What is Dry Brushing and Why is it Important?
Did you know that over half of the toxins that enter our body enter through our skin? Things like lotions, makeup, and even cleaning products that come in contact with our skin can all contain toxins. Our bodies are built to help filter out toxins, but as products become more and more laden with harmful chemicals, there is actually something we can do to help improve the way our body detoxifies itself naturally. Drinking more water and exercising/moving can help us get rid of some of these chemicals, but dry brushing is a practice that boosts our body’s own ability to filter out these harmful toxins.
The Basic Benefits of Dry Brushing
Who can dry brush? Anyone! If you have open scrapes or wounds or rashes, definitely avoid those areas, and if you have sensitive skin that becomes irritated from dry brushing, you may need to take a break from dry brushing until you find a schedule that works best for your skin. Again, dry brushing is typically safe for everyone, but if you have a concern or a condition that you feel may be a contraindication, you should consult your healthcare provider before beginning this regimen.
What is dry brushing? Dry brushing is simply brushing the skin with a natural bristled brush. As indicated by the name, you brush the skin while it is dry (so not during a shower/bath, and not after a shower/bath– in fact, before a shower is a great time to dry brush). You brush gently, working your way up your body, from feet to shoulders basically. You always brush in a direction TOWARDS your heart. The entire process can take as little as a couple of minutes, but brushing for a longer session is okay, too.
When and where should I dry brush? Dry brushing can be done at any time of day, but many people find dry brushing to be energizing and therefore prefer to only dry brush in the morning. Others dry brush in the evening or morning and evening. It really doesn’t matter what time of day you dry brush, as long as your skin is dry when you’re brushing. Following with a shower will rinse off any exfoliated skin and help stimulate blood flow. Some people dry brush in the shower (with no water running yet!) then turn on the shower when their brushing session is over. Make sure to put your dry brush outside of the shower before turning the water on, so it doesn’t get wet. After showering, use a natural(we want to avoid extra toxins since we are working to remove them with this process) lotion or oil to moisturize your skin.
Why should I dry brush? Now we are getting down to it– what benefits can we reap by dry brushing? Sure, helping rid our body of toxins sounds positive and good- but how does that play out/what does it mean? Here are some reasons we should all be dry brushing:
- Dry brushing cleanses the lymphatic system. In our bodies, fluids flow freely. These fluids are filtered by our lymphatic system (think lymph nodes). Lymph nodes allow our white blood cells to circulate. Our white blood cells are our main immune cells– they are what helps us fight off infections, bacteria, disease cells, etc. They help defend our bodies. If we didn’t have white blood cells, our immune systems would be useless, and our susceptibility to a whole host of things would be wide open. For this reason, it is incredibly important that our lymphatic system functions properly! As we are exposed to chemicals/toxins in our world, our lymph nodes can become clogged (think about how sometimes your lymph nodes are swollen when you’re sick). When we dry brush, we stimulate the pores on our skin, which opens them up. If we follow up with a shower, those pores are more open to sweat a bit and allow some of those toxins to move on out of our body.
- Dry brushing can help with hormone balance. Yep! Hormones circulate through the body with the help of the lymphatic system mentioned above– so a stagnant lymphatic system may not get hormones moving to where they need to be as effectively as a healthy functioning lymphatic system will!
- Dry brushing can help your skin be smoother, tighter, softer, and less cellulite-y! Dry brushing removes dead skin cells and also encourages the growth of new skin cells– this leads to softer, tighter, and smoother skin. The extra lymph movement helps to flush out the toxins stored in that layer of our bodies that forms cellulite, which is why many regular dry brushers find a reduction in appearance of cellulite as they faithfully dry brush! Some have even noticed a reduction in appearance of stretch marks!
- Dry brushing can help improve energy levels. As mentioned earlier, dry brushing is energizing for many people. Getting the lymphatic and circulatory system moving is likely the cause.
- Dry brushing can help to decrease our stress level. Because of its soothing sensory input, dry brushing may help to lower stress hormones. Just like taking a few minutes a day to breathe deeply or pray or meditate can help you calm down, so can a concentrated few minute session of dry brushing. Taking a few moments out to do this can help your cortisol levels regulate– and cortisol is our stress hormone! An additional fact worth noting– stress can lead to weight gain and water retention. So dry brushing reducing stress could also lead to weight loss for some!
- Dry brushing helps in the overall detoxification of our bodies. This is a large umbrella over all of the more specific benefits listed above– but this is important to note because as our bodies are functioning better, less “gunked up” with slow lymph, our digestion and kidney function can even improve. So while we are only seeming to work on the outside, on our skin, our body’s biggest organ– we are actually working all the way in, to help our entire body to function stronger and healthier.
Knowing these benefits, is dry brushing something you’d consider? Is dry brushing something you’ve already done? What benefits did you see? At just a few minutes commitment a day (or less if your skin is too sensitive), this powerhouse modality is worth a try!