Everything you need to know – from the benefits to how to do it
There are a lot of beauty and wellness trends out there, and as much as we love a TikTok beauty hack (slugging anyone?), we believe the techniques and rituals that have stood the test of time tend to be the ones that work best.
Some wellness practices date back hundreds (if not thousands) of years and one of the most popular ancient beauty rituals is dry body brushing. A traditional Ayurvedic practice, dry body brushing (known as garshana) is a massaging technique carried out on dry skin that helps boost lymphatic flow and smooth skin through manual exfoliation at the same time. But what exactly is dry body brushing and does it work? We reached out to Ayurveda-inspired celebrity facialist and body sculptor, Dimple Amani, to find out.
The benefits of dry body brushing
At surface level, massaging dry skin on the body with a bristle brush can aid manual exfoliation. Through helping to physically remove dry and dulling skin cells and boosting circulation, dry body brushing can help reveal smoother, more radiant skin. But there are other benefits that go beyond an invigorating exfoliation.
‘One of the main benefits is that the massaging effect can help boost lymph flow. In Ayurveda, one of the reasons garshana is carried out is to encourage the removal of ama [toxins] and improve circulation,’ Dimple explains. The lymphatic system in our bodies helps remove waste that our cells make. Lymph, which is a fluid, carries the waste to our lymph nodes, which act as a filter. It’s thought that certain massages and, yep, you guessed it, dry body brushing, helps boost the flow of lymph and, therefore, the process of lymphatic drainage. By stimulating the lymphatic system, which is a major part of our immune system, we’re encouraging our body to detoxify naturally, ultimately helping to support our immunity and strengthening our susceptibility to illness.
Many people (and some experts) also believe that this increase of circulation and lymph flow can kick-start processes in the body that may help reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks, although there is little scientific evidence currently to back this up.
Further benefits include helping to prevent ingrown hairs, whether you wax or shave, and keeping clogged pores at bay (providing you clean your brush regularly – see further down the article on how to do this).
Is dry body brushing for everyone?
Though the benefits are numerous, dry brushing isn’t for everyone. If your skin is particularly sensitive and inflamed or if you have eczema, psoriasis or open wounds, Dimple advises it’s best to steer clear in order to avoid infection.
How to dry brush your body
It’s worth noting that dry brushing should never be carried out on the face, where skin is more sensitive and prone to irritation.
With that said, it really is remarkably simple to do introduce dry body brushing into your beauty routine. ‘Dry body brushing can be carried out every day. It should be done on dry skin, so I recommend doing it for around three minutes, just before you jump in the shower,’ says Dimple. As for the process of dry body brushing itself, she recommends the following steps:
• Starting at your feet, take your bristle body brush and begin gently brushing upwards. It shouldn’t feel painful but instead like its massaging, so make sure you get the pressure right.
• Move up the legs using big, circular motions.
• Move up to your stomach area and continue brushing in an anticlockwise direction.
• Brush each arm in an upward motion, moving towards your shoulders and chest.
• Jump in the shower to soothe skin and remove any loose dry skin.
• Once you’ve dried your skin, be sure to moisturise. Whenever you exfoliate, you should apply a cream or oil after to help put moisture and hydration back into the skin.
• Rinse your brush thoroughly and leave to dry.
How to clean your dry body brush
Every couple of weeks, it’s important to do a deeper clean of your dry body brush. After all, brushing bacteria and dead skin cell build-up onto your skin each day is not the best of combinations! To do this, apply a small drop of gentle soap (or baby shampoo) to the bristles and, with a clean, wet hand, gently rub over them with your palm. Once you’ve built a satisfactory lather, rinse the bristles under a running tap.
Alternatively, fill a sink or bowl with an inch of water, add some gentle soap, and place the brush in the water with the bristles face down. Then, move the brush around in the water with a scrubbing motion, being sure to create movement in the bristles. Finish by rinsing under a running tap. Try not to get the wood of your brush wet as over time this may cause it to split.
To dry your brush, simply hang it up in a dry environment if it has a hook or, if it doesn’t, pop out a clean, dry towel on a flat surface and put the brush on top, bristle-side down.
Your tool kit: 5 of the best products for dry body brushing
Turning dry body brushing into a daily beauty ritual that you enjoy couldn’t be easier with the help of these skin-loving products.
Try: Botanics Natural Bristle Body Brush
• Responsible packaging: made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood
• Natural, plant-based bristles
Ideal for tricky-to-reach areas like the back, this body brush has natural bristles, a long handle and a rope loop so that you can hang it up in your bathroom.
Try: Liz Earle Beauty Skin Replenishing Body Balm
• Size: 200ml
For more intense hydration, this rich, balmy cream contains shea butter, rice bran oil and black oat seed to help deliver long-lasting moisture. The spicy eucalyptus scent makes for the perfect end to your invigorating dry body brushing routine.
Try: Fenty Skin Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream
• Size: 200ml
If you want the nourishment of a cream but the sensorial luxury of an oil, this hybrid should satisfy your needs. Coating limbs in a thick layer of this oil-cum-cream that’s chock-full of nourishing goodies, including glycerin and vitamin C, will only add to the glowing benefits of dry body brushing.