks!!

    • You will get the most stimulation from the dry brushing, especially if you do the directional brushing.

  14. Hello, does anyone have any tips for how to clean the brush itself?

    • Wash with gentle soap and let it completely dry. For some people, this is never, for others, every few days. The apparent soil on the brush depends on how oily your skin is, how tan you are and the products you use on your skin.

  15. I guess what I do is “wet brush” while I’m in the shower. It feels terrific.

  16. I followed the link from a fb page & found this.
    When our son was diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder his OT has us brush him, exactly in this manner. We used surgical scrub brushes because the tips were smooth & rounded, we wore them down over time.

  17. I have been doing it off and on for a year. I used to have little white bumps on my arms and those went away. I notice they come back if I haven’t dry brushed in a while and then they go away when I start again.

  18. I LOVE dry brushing. It was recommended to me last year by the nutritional therapist I was working with as part of a detox routine. I was skeptical at first, but was blown away by how good I felt from the very first time. It is so incredibly energizing and yet so very relaxing at the same time – a great way to begin the day. I have a tendency to bruise quite easily, so I’m careful to brush gently around (not over) my bruises. I have noticed though that brushing around my bruises (maybe due to the stimulation of the lymphatic system and/or skin) they seem to dissipate quicker than before.

  19. Can anyone tell me why its better to use natural bristles?

  20. How often should you dry btush

  21. Hi Katie
    I wanted to know if there’s a recipe on your blog for a daily moisturizer? I just finished my last Kiehls bottle and I don’t want to buy anything at the dept store anymore.
    Thank you 🙂

  22. Hi Katie!
    Do I have to shower after dry brushing? I usually shower at night.
    Thanks!

    • Not really. I feel like it rinses away any lingering dead skin, but I don’t think its necessary.

  23. I’ve heard about it alot, and I’ve tried it a few times (not properly, I’m sure), but I need to add it regularly into my routine. A lump in my breast prompted a visit to my Dr., who referred me for a diagnostic mammogram, which I refused for fear of rupturing the cyst, which my Dr. was sure the lump was. I had an ultrasound instead, which confirms cysts, but they are still pushing hard for a mammogram. I have 2 things going against me for a mammogram (dense breast tissue, and numerous cysts), so I opted for thermography instead. At my follow up for that appointment, it was discovered that I have hypothyroid, in addition to a less than optimally functioning lymph system. Along with the homeopathic remedies I’m trying to balance those conditions, dry brushing, rebounding, and saunas are on my recommended list of things to do to get my body working properly again.

  24. i have psoriasis …arms, legs, some on trunk of my body. Sometimes so dry …skin cracks/raw areas. Do you think this will help?

  25. Is it recommended to dry brush on your face if you have rosacea? Or could it make it worse?

  26. Hi! Katie!!
    May. I just say. I LOVE. LOVE. UR BLOG. AND ALL UR. AMAZING POSTS. N RECIPES N ADVICE!!!!! Ur amazing! you def. have a call on ur life.. getting the word. out and helping others. feel better.. and get healthy! I like. ur page. awhile back..but never. fully visisted. till last night..I was on this blog. with. the t.v. on. and volume off…just eating up..everything…..you have.. I firmly believe. we. are killing ourselves. with the. food. that. is grown pesticicdes..GMO….processed…. chemicals..upon chemicals…..Im slowly growing my arsenal. of. good for. you products…….eating more organic.. cbia seeds….youngs Livinv eo….ground flax…cocnut oil. coconut milk….you name it..lolol..Thank you. for ur blog..p.s. I threw. out my Yankee Candles…ur blog scared me enough……..lol…….from now on..its. eo..to make home smell good. and. beeze wax. candles.. and electric. candles…… also Im looking to get a himalayian salt lamp….and i troduce pink himalayian. in my diet too..THANK YOU!! GOD BLESS!!! =)

  27. Dry brushing actually makes me fall asleep right away, it’s very odd.

  28. Love your posts. Regarding dry brushing….should the body brush contain copper? Thank you. Miriam

  29. Katie,

    I already dry brush and I LOVE it…but this made me think about derma rolling…I’ve been hearing a lot about it and the benefits it can have and I wanted to know how you feel about it? The do it yourself at home derma rolling that is!! Thank you!

  30. Why is dry brushing better than wet brushing in shower, or is it?

    • It’s more stimulating to the skin to brush dry. Also, your brush will last longer 😉

  31. Great advice! Another benefit is to the sensory system as a whole. We did this year’s ago for kids with sensory processing issues (I am a PT) and found it to be very relaxing for some, and invigorating for others. The OT I worked with taught me the methods she used for different pediatric cases. I do not want to imply to go do this on your kids, and certainly not babies, without professional advice, BUT, I think these same theories an be applied to adults. For those it relaxes, it may be exactly what a restless body needs before sleep, and for one who it invigorates, may be exactly what you need to pep you up. Perhaps each of us need to simply listen to our bodies after we do this, and watch for the positive results. I am trying all this good stuff, and have had excellent results! Take the time to treat yourself to simple home care instead of reaching in the medicine chest. (Of course stay on any prescriptions you are on, I mean like over the counter meds such as Tylenol for a headache) I type this while I am oil pulling, lol.

