Dry Brushing Gives Flaky Skin the Brush-Off

Flaky, dry, itchy skin is a common side-effect of winter weather and forced air indoor heating.  While keeping skin moisturized and well-hydrated can help, there is another technique that has been around for millennia which exfoliates and improves skin in any season – dry brushing. 

With self-care all the rage, and plenty of time to fill during continued social distancing efforts, dry brushing as part of a daily routine can help unclog pores, avoid ingrown hairs, detoxify, increase blood circulation and promote lymph drainage.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, a daily body massage with a dry, stiff-bristled brush can help keep flaky winter skin at bay while stimulating the nervous system, helping to boost mood and energy.  

Rather than spending a long period of time exfoliating under the hot water of a shower, which can strip the skin of its natural oils, dry brushing is done before a shower.  A natural bristled brush that is not too stiff, especially if your skin is sensitive, should be used in long upward strokes on the limbs and circular motions on the torso.  Start from the feet and work up using lighter pressure on more delicate skin.  A long-handled brush can help to reach the back.  

For people with very delicate skin, a dry washcloth can have similar benefits without irritating or damaging skin. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer after a short, not too hot shower, while the skin is still slightly damp.  The soft version of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s body brush is a gentle way to enjoy the benefits of daily dry brushing. 

Dry brushing will not reduce cellulite according to any scientific evidence, but the increased blood flow to the skin may temporarily plump up skin, improving the appearance of cellulite. Dry brushing is also commonly touted to improve digestion, but again, there is no hard data to support this claim. 

Still…if your skin is dry, dull and itchy, dry brushing before a daily shower does have enough benefits to give it a try.   Any dry brushing of the face should be done with a brush designed specifically for this delicate skin.  It can lift dead skin cells off of clean, dry skin, and help skincare products to be better absorbed. 

As with any skin care routine, watch for any adverse reactions and discontinue use if skin becomes irritated or scratched.  Use a light hand at first and the softest bristles you can find. Talk with your doctor or dermatologist before dry brushing if you have any skin concerns or very sensitive skin.