In the world of wellness, trends change quicker than the wind, and it can be easy to get swept away with the hype, suddenly committing yourself to a new way of eating, working out or practising self-care. Yet, often the evidence is questionable and they don't turn out to be a miraculous cure after all. So, we’re here to sift through the nonsense to see what wellness trends really live up to their promises, and this week we’re looking at body brushing…
What Is Dry Body Brushing?
Dry body brushing is pretty self-explanatory; it’s the use of a course, dry brush to exfoliate your skin. Most recommend you do this all over your body, before you shower and moisturise, starting at your feet and moving in swift, circular strokes towards your heart.
What Are The Benefits?
Dry body brushing is said to not only improve the quality of your skin but also to help remove “toxins” from your body, improve your circulation and reduce bloating, fluid retention and cellulite. Considering you can get your hands on a brush for about £8 online, it’s an unusually budget-friendly craze, and if it's as potent as suggested then you’d certainly be getting bang for your buck.
However, we wouldn’t put through an Amazon Prime order just yet. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence to back up any of the bold claims. Dry body brushing can increase blood flow, but not permanently, and the same effects could be achieved with any form of massage. Your liver does just fine at eliminating toxins, and a little bit of daily brushing isn’t going to magically detoxify your body.
According to an article in the New York Times: “Dry brushing does get rid of dead skin cells, increase circulation (as a brisk walk would) and help the lymphatic system work better and decrease bloating (as a massage would), Dr Alster said. However, the grander claims are more suspect.”
This removal of dead skin cells can improve the look and quality of your skin, especially as you age and the top layer of your skin cells become thicker. It does also momentarily reduce the appearance of cellulite, thanks to the temporary plumping up of the skin, however, this isn’t going to have long-term impact.
How About The Psychological Benefits?
This one's up for personal debate. Many people like dry brushing because it simply feels good and they find this daily ritual de-stressing. It’s essentially a form of self-massage, and if it’s something you enjoy adding to your morning routine to start your day on a positive note, then, by all means, go straight ahead! It is worth noting that it’s important not to overdo it. Being too rough on your skin by aggressive brushing can actually cause micro-abrasions and make you more prone to skin infections - so those with skin conditions should avoid it completely.
Dry brushing is great for exfoliating your skin (if not done too heavily) and can be a satisfying and stress-relieving daily self-care ritual that will be kinder to your bank account than a regular scrub down at your local spa. But it’s not a miracle cure. It won’t remove “toxins” from your body or make your skin as smooth as a 2-year-old child - sorry to disappoint!
Want to learn more? Here are some great articles and resources: