How to Dry Brush Your Skin: the Detoxification Secret

Detox your skin.

how to dry brush

There’s a totally magical self-care routine that may help reduce the appearance of cellulite, banish dry skin, boost the lymphatic system, and increase circulation – all with the help of a firm bristle brush and five to ten minutes max. Here’s your guide on how to dry brush your skin and why it matters.

What Is Dry Brushing?

For those who aren’t familiar with the technique, dry brushing is a daily body massage using a natural bristle brush. Dry brushing is literally the act of brushing your body with a firm bristle brush while both skin and brush are dry. From spa menus and wellness centers across the country, to daily rituals proclaimed by health and wellness gurus (we see you, Gwyneth), dry body brushing is everywhere these days.

What Are the Health Benefits of Dry Brushing?

According to Jamie Starkey, Lead Acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, dry brushing is a simple and effective tool for exfoliating dry winter skin. “It also helps detoxify by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow and drainage.”

The lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating waste generated by cellular processes. It’s also critical for immune system function and protecting the body from external threats, such as bacteria and viruses.

Essentially, the lymphatic system works as the body’s inner drainage and waste removal system. “A long network of blood vessels and lymph nodes carry fluids from tissues around the body into the blood and vice versa,” according to Dr. Josh Axe. “Lymph nodes, found throughout the body, are where immune cells are created, which are critical for fighting infections and healing wounds.”

When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins may be able to greater accumulate, which in turn can lead to diseases such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, inflammation, arthritis, and frequent infections.

Along with detox support, dry brushing promotes the health and appearance of the skin. The daily ritual of dry brushing helps to unclog pores and exfoliate dry, flaky skin. It may also reduce the appearance of cellulite and generate smoother looking skin, thanks to the continuous brushing motion, which causes skin tissue to swell and plump up.

A daily dry brushing routine may also promote energy and increased circulation. Starkey notes that “dry brushing stimulates the nervous system, which can make you feel invigorated after the process.” This may be why dry brushing first thing in the morning (pre-shower) is a good idea.

How to Dry Brush:

Grab Your Brush.

Purchase a natural bristle brush (not synthetic) with a long handle to reach tricky areas. Make sure the bristles are firm, but not overly so. Dry brushing should be calming, not a painful exfoliating process that can puncture skin.

Find body brushes at natural food stores such as Whole Foods Market or online.

Get Naked.

First thing’s first: clothes off! Get naked in your shower, without the water running. This helps to catch the dead skin that will inevitably come off during the dry brushing process. Gross, but healthy for your pores and overall skin texture.

Brush Toward Your Heart.

Begin dry brushing by starting at your ankles and working your way up to your shoulders by making long, sweeping motions toward your heart. Use light, firm strokes and brush several times in each area, overlapping as you go. Always, always brush with the natural direction of lymphatic flow, which is toward the heart.

Don’t forget to dry brush the arms and underarms, back, butt, and gently around the breasts and chest area.

After dry brushing, your skin may be slightly pink and tingly, but it should never hurt. If so, brush skin softer next time. If you have any open cuts, patches of psoriasis or eczema, sunburns, or sores, make sure to skip dry brushing those areas.


Shower off regularly to remove any dead skin. Post-shower; apply lotion or unrefined coconut oil to your radiantly soft skin to help seal in moisture.

Dry Brushing Tips:

  • Dry brush daily. First thing in the morning works best, as many individuals find that dry brushing helps to energize the body and kick start digestion.
  • Can you dry brush your face? Experts recommend skipping dry brushing the facial area, which may be too firm for thin facial skin. To give your face some scrub love, do a DIY exfoliator instead.
  • Experts also recommend not to dry brush the genital area.
  • To continue detoxing your body, fill up on quality whole foods along with your dry brushing routine. Aim to eat ample amounts of fruits, vegetables, plant and animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids, organic eggs, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Replace your body brush every six months to maintain bristle firmness.

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Kate Gavlick is a nutritionist with a masters degree in nutrition. Hailing from Portland Oregon, and has a passion... More about Kate Gavlick