On the growing list of wellness and beauty treatments billed as “detoxifying,” you may have noticed a little something called dry brushing, which is as appealing or unappealing as it sounds, depending on how you feel about running a brush with stiff bristles against your skin. Walk into a luxe spa and you may well be given a long-handled wooden brush along with your robe and slippers.
What should you do with this thing, exactly? “Dry brushing is the process of using a brush with stiff bristles against the skin to help exfoliate dead cells from the skin surface and enhance blood flow,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, tells SELF. “Typically, the brushes that are used have long, natural bristles that offer firm resistance against the skin and long handles so that they can be used even on hard to reach areas like the back.” The “dry” part of dry brushing refers to the fact that neither the brush nor your skin should be damp while you do it.
With roots in ancient healing practices, dry brushing is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., with hopeful users turning to the bristly treatment—performed in a spa setting or at home—for a number of healthy promises, only a couple of which it can actually deliver on. Among other purported benefits, dry brushing is said to increase drainage of lymphatic fluids, thereby flushing toxins from the body. There’s not much truth to this concept. For one thing, your body handles its own detoxification. “The only detoxifying organs in the body are the liver and the kidneys,” says Dr. Zeichner.
What’s more, he adds, “Dry brushing is used on the surface of the skin, while your lymphatic vessels are deep under the skin surface. While exercise and contraction of your muscles may help improve lymphatic flow throughout the body, we do not have good data showing that a treatment like dry brushing is truly effective for this purpose.”
Dry brushing also won’t help digestion, get rid of spider veins, or scrub away cellulite.
There’s one thing dry brushing really can do, and that’s exfoliate your skin.
Dry brushing is an effective physical exfoliator. “Gently brushing the skin is a form of physical exfoliation, meaning it can slough away dead skin, leaving it smoother,” Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., NYC dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, tells SELF. “When you exfoliate on dry skin, the friction is increased as opposed to when the skin is wet. When the friction is increased, exfoliation is more effective.”
Exfoliating this way “can enhance skin radiance and light reflection so the skin looks brighter,” says Dr. Zeichner. If you hear anyone claim that dry brushing diminished their cellulite, it’s probably this trick of light reflection at work.
It can also give you that ever-sought-after ruddy, youthful glow. “In general, rubbing the skin (whether it is with a dry brush, any applicator, or your hand) will increase blood flow and circulation ,” says Dr. Levin. “The skin will then have a pink to red appearance, looking slightly swollen, which can give a more youthful appearance—but this is temporary.”
Ellen Marmur, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City, points out that dry brushing stimulates sensory nerves, which can be invigorating. For this reason, she recommends incorporating it into your morning routine, when you want to be alert.
If you want to try dry brushing, be gentle—or skip it altogether if you have sensitive skin.
If you’re considering giving dry brushing a try, Dr. Marmur recommends a medium-firm, plant-based brush for the body. “The brush should never break the skin and it also shouldn’t hurt,” she says. “Also, don’t use the same brush on your face as you do your body, since your face is much more delicate and needs a softer brush.”
“Brushing too vigorously or frequently can create small micro-cuts and cause irritation and dryness,” warns Dr. Levin, who suggests people dry brush no more than one to two times per week—and try not to rub so hard as to cause irritation.
She suggests taking a shower afterwards to rinse away the dead skin cells that were exfoliated, and to follow with moisturizer.
Dry brushing is not recommended for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and excessive dry skin, as it can aggravate the condition—and also cause often painful irritation. “For those with a common skin condition called keratosis pilaris (KP) or ‘chicken skin,’ dry brushing could theoretically improve with exfoliation,” says Dr. Levin, “however it can also worsen the condition since it can cause irritation is done too frequently, too strong, and too aggressively.”
Bottom line, brush with care—and manage your expectations.
(Fun fact: Leg selfies are awkward and challenging.)
The first week gave the the most noticeable results—just not in the way I’d hoped. Where previously my skin had a dull, I-didn’t-shave-all-in-March cast to it, after my first two dry-brushing sessions, my skin cried out with a thirst that even my most heavy-duty of moisturizers could not quench. Then it started to peel. A lot. Like, full-on post-sunburn peeling. In the saddest way possible. I honestly considered calling the whole thing off right there. Still, I am a dedicated beauty reporter, so with the desperate hope that things could only go up from there, I soldiered on. On the upside, the tiny flakes of skin sloughing off of my body with every motion did a good job of disguising any unsightly dimpling on my upper thighs, so I guess it did hold up on the cellulite-fighting promises.
Week two was a marginal improvement on week one (possibly because I had already shed the entire outer layer of my body like a snake). My skin didn’t seem to be quite as insatiable in its need for lotion, and, glory of glories, the peeling had stopped. There didn’t seem to be any other notable differences in my skin, but at that point just not peeling was such a relief that I didn’t even mind. My skin was slightly more hydrated, but no one was calling me up to get my freakishly radiant skin in their moisturizer campaign, so all in all, it was something of a wash.
I learned an important lesson during the third week of my experiment: You can dry-brush too hard. Having spent two days with an uncomfortable raw spot behind my left knee (why I got overzealous with the back of my knee even I cannot explain), I once again considered whether keeping up with process was worthwhile. While my skin did seem slightly more glow-y, and even my usually oblivious boyfriend commented on my skin’s satin-like softness, I wouldn’t swear that the difference was more than a solid in-shower scrub could have given me. But the thing that stuck out, now that I had spent all of this time, was less the shocking change in my skin and more a realization about my own beauty tendencies. Where I would think nothing of a daily exfoliation routine for my face, plus regular use of masks, serums, and all manner of other beautifying potions, I had found that making the time to do a prettifying ritual for my body seemed like so much more of a hassle. I began to feel bad for my poor, neglected body, forever the runner-up in my beauty routine, and I vowed to see the dry-brushing through to the end as an apology of sorts.
Dry body brushing is a method of body exfoliation that has been practiced for centuries in many cultures, but is having a resurgence as of late thanks to the booming wellness movement. The treatment is done at home or in a spa by a professional by buffing dry skin with a special exfoliating brush to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells, smoothing its texture.
But is it worth trying (and swapping out your body scrub), safe for your skin, and even a so-called miracle cure for cellulite? “There are many touted benefits of dry body brushing, but not all have real scientific data to support them,” says Shari Marchbein, M.D., a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. Here’s what you need to know:
- What are the benefits of dry body brushing?
- Does body brushing reduce cellulite?
- Is dry body brushing safe for everyone?
- How many times a week should you dry brush your skin?
- Do I have to shower after dry body brushing?
- How to choose the best dry body brush
- Why Dry Brushing Should Be Your New Detox Practice
- How does dry brushing help you detox?
- The benefits of dry brushing
- How can you tell if your body’s due for a dry-brush detox?
- How do you dry brush — and how often should you dry brush?
