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The Truth About Dry Brushing

Dry brushing, in its original, less hipster form, has been a method utilized to detox the body for centuries. More recently, dry brushing has gained the attention of health-seekers, skin specialists, and some medical professionals alike. Our bodies have a variety of ways to get rid of toxins on a daily basis. It has been shown that about one third of the toxins we excrete exit through our skin. You know when the dude on the bus next to you smells like last night’s cocktails? That’s why.

Most of us are no stranger to taking care of our organs for maximum health benefit. We exercise to keep our heart healthy, we drink plenty of water to assist our liver with detoxification, and we eat gut-healthy foods to protect our digestive organs. But, what do we do for our skin?

Our skin in the body’s largest organ, after all. Of course we bathe, lather up in fancy lotions, and even pay dermatologists to make us look our best. But, did you know that we can help our body detoxify and keep our skin healthy in just a few minutes a day and for under $20?! For reals.

The more research I did, the more I learned about the many ways dry brushing is beneficial. There are few “risks” involved in dry brushing so I figured why not?! The only drawbacks I read are that it can be too harsh for very sensitive skin, and some people simply do not like the feeling. Overall, however, the “risks” associated with dry brushing were nothing like the laundry list of ailments we hear about other treatments.

Some of the proposed benefits of dry brushing include:

  • Softer skin
  • Reduction in cellulite or appearance of cellulite
  • Increased circulation
  • Lymphatic drainage which stimulates the immune system
  • Improved kidney function
  • Immediate energy boost
  • Helps skin absorb nutrients by eliminating clogged pores
  • Encourages cell renewal

I first tried dry brushing several months ago. To be honest, my plan was to give it the old college try, ultimately decide it was for the birds, and write a blog post to tell you fine people to save yourself the time and money. But, here I am, with softer skin and a newfound method of selfcare telling you I really do love dry brushing. With that said, some of the claims about dry brushing are hard to measure. Personally,I can speak to some of the benefits but not all of them.

My skin is absolutely softer than it was a few months ago. Sloughing off dry skin every morning has made a big difference, especially in this dry Colorado weather. My skin also looks visibly smoother. Part of that of course is thanks to a mostly paleo diet and drinking my body weight in water everyday.

I have noticed a slight reduction in cellulite, but it’s not significant. If I wanted to investigate this further I would have taken “before” photos. But, the idea of taking pictures of my own cellulite isn’t the most appetizing activity I can think of. Ya feel me? I do notice an immediate feeling of invigoration or an energy boost when I dry brush. I will also note that I have not gotten sick (cold, flu, etc) since I started dry brushing. Whether we can call that correlation or causation, we may never know.

I have to admit, at first my skin was very sensitive to the bristly brush and I thought I could be doing it wrong. The more I did it though, the more I really learned to like the feeling of dry brushing. If you’re going to try dry brushing, I recommend you give it your all for a full month. You can work your way up to being more firm with the brush if you need to.

The medical benefits such as increased circulation, kidney function, lymphatic drainage, and cell renewal are harder to judge for obvious reasons. My cells don’t feel especially efficient and my kidneys don’t seem to be pumping out toxins like it’s their day job, as far as I know. To truly assess the medical claims I think I’d have to be using dry brushing as a treatment for an issue or have a medical professional monitoring these functions. The research is very clear that dry brushing is not supposed to be used in lieu of medical treatment, but can prevent some illness and help your immune system process the bugs more quickly. There are studies that suggest that the medical benefits are truly effective, and as all things are, there is also research that debunks the medical benefits of dry brushing.

For me, however, I am going to assume that dry brushing helps my skin stay healthy in the dry Colorado weather and maybe, just maybe my insides are little happier when I dry brush.

So… you’re probably wondering HOW the heck do you reap all the benefits?!… Lucky for you, I know how!

  • I dry brush right before I get into the shower. Some people like to do it after, but I like the feeling of washing off the dead skin in the shower to help smooth my skin. You can dry brush at any time of day that works for you.
  • Start at your feet using firm strokes and move upwards stroking each body part roughly 10 times (feet, front of legs, back of legs, hips, etc… you get the point)
  • Brush skin surfaces on your front and back body (Don’t forget the back of your thighs, backs of your shoulders, and armpits)
  • Avoid sensitive areas like your chest, face and undercarriage. Trust me on this one. If you dry brush the ladies, it will leave marks
  • Be sure to only brush upward and towards your heart. Aim for a path from the outside in and bottom to top and you’ll be in good shape
  • When dry brushing your stomach, you can use long strokes or clockwise circles. I prefer the circles.
  • After you shower, or immediately after you dry brush,  use a high-quality body oil or lotion all over. Remember, dry brushing opens your pores so using a high-quality product here really does matter. I often use organic coconut oil or different body oils. Your skin will thank you for not skipping this step.
  • Be consistent. Try to dry brush everyday or as often as possible. It took awhile to make this part of my routine, but once I did, I really started to reap the benefits.

You can buy a dry brush for $8-$12 ish at health food stores like Sprouts or Natural Grocers. I got mine on Thrive Market (duh) for about $10. I’ve also seen several options on Amazon to choose from. I think it’s hard to go wrong in choosing a dry brush. I got one with a removable longer handle and I almost never use it with the handle on. If you dry brush, let me know in the comments what your experience has been like or let me know if you’re going to give it a try!

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