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. Nancy Avatar

    I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia, tho it has never needed treatment but watching with blood work. Would dry brushing reduce the possibility of it becoming active by draining lymph node?

  2. Lesley Avatar

    It is a common misnomer about skin brushing to brush toward the heart. Actually, the lymph system has ‘cleansing stations’ all throughout the body and it is not beneficial to brush toward the closest one…. ie the groin if you are brushing the leg. It is worth researching.

    1. Lesley Avatar

      Oops! I meant to write ‘it is MOST beneficial to brush towards the closest one…’ Sorry!!

  3. Nicole Avatar

    Hey! Just wanted to let you know that the product you linked for your favorite dry brush set on amazon is no longer available!

  4. Kathy Avatar

    I posted a while back that dry brushing helps my Restless Legs Syndrome; just to add to that: When really tired, I used to brush only my lower legs. Well, I’ve noticed that when I do my entire leg, I get more relief from the Restless Legs. Now I do lower legs first; 20 or so strokes each, then the whole leg 15 or 20 more, Then I put on body lotion, then I jump into bed. It makes quite a difference.

  5. Jennifer Avatar

    Hi Katie
    The set you recommended is no longer available. I appreciate your work and always like to use your links. Would you like to recommend another set? Thank you! Our family is blessed by your sharing all you’ve learned.

  6. Carla Avatar

    Question for you on this…I feel like everytime I skin brush, a day or two later, I get a cold, my throat hurts or something like that…is there a relation to the skin brushing with this??

  7. Martie Avatar

    Thank you for this comprehensive information! My MD actually prescribed dry brushing for improving my lymphatic circulation. And yes it makes my skin feel so soft and smooth! I do it before I jump into the steam sauna! And yes my cellulite seems to be diminishing as well!

  8. Claire Avatar

    I’m Autistic and use the willbarger protocol for sensory defensiveness. If you’re Autistic and have tactile sensititivities you’ll have to work up to a coarser brush. A Therapressure brush is what I use but I use the dry brush technique with a bit of body butter/ lotion.

  9. Emily Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I just got the dry brush set you linked to for Christmas! I am excited to use it! However, from reading this blog post and others throughout the internet I am a bit confused about the direction of which to brush…towards the heart? Not towards the heart? Different resources recommend different directions.



  10. DJ Avatar

    Can you share one brush with the entire family? Or does each member need their own?

  11. Kathy Webster Avatar
    Kathy Webster

    My Dad suffered with Restless Legs Sydrome for years, & circulation problems due to heart disease & heart bypass surgery. In the last year of his life, the skin on his lower legs actually began to break down, ie it oozed fluid sometimes like eczema, and other times got scaly & peeled. He passed away at 86 about 2 yrs ago. Now I’m getting restless & swollen legs most days, in my 50’s, & very scared about the future. So, I’ve been dry brushing for about 4/5 months. Most days I do just my legs, last thing before I get into bed. My right knee is arthritic & swollen, so I do 40/50 strokes on the right, then 30/40 on the left. Sometimes after brushing, I work in some lotion. Most days it takes away the crawly and numb feeling in my legs, & lets me settle into bedtime a lot better.

  12. Isabeau Avatar

    Hi! I’ve been visiting your site for years and it’s really helped me find solutions for this really obscure disease I have and I am really grateful for all the hard work but also the feeling of integrity I feel coming from you.

    I have seen at times slightly modified versions of your content pop up on other people’s websites. Now I’m sure some of that is probably happenstance but I just read pretty much this same article on some other dude’s webstite and while I’m not a suspicious person by nature, it’s hard to fathom that it’s completely innocent. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be, so I guess I just wanted you to know that you are teh Mama that helped give birth to some others, and I’ll hope at least that this offspring may help people you may not have reached so there is a modicum of good coming out of this !

    Thanks for everything! 🙂

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Thanks for your kind words Isabeau. Unfortunately when you create lots of content that people like, other people tend to rip it off and use it as their own. It’s one of the downsides of blogging. Thanks for reading!

  13. Amie Avatar

    What direction should you brush your face? I have heard conflicting advice. Also, can this be done at night, as I shower at night?

  14. maria Avatar

    Hi Katie
    So glad to find your website. I am new at this dry brush.
    Wonderi if :
    1. I can use loofah instead of brush ?
    2. Why it’s recommended to dry instead of wet brush ? If the idea is to stimulate the lymph system, so it shouldn’tmatter if it ‘s wet or dry ?
    Thank you for the englightenment.

    Kind regards,

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’ve never tried a loofah, but if it was a similar texture, it should work. With the brush dry (instead of wet), there is more friction on the skin and it stimulates more lymph flow.

  15. Joseph Bialobzeski Avatar
    Joseph Bialobzeski

    Hi Katie,

    I really do enjoy your blogs and I thank you for sharing all of this wonderful information. I just read your story on dry brushing. I am going to try it but there is one thing I will do differently. I will brush from my armpit to my hand, never the opposite way. Here’s why:
    According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is an energy pathway, with the accompanying flow of energy, running from your armpit to the tip of your pinky finger. This energy pathway is commonly known as the Heart meridian. Many energy practitioners have told me to never trace this meridian backwards, from the pinky finger toward the armpit. Just for giggles, I am going to follow that advice. More information can be found on this and much more by researching “Donna Eden Energy Medicine.”

  16. Geralynn Baxter Avatar
    Geralynn Baxter

    When I read this the first time and I clicked your link for your fab dry brushing it took me to the correct page and I thought I saved it to purchase later.
    Now when I click on the link, it takes me to a page with two brushes.
    Can you let me know what is the name for the one with 3 brushes? That is the one I want to purchase.


  17. Jana Avatar

    If you look at your stomach (look down, not in the mirror), imagine your belly button as being 12:00. Proceed from there.

  18. Jeana Small Avatar
    Jeana Small

    I get lots of great information from your site, however, this particular article talking about skin brushing is conflicting information on the right way to do skin brushing. I thought I would share this information with you.
    I got my original information from Mia Campbell, I.I.H.H.T. Have you seen or read her book “The 10-Day Skin Brushing Detox: The easy, natural plan to look great, feel amazing, & eliminate cellulite”? (https://www.amazon.com/10-Day-Skin-Brushing-Detox-Eliminate/dp/0992960908/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=33862d6ff663a4f286ac737cf47900ca)

    In her book she explains how starting at the feet is wrong. She also explains in detail the whole reason and side effects and process as well as about the lymphatic system.

  19. Amy Avatar

    I saw a commenter above mention varicose veins. That would definitely be a topic I’d be interested in reading about! I’d love to see your thoughts in a post sometime!!

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