- Is there anyone who shouldn’t try dry brushing?
- Dry Brushing
- The Benefits
- We’re told to brush our teeth, but what about our skin?
- Dry Brushing Benefits:
- How to dry brush the skin:
- Other Ways to Encourage a Healthy Lymphatic System:
- 9 Reasons That Will Convince You to Try Dry Skin Brushing
- Top 9 Dry Skin Brushing Benefits
- Finding the Right Brush
- How to Dry Brush Your Skin
- Healthier Skin Awaits
- Can Brushing Help You Lose Weight?
- 1. What are the real health benefits of dry brushing?
- 2. Can brushing aid digestion or reduce the appearance of cellulite?
- 3. Why a dry brush? Why not just brush skin in the shower?
- 4. What kind of brush should I use?
- 5. How do I do it?
- 6. When should I dry brush?
- 7. What if If I have sensitive skin, can I dry brush?
- So, what exactly is dry brushing?
- Can you really see health benefits from dry brushing?
- Are there any downsides to dry brushing?
What are the benefits of dry body brushing?
Dry body brushing is said to energize the body, increases circulation and blood flow, and stimulates drainage from the lymphatic system to smooth skin’s surface, sweep away flakes and dry patches, and even out lumps and bumps, including cellulite. Any type of exfoliation can usually help to prevent ingrown hairs as well, by clearing dead skin cells that can trap hair under skin’s surface.
“The buildup of dead skin cells can make skin look dull and lackluster,” Dr. Marchbein explains. “Sloughing them off using a brush, which is a physical exfoliator, can reveal softer, smoother and more luminous skin.” Similar to how exfoliators work for the face, “dry body brushing also allows the skin to more effectively absorb moisturizers applied afterward,” she says.
Does body brushing reduce cellulite?
It’s no miracle cure for cellulite or “detoxifying” skin after all. “There is no scientific data to support claims like increased lymphatic drainage, removal of toxins from skin, or lasting changes to the appearance of cellulite,” Dr. Marchbein says.
“Cellulite occurs when fat protrudes through the fibrous connective tissue bands underneath the skin, and although dry brushing may cause the skin to swell, temporarily reducing cellulite’s appearance, this technique won’t produce any permanent changes to it.”
Is dry body brushing safe for everyone?
Anyone with skin sensitivity. “I do not recommend dry brushing for those with very sensitive skin or eczema,” Dr. Marchbein explains, “as it may cause significant irritation, redness, and worsening of these conditions.”
For a gentler body exfoliation method, try a body scrub with small exfoliating particles in a cream formula, like the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab and Dr. Marchbein’s pick, Dove Exfoliating Body Polish.
How many times a week should you dry brush your skin?
“As long as it’s not causing skin irritation, it’s safe to do daily if desired,” Dr. Marchbein says. “Though I personally recommend exfoliating no more than three times per week, and once per week is even sufficient for most people.”
The best way to dry brush is to glide the body brush over dry skin using “gentle pressure and long, sweeping motions, moving toward the heart (feet up to thighs, hands up to underarms, etc.),” Dr. Marchbein recommends, rather than circular motions. “Be very careful around more sensitive, thinner-skinned body parts such as the breasts.” To clean your body brush, rinse with water, then hang to dry.
Do I have to shower after dry body brushing?
No, you don’t have to shower after dry body brushing unless you’d like to, so you can do it any time of day. That said, it’s likely easiest to incorporate into your routine before a shower or bath, or when you’re changing in the morning or evening. Dry body brushing does have an invigorating feeling on skin, an effect that can help wake up your senses in the morning.
How to choose the best dry body brush
Body brushes can be constructed with materials like wood and synthetic or natural bristles made from plant fibers like sisal (derived from agave). Choose a bristle brush with a long handle to help reach areas like the back; a round shape without a handle can be easier to grip. See the GH Beauty Lab’s dry body brush picks below for options of different designs, including wooden brushes and long-handled versions, at a variety of price points.
Cactus Long Handle Body Brush The Body Shop $14.87 Dry Body Brush EcoTools $4.99 Sisal Bath Brush Baudelaire $10.00 Dry Skin Brush The Organic Pharmacy $19.00 April Franzino Beauty Director April Franzino is the Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping, part of the Hearst Women’s Lifestyle Beauty Group.Photo: olga_sweet/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Though it may alarm you, it did not seem particularly odd to stand naked in my bathroom on a cold February morning brushing the entirety of my dry skin with a brush that looks like the kind of brush ranchers use to brush horses. No, no.
Participating in wellness often means surrendering yourself to a small humiliation. Wearing a panda-face sheet mask on a flight. Paying $12 for a single cup of admittedly incredible juice. Rolling jade over your face, in case that does something. It’s fine. We want to be well, and we’ll be damned if a small humiliation is going to stop us. So the dry brushing was for skin wellness, obviously. And for something with, you know … toxins.
Dry brushing has traveled across time, seamlessly morphing from an ancient pre-bath ritual of the now-dead to a modern pre-bath ritual of the Instagram model. Its devotees swear by its ability to exfoliate, reduce the appearance of cellulite, and aid lymphatic drainage for a more swift removal of toxins. Molly Sims swore by it in 2010 and Miranda Kerr, I’ll have you know, loves it.
Of course, I had to try.
To dry brush, you use a natural-bristle brush to gently but firmly brush your skin in long strokes toward your heart, usually going over each area two or three times. At your belly, you brush in a clockwise motion. Dry brushing is typically done before showering, and should be followed with a vitamin-rich moisturizer. There are two styles of brushes you can choose from: one with a long handle, and one without a handle.
Though the handled version seems more practical, for my dry brush I chose the handleless for easier storage, and because it is cuter. I purchased this one on Amazon for $9.99 because it is “Amazon’s Choice,” a designation I trust even though I do not know what it means or how it is calculated. For my post-brushing replenishing, I chose U.K. skin-care brand de Mamiel’s “Salvation Body Oil,” which includes “seven potent plant oils including argan and prickly pear both rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, renowned for strengthening and protecting the skin.” Amazing. It costs $135 and I did not pay for it; I asked de Mamiel if I could try it for this project and they sent a bottle to me, which I loved.
Like a lot of wellness practices, dry brushing is at worst recommended without acknowledgement that its touted benefits are not backed up by clinical data, and at best recommended with acknowledgement that its touted benefits are not backed up by clinical data. Basically, people just feel better after they do it — softer, more energized, as if their stagnant, toxin-laden lymph has been expunged. And feeling is believing.
But what is the lymphatic system, even? It’s similar to the vascular system. Lymph is a fluid that, like blood, exists mostly in vessels that circulate it around the body. It seeps out of the vessels and helps the body’s cells survive, by carrying immune cells. It also carries away metabolic waste, which is I guess what we’re calling “toxins.” Unlike the vascular system, it doesn’t work on a pump; lymph moves throughout the body by process of the body’s own movement. So, does dry brushing help?
