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  • Writer's pictureBellamy Ryder

Dry Brushing 101

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Dry brushing has become a very popular health and beauty trend as of late but it’s far from new. This method of self care dates back to ancient India, thousands of years ago and has been used all across ancient civilizations. The benefits from it are so good it’s no wonder why it’s making a huge comeback.

Dry brushing consists of taking a coarse bristled brush and sweeping it across dry skin from head to toe. It might sound unpleasant or even questionable but hear me out when I say it’s super soothing, energizing, and rejuvenating!

So what are the health and beauty benefits of dry brushing that so many rave about? Let’s check them out!

Lymphatic Drainage

The number one benefit from dry brushing is lymphatic stimulation. The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the immune system and part of the body's natural detoxification center. It performs a ton of different jobs and consists of nodes, ducts, vessels, and organs that filter and remove cellular waste so the body can function properly on all levels.

An unhealthy lymphatic system can lead to an array of health issues. If your body isn't filtering out cellular waste properly then your cells and body will be full of toxins and acidic waste causing inflammation and inflammatory related dis-ease.

A clogged, weak lymphatic system can lead to skin issues like acne, boils, eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune disorders, swelling of the lymph nodes, brain fog, fatigue, bad breath, anxiety, depression, arthritis, cancer, and more.

There are many lymph vessels that lie just beneath the skin that dry brushing helps to stimulate and increase circulation to help improve lymphatic drainage. When done regularly it aids in the body's natural detoxification helping to move the cellular waste out.

This is exactly why dry brushing can help to reduce cellulite (which is completely normal and nothing to feel badly about). Here’s the truth about cellulite though, it’s directly related to lymphatic health. We have fat everywhere on our body, we need it. Cellulite occurs when lymph waste, which is fluid, builds up around fat cells creating that dimpled appearance.

While dry brushing is a great addition to any self care routine, it’s not something to be relied on for a healthy lymphatic system. Living an overall healthy lifestyle is the only way to ensure proper lymphatic health. Drinking plenty of filtered water, exercise, sweating, eating real food, restful sleep, and getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine are things you can do each day to improve lymphatic and overall health.

Bye Bye Dead Skin

Dry brushing is super effective at exfoliating the skin and unclogging pores. The simple action of sweeping the coarse brush across the skin removes dead skin cells revealing softer, smoother, more radiant skin. Exfoliation also stimulates natural collagen production which can aid in the appearance of tighter, smoother skin.

Another detoxification plus is by removing the dead skin cells and unclogging pores all over the whole body, sweating becomes more efficient. Sweating is how our skin, the largest organ of the body, eliminates toxins. Sweating is very healing and is also good for lymphatic health.

You can dry brush before or after a shower, this is personal preference but I highly recommend going in with a good quality moisturizer or body oil afterwards to achieve super soft, glowing skin. My favorite lotion recently has been Burt's Bees, it’s non toxic, 98% naturally derived, and super hydrating. I'll leave the link right below for you to check out!

Boost Energy

Dry brushing not only stimulates the lymphatic system for improved drainage, it also stimulates blood circulation and “wakes” the nervous system. The increase in blood flow can give you a little burst of energy and leave you feeling invigorated and rejuvenated.

Pro tip: Dry brush in the morning for a new self care ritual to start your day off on a high note.

A Dry Brush For Everyone

There are a few different types of dry brushes from natural boar bristles and vegan bristles to copper and brushes with rubber heads mixed in. There are also dry brushes made specifically for the face that are made with much softer and finer bristles.

You don't even want to use a coarse bristle body brush on the face for the same reason you don't want to use exfoliating scrubs that contain sugar, walnut shells, or artificial beads. They will irritate the skin to no end and create micro tears, or actually scratches that have negative effects on collagen and elasticity as well as cause acne.

I personally haven't tried to dry brush my face as I use a high quality powder exfoliator, an AHA and BHA serum, a resurfacing and refining mask a couple times per week as well as a gua-sha for lymph drainage and toning. If you do want to dry brush your face for all of the benefits it offers check out the brush linked below!

The dry brushes I purchased for my body are super affordable and come as a set. It includes a hand held brush that I use for most of my body as well as a long handle brush that I use specifically for my back. Both are made with real boar hair bristles and I absolutely love it! The bristles are coarse as they are meant to be but they don't scratch or irritate the skin. I haven't had much, if any of the bristles fall out, although this is something that is normal in brand new brushes. Check out the one I’ve been using right below!

