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How to Dry Brush Your Skin (and Why You Should)

‘Cuz the only flakes this winter should be snow.

I realize this makes me a bad Canadian, but I hate cold weather. Indoor heating and warm showers offer temporary relief from the season's deep freeze, but at the cost of dry, scaly skin that flakes off every time I pull on my tights or thermal leggings. 

Recently, I started investigating Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing from ancient India. Happily, I discovered a scale-shedding method that outshines my old scrub-and-moisturizer routine: dry brushing!

What is Dry Brushing?

The process of dry brushing is pretty self-explanatory: you're scrubbing your dry skin with a natural bristle brush to slough off dead skin cells. 

But skin smoothness isn’t the only benefit—spa owners and Ayurvedic practitioners claim that the light massaging action of dry brushing can improve circulation, super-charge metabolism, boost lymphatic flow and disperse cellulite (though I'm sceptical of that last one).

My Results From Dry Brushing

I can't speak to the science behind toxins and lymphatic drainage, but can confirm that I've seen a visible improvement in my skin's texture after two months of regular dry brushing. 

As a physical exfoliant, the brush works incredibly well to slough off dead skin cells, and it also keeps ingrown hairs at bay, leaving my skin soft and flake-free. As an added bonus, my shave has been smoother and my moisturizer absorbs better, which means my skin will be glowy all year long. 

My buffing brush of choice: The Body Shop's Round Bath Brush.

I also love how satisfying it is to scratch my skin with the brush (sorry, Mum!). I use the Round Bath Brush from The Body Shop, and the bristles feel amazing.

How I Dry Brush

I dry brush before I get in the shower, to easily wash away any dead skin or impurities I slough off my skin. Before turning on the water, I stand in my tub and buff my body with the brush using small, circular motions. Some people like to use longer strokes. The important thing is to work in the direction of your heart, in order to keep your lymphatic system moving. 

I start at my feet and then go up my legs, torso and then my arms, stopping at the neck (you don't want to brush your face with this type of brush—leave that for your Clarisonic!). It takes about two minutes to do your entire body. 

Then I shower, and immediately after (while my body is still damp), I apply a sesame oil, Neutrogena Body Oil, to hydrate and nourish my skin.

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From The Skincare Edit Archives

Neutrogena's Body Oil is light and moisturizing—just be careful not to slip on it!

Besides the face, you should also avoid dry brushing the genitals and any fragile, sensitive or damaged skin, such as from sunburn. I always brush on dry skin, as my wet skin is more sensitive and I don’t want to cause thread veins. 

As far as frequency, I try to dry brush every other day before showering—you can even do it daily or twice daily if you want to. I skip brushing on days that I’m shaving or waxing, to avoid irritating my skin.

The Best Brushes for Dry Brushing

Always use a natural bristle brush for dry brushing, never one made from synthetic fibres.

My dry brushing tools of choice.

Personally, I like the control of grasping a palm-sized disc like my Body Shop Round Bath Brush. Similar brushes include:

Others might enjoy a brush with a longer handle for hard-to-reach places:

Either way, just make sure you buff in the shower because those flakes fly everywhere! 

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