“Any massage with light-medium pressure can help with lymphatic circulation,” dermatologist Ivy Lee told me, “but how significant the impact is unknown.” She noted that for medical conditions where lymphatic circulation is impaired, like lymphedema, physical therapists undergo specialized training and certification in manual lymphatic drainage, as the pressure and direction in which the pressure is applied matter.
“I could see dry brushing as a way to exfoliate, but that’s all,” James Hamblin, M.D. and friend I asked to explain the lymphatic system to me, said. “Unless you’re unable to move or have a serious problem with your lymphatic system, you don’t need to brush your skin to make your lymph move.”
“Dry brushing has been touted as providing a number of benefits, but many of these aren’t entirely true,” Sejal Shah, another dermatologist, told me. “There is an element of massage which theoretically may stimulate the lymphatic system, but there is no evidence that rids the body of toxins or aids in digestion.” As for the part about cellulite, “Any improvement in the appearance of cellulite is likely due to temporary skin plumping from the massage aspect.”
Although I am naturally skeptical of health techniques that necessitate belief, I also love doing new little things that might improve me or relax me or energize me, or at least give me something to buy. This is a paradox of the modern, thinking wellness-enjoyer and I am not immune. Gimme that bullshit. Gimme gimme gimme.
So one morning, shivering but energized by new possibility, I brushed my whole dry body with a brush. Admittedly, there isn’t much to say about it. It hurt a little but the pain was slightly invigorating, and it had the satisfying feeling of scratching an itch that you didn’t even know was there. Immediately afterward it made my skin itchy, which I think is because my skin is a little dry and fragile. This was eased first by the shower and then later by the Salvation Body Oil.
The dry brushing made my skin feel softer, it’s true, and the body oil seemed to apply more smoothly. I would touch my arms during the day and think, “smooth.” I dry brushed again the next day, which hurt a little more. The day after that my dry-and-sensitive skin screamed at me, “PLEASE STOP!!!!!!!!!!” Unfortunately, though I would love to be the sort of person with a multi-step morning wellness routine, I do not think I am the sort of person who can brush my dry skin every day.
“If you have sensitive skin, dry brushing may cause irritation or over-drying of the skin,” Shah told me. Plus, it can cause flare-ups in conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. Arielle Nagler, another dermatologist I spoke with, told me she doesn’t recommend mechanical exfoliation in general (as opposed to chemical) — it’s just too abrasive for most people.
Will I continue to dry brush? Good question. I’ll certainly continue to hang the cute little dry brush in my bathroom, both to give the appearance of someone who dry brushes and because I’ve already attached its hook to the wall. I’ll certainly continue to use that body oil. As for dry brushing itself, though, I think I’ll maybe do it, like … once a week. Softly.
Why Dry Brushing Should Be Your New Detox Practice
- Dry brushing is the ancient practice of brushing dry skin with a natural-bristle brush in order to stimulate the lymphatic system and exfoliate your skin.
- Dry brushing can help detox your body by stimulating your lymphatic system to remove cell waste, environmental toxins, and pathogenic organisms more efficiently.
- Other benefits of dry brushing may include smooth clear skin, the reduced appearance of cellulite, and a short-term energy boost.
- To dry brush your skin, start from your feet, and brush upward toward the heart in long strokes.
When you think about detoxing, you might think of taking an inside-out approach. After all, there are a lot of things you can put into your body to help remove toxins. You can swig a detox drink. Or cleanse your colon with an enema solution. But you can also detox your body by showing some love to that extra-large organ that occupies your outer body: your skin. Dry brushing is one way to detox from the outside-in.
Related: 8 Detox Methods That Really Work
So what is dry brushing? Dry brushing is the ancient practice of methodically swiping a brush over your dry skin to help stimulate the lymphatic system, exfoliate your skin, and unlock other powerful health benefits in the process.
How does dry brushing help you detox?
“Detoxing means cleaning out the body — removing toxins, clearing out your jammed hormone receptors, and resetting key hormones,” says Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, author of “The Hormone Cure” and “The Hormone Reset Diet,” and “Younger.” “One of the most common obstacles to detox is a sluggish lymphatic system.”
That’s where dry brushing comes in. “Unlike the network of arteries and veins which rely on the heart to circulate blood, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump and instead relies on muscle motion to improve circulation. If you don’t move regularly with most of your muscles, your lymph can stagnate and waste accumulates,” she says. Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, which “catches waste from cells, environmental toxins, and pathogenic organisms. Regular dry brushing can help you remove lymphatic waste more efficiently.”
The benefits of dry brushing
Better lymphatic circulation may lead to other health perks as well, including improved digestive and respiratory function, according to Gottfried. “I think of dry brushing as self lymphatic drainage massage,” she says.
Here’s a quick look at some other potential benefits of dry brushing.
Your skin might be the most obvious beneficiary of dry brushing, thanks to the soft but densely packed bristles that slough off dead skin cells. “Dry brushing is fantastic for skin exfoliation, especially during the winter months when skin is typically dry,” says Jamie Starkey, LAc, lead acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
In addition to more touchable skin, dry brushing can lead to clearer, brighter, smoother skin, too. Dry brushing removes built-up skin cells and debris than can block pores and lead to acne. It also helps get rid of keratin buildup that causes “chicken skin” (aka keratosis pilaris), according to Gottfried. To boot, by increasing circulation, dry brushing gives skin a rosier, glowier appearance.
One of the most touted dry brushing benefits is its ability to banish the appearance of cellulite (you know, that cottage cheese-like dimpled skin that affects 80 to 90 percent of women). But despite the people who sing these praises, there’s not yet much scientific evidence to back up these anecdotal reports. One small study did find that lymphatic drainage massage helped thin subcutaneous fat in people with cellulite. However, there’s an overall lack of studies proving the effectiveness of any cellulite treatment. “What people may interpret as cellulite reduction is probably just a temporary plumping up of the skin from increased blood circulation,” says Starkey.
Another possible side effect of dry brushing? A short-term energy boost. Though currently there’s not scientific research that directly links dry brushing to increased energy, by improving circulation and removing toxins, dry brushing may give you a temporary jolt, according to Gottfried. “Dry brushing daily before you bathe in the morning can be an invigorating addition to your morning cup of caffeine,” she says.
How can you tell if your body’s due for a dry-brush detox?
“There are many signs that your lymphatic system may need a dry brushing boost,” Gottfried says. First, look down. “You may notice pooling of lymphatic fluid in your lower legs, near your ankles and feet,” she says. Frequent colds, fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, skin breakouts, or even mood swings may also point to an out-of-whack lymphatic system. Of course, check in with your primary care physician to make sure these symptoms aren’t pointing to another issue, Starkey cautions.
