Building a “body skincare routine” is a must this year. As the largest organ on our body, the skin extends far past just the face. That said, why not add new body care techniques, like dry brushing, to your weekly ritual? “Dry brushing is the act of long or short strokes of a brush along the skin,” founder and CEO of Terra-Tory, Kimberly Waldropt tells ESSENCE.
While many may prefer to use a dry brush for full-body exfoliation, others may use the tool for lymphatic drainage and depuffing by dry brushing the face. For Waldropt, brushing her skin a few times a week benefited her postpartum body. For example, “I now dry brush my legs and arms to promote blood flow and circulation,” she says.
Below, Waldropt breaks down all the techniques and benefits of brushing your body.
When do you use it?
You may be familiar with using a body brush in the shower. But have you tried brushing before you get in? As the name suggests, dry brushing works best before the brush is wet. With a dry brush tool, stroke your body– from head to toe– ahead of bathing, then wash off the dead skin in the shower. “Dry brushing is a ‘do a few times a week’ kind of ritual,” Waldropt says, as to not dry out your skin. To prevent said dryness, she recommends using a hydrating soap in the shower and body balm or oil afterwards to help condition the skin and avoid irritation.
“There are various types of dry brushes and brushing techniques,” she says. According to WebMD, you can start at your ankles and work up your body, moving the brush upward in long, fluid strokes. However, Waldropt prefers a more intuitive and targeted approach. “I do strokes that feel good to me or I’ll spend time in areas that need a little more love,” she says. “I like to do slow, smooth, circular brush strokes in the areas where I feel my skin is rough and bumpy,” she continues, noting her knees, elbows, lower legs, and back of thighs.
Among the most familiar benefits, body brushing can be used as an exfoliation technique. “The objective can be to remove dead skin from the skin’s surface or promote blood flow,” Waldropt says. By unclogging your pores and promoting cell turnover, brush exfoliation can help soften the skin, control body acne, and even the skin’s complexion.
“There can be a lot of unwanted fluid in the abdomen and large extremities, so dry brushing can help move the fluid, so it doesn’t settle,” she says. “This is called fluid drainage or lymphatic drainage.” Like a lymphatic massage or using a gua sha tool, dry brushing helps detoxify your body by targeting the lymphatic system (a part of the immune system), draining the fluid back into your bloodstream to release the buildup of toxins in the body and reduce cellulite.
With softer-bristled brushes– like the Tata Harper Cleansing Kabuki Brush or the Shiseido Polishing Brush– “some people dry brush the face to reduce puffiness,” she says. With the help of lymphatic drainage in the body, massaging your face with a brush can help reduce swelling and puffiness in your cheeks, forehead, and neck, with additional benefits like wrinkle reduction and product penetration.
Increases blood flow and circulation
“Childbirth had done so much to my body,” Waldropt says. “Now, I dry brush my legs and arms to promote blood flow and circulation.” As the bristles stimulate the surface of your skin, the blood flow underneath your skin is stimulated as well, increasing circulation.
In addition to skin benefits, “I found that dry brushing offers me a boost in my metabolism,” she says. With increased circulation, lymphatic drainage, and other benefits, Waldropt says the tool helps stimulate her body’s energy. Not only that, taking time to care for your body helps activate your parasympathetic immune system, which helps relax your body, regenerating your energy.