When it comes to exfoliating and rejuvenating the skin, there’s a centuries-old practice that has become quite popular in Hong Kong – dry brushing.
What is dry brushing?
Dry brushing is a type of exfoliating body massage that uses a special brush, leaving your skin smooth, soft, glowing and more luminous. Devotees of this ritual, including celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr and Elle Macpherson, also attest to its additional benefits – such us the feeling of relaxation during brushing; reducing the appearance of cellulite; and even lymphatic drainage, helping the body release toxins by stimulating its pores and opening them up to release sweat.
Its origins date back a few thousand years. Ancient Egyptians were said to have used the dry body brushing technique to exfoliate, following this with natural enzymes from our milk or wine for soft, supple skin.
Hailing from India, Ayurvedic dry brushing – called garshana – uses raw silk, linen gloves or a natural bristle body brush to stimulate circulation and blood flow. Meanwhile, in ancient China, dried fibres of a gourd fruit – or the modern-day loofah – were used, either alone or mixed with sesame oil to remove dead skin, and stimulate circulation along the lung, stomach and liver meridians.
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How to dry brush?
Before showering, when you’re completely dry, brush your skin using wide, circular clockwise motions, starting at your feet and moving up your body towards the heart. Use light pressure in areas where your skin is thin, and harder pressure on thicker skin like the soles of your feet.
When brushing your arms, move towards the armpits. Avoid any sensitive areas or where skin is broken; skip your face too. The process should take anywhere between five to 15 minutes. Take a cool shower to help remove dry skin, dry off and moisturise with a plant oil, or your preferred hydrating body cream.
How often should I dry brush?
Based on a variety of sources and reviews online, there isn’t really a consensus on how often one should dry brush. Some do it daily while others, once a week.
Dr Barbara Sturm, a German aesthetics doctor and founder of her eponymous anti-ageing and clean skincare line, recommends dry brushing twice a week: “I like using a body brush before taking a shower, and after using an anti-ageing body cream to nourish and hydrate the skin,” she says. She adds that dry body brushing is an important part of one’s skincare routine and an effective way to treat cellulite at home.
But before you start typing the words “dry brush” into Google, some words of caution: the ritual may not be for everyone. US-based dermatologist Dr Michelle Henry says that while a dry brush helps encourage effective circulation and lymphatic drainage, excessive or improper use can cause irritation and inflammation.
People with skin issues like eczema and psoriasis should avoid dry brushing over inflamed areas. Those with more active melanocytes, or with darker skin, should also watch out for a risk of hyperpigmentation, or darkening certain areas of the skin due to constant rubbing. Always wear sunscreen and use gentle skincare after dry brushing.
7 Of The Best Vegan, Cruelty-Free Body Brushes
Dry brushes come in a variety of designs and materials. Natural bristle brushes give a firm pressure, while synthetic ones are softer and less stiff. Here are our top picks of cruelty-free and vegan brushes to try:
Best Natural Bristles
Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Body Brush
Available at Aromatherapy Associates
Best for Sensitive Skin
Dr. Barbara Sturm Body Brush No. 1 (Soft)
Available at Net-a-Porter
Best for Men
Dr. Barbara Sturm Body Brush Medium
Available at Mr Porter
EcoTools Dry Brush With Cruelty-Free Bristles
Available at iHerb
Best for Leg Cellulite
Legology Lymph-Lite Boom Brush For Body
Available at Net-a-Porter
Best Long Handle
Joanna Vargas Ritual Brush
Available at Revolve
Best Synthetic Bristles
Mio Body Brush
Available at Lookfantastic
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