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Could taking a brush to your skin get rid of cellulite and clear away toxins? Apparently, so. Dry-brushing devotees swear by the invigorating, exfoliating benefits of a good skin sweep.
What is it? Dry brushing dates back to ancient times and the practice hasn’t changed much. It’s exactly what it sounds like: rubbing your skin (yes, your skin) with a dry brush.
Why the hype? Fans claim it’s a cure-all for everything from dry skin to poor circulation to a toxin-clogged lymphatic system and even cellulite. The idea is that the pressure from the bristles breaks up cellulite while stimulating blood flow and lymphatic drainage. Science has yet to prove all the benefits, but done properly, it can be a great way to feel rejuvenated. Plus, some people say it feels massage-like.
How does it work? Dry brushing boosts blood flow to the area and plumps the skin (which could explain the cellulite claim), but the effects are short-lived, like when you pinch your cheeks to make them pink. It is a good exfoliator, literally brushing away dead cells. The majority of lymph fluid is found in capillaries near the skin’s surface.
Is there any downside? You shouldn’t brush too vigorously or too frequently (once or twice a week is plenty), or you’ll risk damaging your skin. People with super-sensitive skin, open wounds, or conditions like eczema should skip it since dry brushing can lead to further irritation.
How do I start? The best time to dry brush is right before you get in the shower. Be sure to brush gently, especially on sensitive areas. Most people start at their ankles in short strokes or a circular motion and work their way up. Be sure to apply lotion after to restore moisture to your skin.
Illustration by Sunny Gu