Related: Forget Juice Cleanses. Autophagy Is the Real Way to Detox Your Body
How do you dry brush — and how often should you dry brush?
Ready to jumpstart your lymphatic system? Grab a natural-bristle brush—ideally one with a long handle so you can reach your back.
As you’ve probably picked up on from the name of the practice, you’ll want to start with dry skin. Begin from your feet and work upward. Use long fluid strokes, moving toward your heart, on your limbs and circular motions on your torso and back. “I move in the upward direction. It can be sensitive on the abdomen, breasts and neck, so lighten up pressure as needed.” Once you get to your back, you can use downward strokes.
“Generally, you dry brush once a day and shower immediately afterward to wash off dead skin cells,” Starkey says. “Applying lotion afterward puts moisture back into your skin.” If your skin is sensitive or looks irritated, cut back to once a week.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t try dry brushing?
Nearly everyone can benefit from detoxing, according to Gottfried, but there are a few people who should think twice before putting those bristles to their skin:
Dry brushing might be too abrasive for hypersensitive skin, and you certainly don’t want to dry brush if you have any kind of sores or wounds on your skin.
And use common sense: People with specific conditions and women who are pregnant or nursing should discuss risks and alternatives with a physician first.
“People with adrenal burnout and slow thyroid function should work with a collaborative clinician who can adjust the protocol as needed so it’s not too harsh or aggressive,” Gottfried adds. “But dry brushing is a gentle way to augment your body’s detoxification pathways.”
Dry Brushing is a popular therapeutic service that consists of a licensed massage therapist brushing a dry brush on the skin in circular motions or light strokes to provide exfoliation and a rejuvenating boost of energy! The brush is made up of coarse bristles, but don’t worry, this process of brushing the skin is pain-free and has many therapeutic benefits.
The firm bristles and slow movements of the dry brush aid in eliminating toxins from your body by stimulating your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of organs, lymph nodes and vessels all over your body. By brushing your skin in slow, short or long movements, your lymphatic system will be stimulated more than normal, helping the body detoxify itself leaving you feeling refreshed and energized. The motion also stimulates your sensory nerves helping you to feel revitalized after your service.
The dry brush is also a great way to naturally exfoliate your body. The process of brushing your skin will remove dead skin cells leaving your skin feeling soft and fresh. The results are immediately noticeable as your skin will feel much smoother and revitalized.
The gentle friction of the brush with combined pressure over sore, tired muscles provides immediate stress and pain relief by reducing muscle tension.
Dry brushing is gentle and shouldn’t hurt or break the skin. The licensed Massage Therapists at Massage Heights are specially trained to provide this service to guests.
Self-Care after your session
After your session, you will be able to take your dry brush home with you to continue experiencing the wonderful benefits! Be sure to brush with the same pressure your Massage Heights therapist used.
- Use slow short strokes starting from the soles of your feet moving up your leg and all the way up to your heart. Remember, not too much pressure!
- Once you have finished with the lower half of your body, move onto the top half. Starting from your hands, move the brush up to your shoulders. Do not move too close to the neck or face as that skin is more sensitive and should be brushed only by professionals.
- Last, work on your abdomen. Again, moving in slow short motions, making sure to cover all areas of the skin.
- You can ask a friend or family member to help brush your back moving in the same motions.
To experience the full benefits that are a result of dry brushing, we recommend adding Dry Brushing to your monthly massage. The massage and dry brush combination works together by stimulating your lymphatic system to drain toxins more effectively and to better increase circulation.
Massage Heights doesn’t reuse brushes, but you can! Make sure to keep your brush in a dry place away from humidity. To clean your brush, use anti-bacterial soap and let dry completely before use.
By Jennifer Keirstead, Holistic Nutritionist at Mountain Trek
We’re told to brush our teeth, but what about our skin?
Healthy skin needs to breathe. Rid it regularly of dry skin cells and the body will react by producing new skin cells more rapidly. Your skin will immediately feel silkier and on the long term, will look healthier, loosing that dry, pasty appearance. –The Epicurean Table
Your body has a series of lymphatic vessels responsible for draining fluid (called lymph) from your tissues, then emptying them back into the bloodstream. It actually acts as a second circulatory system, which is responsible for transporting infection-fighting cells, removing foreign matter and cleaning up cell debris.
A dry brushing benefit is encouraging blood circulation and cell regeneration. Both of these actions promote internal detoxification which can aid in weight loss, cellulite reduction and the elimination of accumulated toxins.
Brushing your skin when it’s dry is the most important part. I’d always been scrubbing my skin in the shower with those scratchy, exfoliation gloves. This may be getting your skin clean but it just doesn’t have the same effect as brushing when your skin is dry. In fact, even after just three minutes of dry brushing, your skin will feel soft and as if it’s come alive. You’ll be hooked!
Dry Brushing Benefits:
- Accelerates toxin elimination
- Stimulates blood flow and circulation
- Aids in digestion
- Reduces cellulite
- Unplugs pores
- Enhances lymphatic flow
- Exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells
- Anti-aging through cell regeneration
- Polishes skin
- Stimulating both the sweat and sebaceous glands
How to dry brush the skin:
- Brush your body before you shower or bathe, preferably in the morning. Use a skin brush, loofah or dry face cloth.
- Start at your feet and always brush toward your heart. Use brisk circular motions or long, even strokes.
- Brush all the way up your legs, buttocks, and back. Then in a circular motion at your abdomen.
- Brush lightly on sensitive areas like breasts and more firmly on areas like soles of the feet.
- When you reach your arms, begin at your fingers and brush up your arms, toward your heart. Brush your shoulders and chest down, always toward your heart.
- Avoid brushing anywhere the skin is broken.
- Finish by taking a shower and if you choose, use cold/hot therapy to further stimulate the lymphatic system and improve circulation.
- Pat dry and massage pure plant oils into your skin such as almond, sesame, avocado, coconut, olive or cocoa butter.
–Instructions via “The Whole Body Detox”
Other Ways to Encourage a Healthy Lymphatic System:
- Drink plenty of clean, pure water (you can always use a filter).
- Eat a diet rich in fresh, colorful vegetables; providing a full range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
- Use dry saunas to promote enhanced detoxification via the skin, and stimulate lymphatic circulation.
- Get regular exercise. Start at the level you are at; do something you enjoy.
- Try contrast hydrotherapy. This can be done in the shower by alternating hot (3 min) & cold (30 sec) water in the shower, always ending on cold.
- The power of touch: Lymph drainage massage, self breast massage and dry skin brushing.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals, pollutants and toxic substances.
Undertake stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and exercise to promote overall wellness. Simple practices such as deep breathing via intentional breathing exercises such as, “Alternate Nostril Breathing”.
Need a more in-depth skin detox? Join us for a week at Mountain Trek, where you’ll enjoy a daily detox in our infrared sauna and indulge in hydrotherapy to boost circulation and draining of toxins.