I understand there are many vegans that are part of this beautiful community so I’m also going to be leaving a link right below to a good quality vegan dry brush set. This one actually comes with an attachable handle for the hand held brush so you get the best of both worlds!

As I mentioned earlier there are some dry brushes that come with some rubber pieces in between the bristles. The rubber nodules are meant to provide more of a massaging effect. If that sounds like something you’d like check out the link right below!

The last dry brush I’m going to chat about is the granddaddy of them all, probably the best and most beneficial brush you can use but it is a bit of an investment. I recommend starting out with one of the more affordable brushes with natural boar or vegan bristles and if you end up loving it you can upgrade!

This brush is made with ion charged copper bristles and real humane horsehair bristles. The fine copper bristles neutralize ions and restores electromagnetic balance in the body which reduces acidity, balances energy, and counteracts daily stressors from the environment and technology. Horsehair bristles provide the same benefits as the boar hair or vegan bristle but are said to be a bit more soft.

This brush is from a company called Higher Dose who has other amazing, healing wellness products that I definitely recommend checking out. If you prefer to buy from amazon there is a similar brush that is a bit more affordable that provides similar benefits but is made with bronze bristles instead of copper.

My Technique

So how exactly do you dry brush? Most dry brush brands that you purchase from are going to recommend that you always brush upward towards the heart. This is true but through my own research there is a more effective way than simply brushing upwards.

As we went over before there are vessels, glands, nodes, and organs that are all part of the lymphatic system. There are three major lymph nodes locations that you want to focus on when brushing to achieve maximum benefits. The inguinal nodes located in the groin, the axillary nodes located in the armpits, and the cervical nodes in the neck. There are many more but these are the ones that I like to focus on when dry brushing. The goal is to encourage the lymph fluid to move towards certain nodes for optimal drainage.

First things first, always use short, gentle strokes in the upward motion repeating each stroke 2-3 times. You’ll start from the bottom of your feet and end up near the neck and armpits, brushing just about every inch of your body.

Starting with the lower extremities, you'll focus on brushing towards the inguinal nodes in the groin to encourage lymph drainage to that area. Begin your dry brushing on the bottom of your feet, move to the top of the feet, up the claves, over and behind the knees, up to the thighs, to the bum, and over the groin area. Now focus on the part of the torso that is located from the belly button down. Brush down towards the groin lymph node.

Next we focus on the upper part of the body brushing towards the axillary lymph nodes to encourage lymph drainage to that area. Begin above the belly button stroking upwards all around the torso to the back as far up as you can reach. This is where a brush with a long stick comes in handy. When it comes to the chest, brush the right side of the chest in a sideways motion towards the right armpit and do the same on the left side. Brush downwards on the neck and shoulders. Next, starting from the hands brush upwards to the forearm, to the bicep and tricep area and finally over the armpit.

Vwala! You've dry brushed your whole body, exfoliated our skin, increased circulation, and promoted lymph drainage in the most effective way! The whole process should take about five minutes, give or take.

Don't Forget To Clean Your Brush

Dry brushing is something that should be done regularly to reap all of the benefits, my recommendation is at least four times per week. With that you’ll want to keep your brushes clean as they will start to accumulate dead skin and you want to avoid any risk of infection or any kind of skin irritation. Give your brush a good cleanse one to two times a week depending on how much you use it.

I clean my brushes with my vegan, non toxic makeup brush shampoo, I’ll leave the link to that right below! You can also use hair shampoo, body wash, hand soap, or dish soap.

Gently wet the bristles making sure to not wet the whole entire brush, you want to avoid getting the wood wet to avoid any mold from forming and to keep the brush in the best condition for as long as possible. Take a bit of the soap in your flat hand and rub the bristles into it in circular motions. Alternatively, if you have a makeup cleansing pad you can use that. Carefully rinse the bristles and place the brush face down on a clean cloth or paper towel to dry.

Like I mentioned earlier, dry brushing is a great addition to anyways self care routine. It provides such amazing benefits, it is affordable, easy to do and there's a brush out there for everyone!

The only circumstance I would recommend against dry brushing is if you are experiencing a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. The coarse bristles could further irritate the condition and cause infection. If you're someone who only has a few patches feel free to dry brush but skip over those areas.

Happy brushing my friends 💕

Wishing you a beautiful day 🌿

Much Love,

Bellamy Ryder


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