The Ins and Outs of Dry Skin Brushing

Want a swift and powerful way to enhance the detoxification process? Dry skin brushing is a century-old technique used to stimulate the lymphatic system (your circulatory system’s built-in waste removal plant) which rids the body of toxins, and promotes beautiful skin in the process.

Skin brushing has been practiced in many cultures over many years as part of their daily hygiene routines to aid the body in eliminating toxins. Daily dry friction brushing, or dry skin brushing, creates greater activity for the pores of the skin by cleansing and eliminating more waste material than bathing with soaps and water, and without robbing the skin of its natural oils which it needs to keep from becoming too dry. Dry skin brushing tones the skin, develops good circulation, and aids in eliminating mild skin conditions. The whole body is both stimulated and invigorated.

The body has five major routes of elimination: the colon, the kidneys, the liver, the lungs, and the skin – of which the skin is the largest eliminative organ. Up to one third of all body impurities are excreted through the skin.

Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing:

  • It assists skin exfoliation and removal of waste. The removal of dead cells opens skin pores, allowing for efficient removal of waste products.
  • It decreases the quantity of bacteria on the skin surface. Bacteria is normally present on the skin surface. Layers of dead skin provide a habitat for them to flourish, resulting in a toxic load of bacterial debris which the body then needs to deal with.
  • It enhances lymphatic drainage. The lymph system removes waste fluids and is an important component in the circulatory system.
  • It stimulates and increases blood circulation in all underlying organs and tissues, especially small blood capillaries.
  • It improves skin tone, especially in aging skin. The suppleness of aging skin is enhanced by removing dead skin cells, stimulating the surface oil and sweat glands, and improving circulation. It helps keep your skin looking and feeling youthful.
  • It contributes to healthier muscle tone and better distribution of fat deposits. With continued use it even breaks down cellulite.

Body Brushing:

  1. Start by brushing on your legs. Always brush from your toes towards the center of your body, as this is the direction of venous and lymph flow. When finished, your skin will tingle and might be a little red, but do not brush so hard that your skin is bright red.
  2. Next, brush lightly up your stomach and lower back, making sure to include your buttocks.
  3. Move to your arms and brush from your fingers to your shoulders in short strokes towards the center of your body.
  4. Finally, lightly brush your shoulders and upper back towards the center of your body.
  5. Do not brush your face with the body brush as the skin is very delicate. However, you can lightly brush the back of your neck.

Note: Some of these areas may be easily reached with a long-handled skin brush. If you are unable to reach all these areas, just brush what is most comfortable for you to brush.

*Important*: Avoid brushing any open wounds, areas of skin that are easily damaged, and areas of known skin malignancies or lymphatic malignancies.

Face Brushing:
With the face brush, start at the forehead and work down over the eyes, along the nose, cheeks,
chin, ears, and finally the neck using a firm, brisk, rotary motion.

Information on the Brush:
The best skin brushes are made from natural vegetable fibre bristles. A loofa brush or a baby’s hairbrush are suitable alternatives. You can find these brushes in most health food stores. While the bristles may seem harsh and stiff at first, after about two weeks, the bristles will have softened enough that they won’t scratch your skin.

Some Tips on Dry Skin Brushing Massage:

  • Skin brushing is best done on dry skin, before bed. Use it after your shower or bath rather than before. Brushing should be done gently and in short strokes.
  • Avoid brushing the parts of your skin that are irritated, damaged, or infected.
  • Completely avoid brushing the breasts.
  • Devote at least 3-5 minutes morning and night.
  • The scalp should be brushed too. For scalp brushing, a good natural bristle brush is a MUST – no other substitute will do! Scalp brushing will stimulate hair growth by increasing blood circulation and keep scalp clean from dandruff, stale oils, etc.
  • Start very gently, smoothly gliding the brush ever so lightly on your legs and arms, stroking the same area once or twice. Increase your tempo until you are vigorously brush massaging your skin.
  • Every two weeks or so WASH YOUR BRUSH with soap to keep impurities from clogging it up (Castille and Vegetable Oil soaps are the best). Let it dry thoroughly in the sun or another warm place.
  • For hygienic reasons use separate brushes for each member of the family.
Dr. Sarah Sjovold is a Naturopathic Doctor practising at Livstil Wellness Clinic. She regularly sees patients in the Langley and Surrey area looking for help with digestion, detoxing. and immune support.

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