9 Reasons That Will Convince You to Try Dry Skin Brushing
by: Yuri Elkaim
If you haven’t already noticed, some healthy habits cost a lot – in terms of money, resources, and time.
Stocking up the fridge with healthy food makes a dent in your paycheck. Staying active might cost you a few hundred dollars for an annual gym membership – not to mention the time you spend working out.
Even de-stressing with a yoga session can eat up 30-45 minutes at a time.
Don’t get me wrong. The health benefits of these activities definitely outweigh the costs, but when you’re pressed for time, it can get challenging to find enough hours in the day to add yet another healthy habit to your crammed schedule.
What if I told you that for less than $20 total – and a mere 10 minutes a day – there’s an easy way to look and feel better, plus improve your health?
Dry brushing can significantly improve skin health.
And as the largest organ of the body – an organ that’s responsible for a pretty solid chunk of our detoxing needs – keeping your skin healthy can translate to good overall health too. Dry brushing isn’t a replacement for a healthy diet and regular exercise, but it’s a great addition to your healthy lifestyle.
Best of all, dry brushing is easy and effective.
If you can wake up just 10 minutes earlier in the morning, you can squeeze in a quick dry brush session. That’s right, this healthy practice doesn’t require cutting out a big chunk of your day or emptying out your wallet to reap the benefits.
So why not give it a try?
Let’s look at the reasons everyone should start dry brushing to improve their health. You might be surprised at how much of an impact this simple technique can have.
Top 9 Dry Skin Brushing Benefits
1. It promotes circulation.
By dry brushing your skin, you increase circulation and promote blood flow so that skin cells can turn over and renew.
Poor blood circulation can cause blotchiness, dark spots, and slow scar healing.
Regular dry brushing, on the other hand, can lead to a more even skin tone, improved skin texture, and even a reduction in the appearance of cellulite.
Improved blood circulation also helps support whole body health by promoting the flow of oxygen-rich blood. From our head to our toes, this is beneficial.
For best results and to boost circulation even more, always ensure that you’re dry brushing towards your heart rather than away.
2. It feels good.
Many people start dry brushing for the health benefits but end up continuing because it makes them feel good.
Besides making your skin brighter, tighter, and more radiant, dry brushing is an excellent way to wake up and rejuvenate in the morning.
Once you start dry brushing, you might find the feeling of having smoother, firmer skin invigorating too.
3. It exfoliates your skin.
Dry brushing helps keep skin exfoliated by getting rid of dead skin cells, allowing skin to suck up moisture and stay hydrated.
Exfoliating also aids in the process of skin renewal. As dry, dull skin cells are removed, it allows healthy new cells to form. This also inhibits buildup, keeping pores clear.
This means that skin will look more vibrant and bright. Exfoliating can also alleviate uneven texture to reveal smoother, softer skin.
Bonus: regular exfoliation can help prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, keeping your skin looking young.
4. It can improve digestion.
That’s right, another amazing benefit to add to the list: dry brushing can help with digestion too.
When you dry brush your skin, you’re removing dead skin cells and unclogging blocked pores. This allows your skin to breathe better and also streamlines its ability to effectively eliminate toxins.
The health of our skin, as our largest organ, largely influences the health of our entire body. It’s the first line of defense against preventing bacteria from entering our system.
Keeping it clear so that it can do its job effectively is vital to making the job of the digestive system easier. Blocking bacteria from entering the body early on keeps the digestive system from having to work harder later on.
5. It can relieve stress.
Lots of people find that dry brushing is almost therapeutic and meditative. It can ease and soothe muscle tension while relieving stress as well.
To get the most from the stress-busting benefits of dry brushing, set aside a certain time each day when you can create a calming environment, quiet your mind of distractions, and focus dry brushing as personal time to take care of yourself.
Maybe it can become an energizing start to the morning, or quiet time you look forward to as a relaxing way to unwind after a long day. Either way, taking that time for yourself can help keep stress at bay.
6. It improves muscle tone.
Not only does dry brushing offer circulatory and digestive benefits, but it can help support muscle toning as well.
Dry brushing activates the nervous system, which helps to improve muscle tone by stimulating muscle fibers. It also improves circulation, promoting the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to muscles to help with recovery and toning.
Through this mechanism, dry brushing is able to tighten skin, which is important if you’ve recently lost weight and are looking for a natural remedy to fix sagging.
7. It helps you detox your body.
The lymphatic system runs throughout the entire body and helps rid the body of toxins and waste, essentially acting as our own personal cleanup crew. The system works by collecting waste from our tissues and organs and moving it through the blood to be drained.
A healthy lymphatic system is crucial to maintaining good health. If it isn’t functioning correctly, toxins can slowly accumulate, eventually leading to congestion and illness.
Dry brushing works to stimulate the lymphatic system and help activate lymphatic drainage. This promotes the excretion of toxins and pumps up our immune system, preventing inflammation and optimizing our health.
8. It improves kidney function.
The skin and kidneys are closely linked in several key ways. Both are responsible for detoxing the body through the excretion of toxins.
In the case of the skin, that means pushing sweat out through the pores. For the kidneys, our blood is filtered and any waste is removed.
Dry brushing improves skin health by removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores so that the skin can properly expel toxins.
Catching and excreting toxins early can help ease the burden on the kidneys so that they won’t need to work as hard later on, enabling them to function better.
9. It can reduce cellulite.
One of the biggest skin problems faced by men and women alike is cellulite.
Cellulite causes a lumpy, dimpled appearance on skin, most usually on the thighs, buttocks, hips, or stomach.
Fighting cellulite often seems like an uphill battle. When you have a stubborn patch of cellulite that won’t go away, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t matter how many salads you eat or how many hours you spend at the gym.
Dry brushing cellulite can actually reduce the appearance of dimpled skin, often when other methods don’t seem to work.
It works by promoting circulation and stimulating the lymphatic system, which can help improve skin’s texture. Dry brushing is not a permanent fix, however, so continue brushing regularly to sustain skin changes.
Finding the Right Brush
As you can see, dry skin brushing benefits your entire body, and all for less than $20.
I recommend opting for a natural bristle dry body brush with a long handle so that you can easily reach your entire body. These are available online or at your local health food store.
Ready to give it a shot?
How to Dry Brush Your Skin
1. Undress and stand in either your shower or on a tiled surface. This will make clean up easier later.
2. Using long sweeping motions, start brushing at your feet and move upwards. Make sure you brush over each area a few times and as a general rule of thumb, always brush towards your heart to aid in circulation and follow the natural flow of lymph.
3. For more sensitive areas, take care not to brush too hard. With time and continued dry brushing, your skin will become less sensitive. Your dry brushing session should last between 5 to 10 minutes.
4. After you’ve brushed your whole body, it’s time for a shower. To get your blood flowing and really promote circulation, alternate the temperature between hot and cold.
