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. Som Avatar

    I just do the bottom half of my legs before shaving because I find it prevents ingrown hairs.

  2. Chris Avatar

    I love dry brushing! I do have? a question though. I just gave birth and have been wondering if brushing towards the heart (therefore the breasts) could push more toxins into my breast milk? Should I try brushing towards the groin as someone else suggested or does it not really matter?

  3. Cori Liles Avatar
    Cori Liles

    I am curious how you dry brush your face? Do you dry brush your face everyday? I am also wondering about the neck and chest.

  4. Robert Avatar

    I saw a brush like that at a food co-op where I was shopping 2 days ago. My eye was attracted to it because I was looking for a back-washing brush to replace the one I have (with too-coarse, scratchy plastic bristles that don’t hold soap), but I saw these were specifically labeled for dry brushing only, not to use in the shower. I didn’t buy, but was intrigued.

    If I were to dry brush, I would probably do it AWAY from the center of the body. Although that’s counter to the direction of deep lymphatic drainage, the lymphatic vessels close to the skin surface probably run in random directions. Meanwhile hair on the body generally runs away from the midline and from the trunk; this is easiily seen on dogs. Skin tends to be oiliest in the midline (most easily noticed on the face), and back when we had lots of fast-growing body hair, the capillary action of hairs diverging from there distributed the sebum over the skin. However, another explanation for the oiliness of skin around our nose is as an anti-infective in the so-called triangle of death: the area of skin with valveless veins that communicate with the brain.

  5. Ravichandran Balakrishnan Avatar
    Ravichandran Balakrishnan

    Brushing our skin is a healthy technique of keeping our skin softer and smoother. Sometimes I used to think that brushing skin is really needed. Now through your post I recognize and recommend others also to brush the skin to keep our skin hale and healthy. Thank you for your post.

  6. Susan Gonzalez Avatar
    Susan Gonzalez

    Thanks for this post! Yes Yes! Dry brushing is soo invigorating! I use MOON Organics Satin Touch organic oil first then dry brush and it works great!

  7. Kat L. Avatar
    Kat L.

    I love dry brushing. Feels great, does great. I was also studying Dr. Robert Cassar’s technique to clean skin, he uses a concoction with vodka. Earther Academy. I haven’t prepared my batch yet but I love trying new things and will try that too!

  8. Bethel Avatar


    I’ve been browsing through your site for months and love it!

    I’m currently working on healing my teeth, and have read your posts on the subject several times. You said that while you were healing your teeth, you swished with magnesium and calcium powders dissolved in water. I found calcium powder and am using it in my toothpaste as well, but I’m having a hard time finding magnesium powder. I found magnesium flakes, but wasn’t sure if that was the same thing. Could you clarify where you found magnesium powder?


  9. Deborah Avatar

    Great info. I keep a loofa and a brush in my shower. Use both daily as part of my routine.

  10. Jo Avatar

    Dry brushing has become a daily habit…I just can’t start my day without it! I put a small drop of an essential oil blend on each palm and brush it up my arms and also put a drop on my abdomen The oils add to the experience – I feel pampered and energized at the same time

  11. Sarah Avatar

    Hi Katie!

    I have tried dry brushing quite a few times. I like the feel of it and it does make my skin softer. However, it creates terrible acne on my chest and back. I don’t want to keep going because I don’t want to make it worse. Any suggestions?

  12. Mysty Avatar

    I’m 49 years old & have noticed my skin is starting to drying out and look crepey. For me, dry brushing helps with giving my skin a more youthful look, prevents ingrown hairs, & I don’t need to shave as often (great during the summer months).

  13. Jenn Avatar

    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!

  14. Teresa Avatar

    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?

  15. Alexis Avatar

    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.

      1. mary Avatar

        Unfortunately most mothers are not prepared to breast feed especially in the nipple department.
        Friend suggested that I take a rough dry wash cloth and message the nipple area maybe starting
        six weeks before delivery. Thus I did and never had a problem with cracked or sore nipples. So it
        is very similar to brushing. That was 40 years ago that I got that tip………time flies.

  16. Amy Avatar

    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”.

    1. Alma Avatar

      Hi Amy,
      Thank you so much for adding the link to this blog. I saw the interview and will change the way I brush. If it works for the nurse with lupus, it should work for me, I suffer from Hashimoto’s disorder and this method may help me as well.

  17. Ashley Avatar

    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?

    1. Amy Avatar

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

  18. Donna Avatar

    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?

    1. Rebecca Avatar

      The oval brown spots are most likely due to the natural deodorant, as I’ve had the same issue with some natural deodorants that contain citrus oils. Lavanila has fabulous scents (especially Blackberry), but it makes my skin raw…especially so after shaving. I’ve found Native brand is effective and does not irritate my skin at all. But the scents are a little boring.

      1. Wanda Hughes Avatar
        Wanda Hughes

        Try the Himilayan salt blocks for a deodorant. I have been using one (yes, just one) for years with no ill effects and no smelly armpits. Another benefit is they salt block lasts for a very long time, has no aluminum or other ingredients that are detrimental to health. I has minerals–but they are in minute amounts and most of us could use the extra minerals since our foods have been depleted of most everything that is healthful for us anyway.

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