Dry Brushing for Skin: 5 Benefits & How to Do It the Right Way

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What is dry brushing- benefits and how to
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Dry Brushing for Skin: 5 Benefits & How to Do It the Right Way

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

This practice has been gaining popularity lately and with good reason. I’ve even noticed “dry brushing” as an offering on the menu at spas in hotels. Dry brushing has many potential benefits, from smoother skin to helping with lymphatic drainage.

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

Benefits of Dry Brushing for Skin

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.

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:

1. 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. Proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally.

2. 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 less dry skin and much softer skin in the first few days and weeks after dry skin brushing. My skin has stayed soft thanks to this built-in way to exfoliate.

3. Clean Pores (& Smaller Pores!)

The added benefit of exfoliating the skin is clearing oil, dirt, and residue from the pores. Use a smaller, gentler dry brush for the face (don’t use the stiffer body brush here… ouch!). I notice that my face is softer and my pores are much less noticeable.

4. Reduces Cellulite

Though the evidence is anecdotal, I’ve found many accounts of people who claimed that regular dry brushing greatly helps to reduce 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!

5. Natural Energy Boost

I can’t explain why but dry brushing always gives me a natural energy boost. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend dry brushing at night but it is great in the morning. One theory is that because it increases circulation, it also increases energy. Either way, I only do it early in the day as part of my morning routine.

Selecting a Dry Brush

I use a firm, natural bristle brush with a long handle, which allows me to reach my entire back and easily brush the bottoms of my feet and the backs of my legs. This set of brushes is my favorite because it includes a face brush and two body brushes with different firmness.

When I started dry brushing, my skin was much more sensitive and I preferred the softer one, and now I much prefer the firmer brush. With the set, I have options. I recommend replacing the brush every 6-12 months as the bristles will eventually wear out. I also wash my brush every few weeks to remove dead skin cells.

What is dry brushing- benefits and how to
3.83 from 39 votes

How to Dry Brush

Dry brushing can be done daily over the whole body, preferably in the morning before showering. Start with a gentle brush and soft pressure. Work up to a firmer brush and more firm pressure over time.
Total Time10 minutes
Author: Katie Wells



  • Starting at the feet, brush the bottoms of the feet and up the legs in long, smooth strokes. Brush each section of skin about 10 times. It's important to brush up toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains.
  • Repeat the same process with the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart. Again, brush each section of skin about 10 times.
  • On the stomach and armpits, brush in a circular clockwise motion.
  • Repeat the process on the abdomen and back.
  • Use a more delicate brush on your face to finish off the dry brushing process.
  • Follow up with lotion if desired.


Don’t brush too hard! A soft and smooth stroke often works best. My skin is slightly pink after brushing, but it should never be red or sting. If it hurts at all, use less pressure!
I brush before showering and use a natural lotion after showering. 

But, Does Skin Brushing Actually Work?

I have personally dry brushed for years and noticed that my skin is softer (and possibly firmer, though this is hard to measure) from dry brushing. Skin brushing is very invigorating, easy, and a low investment of time and money, so I keep up the habit.

Especially during pregnancy, I *personally* found that dry brushing seemed to help keep me from getting stretch marks and also seemed to help tighten skin after pregnancy.

Here’s the thing:

It isn’t meant to be a medical treatment and shouldn’t be considered one. Dermatologists also claim that cellulite is genetic and that there is no cure, while podcast guest Dr. Cate Shanahan would disagree and points the finger at polyunsaturated omega-6 fats in our diet.

What the Scientific Evidence Says

The evidence is divided and several sources point out the obvious fact — there have not been any specific scientific studies about dry brushing. Much of the evidence, especially relating to the cellulite benefit, is anecdotal. Much more research would be needed before dermatologists would consider it a legitimate medical treatment.

Supporters of dry brushing claim that it can stimulate the lymph system, help the body rid itself of toxins, and increase circulation or energy. Even dermatologists agree that gently brushing the skin does have exfoliating benefits and may go beyond skincare by stimulating the body in a way similar to massage, which certainly does have well-documented benefits.

I’m not completely sold on all of those benefits, but this definitely falls in the “can’t hurt” category, with one exception…

A Warning for Sensitive Skin

Always, my advice is to pay attention to what works for you and your body. If you have sensitive skin or a history of eczema or other skin conditions, this is one health habit you may want to skip. As Sarah from the Healthy Home Economist found, aggressive skin brushing could irritate sensitive skin over time.

Still, as long as you don’t ignore warning signs like discomfort, itchiness, redness, or even pain, done the right way a dry brushing session should benefit most people. Avoid sensitive areas, don’t use overly firm bristles, and stop if bothersome symptoms occur.

As a gentler detox option for sensitive skin, try a detox bath instead of skin brushing.

The Bottom Line on Skin Brushing: Find What Works for You

At the end of the day, researchers will likely never do studies on dry brushing so we don’t have solid scientific evidence of its benefits. There is no incentive to do such a study when a good quality brush set costs around $20 and is available online. At the same time, it is generally agreed that the practice is harmless and at worst ineffective.

Like any aspect of health (or life), it is important to do your own research and go with what works for you.

This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you ever dry brushed? Will you try it?

Dry brushing is an age-old process of brushing skin with a natural brush to stimulate lymph flow, improve circulation, exfoliate skin and help cellulite.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


162 responses to “Dry Brushing for Skin: 5 Benefits & How to Do It the Right Way”

      1. Katie Avatar

        What if you don’t shower daily? Do you have to follow with a shower?

        1. Rachelr Avatar

          I was wondering the same thing. It’s actually better for your skin (especially if you’re dry) not to shower daily. I just make certain I wash my face, feet, underarms, and groin daily.

  1. Sandi Avatar

    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.

  2. angie Avatar

    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.

  3. Judy Avatar

    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.

  4. Jody Avatar

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

    1. MJ Avatar

      There is a difference between wet and dry brushing. You are not exfoliating nearly as much when wet. Dry brushing moves things along the lymph nodes better. The lymph nodes do not respond the same way when in a warm shower. 😉

    1. April Avatar

      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.

      1. Michael smith Avatar
        Michael smith

        5 stars
        Sprinkle baking soda over bristles and then spray vinegar over all, let it foam up, then rinse and let dry with bristles facing down. This will sanitize.

  5. Sally Avatar

    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?

  6. Britni Avatar

    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!

    1. Theresa Maultsby Avatar
      Theresa Maultsby

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

    2. Rachel Avatar

      “Replace the brush every 6-12 months as the bristles will eventually wear out. I also recommend washing the brush every few weeks to remove dead skin cells.”
      The kit that she recommends comes with a face brush, if that helps. 🙂 I’m not sure if she meant to use that one or a different one… Though if she meant to use a different one, she’d probably recommend the one she uses. If that makes sense. Hope that answers your question.

  7. Tarah Avatar

    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.


  8. Reese Avatar

    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.

    1. Janet Avatar

      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 . . .

  9. Rebecca Avatar

    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. Jenny Avatar

    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.

  11. Annie Avatar

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

  12. sarah Avatar

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

    1. Sandra Avatar

      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.

    2. Jillian Avatar

      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.

    3. Tania Avatar

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

      1. Hannah Avatar

        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.

    4. Julie Avatar

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

  13. Sandra Avatar

    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:)

  14. Denise Avatar

    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.

    1. Kim Avatar

      Try taking astaxanthin and Diatomacious earth to improve your vessel integrity

    2. Wanda Hughes Avatar
      Wanda Hughes

      A supplement of Rutin would also help the blood vessels. It is a bioflavanoid and good for hemorrhoids–strengthening the anal veins so it would also be good for varicose veins.

  15. Shala Avatar

    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.

    1. Lori Geurin Avatar
      Lori Geurin


      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.

    2. Kristen Anzaldo Avatar
      Kristen Anzaldo

      I’ve been dry brushing for about 4 years, after your initial article on it. I love how I feel after completing it. And as soon as I was finished with this article I got up and dry brushed to start the day 🙂 I’m intrigued with the face brush, I do not dry brush my face. I do shave it, about once a month. As well as use honey and sugar to exfoliate.

    3. Shelley Avatar

      I read that doing it at night slow and metrically can help calm. More quickly during the day is what invigorates us. I am new to this though and excited to see the results.

  16. Tach Avatar

    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?

  17. quitlan Avatar

    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!

    1. Rita Avatar

      I am 76 yrs and I can’t wait to try before rebounding thank you and good health to all

    2. Cathy Avatar

      What direction is clockwise when brushing the stomach? I mean I know clockwise when looking at a clock (lol) but what direction do I brush when I place the brush under my breasts (top of my stomach) – do I go in a circle to the right or to the left? Thanks so much

      1. Caroline Avatar

        It is a bit confusing. Draw a stick figure on a sheet of paper. Then place a circle over the stomach area and draw a curved arrow on it showing a clockwise direction. Flip the paper over and hold it up to the light. That’s the direction you should be brushing.

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