5. After showering, make sure you moisturize. Coconut oil is a great choice for clearing and hydrating your skin, especially after dry brushing.
6. Clean your brush every week with soap and water to keep it hygienic. Always let it air dry immediately after to prevent mildew or mold.
Healthier Skin Awaits
I recommend dry brushing at least once a day before showering and up to twice daily for optimal results. If you have sensitive skin, it’s okay to work your way up to that. Start with twice weekly and slowly increase frequency.
Dry brushing is a simple way to improve your health with minimal time, money, or effort required on your end. Give it a try and see the benefits for yourself! After all, what is there to lose?
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Can Brushing Help You Lose Weight?
When you are trying to maintain a healthy weight you may want to try brushing! There are two different types of brushing that I am referring to:
1. Brush Your Teeth
A study published in 2004 in the Journal of the Japan Society for the Study of Obesity announced that people who brush their teeth after every meal tend to remain slimmer than those who do not brush as often. Japanese researchers discovered this effect when they compared the lifestyle habits of nearly 14,000 people. The average age of these participants was mid-forties. The researchers concluded that tooth brushing is a good health habit that could play a role in preventing obesity. I suggest brushing your teeth at least twice a day, accompanied by daily flossing, to help prevent the build-up of small amounts of food that attract and nourish bacteria. So if bad breath, gingivitis, or cavities are not good enough reason to brush and floss regularly, consider becoming a slimmer you!
2. Dry Brushing
This simple addition to your daily routine may be the easiest thing you ever did to help you lose weight. Before you take your shower in the morning brush yourself all over with a skin brush. It will wake up your circulation, and you may even decide to give up your morning coffee!
The skin is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for one-quarter of the body’s detoxification each day. When you brush your skin you help your lymph system to clean itself of the toxins that collect in the lymph glands. You improve the surface circulation on the skin and keep the pores open, encouraging your body to discharge metabolic waste and improve the skin’s ability to combat bacteria. In addition, you are helping your skin to look and feel healthy and more resilient!
* Improved digestion
* Decreased cellulite
* Stimulated circulation
* Increased cell renewal
* Cleaner lymphatic system
* Removal of dead skin
* Stronger immune system
How To Skin Brush
1. Purchase a natural bristle brush with a long handle. Synthetic materials may scratch the skin. You need to be able to reach all over the body.
2. Skin brush before showering or bathing once per day on dry skin. Wet skin will not show the same benefits.
3. Always skin brush towards the heart.
4. Begin by brushing the soles of the feet. The nerve endings on the feet affect the whole body. Next brush the ankles, calves, and thighs, then brush across your stomach and buttocks and lastly brush your hands to the arms.
5. Brush in circular counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen.
6. Brush with lighter strokes over and around breasts and do not brush your nipples.
7. Brush each part of the body in circular strokes, completely brushing the whole body.
8. Take a warm bath or shower, which may be followed by a cool rinse at the end to invigorate blood circulation and stimulate surface warmth.
9. Then moisturize your entire body. I suggest a sweet almond oil self-massage.
Don’t forget to wash your brush every few weeks in water and let it dry naturally.
If you would like more information on keeping your skin healthy, to lose weight or to start a personalized wellness Program, please contact me for an appointment [email protected] or 206 201 2764. Appointments by Skype or phone available.
Reprinted with permission by Health Steps, the School of Complementary Therapies Education division of Feeling Absolutely Fabulous LLC Newsletter. Jacqueline Fairbrass is the founder of the School of Complementary Therapies, a leader in the field of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) education. For more information go to SchoolofCT or Feeling Absolutely Fabulous LLC JacquelineFairbrass, call 206.201.2764 or contact us on-line.
By: Jamie Starkey, LAC
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There are a variety of health claims about dry brushing. For those who aren’t familiar with the technique, it involves daily body massage with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. It’s been said to help flaky winter skin, increase circulation, detoxify, help digestion – and even improve the appearance of cellulite. But are these claims true? Some, but definitely not all.
Below, find some questions patients often ask about dry brushing:
1. What are the real health benefits of dry brushing?
The mechanical action of dry brushing is wonderful for exfoliating dry winter skin. It also helps detoxify by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow/drainage. Dry brushing unclogs pores in the exfoliation process. It also stimulates your nervous system, which can make you feel invigorated afterward.
2. Can brushing aid digestion or reduce the appearance of cellulite?
There is absolutely no evidence in the literature to confirm that dry brushing aids in digestion or the appearance of cellulite. It’s likely that what people interpret as cellulite reduction is really just a temporary “plumping up of the skin” from increased blood circulation. The claim that it actually reduces cellulite isn’t supported by any scientific evidence.
3. Why a dry brush? Why not just brush skin in the shower?
Brushing the skin while it is dry allows you to exfoliate and increase blood circulation without robbing it of moisture, as the hot water in the shower can.
4. What kind of brush should I use?
You want to use a natural stiff-bristled bath/shower brush, preferably with a long handle. Some bristles are stiffer than others, and it depends on your skin’s sensitivity and preference. The long handle helps you reach your back.
5. How do I do it?
You always start on dry skin using a natural bristled brush. I typically start from the feet/ankles and work my way upward in long fluid strokes on limbs and circular motions on torso and back. I move in the upward direction. It can be sensitive on the abdomen, breasts and neck, so lighten up pressure as needed.
A long handle is helpful so that you can get to the back, which can be brushed in downward strokes. A few overlapping swipes per area is enough. If you go over one area too long, you can actually break the integrity of the skin and cause irritation or bleeding. You generally do this once each day and shower immediately afterward.
6. When should I dry brush?
The best time to dry brush is just before a shower. Then you can wash off any dead skin cells and flaky skin. Be sure to apply lotion afterward to put moisture back into your skin.
7. What if If I have sensitive skin, can I dry brush?
Never brush over skin that is broken, which includes cuts, scrapes, lesions, sores or burned skin, including sunburns. Don’t ever brush over areas of infection, redness or general irritation, inflammation, cellulitis or skin cancer. Stop dry brushing if skin becomes irritated or inflamed. I also do not recommend using the brush on your face.
These brushes have bristles that are usually pretty firm. If your skin is too sensitive, you may want to switch and try a plain dry washcloth.
I have been on a lifelong quest to have the softest skin possible. I’m militant about my routines: The second my shower faucet turns off I’m baby oiled and lotioned up slippin’ and slidin’ around my house. Even though I’m by far the most humble person I know, I have to say my soft skin is something I take great pride in.
I’ve been this way since I was seven years old—a crucial part of my identity, some might say. I have the sort of velvety exterior that led a former high school crush to call after me during a break with a new nickname. “Hey, Soft Skin,” he yelled out. Swoon.
