Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
- The ritual of exfoliating with a bristled brush against dry skin, commonly called dry brushing, has been around for centuries.
- Dry brushing leaves skin soft and smooth, but it’s also said to improve blood flow (if temporarily) and aid in stimulating lymphatic drainage.
- We spoke with board-certified dermatologic surgeon and celebrity dermatologist Dr. Engelman to learn about the process and its benefits.
- Below, you’ll find a guide on how to dry brush properly.
Dry brushing is getting a lot of traction as a wellness trend, but it’s actually been around for centuries.
In essence, it’s an exfoliating technique that uses a bristled brush to slough off dead skin cells and increase blood flow. It’s this increased blood flow that’s said to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps cellular debris to move through and out of the body, but I’ll say it outright: Dry brushing is best for exfoliating, and there’s not much data out there to support other claims about disappearing cellulite or "detoxification."
If you’re interested in dry brushing, we’re about to break down the why, what, and how to help you get started. We consulted board-certified dermatologic surgeon Dr. Engelman to help us (and you) understand the process in more scientific terms.
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is a manual form of exfoliation that involves brushing dry skin with a soft-bristled brush. It sits somewhere between a massage and an exfoliating treatment. The bristles slough off dead skin cells and the pressure of the brush combined with the sweeping motions can help to stimulate lymphatic drainage, which helps the body to rid itself of molecular debris. Lymphatic drainage can improve a slew of ailments, including fatigue, headaches, swelling, and the common cold. But remember, there isn’t much data out there to say that dry brushing can make a huge difference for these particular issues.
That said, dry brushing does offer a host of benefits for your skin, and according to Dr. Engelman, there are other potential benefits to the practice.
Here are the possible benefits, according to Dr. Engelman:
- Dry brushing, through exfoliation, improves skin appearance by removing the top layers of dull and dead skin cells and revealing the healthy cells underneath.
- Manual exfoliation helps to increase blood flow to the area and reduce inflammation. This stimulates the lymphatic system as blood increases in that area, and can help eliminate cellular waste.
- Dry brushing increases blood flow and circulation, which can help with cellulite, though any effect is short-lived and probably due to the removal of excess fluid.
What do I need to get started?
A dry brush. Easy enough, right?
Well, it gets a little more complicated when you consider that there are thousands of dry brush options out there. Here’s how to narrow it down:
Bristles: Can be made of synthetic materials, boar bristles, cactus bristles, or other natural materials. Check for bristle stiffness — stiffer bristles may feel harsher on skin.
Handle: Some options have long handles, others are small and fit right in your palm. If you want to get to hard-to-reach areas, go for the long handle. If you’re looking for more control, go for handheld.
Here are some top-rated dry brush options to get you started:
- Handheld dry brush: Wholesome Beauty Dry Skin Body Brush ($10)
- Long-handle dry brush: Rengöra Dry Brush ($19)
- Vegan dry brush: Skin Gym Dry Body Brush ($36)
How do I dry brush properly?
- To start, get your dry brush. My personal favorite is from Esker Beauty, and it has thick, soft bristles that are comfortable on the skin.
- Place the brush directly on dry skin, applying gentle pressure. Brush upwards in sweeping motions towards the heart, starting all the way at your ankles and wrists, and moving in from there.
- When all areas of the skin are exfoliated, rinse off as you would normally.
- While not necessary, a bonus step is to moisturize with a light cream or oil after your shower. This will add even more hydration for maximum smoothness.
When should I dry brush?
Dr. Engelman suggests dry brushing every day to see results. She recommends dry brushing to her patients, but cautions that it’s possible to over-exfoliate if you’re using extreme pressure on sensitive skin. Here’s your reminder to always brush gently.
Now, all you need is a dry brush of your own and you’re one step closer to smooth skin and, hopefully, feeling better overall.
- I used this $10 mud mask hoping to see minimal results, but was blown away by how clear my pores looked after just one use
- The 10 new books to read in May, according to Amazon’s editors
- Cozy bedding startup Parachute is now making eco-friendly, plush mattresses — here’s what they’re like to sleep on