  32. I just ran across this on my Pinterest feed and learned a lot from everyone’s comments. Peter D’Adamo in Genotype Diet especially recommends this for Teacher Genotype-mainly Blood Type As-and I was curious about how to go about it. Excellent information, Wellness Mama; now I feel like I can start doing it.

  33. I can’t say I have ever heard of drying brushing before but reading many health and wellness websites and blogs I think it is becoming more popular. The majority of people do suffer from dry skin and you can apply and apply lotion but you will never be happy with the results or you can spend and spend until you find the right lotion. Hey! I m?ght even try it myself. Can I ask, Why do you have to brush from the feet/hands up the body towards the heart? Will anything happen if you did brush the opposite way?

    • Brushing towards the heart assists the lymph system since this is where it drains. I don’t know that brushing in the opposite way would necessarily be harmful, but in addition to the lymph help, I find it is easier to brush this way. It is also very invigorating.

      • It’s probably not harmful to brush the other way. But then again what do I know. But I just thought I would ask.

  34. Should I replace my brush after time or use?

  35. I was recently diagnose with leaky gut, food allergies after two years. Would dry brushing help with the healing? I have stomach spasms that are painful and learn through blood work that I have evaluated inflammation in my stomach who h causes the spasms.

  36. Katie, how often due you wash your brush since you use it daily and what do you wash it with?

    • I have the same question Yvonne. I’ve been using my dry skin brush for over a year now, so I’m also wondering how long the brushes usually last.

  37. I would be interested in reading more on how it was done in ancient times. Could you give some resource info please.

  38. I love dry brushing my legs as I have many dark spots and KP. it gets rid of dead skin and makes my skin smooth. But as my skin is very very dry I use very thick moisturizing body wash and then moisturize again after shower.

  39. Katie,

    I’m glad you wrote this article. I don’t think many people know about dry skin brushing and its benefits. My doctor suggested it to me about 2 years due to detox issues.

    My skin is sensitive and I have fibro as well as Lyme disease, so I was hesitant to try it at first. It took me a couple of sessions to get used to the feeling, but now I look forward to it each day! It is invigorating, but at the same time seems to relax me.

  40. I am obsessed with dry brushing and have been doing it for years! I try to turn every one I know on to it because it really is life changing. This was a super helpful post with tons of good info for convincing the skeptics to try it out! More people need to be doing this and this post will totally get the word out there!

    Thanks!!
    Madison

  41. I started dry brushing to help with lymphatic drainage when it was recommended after having breast thermography done. I love doing it and was amazed at how soft my skin became after only a couple of weeks. I read that it should be done toward armpits, clavicle and groin as those are all areas where lymph drains. I have been tending to start and stop using dry brushing as I have been developing sore swollen (lymph nodes?) and oval brown spots in my armpits. When I stop dry brushing and using natural home-made deodorant for a time the swelling goes away and the brown spots fade, only to return again after shaving or commencing dry brushing and natural deodorant again. So frustrating to start something for my health and love it, but then it seems to cause more issues. Has anyone heard of or experienced this, or have any suggestions?

  42. I’ve been looking for a face brush but the one posted isn’t currently available on Amazon. Can anyone make other suggestions for a face brush?

    • What about using a regular brush, but running it over sandpaper first to smooth out the ends of the bristles?

  43. Wellness Mama, I’ve heard it’s more important to follow the actual flow lymphatic system. This is more complicated than just brushing towards the heart.
    Here’s a video with a lymph specialist who deals with cancer patients. She shows methods of brushing to the arm pits, and also mentions “water gates”.
    https://youtu.be/AZfMhXsjXeQ

  44. Katie- Is dry brushing safe while breastfeeding?

    • I have done it while breastfeeding, but ask a doc if you aren’t sure…

  45. 38 y/o.
    Black female.
    I am loving this blog. Found it via Google “dry brush use”
    Annnnd I love this idea. Wish I’d know about it earlier in life.
    Going to start now.
    Will check back in soon with my results. I will also being doing facial brushing.

  46. Hi there,

    just wondering how necessary is it to moisturise after. I have noticed on certain areas on face (with special brush) seems more than fine while others are dry. is it my skin adjusting?

  47. This is so interesting, and I am so excited to get a brush and get started! My interest in body brushing was peaked while listening to a segment on NPR about its benefits, and my reading today on here has prompted me to actually get brushing!
    I have a question involving face brushing though. I have pretty severe rosacea, mainly isolated to my cheeks, and I have pimple-like bumps associated with the rosacea. I went through this feed pretty thoroughly and did not see any posts related to rosacea and how face brushing affects it. My feeling is that it would probably help, but it would be nice to know if you have any info from your readers (or yourself). Many thanks!

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