With the well-spring of evidence-backed products and gadgets at our fingertips these days, we’re all leaning hard into the art of skin care. But are we caring for the skin beyond our faces with the same kind of thoughtfulness? If your answer to that question is “yes,” we love to see it. However, if you’ve been skimping on giving your body skin the T.L.C. it deserves, it’s time to listen up.
As we learned at some point in grade school biology, our skin is the body's largest organ, which means keeping it healthy isn't just for visual benefits. Our skin barrier protects us from environmental threats — think free radicals and UV radiation — while keeping the water levels in our skin balanced. If you find your skin is dry, it's likely that your skin barrier has been disrupted. If this is due to a chronic condition, we recommend making an appointment with your dermatologist, ASAP. But if your skin is dry and irritated because it needs some basic lovin’, then there’s a simple at-home remedy that’ll get it looking and feeling its best again. Enter: dry brushing.
"Dry brushing is an ancient [Ayurvedic] technique of skin exfoliation, done on dry skin using a firm bristle brush (usually made from bamboo) with the added benefit of increasing circulation and detoxifying the body and lymph system," licensed master esthetician Nicole Caroline tells NYLON. In Ayurvedic science, Garshana — a traditional Ayurvedic dry massage — means 'friction achieved by rubbing' and is where the practice of dry brushing is inspired. As with any skincare treatment, there are a few best practices for dry brushing that you should follow to get the best results.
For starters, Caroline recommends always brushing in upward circular motions. "I tell my clients to always go towards the heart, so that the fresh, healthy blood pumps to it." In addition, the common practice is starting at your feet, gently brushing towards the heart in short upward strokes, and always applying less pressure where the skin is thinner, like inside the forearm, and more pressure where the skin is thicker, like on the soles of the feet. When you dry brush depends on personal preference, but no matter what time of day you decide to incorporate the self-care ritual, doing it before bathing or showering is recommended.
"I always like to dry brush before a shower in the morning," Caroline muses. "It energizes the cells and helps to wake up the body.” She adds that brushing before a shower is optimal because the water will rinse off any lingering dead skin cells." However, there is one caveat. Caroline recommends those with eczema, extremely dry skin, or psoriasis to avoid dry brushing. "Anyone with underlying conditions should speak to a doctor."
Our current go-to dry brush comes from Keys Soulcare. Developed alongside a board-certified dermatologist, the biodegradable brush is crafted from sustainable plant-based ingredients and exfoliates the skin with vegan bristles.
After dry brushing for three to five minutes, you're all done. Your cadence of exfoliating the body will depend on your skin type, but one to two times a week will get the job done. Just be sure to clean your brush between exfoliating sessions since dead skin cells can build up in the bristles. After each use, gently wash the bristles with soap and water. Pat the brush dry with a towel and hang to dry.