Say you’re blessed with dry, itchy skin. Say you’ve had eczema since before you learned how to talk, and by the age of three an average facial flare-up had people taking you for a refugee. Say it continued right into adulthood, and your epidermis became a finicky old coot, rejecting every new emulsion and salve you threw at it. At best, you hoped you’d find a cream that didn’t cause an allergic reaction and tamped down the itching. You find said cream, and it helps sooth flare-ups, but the underlying problem remains unaddressed.
Let’s cut to the chase: dry brushing drastically improved the quality of my dry skin. It’s the only remedy that went beyond calming inflammation towards addressing the root problem, with silky results. The best part is it only costs as much as the brush you buy. It may even save you money, since it leaves the skin so clean you’ll use less soap.
What is Dry Brushing?
Practitioners of dry brushing use a dry, natural brush to exfoliate the skin. While Russians, Turks and Scandinavians have used the technique for centuries, a Finnish doctor by the name of Paavo Airola is popularized the treatment in the 1960’s.
What Does Dry Brushing Do?
Let’s back up a wee bit and ask: What Does Our Skin Do?
Most of us know that our skin is our largest organ. But did you know it eliminates about a pound of waste acids each day? One pound! Or that it receives one third of all the blood circulating in our bodies, and is the last organ to receive nutrients? (It’s the first place nutrient deficiencies show up, but I bet you knew that intuitively.)
The point is, our skin does a lot, and dry brushing helps it work more efficiently.
Dry Brushing Benefits:
Removes dead skin cells: the most obvious benefit of dry brushing is exfoliation. When dry, dead skin cells build up, they exacerbate conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Helps the lymphatic system do its thing: The lymph system is our primary mode of detoxification. It brings our cells nutrients and carries away their waste. Lymph vessels have their own one-way pumping mechanism, and by dry brushing in the right direction (towards the heart) we can help them do their job more thoroughly.
Reduces cellulite: Many natural health experts believe cellulite happens when toxins in the body cause fat cells to bind inside our skin’s connective tissue. Dry brushing helps break down the fat deposits and encourages the skin to flush them out.
Stimulates circulation: Dry brushing floods your skin with blood flow, leaving a healthy glow and increased alertness. The “I’m awake!” feeling is why it’s best to dry brush in the morning, not before bed.
Proponents of dry brushing also claim it strengthens the immune system, tightens skin, improves the function of the nervous system, helps digestion and stimulates hormone and oil-producing glands. Read more about potential benefits here.
How Do I Dry Brush?
Like everything else these days, dry brushing can be simple or complicated. You do want to keep a few basic tips in mind:
- Use a natural brush or loofah sponge. Synthetic fibers may scratch the skin.
- Brush when the skin is dry. The best time is in the morning.
- Always brush towards the heart. Remember, your handy lymph system only flows in that direction. Brushing away from the heart stresses your lymph valves and causes broken capillaries and varicose veins. Start at your feet, and use long sweeping strokes to work up the legs and torso. Work from your fingers to your shoulders. Use circular counter-clockwise stroked on the abdomen.
- Shower immediately after brushing, and apply oil while the skin is damp. I love using straight up coconut oil. Mix it with an aromatherapy oil if smelling like an island castaway isn’t your cup of tea.
If you’d like the long-haul detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this article.
For those with sensitive skin, I suggest starting very gently. Your skin will become accustomed to the sensation.
Have you ever tried dry brushing? Are you intrigued?