A lowdown on dry brushing: is it as miraculous as it claims to be?

When I first heard of dry brushing, I thought it was a miracle worker. A simple and cheap 5-minute trick that can unclog pores, give you smooth skin, detoxify your body, and reduce cellulite? Sign me up! But once the initial excitement died down, I figured that the supposed benefits of dry brushing seem too good to be true. So I decided to do some deeper research to know: is this science speaking or just another Internet myth? 

What is dry brushing?

As the name suggests, dry brushing is simply the practice of running a dry bristled brush all over your body. It is an ancient beauty ritual that originated from India and it’s believed to heal and detoxify the body through the skin.

The claims

The supposed claims are as grand as they go. Proponents of dry brushing say that this technique can increase blood flow and circulation, flush away toxins, and strengthen the immune system all while giving you the skin of your dreams. Benefits were also said to include muscle toning, cellulite reduction, fading out stretch marks, treating back acne, and smoothing out the skin for a relatively cheap cost. But which among these are actually true?

The science

Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence that links dry brushing to its believed benefits for banishing cellulite, toning the muscles, and detoxifying your body. However, medical experts unanimously agree that it helps give you smoother skin by unclogging pores and sloughing off your dead skin cells. The massaging motion also helps to improve your lympathic system, and can increase blood flow and address bloating. This results can make you feel more rejuvenated and energized temporarily, thanks to the stimulation.

Should you do it?

If you have dry, sensitive skin – STAY AWAY. You’re better off sticking to creamier body scrubs. Zen Zest makes amazing ones that are just P150. If you have normal to oilier skin however, there’s no harm in giving it a try. It gives you smooth skin, relaxes your muscles, and really does boost energy (at least based on my experience). I’ve been a little lazier with my yoga practice in the morning and dry brushing has become my fun, lazy-girl alternative!

I love Vanilla Cream and Cotton Flower!

I love Vanilla Cream and Cotton Flower!

Where can you buy a brush?

It’s not as popular a method here as it is in other countries, so our choices are unfortunately limited. I bought this brush with natural boar bristles from Watsons for P219. They also have a smaller brush without the white massagers that retails for P129. Other options include Earth Therapeutics (P450 at Beauty Bar), The Body Shop, and MUJI (P900+). You can also scour PCX, Landmark, and Lazada for generic variants that come at different price points.

If you want to test the waters first, you can try this technique with a loofah or a slightly abrasive wash cloth.

This image from  DiscoverMe  pretty much covers it.

This image from DiscoverMe pretty much covers it.

How do you do it?

"From the bottom to your heart" is the key phrase to remember when dry brushing. Start from your feet and move towards your heart in long, fluid strokes. Do the same thing for your arms, starting from your finger tips and brushing down once you reach your neck. For your abdomen, go around in a counter clockwise motion.

The brush should feel firm against your skin but never painful. Ease the pressure in more sensitive areas such as your chest and neck and don’t pass over any area too much as you might over exfoliate and damage the skin. I’d say less than 10 strokes should do the trick!

The best place and time to do this is in your shower before you wash yourself as sloughing off dead skin could be messy. This way, you can also get the maximum moisturizing benefits of your bath products since you’re applying it on fresh, healthy skin. Don’t forget to moisturize after with a lotion, multipurpose gel, or in-shower moisturizer!

In summary, dry brushing WILL:

  • Help you achieve smoother skin through exfoliation
  • Prevent acne by unclogging pores
  • De-stress you because of the massaging motion
  • Aid the lymphatic system
  • Temporarily increase your energy because of blood flow stimulation
  • Address bloating
  • Save you money on body scrubs (!!!)

However, it will NOT:

  • Treat your cellulite
  • Fade your stretch marks
  • Firm your body permanently
  • Make your body get rid of toxins

Have you tried this technique before? How did you like it?

Sources: TIME, Greatist, PhilStar, WellnessMama