Dry brushing is an easy way to rid your body of toxins, cellulite and more. Here’s the scoop on how to dry brush and all the benefits of dry brushing.

By Crystal Martin
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In an age of 10-step skincare routines and skin-resurfacing gadgets, dry brushing is a relatively simple way to reap major benefits for your skin. A regular dry-brusher can look forward to the plumpness and glow that come with regular exfoliation. The process is as straightforward it sounds: You rub a dry brush across the skin on your face or body. Though simple, dry-brushing the right way isn’t exactly a no-brainer. We cover the basics with two experts, dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah, founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology, and Angela Kim, owner of New York City natural spa and skincare line Savor.

What Is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is essentially physical exfoliation. You brush the skin (of the body or face) with a dry brush, typically before showering or washing. “I think it’s really important to do it right before your shower because you can wash away the dry skin that was sloughed off during brushing,” said Kim. Dry brushing devotees say it’s been around for ages in some European and Asian cultures, but the practice is getting 2018 buzz because of celebs and social media. Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth Paltrow have both sung its praises. “You've got that top layer of dead skin, and you’re dislocating that layer physically,” said Kim.

Benefits of Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is a boon for the skin: It can end up plumper, brighter and smoother. But people with sensitive skin should steer clear of dry brushing. It can cause irritation or over-drying of the skin. “Additionally, some skin conditions, such acne, rosacea and eczema, can flare if the skin gets overly dry,” said Dr. Shah.

Cellulite Smoothing

You’ll hear a lot about how dry brushing works wonders on cellulite. Sadly, our experts don’t quite agree. “There is an element of massage during brushing which can temporarily plump it. Any improvement in the appearance of cellulite is likely due to that temporary skin plumping,” said Dr. Shah. Meaning your post-brushing, dimple-free thighs might only last an hour or so, but perhaps that’s better than nothing?

It Makes Skin Soft and Vibrant

It all comes back to the exfoliation. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, which allows reveals new skin underneath and helps even out dark spots, experts say. “It also increases circulation in the skin which will give it a glow,” said Kim.

An Energy Boost

Kim suggests dry brushing in the morning—going through the motion of brushing your skin (more on that later) gives you an unexpected energy surge. “I think it’s just a vigorous, energizing motion. Your body wakes up and your skin gets increased circulation because of the pressure of the brush and the movement of your body,” said Kim.

Your Skincare Works Better

Better product penetration is yet another benefit of exfoliation. When you remove an outer layer of dead skin and other debris with dry brushing, topical skincare more easily sinks in. That increased absorption improves efficacy, said Dr. Shah.

How to Dry Brush?

As straightforward as it is, there are still a few tricks and techniques to dry brushing your body and your face. The experts share the right way to do it for optimal results. 

How to Dry Brush Your Body

The minimalism of dry brushing is part of its appeal. All you’ll need is a brush and something to clean it with. Kim likes natural, soft-bristle brushes, “with a long handle so you can reach your back.” Brush in circular motion with gentle pressure toward the heart. (Reminder: Dry brush in the morning before showering). Start from the feet and work your way up. Dry brushing should never hurt—you don't have to be rough to see glowing results. For beginners, Kim said you can even apply a thin layer of light body oil, like Savor Beauty Sweet Baby Oil to give the brush a slight slip and make the process gentler. After brushing clean the brush in the shower with soap and water. “After, I’d spritz it with a lavender oil and water mixture to prevent bacteria growth,” said Kim.

How to Dry Brush Your Face

You’ll get the best results from a brush with firm natural bristles, similar to a stiff makeup brush. But Dr. Shah suggests dry-brushing newbies ease into the practice by starting with a dry washcloth and gradually working up to something stiffer. “Your bristles should not be so stiff as to cause pain, stinging, damage or redness,” said Dr. Shah. Before dry brushing the face, make sure the skin is clean. Use gentle upward strokes from the chin to the hairline on one side of the face, then move to the other side. Each section should be brushed with 5-10 strokes. This process can be repeated on the neck and décolletage using upward strokes from the décolletage to the chin. Once you have completed dry brushing, apply moisturizer, said Dr. Shah. “Because brushing is a form of exfoliating, do it one to three times a week.”

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