Personal Nutrition Guide

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In the ever-evolving world of skincare, beauty trends are constantly emerging with new and improved ideas for healthier, glowing skin. 

Dry brushing, while not a new concept, has continued to spike in popularity each year over its many health benefits. This 3000-year-old beauty ritual is rooted in Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine from India. In this article, we’ll explore dry brushing, including its numerous health benefits, a step-by-step guide on how to get started, and tips for finding the perfect brush.

What is Dry Brushing?

“Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic daily practice that helps detox the body,” explains Rebecca Lansky, MS, licensed esthetician and Ayurvedic specialist. “It involves using a natural bristle brush on dry skin to massage and exfoliate the body, effectively removing any dead skin before bathing.” Natural bristle brushes are typically made from boar or fiber bristles, which are firm enough to exfoliate and massage the body but not rough enough to cause abrasions on the skin. “This is a great way to stimulate blood flow and exfoliate the skin,” Lansky adds.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

  1. Exfoliation and Cell Renewal:

One cosmetic benefit of dry brushing is the rejuvenated afterglow it gives your skin. Over time, dead skin and other buildup can accumulate (even with regular showering), leaving your skin rough and dull-looking. Dry brushing can naturally remove the dead skin cells, promoting cell turnover and resulting in smooth, radiant skin.

     2. Stimulates (and releases toxins through) the Lymphatic System:

The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system that includes organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels, making and moving lymph from tissues to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is crucial for maintaining healthy fluid levels, protecting the body against bacteria or viruses, and removing waste.

During the dry brushing process, the brushing motion stimulates and drains the lymphatic system, detoxifying the body. This can reduce the buildup of toxins and promote a healthier, more vibrant complexion. “Dry brushing is amazing for the whole body and especially the lymphatic system,” Lansky says. “By removing dead skin, the pores are open to detox and sweat out toxins more effectively. It is also an invigorating practice to help ease anxiety, create active blood flow, and exercise for the skin.”

    4. Improved Blood Circulation:

When you dry brush your skin with firm yet gentle circular motions, the brush’s natural bristles apply pressure, stimulating the nerve endings in the skin and triggering a response from the nervous system. This stimulation then allows the blood vessels in the area to dilate, increasing the blood flow to the skin’s surface. This also increases the oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cells, contributing to a healthier, more plumped appearance.

*It’s important to note that while dry brushing doesn’t directly lead to reduced cellulite (due to lack of evidence), the increased blood circulation from dry brushing can temporarily mimic the appearance of reduced cellulite.

   5. Prevents Ingrown Hairs:

Ingrown hairs are caused by a buildup of dead skin cells, oils, and hair clogged in the pores. The brush’s natural exfoliation can help rid of any ingrown hairs and other buildup that may have accumulated in the follicles while preventing new ingrown hairs from appearing. This technique is highly beneficial to those prone to ingrown hairs for both shaving and waxing.

Are there any risks to dry brushing?

While dry brushing is naturally safe and boasts numerous benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential risks, especially for those with sensitive skin or certain medical conditions. Some risks include:

 Skin Irritation-Overly vigorous brushing, brushing too frequently, or using a brush with too firm bristles (such as synthetic or plastic bristles) can cause irritation, redness, or even microtears in the skin.

Infection Risk-If the brush is not regularly cleaned with soap and water or left out where bacteria can accumulate, there’s a risk of introducing bacteria to microtears in the skin, potentially leading to infections. It’s crucial to avoid dry brushing anywhere on your body where there are cuts, scrapes, burns/sunburns, or any type of open wound or inflamed skin.

Aggravation of Skin Conditions-Individuals with certain skin conditions may find dry brushing exacerbates their symptoms. Some of these conditions include:

 If you have any of these skin conditions or have ‘overly sensitive’ skin, it’s recommended that you consult with a dermatologist first to see if dry brushing is safe to use on your skin.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Dry Brushing

If you’re looking to upgrade your pre-shower skincare routine, this guide will teach you how to properly (and safely) use a dry brush.

