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. Madison Avatar

    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!


  2. Lori Geurin Avatar
    Lori Geurin


    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.

  3. Gini Avatar

    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.

  4. Deedra Avatar

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

  5. Yvonne Avatar

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

    1. Lori Geurin Avatar
      Lori Geurin

      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.

  6. Michelle Avatar

    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.

    1. marie Avatar

      for leaky gut l would try bone broth, it is very good for you for inflamation of the stomach and a lot of other benfits, ck it out

  7. Adam Trainor Avatar
    Adam Trainor

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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.

      1. Adam Trainor Avatar
        Adam Trainor

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

  8. Lauren Avatar

    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.

  9. Shelly Avatar

    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.

  10. Britni Avatar


    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!

  11. Miriam Avatar

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

  12. Rebecca Kelsey Sampson Avatar
    Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

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

    1. Alma Avatar

      Hi. It relaxes me and makes me sleepy too but I love the feeling. I just started dry brushing 2 weeks ago. Working on reducing cellulite on my thighs and butt. Hoping for at least a bit of noticeable reduction.

  13. Davett Avatar

    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!!! =)

  14. Lilia Avatar

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

  15. ruby Avatar

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

    1. Sara Avatar

      You need a really good probiotic. Check your local pharmacy to see if they have some in the RX fridge. Also, incorporate organic coconut oil into your diet and on to your skin.

  16. Tonia Avatar

    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.

  17. Colleen Avatar

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

  18. Leska Avatar

    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 🙂

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