Anyone who rises and shuffles, bleary-eyed, into the bathroom (read: virtually everyone), should give dry brushing a shot.
In less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you could wake up your entire body with an at-home scrubdown that stimulates blood flow and feels aaaahh-mazing. We caught up with beauty blogger and dry-brushing enthusiast Jamie Walsh of Glam Latte to learn more about this ancient beauty regimen and how you can reap its health benefits.
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is pretty much as its name suggests: it's the system of running of a dry, natural-bristle brush over your skin. It is part massage, part detox.
The practice of dry brushing has been traced back to the 5,000-year-old system of Hindu medicine, Ayurveda. In ancient India, the morning ritual (known as garshana) was performed with a soft sponge before bathing to get the blood circulating. Other cultures have long since adopted similar practices, like the Japanese loofah and the Chinese gourd fruit, silk squash—the dried fibers of which are used for skin brushing.
What are the health benefits?
Dry brushing was originally believed to aid in detoxification, helping to stimulate the lymph canals. Although scientists now know that the liver, and not skin, is largely responsible for purging toxins from the body, doctors urge that dry brushing still has major health benefits: It sloughs away dead skin cells, increases circulation and decreases bloating. “When I do it, I feel relaxed yet energized afterwards. It also helps me sleep better,” says Walsh.
How do I do it?
First things first: You need a brush with all-natural bristles, as synthetic fibers can scratch the skin’s surface. “You want a brush with a long handle so you can reach your back. Mine has a removable handle, which is nice,” adds Walsh. Visit beauty retailers and health food stores like Whole Foods (where Walsh purchased hers) for a decent range.
The purpose of dry brushing is to awaken your system, so it’s traditionally performed before your morning shower. Nighttime bathers, however, can still practice the technique. Before turning on the hot water, start brushing with short strokes beginning at your feet and gradually moving up your legs. Walsh points out that you want to brush toward your heart to stimulate blood circulation.
Repeat the same short, brisk strokes along your arms, beginning at your hands. Move over to your back and finally, your chest, abdomen and neck. Walsh warns not to use a dry brush on your face, and never brush broken skin or inflamed areas.
As you brush, you should feel a slight tingling sensation. If you have sensitive skin, apply less pressure. “Over time, your skin will tolerate more pressure but it’s best to start with light strokes,” explains Walsh. Sensitive or not, your buffed skin should be rosy but never red or irritated.
The entire full-body process should take 3-5 minutes. Afterward, jump in a hot shower to rinse off any dead skin. After toweling off, Walsh recommends slathering on an all-natural lotion, which absorbs easier into freshly brushed skin. To clean your brush, Walsh says to rinse it with warm water and mild soap once a week to prevent mildew. Let it air dry before using it again.
Who knew such a simple addition to your morning shower routine could feel so invigorating? Don’t be surprised if people start asking where you got that energetic glow!