Dry Brushing…what is it, why should you do it, and how to do it properly.
Recently dry brushing has been getting a lot of attention on the media, but it is actually a relatively old practice, dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks. It is especially popular in Ayurvedic medicine where it is referred to as “garshana” and typically performed every morning before bathing.
So, what are the benefits of including this invigorating practice in your daily ritual and how exactly do you dry brush?
First off, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why you should be dry brushing.
- It’s an excellent way to stimulate your lymphatic system.
- Your lymphatic system is what helps your body get rid of toxins and waste. Your lymph flows in one direction towards your heart, but sometimes lymph nodes can become swollen and a blockage can occur. This impacts your immune system since lymphocytes, or white blood cells, are what help your body fight viruses, bacteria, and other unwanted invaders in the bloodstream. Dry brushing can help to release and even prevent these blockages from occurring as it helps keep the lymph moving.
- It stimulates the circulation of the blood.
- Just like how dry brushing keeps your lymph moving, it also improves circulation. Why is this important? Increased circulation helps with the production of collagen. Collagen is the fountain of youth. It can reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks, and can also help heal internal scarring. It lessens a dull appearance and helps your skin retain its elasticity, thus you retain a radiant youthful glow.
- Dry Brushing exfoliates the skin.
- When you remove dead skin cells from your skin, you are also unclogging your pores and your pores are less likely to become clogged in the future. This can lead to fewer breakouts, and other conditions caused by congested skin.
- It is a great tool for stress reduction.
- How does brushing your skin help reduce stress? Well, this mostly has to do with how it affects your circulation and lymphatic system. Strong blood flow means more oxygen and blood to your brain, leaving you more energized, better able to concentrate and process information, and your sleep improves. When your lymphatic system is stimulated and working properly, you likely to have a stronger immune system. When your body is stressed, you produce corticosteroids, which limits the number of lymphocytes produced by your spleen, thus compromising your immune system. By dry brushing, you are getting the benefit of a brain that is better equipped to handle stressful situations, but you are also stimulating the lymphocytes that your body already has produced, hopefully helping to counteract the ones you lost due to being under pressure.
I realize it might sound wacky that there is a “proper” way to dry brush, but brushing “incorrectly” can actually lead to unwanted skin conditions, such as rashes, as well as varicose veins. This is not meant to scare you, read on for some helpful tips!
The most important thing to remember is to brush in long sweeping motions towards the heart. This is the direction in which your lymph naturally flows and it drains from a cavity in your chest right below your heart.
- I recommend dry brushing every day or every other day right before you bathe, as this has the added benefit of washing off any dead skin cells you released during the exfoliation process.
- Start at your feet and brush in long sweeping motions up your legs. About 5 to 10 strokes on each section you brush. (If you have time for more, great! If you only have time for 2-3 strokes, that’s great too!)
- Next, move to your arms. Start at your fingertips and brush in long sweeping strokes towards your armpits.
- When brushing your stomach, brush in a circular motion in a clockwise direction. This mimics the direction of digestion.
- Finish by brushing in long strokes up your back.
- I also have a smaller dry brush that I use on my face. When dry brushing your face, brush in an up and outward motion (i.e. towards your hairline).
Don’t forget to wash your dry brush each week with a mild soap such as Dr. Bronner’s. And remember, self-care is supposed to be fun, so experiment and let me know if adding this to your routine works for you!