But, I’m not one to rest on my laurels, so when me and my Softest Skin on the Planet heard about dry brushing, I knew I had to try it out. What is dry brushing, you ask? Dry brushing is the act of “brushing” your skin with a bristled tool in sweeping movements towards your heart—you start at your feet and work up your legs.
The brushing allegedly helps exfoliate the skin, unclog pores to eliminate toxins, increase blood flow, and reduce the appearance of cellulite. The practice is also relaxing and is meant to reveal softer skin.
I asked expert aesthetician Marta Camkiran from Haven Spa in Soho, New York, for a complete breakdown on how exactly to dry brush, ahead.
Here’s How You Dry Brush
- Stand in your bathtub or shower with the water off in the morning for three to five minutes.
- Use a soft-bristled dry brush and start brushing from your feet up.
- Brush in strokes toward your heart.
- Gently whisk the brush up your entire body in long, fluid movements.
- Be gentle in more ~ sensitive ~ areas.
Here are also a few tips from my personal experience of dry brushing before we get to the results:
- Find a dry brush with a natural bristle brush with a large head and a long handle so you can reach your back. I used this one from Organic Pharmacy.
- Don’t brush too hard as you can damage your skin. Dry brushing can leave marks.
- Standing in the shower for three to five minutes naked without running water is kind of awkward. Start the water running to heat up while you brush so you won’t have to wait naked and afraid any longer.
- Add an essential oil or blend (diluted with oil for safety) for added health benefits. Bay Laurel is a great option as it boosts your immune system during flu and cold season. Mint is great for a morning wake-up call and lavender is ideal for stress and anxiety.
And now for the results:
Skin Brush The Organic Pharmacy nordstrom.com $19.00
First Week: I hated it and almost quit. My skin was not prepared for the intensity of dry brushing and the act of dry brushing, showering with maybe-too-hot-water, and then lotioning was exhausting. I doubled up on my lotion and oil routine because I believed it was drying my skin out too much. I only saw minimal results but nothing to write home (or on ELLE.com) about.
Second Week: I was getting used to the routine and the results were beginning to appear. Cellulite hadn’t magically disappeared but I did feel like my skin was more hydrated and the routine became a welcome way to relax. Dry brushing is supposed to wake you up and invigorate you for the day but that was not the case in my book.
Third Week: I began to have the sudden fear that this was overkill. Could I be dry brushing too hard, too much? I didn’t have any visible red patches or bruising but my legs weren’t feeling great. I decided to dry brush only twice this week and give my legs a bit of a rest.
Fourth Week: Back on the dry brushing kick and after talking with a professional, I found the balance of dry brushing correctly with the right amount of pressure and only a few strokes per area. This was beneficial and I really enjoyed it. I don’t need to be brushing for new skin, I need to be brushing for comfort. It’s all about finding the right amount of pressure for you and your body will let you know.
Final Takeaways: I enjoy dry brushing but don’t think I’m going to add it to my routine permanently. Because of my lotioning and hydrating routines, it felt unnecessary for me, personally. But, I recommended dry brushing to my best friend at the same time I started and they had incredible results. This particular friend suffers from keratosis pilaris, where small bumps appear on the skin, and they found it extra beneficial as a positive step in alleviating the issue. If you, too, suffer from keratosis pilaris and are looking for a more natural solution for cellulite, or just want to spice up your morning routine, definitely give dry brushing a try.
Chloe Hall Beauty Director Chloe Hall oversees all beauty coverage at ELLE.com.
What if I told you that rubbing a prickly brush over your skin could cure your cellulite, boost your blood flow, and make you glow? You’d probably give me some serious side-eye, right?
Well, “dry brushing,” is actually a pretty widely-loved beauty practice—hell, even Gwyneth Paltrow, queen of pricey beauty, swears by the affordable treatment.
But honestly, rubbing a brush on your legs seems strange. Real strange.
So, what exactly is dry brushing?
Wholesome Beauty Dry Skin Body Brush Wholesome Beauty amazon.com $18.95 $9.95 (47% off)
Basically, it’s exactly what it sounds like. “Dry brushing is a treatment using firm bristle brushes to help exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin,” says NYC-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. “The procedure is also thought to help enhance lymphatic drainage and circulation,” he adds (more on that in a sec).
A dry brush can come in multiple shapes and sizes, but usually features natural bristles that are soft enough to sweep across your face and body, and oftentimes includes a long handle for harder to reach places (like your back).
Can you really see health benefits from dry brushing?
The main benefit: exfoliation. “Dry brushing improves skin appearance by removing the top layers of the skin, thus removing dull and dead skin cells and revealing healthy skin,” says NYC-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. Think of it as a low-tech Clarisonic for your bod.
People swear by dry brushing for cellulite, and Engelman does say that it can help. Basically, cellulite happens when pockets of body fat gets pushed against the vertical connective tissue surrounding fat cells, she says. That puts pressure on your connective tissue, which ultimately pushes the fat against the top layers of the skin. “Dry brushing helps promote circulation and lymphatic drainage,” she says, which can help reduce inflammation and strengthen your connective tissue—and in turn, minimize the appearance of cellulite.
However, it should be noted that dry brushing is probably the least effective method for dealing with any bothersome cellulite (and not every derm recommends it). Zeichner adds that there’s little data showing how effective dry brushing actually is at promoting circulation and boosting the lymphatic system.
Are there any downsides to dry brushing?
Definitely skip dry brushing if you have dry or sensitive skin, or if you have eczema, says Zeichner. “When the skin barrier is disrupted, it can lead to irritation, inflammation, and worsening of dryness,” he says. Basically, exfoliating skin that’s already sensitive could make your issues worse.
And if you want to see results (especially for cellulite), you have to brush every. single. day, says Engelman. “Any effect from dry brushing is short-lived,” she says, “and once the treatment stops, the cellulite will come back.”
The bottom line: Dry brushing is great if you feel like your bod needs a little extra exfoliation. But don’t expect it to be a miracle worker, especially for cellulite.
Daley Quinn Daley Quinn is a Connecticut-born, Texas-bred beauty & wellness writer living in New York City.Photo: AntonioGuillem
A supposed 80 percent of women have cellulite, myself included. “Love your flaws! Embrace who you are! Beauty is in the imperfection!” we all say. But blame magazines, overly Photoshopped images, and a lifelong hatred of cottage cheese: I want my cellulite gone. To see if anything could really help, I tried four different procedures for conquering cellulite.
Popular cellulite treatments run the gamut from gentle to borderline S&M. I tried four. And while I took plenty of before and after pictures during this month of treatments for my own analysis, I will not be sharing any #cellfies here. Sorry, I just can’t. So, like that time I tried at-home laser armpit-hair removal, you’ll have to take my word on the results.
