Getting the brushoff can be a good thing — honest


When I announced last Saturday night that I’ve begun to “dry brush,” four of the other five women at the dinner table not only knew what I was talking about but also all said, “Dry brushing! That’s good for lymphatic drainage.”

I blush to admit that I didn’t come to dry brushing because I want to improve my lymphatic drainage; I started doing it because I felt like the skin on my legs was becoming, umm, “unattractive,” and I felt that some exfoliation was needed.

First of all, dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: You take a dry brush and you brush your entire body before you shower.  It’s fast and easy and surprisingly fun, and it’s also really healthy. 

Your skin, as you know, is not just a covering, it’s an organ — the largest organ in/on your entire body. It has pores all over it and those pores get clogged up with sweat and oils and air pollution and moisturizer and soap and  toxins and — more than anything else — dead skin cells.

Exfoliation is a process by which you can slough off some of those dead cells and clear away some of that other gunk. It clears out your pores, which makes your skin healthier and cleaner and bouncier. It lets beneficial unguents such as moisturizer get in there and do their important work. And it improves your circulation, which also helps clear out toxins and adds life to your skin.

You can use creams and soaps to exfoliate, or you can dry brush (which is both a verb and a noun). I find exfoliating creams to be very expensive ($50 to $100 or more for a bottle of decent stuff) whereas dry brushing is very affordable. You can get a natural bristle brush for about $15 or less (boar’s bristle if you can find it; vegetable bristle if you’re a vegan). Be sure to get one where the brush head is attached to the handle, or it will keep falling off (the handle helps you reach your back). 

You can also buy a Japanese washcloth, which is abrasive but not as abrasive as the synthetic puffs you can get at most pharmacies. 

I happen to have an Olay exfoliating brush with a rotating head that I bought a few years ago and then never used — until last week, when I started to use it for dry brushing.

Basically, you just turn on the shower and, while the water is heating up, you give your skin a good brushing, starting at your toes and working up toward your stomach. Always brush toward your heart — so that when you’re brushing your shoulders, upper chest and neck, brush downward; when you’re brushing your legs you brush upward. Do your stomach in a circular motion from lower right to upper right to upper left to lower left.

You shouldn’t brush very hard; you want your skin to get a little pink as you do it, not red. And don’t brush over any broken skin or bruises or sensitive areas. It should feel good, not painful.

Make sure you get your butt and your armpits, for two reasons. One is lymphatic drainage, which I would sum up (as a non-medical person) by saying that your body has a lot of toxins and you need to get rid of them. Dry brushing helps you do that.

The other reason is that dry brushing your butt helps diminish those cheeky little lumps known as cellulite. Some people say you can get rid of cellulite by dry brushing, but apparently this is not true. You can however, make your skin more plump and healthy and those little lumps become less visible.

I’ve dry brushed every day for the past 10 days. Unlike other grooming rituals that are boring, such as flossing and putting on moisturizer, dry brushing goes quickly and is, as I’ve said, kind of fun. And definitely you see improvements in your skin quality right away. 

You don’t have to do it every day, but you can do it every day and you will be the better for it.

After you’re done, be sure to shower, so you rinse away all the pore-clogging agents that you’ve just cleaned off (I use a Japanese cloth in the shower so in a sense I’m getting a double exfoliation). 


And then be sure to moisturize.