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Dry brushing 101: Everything you need to know

Everything you need to know about the ‘art’ of dry brushing – a simple massage technique that is shown to brighten skin, boost circulation and aid lymphatic drainage.

Your guide to dry brushing:

What is dry brushing?

Now that you’ve mastered Gua Sha, don’t forget about the rest of your body! Dry brushing, also known as Garshana or Urdhvartanam in Ayurveda (Indian alternative medicine), is the concept of dry massaging and the rubbing of the body in an upward direction. The concept of dry brushing uses coarse brush fibers to remove dead skin and improve the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins through its pores. Whilst some prefer dry brushing during a detox, brushing once or twice daily is shown to increase the skin’s appearance and elasticity.

“It stimulates microcirculation, safely and naturally, allowing for dead cell desquamation, thereby promoting fresh blood and oxygen flow to the skin surface.” says Kavita Khosa, founder of Purearth Asia, an ethical and sustainable beauty brand. “Dry Brushing essentially polishes the skin, making it appear smoother and softer”. Other than its physical benefits, it also stimulates your nervous system, making you feel energised after a dry brushing session. “According to Ayurveda, this helps with cellulite, obesity, sluggishness of the body and decreases ‘kapha” while detoxing the body, aiding in lymphatic drainage to release build up of ‘Ama’ or toxins collected in the body due to poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, exercise or smoking” adds Kavita.

Dry brushing stimulates microcirculation, safely and naturally, allowing for dead cell desquamation, thereby promoting fresh blood and oxygen flow to the skin surface.”

Kavita Khosa, founder of Purearth Asia

So, how do you dry-brush?

“The direction should always be upward, an in fact, garshana or urdhvartanam is done against the direction of body hair” shares Kavita. When dry brushing, one must use firm, small strokes upwards or in a circular motion. You should spend around five to seven minutes dry brushing to fully stimulate the process. In regards to when you should dry brush, it depends on the individual. Some prefer before bed whilst others prefer in the morning because of its rejuvenation effect. On what to use with your dry-brush, it also varies according to each person’s preference. You can use body oil otherwise some prefer using the brush on its own.

  1. Start at your feet and brush towards the heart.
  2. When approaching your stomach, work in a clockwise direction.
  3. Light strokes should be used in areas where your skin is thin, i.e. arms and hands. Areas of your face that have thicker skin, i.e. soles of your feet, can be used with more pressure.
  4. Brush your arms, in the direction towards your armpits.

Once completed, you should take a cool shower to help remove the exfoliated dry skin. “Ayurvedic texts recommend abyhanga or a body oil massage following dry brushing. This nourishes and tones the skin and muscles, improving blood circulation and should then be followed by a bath” says Kavita.

Which tool should I use?

Short brushes fit into your hand making it easy to use. Those who wish to get further spots such as the back opt to use long brushes. “A muslin mitt, or a natural fibre brush or loofah works very well without being too harsh or stripping the skin dry” suggests Kavita. For those with more sensitive skin, a plain, dry washcloth would be better.

Dry brushing may not be for everyone. For those who suffer from eczema and psoriasis, speak with your dermatologist before proceeding. Those with open or inflamed wounds should avoid brushing over such areas as it could lead to an infection. In terms of after care, rinse your brush with soap and water once a week after using. It should be dried in an open, sunny area to prevent mildew.

Not sure where to purchase Dry Brushes? Browse Sephora’s Body Brush  or tools from NET-A-PORTER.

Hero and featured image courtesy of Cottonbro via Pexels

Dry brushing 101: Everything you need to know


Despite pursuing a career in Law, Tanya has always been interested in journalism seen by writing on social activism, lifestyle and culture in Hong Kong. If she’s not writing or in court, you can catch her reading the latest book on her Kindle whilst sipping her latest matcha latte find.

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