Is Dry Brushing Your Skin Worth It?
Dry brushing, one of the latest skin crazes, sort of feels like a massage, it only takes a few minutes, and it reportedly provides a variety of significant benefits—everything from lymphatic drainage to improved circulation and cellular exfoliation, purportedly helping to make your skin glow—but for most people dry brushing remains a mystery. How does it work? How do you keep it from hurting? Will any old brush do? To demystify the process of dry brushing, we spoke with dermatologists who shared their wisdom, and techniques.
Among other benefits, dry brushing is a fantastic exfoliator.
"Dry brushing, or when you use a large bristle brush to massage the skin while it's dry, helps to exfoliate and increases blood flow," says Dr. Sapna Palep of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. While benefits aren’t clinically established, derms tend to regard it as a worthwhile practice.
"Proper dry brushing is a great, natural, mechanical exfoliation process that yields excellent results," says Dr. Ava Shamban. "The cellular stimulation and turnover provides oxygenation of the skin cells, which is both visually beneficial and highly effective," she adds. The gentle friction from the dry bristles is often invigorating and the exfoliating restores fresh new cells, brightening the skin.
Some say it also helps with lymphatic draining.
It's also believed that dry brushing can improve your skin tone by increasing blood circulation and flow. "Some people find that it helps de-puff the skin as it can help with lymphatic draining," says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Howard Sobel.
"Manual exfoliation helps to reduce inflammation," adds board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. "This stimulates the lymphatic system because blood increases in that area and eliminates waste. The removal of waste and toxins can have a tightening, or de-puffing effect." However, it doesn't tighten permanently.
What's the best technique for dry brushing?
It's not as simple as brushing your hair: there's a preferred process for maximizing benefits. "Start at your feet and brush upward toward the heart using firm, small strokes, and work in a circular motion," advises Dr. Peterson Pierre. "Similarly, when you move on to your arms, start at your hands, and work upward. For your belly, work in a clockwise direction."
Once you're done, Dr. Palep recommends taking a shower to wash off all the dead skin cells. "Follow with a body moisturizer or oil on dry, washed skin," Dr. Palep says. Bonus: Because dry brushing removes dry, flaky skin, your products will be able to penetrate better, says Dr. Sobel.
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