How far will you go to be beautiful?
Paying a small fortune for a cup of carefully calibrated juice always seems like a good detox idea until it hits the lips, as is putting on an animal printed mask on the plane to judgemental stares all around.
Today’s wellness trend involves stripping down to your birthday suit with a bristly brush in hand. It’s not that hard to put two and two together here; you’ll be running said brush over the entirety of your body, like a pedigree mare being groomed before an equestrian dressage. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have hair everywhere. Welcome to the world of dry brushing.
Dry brushing (or body brushing) might’ve have resurfaced over the last few years thanks to wellness evangelists like Gwenyth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr, and just about the entire Victoria’s Secret squad, but it’s really a ritual that dates back to ancient Greece, with similar practices around the globe. Unlike other peculiar wellness fads like vaginal steams and intermittent fasting, this one’s relatively simpler to achieve.
Before you dive right into this buzzword and order yourself the first brush you see, we take you on a guide to this supposedly miraculous detoxifying cure-all, and what you can expect from it.
What is dry brushing?
When it comes to this technique, everything lies in the name. Dry brushing is a manual form of exfoliation which involves brushing your body in upward motions with a body brush with firm bristles.
Tools required for dry brushing
The practice requires only a brush with stiff natural bristles that offer a firm resistance against the skin. Avoid synthetic bristles as they can be too harsh on the skin; the best options include boar bristles or cactus sisal fibres. Some brushes come with long handles so you can get to hard-to-reach spots like the back, while some like the Karmameju Recharge Ionic Body Brush come with copper wires to bring electromagnetic energies in the body into harmony. Whichever your weapon, prepare for the hardcore exfoliation that follows.
How to dry brush your skin?
Dry brushing isn’t as simple as brushing the tangles out of your hair. To encourage better blood circulation, start at your feet and firmly brush upwards in long strokes towards your heart. Similarly on the arms, start at your hands and work your way up, and at your belly, brush in a clockwise motion. A focus on lymph node hotspots such as your neck is also encouraged to boost the drainage of toxins.
The brushing should always be gentle as pressing too hard can break the skin. The whole process of dry brushing should take three to five minutes, and neither you nor the brush should be damp or wet.
Dry brushing is typically done before showering, but it’s also notorious for making your skin extra thirsty. Using a hydrating lotion or body oil after, specifically one that has grapefruit or cypress can help support the circulation and lymphatic drainage process while ensuring you don’t shed like a snake. If you already have ultra-sensitive skin or skin issues, you might want to sit this one out.
Benefits of dry brushing
So is brushing the skin worth the effort every morning you ask? The benefits of dry brushing include the obvious exfoliation as you’re constantly sloughing away at the dead skin cells. The motions also stimulate the skin and apparently, the oil glands as well, increasing its elasticity and suppleness in the long run.
Skin brushing, or dry brushing, directly impacts the lymph system and ensures that your body gets rid of toxins and extra water. Thus, preventing bloating and aiding digestion.
Other purported benefits include a boost in blood circulation and better lymph flow, the latter of which is important in the removal of wastes in the body. The lymph system doesn’t have a “regular pump” within the body, so moving the body via activities like yoga or exercising is crucial in lymph node drainage. While nowhere near as effective as exercising, those who subscribe to the sedentary lifestyle might find that dry brushing can help stimulate the lymph system, even if only for a little.
Not even selling your soul to the devil will help in banishing cellulite, so don’t expect a dry brush to do that for you. Despite what over-hyped Instagrammers might claim, no topical procedure is capable of blasting away the dimples on your bum, although things like massages or scrubs can temporarily make it appear smoother. The gym is your best friend if you’re looking for a long term and more permanent solution. Happy brushing.
Apart from plumping the skin and making it appear smoother, dry brushing can also help with reducing the effects of sun damage.
Dry brushing also stimulates the nervous system and energises you just like a massage would.
How often should you dry brush?
According to a Cleveland Clinic article, people with sensitive skin should be a little careful while dry brushing their bodies. In case of swelling and redness, discontinue immediately.
It’s always better to identify areas that require you to be gentle — like the breasts, neck and abdomen — or you can skip dry brushing them altogether.
Also, avoid areas with bumps, moles, sunburns and wounds. Once you have understood the process, do not dry brush your skin more than once or twice a week.
Risks of dry brushing
This exfoliation technique, which although gets rid of dead skin cells, isn’t safe for every skin type and might cause redness and irritation. Those with rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions should avoid dry brushing at all costs.
Even those without any skin conditions should avoid going overboard as this exfoliation technique can damage your epidermis — the top layer of your skin.
In addition to the earlier mentioned post-dry brushing care, you must apply sunscreen to your freshly exfoliated skin if you’re heading out, as your skin will be more vulnerable to sun damage.
Always wash your body brush with baby shampoo at least twice a month to keep it free of germs and safe for your skin.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.