Many people make a point of taking great care of the skin on their face. After all, it is the first thing that people are likely to notice about you, and the health of your skin can greatly impact how you feel about yourself. Who doesn’t want to look and feel as radiantly beautiful as possible? As important as the skin on our faces is, however, it represents only a small part of the organ that covers our bodies. For many of us, the extent of our body skin care is to use a little lotion or oil after the shower or bath and call it good unless a problem arises and causes us to take notice. I think it deserves a little more attention than that. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it plays an important role in keeping you healthy. If you are interested in keeping your entire skin as healthy as possible, then you might want to know about a natural, therapeutic beauty technique called dry brushing.
Dry brushing involves using a natural, soft dry brush to eliminate dead skin cells, boost circulation and promote natural detoxification. The act of using a brush to stimulate the skin is a practice that has been used for centuries across many cultures. The Scandinavians, Russians, Japanese and Native Americans have all recognized the healing and beautifying benefits of stimulating the skin with softly abrasive beauty tools. Ancient cultures used items such as corn cobs, dried fruit fibers or even the bark of birch twigs, all in an effort to increase health and beauty. Stop and think for just a minute about all that your skin does for you on a daily basis. It protects you from environmental toxins, extreme temperatures, pathogens and injury. Your skin also enables your body to produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, and it is one of your body’s most important players in the detoxification process. Your skin is constantly hard at work, and you can help it perform better and more efficiently by adding dry brushing to your regular beauty routine.
The lymphatic system is a secondary circulatory network that works along with your veins and arteries, except that instead of carrying blood, it carries a liquid called lymph fluid. Lymph fluid creates antibodies, carries infection-fighting white blood cells and helps to filter waste and toxins for elimination. In order to work properly, the lymph system requires stimulation. Most of the time this stimulation comes from simple acts, such as just moving about during your normal daily activities. However, to really get your lymphatic system working you may need to give it a little extra boost, such as dry brushing. When you amp up the activity of your lymph system and increase circulation with dry brushing you benefit in many ways, including:
- Increasing the toxic waste that can be eliminated through your skin. This lessens the stress on your other organs including your liver, kidney and colon. This can help to reduce overall inflammation and decrease the chance of developing certain chronic diseases,
- Increased lymphatic flow means a healthier, more effective immune system.
- Eliminates arthritic acid which can cause achy and stiff joints.
- Improves your skin texture by eliminating the dead skin cells that clog pores and result in “congested” skin.
- Increases circulation to provide a natural, radiant glow.
- Dry brushing alone will leave your skin the softest that it has ever been, however it also increases the ability of your skin to accept moisture from the lotions, creams or oils that you apply to it.
- Helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
The Real Skinny on Cellulite
If there is one beauty woe that plaques almost every woman in spite of her weight, level of fitness and commitment to living a natural, healthy lifestyle it is cellulite. Nearly 90% of women have cellulite and you may have heard that dry brushing can help you to finally win in the battle against it, and perhaps you are wondering if this is true. The answer is both yes and no. Cellulite is the product of fat deposits attempting to push their way through collagen fibers and other connective tissue. Although not entirely unavoidable, there are certain things that can help prevent cellulite such as proper circulation. Unfortunately, there are no miracle cures for cellulite. There are some natural products on the market that can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and that is basically the same thing that dry brushing can do for you. When you brush your skin, you are stimulating the area so that it temporarily swells and fills mildly with fluid. This can help even out the unattractive lumpy appearance of cellulite. Between helping your skin look smoother and boosting your circulation, dry brushing is not a cure for cellulite, but definitely a tool to help you feel better about your thighs.
The How-Tos of Dry Brushing
To get the most benefits from dry brushing certain techniques should be followed. Just taking the brush to your skin is enough for exfoliation, but for detoxification, circulation and beautification purposes you will want to adopt a dry brushing routine similar to the one that I am about to outline for you. There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you begin. First of all, dry brushing is a quick and easy therapeutic practice that only takes a few minutes of your time each day. For best results you should dry brush once a day, as long as your skin can tolerate it. It is a good idea to start with once or twice a week, notice how your skin responds and then add in more sessions from there. There is nothing therapeutic about irritated and inflamed skin, so follow the schedule that works best for your body rather than one you read about online. Secondly, take it easy on yourself. This is one of the cases where less is more. You want the pressure that you use to be firm, yet gentle. The point is to exfoliate and stimulate your lymphatic system, not irritate or injure your skin. Find a pressure that is comfortable for you. With that in mind, it is time to get started.
The first thing that you need to do is get yourself a good quality dry brush. Fortunately, good quality does not equate with breaking the bank. You can find excellent brushes starting in the $15 range. For an all purpose brush, look for one with natural bristles and a long handle that feels comfortably weighted in your hand. Keep in mind that you will want to reach areas such as your back, so a handle that allows you to do so without stretching into an uncomfortable position is best. Feel the bristles before you commit to buying. They should be firm, but soft. Avoid any brushes that seem like they might scratch or irritate your skin. Some people prefer to buy a second, handheld brush that is made of softer bristles specifically for use on more delicate areas such as the chest, neck or underarms.
Your brush should remain dry, which means you should not hang it in your shower or keep it on the edge of the bathtub where it might get wet. The only exception to this is when you clean your brush every week with a mild liquid soap or shampoo.
To begin dry brushing, make sure that you are on a surface that is dry so that you do not slip and injure yourself. Your first few dry brushing sessions are likely to slough off a great deal of dead skin cells. This will produce a decent amount of dead skin “dust.” For this reason, you might prefer to dry brush while standing in the shower or on a hard floor surface that can be easily swept up. Also keep in mind that you will be brushing your feet, the back of your thighs, etc. and you may want a place to prop up your foot so that you are not uncomfortably bending over during the brushing session.
- You want to start at your feet and move up towards your heart. This is thought to increase circulation to your heart and also increase lymphatic drainage. Starting at your feet, use smooth consistent brush strokes in an upward direction. Pay extra attention to rough or calloused areas such as the soles of your feet, back of the ankles and the thicker skin on your knees.
- Once you have worked your way up your legs, you can now begin working on your torso. Start with your hands, and work your way up your arms, always brushing towards your heart. After your arms, move to your back and then finally your torso and sides.
- It is important to stimulate the underarm area for detoxification. The skin of your underarms, chest and neck is also very fragile. At this point you might want to switch to a softer brush or use gentler strokes.
- Never dry brush skin that is irritated or broken. Cuts, sores, varicose veins and rashes should be avoided.
- Dry brushing the facial skin can cause irritation, so I don’t recommend it. If you do choose to dry brush this area aim to do it only once a week and use strokes that are shorter and gentler than the pressure that you use on the rest of your body. Facial brushing should start at the forehead and move down toward the neck, again working toward the direction of your heart.
- Once you have finished dry brushing, it is a good idea to jump in the shower to wash off all of the exfoliated skin cells. To boost circulation even more, shower with mildly cool water or alternate between warm and cool in short intervals. After your shower, gently pat yourself dry and apply a nourishing, natural oil to replenish moisture to your skin.
So, if you are looking for an inexpensive, easy and all natural way to help detoxify your body, dry brushing could be the answer that you are looking for. The results are soft, radiant skin that is so healthy it glows. One of the best things about dry brushing is that it is accessible to everyone. There is no need to make a special appoint at an expensive spa and you do not need special tools. All you need is five minutes a day and a natural bristle brush to have silky soft, beautifully vibrant skin.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals