Evidence Based



Can you imagine a daily routine that only takes five minutes, has amazing wellness benefits, is practically free, makes your skin glow and feels really good? Dry brushing has been around for a long time, but this often easy-to-do natural skin care routine is barely practiced today.

Dry brushing helps unclog pores and excrete toxins that get trapped beneath the skin. Did you know that our skin is considered an organ? And as such, it’s the largest organ in the human body. Since one-third of the body’s toxins are excreted through the skin, this super-large organ needs daily attention.

The skin also has the job of producing antibacterial substances to protect you from infection, and when exposed to the sun, the skin helps your body produce the much needed vitamin D.

What Is Dry Brushing?

It seems that dry brushing has been used for centuries by Scandinavians and Russians. More than 30 years ago, a Finnish doctor by the name of Paavo Airola prescribed this technique for his patients to detoxify, exfoliate and stimulate the skin.

It’s considered part of Ayurvedic medicine and works by exfoliating the skin. Those who use the practice rub a brush over their skin in a particular way, and the brush is usually coarse with natural fibers. The natural fibers will help get rid of dead skin and enhance the skin’s ability to detoxify.


1. Exfoliates Dead Skin

When in your teens and 20s, dry brushing isn’t really necessary because the skin automatically renews itself. However, as you get older, it is helpful to exfoliate once or twice week to help renew the skin and remove those dead skin cells so that you have a fresher appearance and healthier skin.

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It’s important to do this gently so that you do not tear the skin. You don’t want to break down the skin’s protective layer or cause irritation to sensitive skin, which could get infected. Exfoliating too much can also dehydrate the skin, which is that last thing you want to do.

2. Stimulates the Lymphatic System

Because your skin helps to detoxify the body, it’s important to keep it healthy so that it can do its job. However, if your skin has too many toxins or dead skin cells, it may not be able to eliminate waste from your body as efficiently as needed.

Dry brushing your skin can help your lymphatic system, which has the job of removing toxins from the body and ultimately helps prevent you from getting sick. When inflammation builds up in the body, it can cause the body to struggle to fight off that inflammation. If the skin is healthy, it can help release those toxins so that the body is not having to work so hard to rid itself of them.

3. Reduces Cellulite

Everyone hates cellulite, and it seems to be so hard to lose. Cellulite is the appearance of cottage cheese skin predominantly seen on the legs, butt, stomach and back of the arms. It’s often caused by fluid retention, lack of circulation, weak collagen structure and increased body fat in addition to hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, genetics, poor diet and toxicity.

Cellulite is most common in adolescent and adult women, but men can have it, too. While there are many claims to treatments, dry brushing may help stimulate the cells and break down toxins from beneath the skin, which may act as a natural remedy for cellulite. (You can also try this DIY coffee scrub for cellulite.)

4. Unclogs Pores

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, MD, a Harvard-trained cardiologist and author of Your Vibrant Heart tells us that over time, your pores can get clogged with dead skin cells, pollutants and cosmetics. This causes the liver and kidneys to work really hard to get rid of impurities. Dry skin brushing unclogs your skin’s pores and helps your skin absorb more nutrients, which promotes healthy skin and allows those toxins to release a bit easier.

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5. Offers Stress Relief

Another benefit of dry brushing is that it’s similar to massage in decreasing stress, which is great for your health by eliminating anxiety. A study reported that whole body massage was effective in reducing anxiety and stabilizing vital signs of patients with acute coronary disorders. Dry brushing is similar to massage in helping you to relax, yet is far cheaper since you can do it yourself.

Much like a hand massage, dry brushing can provide much needed natural stress relief. When you are less stressed, your body heals much faster from any disease-causing inflammation that it may be have.

Did you know that 75 to 90 percent of all doctors office visits are related to conditions caused by stress? When you are stressed, it causes changes in the hormones that can increase inflammation and trigger various other problems. If you experience stress over a long period of time, it can be dangerous and is capable of increasing the risk for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain or obesity, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders and even cancer.

Therefore, finding ways to help eliminate stress is crucial. Dry brushing is an easy way that you can do this for yourself.

Dry brushing - Dr. Axe

How to Dry Brush

There are a few steps that are needed to dry brush correctly. With a little practice, you can enjoy this wonderful benefit and your skin will thank you. Not only will you feel better, but your skin will being to regain that youthful appearance.

Here’s how to dry brush:

  1. Purchase a natural bristle brush with a long handle so that you can reach all areas of your body. Avoid the synthetic brushes.
  2. Remove any clothing and stand in a bathtub or shower to catch the falling dry skin.
  3. Do not wet the skin. Dry brush your skin while it is dry.
  4. Starting at the bottom your feet, move in long sweeping motion toward your heart. Stroking away from your heart can put extra pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels, causing ruptured vessels and varicose veins.
  5. Brush each area several times and overlapping as you go to ensure that you do not miss a spot. Be careful over the more sensitive areas, such as the breasts. You may want to avoid the nipple area. It may feel more sensitive the first few times, but your skin will become less sensitive with consistent dry brushing.
  6. Once you’ve brushed your entire body, step into the shower and bathe as you normally would.
  7. After you have showered, pat your skin dry and apply a natural oil like rose hip, olive or coconut oil to your entire body. Try this all-over homemade body butter or check out the DIY recipe I have here!
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1. Sensitive Skin

At first, test a small area to make sure you are not over-sensitive to the activity. Then dry brush the entire body once a week.

Once you feel comfortable with the process and confirm that you do not have any irritation from it, you can dry brush your entire body a couple of times a week. More than that can cause dehydration. And, by removing the outer layer, you are removing the much needed protection that your skin provides, so it is best not to dry brush too frequently.

2. Be Gentle

It is important to be gentle as you dry brush. You do not want to break the skin and cause more inflammation. Also, make sure your brush has soft bristles. It should feel good.

3. Brush Towards the Heart

Brush towards the heart to so that you avoid putting pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels.

4. Relax

Part of the importance is to reduce stress. Relax, don’t be in a hurry and enjoy this time for yourself.

5. Clean Your Brush

Clean your brush with soap and water at least once a week and let it air dry to avoid any mildew accumulation on your brush.