Lymphatic drainage: This is one of the more common techniques recommended, particularly by French ladies. According to Dr. Shirley Madhere, lymphatic drainage can be effective for improving the appearance of cellulite because it can address any underlying fluid or circulation factors. She specifically recommends the Vodder technique, a type of manual lymphatic drainage developed by a doctor in — you guessed it — France. Laure Seguin, a lovely and soft-spoken Frenchwoman who trained with an acolyte of Dr. Vodder’s, does at-home lymphatic drainages. She is like the Uber of French cellulite reduction.
She warned me that “it’s not like American massage.” You can’t do deep-tissue massages for the lymphatic system “because all the lymph ducts run right under the skin,” Seguin says. “So if you go deep on your skin, you cut off circulation.” The massage was quite gentle — more like a caress than a vigorous rubdown, because you need to coax the lymph along. All lymph vessels flow toward the heart, where they dump their contents into large lymphatic ducts, so the massage is done in strokes toward the heart.
It got weird when Seguin went for my belly. Because there are 800 to 1,200 lymph nodes in the abdomen and they’re buried pretty deep, you really have to get down in there to stimulate them. When my belly started gurgling, Seguin let out a happy sound and said, “It’s lovely! I love all this noise!” (Because it’s feedback that means all that prodding is working.)
Optimally, Seguin recommends lymphatic massage three times a week for three to four weeks, then twice a week until you start seeing strong improvement, then once a week, and then monthly for maintenance. She charges $170 per session, or offers a package of ten for $1,400. I only did one for the experience, and as she warned me, I didn’t see any improvement on the cellulite on my outer thighs. However, my belly was delightfully flat and non-bloated for a solid two days, thanks to the abdominal draining. But in general, lymphatic drainage is a high-maintenance and expensive habit, and one you have to keep up in order to continue to see results.
Dry brushing: I decided to use all my newfound knowledge of the lymphatic system to attempt to DIY my cellulite into oblivion in the privacy of my own bathroom. Dry brushing is an easy way to perform lymphatic drainage on yourself and to increase circulation, which plumps everything up temporarily and improves the texture of your skin, making cellulite look less obvious. It’s also cheap and quick. I grabbed two natural-bristle brushes (recommended because their bristles are harder), one from Sonia Kashuk ($6.29) and a posher and slightly rougher one from Elemis ($45), and consulted aesthetician Joanna Vargas.
“Start at the tops of the feet and brush upward toward the heart,” Vargas recommends. “Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant, like the inner thigh, and don’t forget to include the backs of the arms and the back.” Note: Don’t scrub your outer thighs until they’re raw.
I’ve been doing this for more than two weeks now, and it’s a procedure that’s going to be a keeper in my daily routine. First of all, it feels really good. Once you get used to the dry prickliness, it leaves a really relaxing tingling, almost-electric sensation on your skin for quite a while afterward. It’s also a fabulous exfoliator — the first time I tried it I was simultaneously disgusted and excited at all the small flakes of skin that came flying off my legs. The downside to that, though, is that dry brushing also removed some of my self-tanner, which had previously been my method of choice to camouflage lumps and bumps. Bonus: Dry brushing feels really good on itchy mosquito bites.
In terms of cellulite, Vargas says that “two weeks straight of dry brushing will give you the bottom you have always wanted, high and smooth.” That hasn’t exactly happened, but after a thorough comparison of my before and after #cellfies, I’ve noticed some small improvement and everything definitely feels smoother to the touch.
At-home gadget: I decided to step things up and bring machinery into my arsenal, in the form of Bliss’s FatGirlSlim Lean Machine ($145). This handheld gadget squeezes sections of skin between two rollers, while simultaneously applying suction, supposedly resulting in better circulation.
There’s a learning curve with the Lean Machine. After you apply the included FatGirlSlim cream to the area you want to treat, you can choose what level of suction and pulsation you want. You also might want to consider doing the treatment behind closed doors, because standing with your bare leg perched on the toilet seat while you roll a gadget that sounds like a small dump truck up and down your leg is not sexy.
I’ve been treating one side for the last nine days and leaving the other as a control, and I’ve noticed that the treated side definitely looks smoother after a treatment than the untreated side, but then it’s back to normal by the next morning. So it may be a good option if you’re (a) a swimsuit competitor or (b) like wearing no pants regularly. It gives a temporary smoothness that is fairly noticeable, at least to someone who’s been analyzing her cellulite on a zoomed-in level for a full month.
No-expenses-spared spa treatment: When you are offered an anti-cellulite treatment at one of the most chi-chi spas in the world, you accept it. L.Raphael, founded by Ronit Raphael Leitersdorf, has spas in Geneva, Cannes, Moscow, and New York. Mrs. Raphael Leitersdorf, an exceptionally elegant woman who said she was in her 50s, started the business in Israel after a second-degree burn she received as the result of a skin-peel procedure she had in her teens prompted her to devote her life to skin care.
I was there for the Body Sculpturing procedure, which uses a proprietary device that incorporates radio frequency, heat, and suction to smooth out cellulite, “shrink fat chambers, increase blood flow, and enhance lymphatic drainage,” according to the spa’s rep. Mrs. Raphael Leitersdorf deemed that since I was there, I should also try the Oxy Anti-Cellulite service. I was warned by no fewer than three different people, including Mrs. Raphael Leitersdorf, that the treatments wouldn’t be “relaxing or comfortable.” With a sense of foreboding, I found myself in an enormous treatment room with an aesthetician on each leg — Tatiana manned the RF machine, while Aleksandra was in charge of the oxygen treatment.
First off, Tatiana told me that my cellulite “wasn’t that bad.” In fact, it was only a grade 1 out of 4, suggesting to me that maybe perception is worse than reality, and also that maybe I should lay off the magnifying mirror for a while. Aleksandra opened a box containing various potions and ampoules, which she poured into a chamber attached to an oxygen machine with a small cannula attached at the end. She warned me that it was “strong.” Imagine being power-washed with some super-chic serum and that will give you an idea of what it was like. The oxygen and pressure exfoliate the skin, allowing the magical serum to penetrate your skin better. After the not-so-uncomfortable power-washing, though, came a thigh massage that left me with a constellation of purple thumb-print-size bruises. It hurt. A lot.
But luckily, I had Tatiana vacuuming my other leg with her RF suction machine, which took my mind off the pain that Aleksandra was inflicting. I wouldn’t say the heated suction hurt, but it didn’t feel good either, particularly on the inner-thigh area that Aleksandra had lovingly brutalized to help with “drainage.” Both of them told me that I’d have great results in two to three days, and they regaled me with stories of women flying in weekly from places like Texas and Minnesota to get the treatments. My outer thighs and butt definitely felt and looked smoother for a few days (my bruised inner thighs, not so much); four days later, I don’t notice much of a difference. The team recommended that I come for the treatment once a week, then monthly for maintenance. Sadly, the price precludes this possibility: My treatments (which were graciously comped to me) cost a grand total of $3,742. I’ll leave you with that.
If body acceptance is priceless, that’s my new goal.