Dry Skin Brushing: Friend or Foe?

Dry brushing involves brushing dry skin with a firm, natural bristle brush. Dry brushing has been used in many cultures for centuries to improve skin and overall health. This technique has picked up popularity because it is inexpensive and simple enough to incorporate into a daily routine.


Dry Brushing Exfoliates Skin

Perhaps the most obvious benefit from dry skin brushing is physical exfoliation. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin from the outermost layer of skin and therefore help the skin renew itself through chemical or physical means.[1] The firm bristles on the dry brush are able to loosen the dead skin cells and result in a more radiant and youthful complexion.


Dry Brushing Prevents Aging

Dry brushing can also help maintain a youthful appearance by increasing skin blood flow. A decrease in blood supply is one side effect of aging, so the massage-like strokes from dry brushing can increase blood flow to the skin.[2] While few studies have been conducted specifically on dry bushing, light massages similar to dry brushing have been found to increase local skin blood flow, maintain skin suppleness, and relax tissue.[3]


How to Dry Brush

For dry brushing, the only tool needed is a dry brush with firm and natural bristles. Typically dry brushing is done by working up the body starting from the feet and to brush in the direction of the heart. Firm pressure should be used when dry brushing, but it should not be painful. For maximum effects, dry brushing should be done daily before a shower and the skin should be moisturized and treated afterwards.


When is Dry Brushing Bad For You?

Even though there are benefits to dry brushing, there are certain cases where it can be more harmful than helpful. For example, those with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, have impaired skin barriers and do not retain as much moisture as people with normal skin.[4] Dry brushing can cause further irritation to those with eczema and even those with naturally dry skin or inflamed skin by increasing water loss and increasing inflammation. In addition, dry brushing should not be done over open wounds as it can disrupt the healing process and could lead to infection.

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