The art of dry skin brushing
First things first. Yes, it is an art. No, it isn't elegant. But yes, it can actually make you feel pretty good. Okay, now that we got that out of the way we can get into the nitty gritty.
What is dry skin brushing?
Dry skin brushing involves lightly brushing your skin with a natural bristle brush to remove dead skin cells as well as move lymph within your body. I started this practice a couple years ago, and since then I have turned it into a spa-like experience that I treat myself to. And as weird as it may sound, it is one of those things that can make you completely relax at the end of a long day.
What exactly does it do?
Your body is mostly made of fluid. This fluid exists in many forms, one of which is called lymph. And guess what your lymph travels around in? Your lymphatic system! Fancy that. Your lymphatic system is basically your body's drainage system. It takes toxins and bacteria to your lymph nodes and other lymph organs (eg. liver, spleen, tonsils, etc.) where they are able to be destroyed. It also carries essential nutrients to your heart to be distributed to your body where they are needed. It's your built-in detoxifier. So you can understand the importance of the lymphatic system, right?
Due to the nature of today's world, our lymph often gets stagnated. This happens when we don't move our bodies enough. It also happens when we don't drink enough water. The lymphatic system relies on the valves in your surrounding blood vessels as well as the contraction of your muscles to get it to where it needs to go. Without adequate internal and external movement, your poor lymph just gets stuck. That's where dry skin brushing comes in. All we are doing is giving our lymph a bit of help. By lightly brushing the skin, especially in areas where most of our lymph nodes are located, we can help our lymph move around more efficiently.
What is it good for?
On a foundational level, as mentioned above, dry skin brushing is beneficial for moving your lymph. But, surprise! Similar to most things in naturopathic medicine, this tool has multiple other holistic benefits for your body. Here are a few:
- Removes dry skin cells that you can't always get off with soap, creating an exfoliating effect. Great addition to my other tips for glowing skin!
- General detoxification
- Can reduce ankle swelling at the end of the day
- Improved blood flow and circulation
- Improve your immune system's ability to fight off colds by stimulating the flow of immune factors
Sounds pretty good to me.
What type of brush should I use?
A good dry skin brush is made of natural tough bristles. They come in different sizes, either with a long handle or a small one that fits in your hand. Choose what feels most comfortable and easy for you to use. A long handle tends to be easier for reaching your back, but small brushes are still effective. Most health foods stores have them. I tried a few types, and this one had the best bristles. When you read the label, make sure it has natural bristles rather than synthetic.
How do I do it?
- Set aside 5-10 minutes before your next shower. Starting at your feet, lightly brush your skin in circular motions. Move towards the heart, while maintaining circular motions. This should in no way be uncomfortable or painful, but your skin may turn a bit red because you are slowly removing dead skin cells.
- Spend more time brushing in the areas behind your knees, in your hip and elbow creases, underarms and your neck. These areas are dense with lymph nodes and stimulating them can improve your lymph flow. You can also brush your face, just be gentle.
- Remember, always brush towards your heart, so you will be brushing from your fingertips to your shoulders, from your face downwards, and so on.
- Take some deep breaths from your belly as you continue to brush to create a more relaxing environment for yourself. This practice is truly invigorating on both a mental and physical level.
- Once you have covered your entire body, step into your shower. It is best to use a natural-based soap or shower gel to avoid putting more toxins back into your skin. My favourite brands are Curelle and Pacifica.
So there you have it. Dry skin brushing in a nutshell. It may take a few times of trying it before you see results (eg. healthier skin, less dryness, reduced swelling, boosted immune function, etc.). Give it a try. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Note: These are simply tips for you to try at home, and does not replace medical advice from a health professional. If you have a lymphatic disorder or cancer, please consult with a Naturopathic Physician before you try dry skin brushing.