Step 1: Choose the Right Brush

Before beginning the brushing process, you need to buy a brush that is comfortable for you and your skin. Natural bristle brushes with a strap or handle (for hard-to-reach areas) are the most helpful.

Step 2: Choose the Right Time

The best time to dry brush is typically before you shower so you can wash off all the dead skin cells afterward. Whether that fits into your morning or evening routine is your choice.

Step 3: Brushing Technique

Starting at your feet, make firm but gentle strokes, slowly working your way up. You can use strokes or circular motions, but always make sure you brush towards the heart so you’re not obstructing any natural fluid flows (e.g., lymphatic drainage). Pay extra attention and be gentle on areas where lymph nodes are found (e.g., the armpits, groin, neck, chest, and stomach).

Step 4: Shower

Following your dry brushing session, take a shower, preferably in lukewarm water, so you won’t irritate your skin further. This will give you a chance to rinse off all of the exfoliated skin cells and wash your body for cleanliness. In addition to cleaning your body after dry brushing, make sure to wash your brush as well to remove any lingering dead skin or dirt before its next use.

Step 5: Moisturize

After showering, your clean, exfoliated skin needs to be rehydrated, so applying a nourishing moisturizer or even a light layer of body oil to lock in hydration can further enhance the dry brushing benefits.

Step 6: Maintenance

Once you have a comfortable routine, you should maintain a consistent schedule for best results. Start by dry brushing two to three times per week for about five minutes per session. Pay close attention to any irritation or sensitivity you may have. If your skin has any sensitivity or reactions, stop dry brushing immediately. With consistency, you should start seeing results in two to four weeks (depending on how often you brush).

Tips for Finding the Best Dry Brush

Consider the following tips when selecting a dry brush:

  1. Don’t skimp on quality material 

When it comes to material, quality is everything. It’s crucial to opt for a brush with natural bristles, such as boar or fiber bristles, rather than synthetic or plastic bristles. The natural bristles provide a gentle exfoliation on the skin, unlike the latter (which can cause irritation).

     2. Invest in a brush with a strap or handle

Investing in a dry brush with a strap or long handle can be extremely beneficial for hard-to-reach areas such as the back and lower legs. The added length or strap provides an extended reach, making it easier to maneuver, resulting in better exfoliation and blood flow. 

     3. Cleaning Instructions

Always check the cleaning instructions provided with the brush. Regular cleaning is pertinent to prevent bacteria buildup on the bristles, potentially causing an infection. 

Here are a few high-quality dry brushes we recommend made with eco-friendly materials and natural bristles:

The Skinny Confidential Butter Brush

Lansky recommends using any natural bristle brush for the process, finding the most comfortable product for your own use. She loves using The Skinny Confidential Butter Brush for its naturally soft boar bristles and long silicone handle for a comfortable grip (especially in hard-to-reach areas).

Buy Now The Skinny Confidential, $79

De La Heart Face & Body Bundle 

De La Heart offers several different options and designs for all of your dry brushing needs. If you’re looking to exfoliate your face and body, the Face & Body Bundle is an optimal choice. The mini brush has a sustainably sourced wooden handle and uses cruelty-free goat hair bristles for a softer touch. The body brush, on the other hand, has a natural canvas strap and uses cruelty-free boar hair.

Buy Now De La Heart, $56

Goop Ultimate Dry Brush

One dry brush consumers can’t stop raving about is the Goop Ultimate Dry Brush. Goop founder Gwenyth Paltrow is a huge fan of adding dry brushing to her own skincare routine, so creating a high-quality dry brush for consumers was a no-brainer. The dry brush has a long FSC-certified curved wooden handle and uses natural, biodegradable sisal fibers, resulting in smooth, luminous skin for its consumers.

Buy Now, Goop, $ 25

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