You may have seen dry brushing listed as part of a salt scrub–type service on a spa menu, or heard about it through one of your friends, but do you really know how it can benefit your skin? Here’s the inside scoop.
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What is dry brushing?
A form of body exfoliation using a dry brush with firm bristles—many are made of cactus—that is often touted for its internal and external benefits. “Dry brushing is my favorite method of body exfoliation because it’s multitasking: it’s actually incredible as a cellulite treatment, it increases blood flow and it dramatically increases elasticity, so it’s great for lifting and toning a problem area,” says celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skincare.
What are the benefits of dry brushing?
“Dry brushing is meant to exfoliate your skin, increase your energy and blood flow, and reduce cellulite,” says New York dermatologist Sapna Palep, MD. Vargas says the exfoliation action not only gets rid of dry, dead skin, but also “stimulates collagen production, which helps thicken the skin and lessen the appearance of fat cells.”
Lymphatic drainage is another benefit: “It helps stimulate the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body and bring in healthy nutrients—it makes the skin glow all over,” Vargas explains. “It’s old-fashioned, but it works.” Exfoliating with a dry brush can also help firming creams and lotions absorb deeper for maximum effectiveness. Other perks include visible improvement in skin tone and a reduction in clogged hair follicles that can often lead to skin conditions like keratosis pilaris.
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How to dry brush at home
Before your morning shower, Vargas says to start at the tops of your feet and brush upwards toward your heart. “Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant, like the inner thighs, and don’t forget to include the backs of your arms and your back,” she adds. “You want the strokes to be long and straight toward the heart—circles don’t work. Also, never use a dry brush on your face!”
Experts recommend using it on dry skin prior to showering for five to 10 minutes—the goal is to feel invigorated, not sore. With continued use—some prefer every day, twice a day or every other day—you should see less lumps and a more radiant glow. Dr. Palep often tells patients to start with a soft brush and gentle pressure, and work up to firmer bristles and pressure over time.
“Dry brushing immediately increases circulation, so you will feel warmer when you are done,” says Vargas.
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