flat lay of bamboo items and multiple bristle brushes for dry brushing

What is dry brushing and how do you do it?

Last Updated: February 11, 2022

An Ayurvedic tool used to exfoliate the skin and promote natural radiance? Yes please! Come take a look at the how-to’s of the practice of dry brushing.

The road to soft, glowing skin is fraught with gimmicky home remedies, chemical-laden lotions, and bizarre body oils. While this trip may seem never ending, we’re pretty sure we’ve found the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Dry brushing, also known as skin brushing, has many skin benefits like buffing away dead skin cells to boost your skin’s glow and supporting lymph drainage. The best part is that you don’t need any expensive products or a ton of time to achieve results — just grab a dry brush and read up on the best way to incorporate this self-care ritual into your routine.

What is dry brushing?

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Dry brushing got its start in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic healing system that’s been practiced in India for over 3,000 years. Today, dry brushing is a popular way to manually exfoliate the skin and promote lymphatic drainage.

Dry brushes are made from synthetic or natural materials with bristles that range from soft to hard, or somewhere in between. Vegetable and plant fibers are common, but non-vegan options like boar bristle dry brushes are also available. We really love Pursoma’s Detox Beauty Dry Brush — it’s made from ethically-harvested jute fiber that’s strong enough to stimulate your skin but gentle enough for daily use.

Can you dry brush your face?

Some dry brushes are soft enough to use on your face but generally, dry brushing is too abrasive for delicate facial skin. If you have delicate skin, learn about AHA and BHA acids to slough away dead facial skin or learn about jade rolling if you’re interested in stimulating lymph drainage and blood circulation on your sensitive skin.

Benefits of dry brushing

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Stimulates lymphatic drainage

Dry brushing is a form of manual massage, and manual massage can help move lymph fluid through the body. Lymph drainage helps reduce swelling, supports relaxation, and can help the body boost its healing response.

Just make sure to drink a lot of water after you dry brush because the body flushes lymph fluid via urination.

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Exfoliates dead skin cells

Dead skin creates a dull appearance and rough texture on your body.

Dry brushing is a potent physical exfoliator that sloughs off dead cells, leaving you with soft, radiant skin that looks and feels wonderful.

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Preps skin for other products

Exfoliation is a great way to prep your skin for better product absorption.

Whether you plan to slather on a yummy moisturizer for super-soft skin or you’re getting ready to apply self-tanner ( We’ve got tips, if you are!), dry brushing first can help your products apply more evenly and absorb deeper into your skin.

Want more tips for luminous skin? Check out our guide to glowing skin to get your glow on!

Watch this video from Pursoma’s founder for a visual guide on dry brushing.

How to use a dry brush

To use the brush, you’ll want to apply strokes with medium pressure — enough that you can feel the brush stimulating your skin, but not so hard that your skin turns red with irritation. Use overlapping strokes so that each body part gets multiple passes with the brush. Because dry brushing is thought to work by stimulating the lymphatic system, follow your circulatory system and brush toward your heart.

Since you’ll be pulling up dead skin—dry brushing is best done before you shower and on dry skin. Focus on each body part for about 30 seconds—done this way, dry brushing should take around 5 minutes. Feel free to take your time with it if you’re having an evening of relaxing self-care.

1. Brush your lower body

Start with upward strokes from your feet and go around each calf, thigh, your butt, lower back, and your stomach. Pay special attention to your upper thighs because there are lymph nodes in that area.

2. Brush your upper body

Brush in upward strokes from your hands to your shoulders, working from the backs of your hands and around your forearms to your biceps. Spend extra time on the lymph nodes in your upper arms, and try to brush your upper back where you can reach. But don’t worry if you miss a few spots!

3. Brush your neck and decolletage

Working in downward strokes with gentle pressure, start from your neck and move toward your upper chest. Finish your routine by brushing in circular motions over your heart.

4. Shower

Shower as usual to rinse away the dead skin cells you sloughed off. Use a gentle body wash and be mindful of using any loofahs or body scrubs after you dry brush — too much exfoliation could irritate your skin.

5. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Proper moisturization is important after you dry brush. Your skin will be primed for product absorption so choose a nutrient-rich lotion or body oil to replenish and nourish your skin.

Dry brushing FAQ

How many times a week should you dry brush?

How many times a week you dry brush depends on how your body reacts to dry brushing.

Some people can dry brush daily without issue, while others find that daily exfoliation is too much for their skin. Start dry brushing twice a week and see how your skin fares.

How do you clean a dry brush?

Clean your dry brush by knocking it against the shower wall or into the sink after each use. This will release the dead skin cells.

Periodically place the brush in sunlight for up to twelve hours to sanitize it. Alternatively, you can use a gentle soap like Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap to wash the bristles under warm water.

Is dry brushing bad?

Dry brushing isn’t for every skin type. Folks with sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema might find that dry brushing is more irritating to their skin than it is beneficial.

Talk with your doctor or dermatologist if you have concerns about whether or not dry brushing is a good idea for your skin type.

Does dry brushing get rid of cellulite?

Dry brushing doesn’t get rid of cellulite but it does increase blood circulation and the extra blood flow can cause a skin-plumping effect that temporarily decreases the appearance of cellulite.

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