Body brushing or dry skin brushing is more or less as you would expect: a thorough and firm (but not hard) brushing of the skin all over your body, prior to showering or a body treatment. Your therapist will use a clean dry brush with firm natural bristles and brush you with sweeping, sometimes circular, motions in the direction of your heart.
What are the health benefits of dry brushing?
Different forms of skin brushing have been practised for thousands of years, in many different cultures. We have China to thank for the traditional loofah, made from the mature fibres of a vegetable called silk squash (luffa). Ancient Greeks and Romans used strigils – alarming-looking scraper objects – to remove dirt, sweat and oil before they bathed. And there is evidence to suggest ancient Egyptians, enlightened as they were in matters of skincare and beauty, were big fans of brushing and exfoliation, too.
Like most spa treatments, dry brushing utilises the undeniable power of touch to invigorate your senses, boost your circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. It has an exfoliating effect, helping you to shed dead skin cells, and leave your skin looking smoother and brighter. It may also help relieve ingrown hair follicles.
Some people think that body brushing could help your body detoxify – perhaps following the same principles as lymphatic drainage massage. Some say it reduces the appearance of cellulite, if only temporarily. We know of models who swear by it.
As with most spa treatments, a bit of internet searching will yield even bigger claims in favour of a body brush. While it’s all too easy to overstate the benefits of any treatment, body brushing certainly can’t hurt - as long as you avoid damaged or sore skin. And it can be an excellent stress reliever, thanks to its immediate and total focus on you.
What to expect from dry body brushing:
Often seen on spa menus as dry skin brushing, full body brushing is common at the beginning of body treatments, including cellulite treatments, wraps and massage. Dermalogica’s body treatments, for example, nearly always start with some kind of brushing or exfoliation – and they’re not the only brand to embrace this process. The idea is to get rid of dead skin and other impurities and increase your blood flow so you can benefit more deeply from the treatment that follows.
Your therapist will use a sterilised, firm bristle brush (often made from plant fibre such as cactus) and move it briskly in circular motions sweeping all over your body. The idea is to brush in the direction of your heart to boost circulation and encourage lymph flow.
It’s fine to say if you’d prefer a gentler or firmer touch; most therapists appreciate having the chance to get your treatment spot on.
Body brushing is a fairly quick thing, so you probably won’t see it listed as a standalone treatment.
Body brushing - hot tips:
Try body brushing a few times a week at home for added impact - it should only take two to four minutes a time. Invest in a skin brush that is tightly packed with short, firm, natural bristles and has a long handle so you can reach all the awkward places on your back. Start with your ankles and calves before working your way up, always brushing in swift circular and sweeping motions in the direction of your heart.
It’s best to do your body brushing in the morning as you’ll probably find it really wakes you up. And definitely shower afterwards to wash away dead skin cells.Using a moisturising lotion at the end is an excellent way to round off this mini morning ritual, which may soon begin to feel like a small but significant way to be nice to yourself and improve your overall wellness.
In between body brushing sessions, you can wash your brush in hot soapy water (a mild shampoo is ideal for this – you can also try adding a drop of tea tree oil for its natural antibacterial properties), rinse it thoroughly and leave it to dry on a towel in a well-ventilated place. Make-up brush cleansers are also good cleaning aids.