A Mom & Nurse’s Guide to Dry Brushing Skin and Why It’s Beneficial

Dry brushing is a helpful way to keep your body healthy and your skin looking amazing. It's easy to do and doesn't require much of an investment. It's great for the whole family and can make a big difference in your health and appearance.

A Mom & Nurse's Guide to Dry Brushing Skin and Why It's Beneficial | Real Food RN

Dry brushing skin has been a practice for centuries. Ancient Ayurveda medicine prescribed dry brushing as a means to improve lymphatic flow and boost circulation. The practice has continued through the years and has become a modern self-care ritual. Dry brushing is the act of brushing dry skin with a stiff, dry brush. 

As a mom and a nurse, I’ve experienced many benefits from dry brushing. I use it to help my lymphatic system stay healthy, and to keep my skin glowing. Pair brushing with being in the sauna (my favorite place to skin brush!) and you really get some amazing results! Essentially, the health benefits of skin brushing make a difference from the inside out. 

A Nurse’s Perspective on Dry Brushing 

From a nurse’s point of view, dry brushing skin benefits the physical health of our body. That’s because dry brushing is known to:

  • Support the lymphatic system
  • Increase circulation
  • Aid in reducing cellulite (yay!!)
  • Promote cell reproduction

Health Benefits of Skin Brushing 

The lymphatic system is a series of tube-like vessels running throughout the body that carry lymph — a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathe tissue. The lymphatic system detoxifies our bodies by carrying internal and external toxins and pathogens through lymph nodes, which clean and purify the lymph. 

Lymph can become stagnant, causing a buildup of toxins in the body. We sometimes experience swollen glands or lymph nodes when we are sick. Over time, a chronically toxic lymphatic system can lead to health issues like

  • Edema 
  • Excess weight
  • Cellulite
  • Allergies
  • Sinusitis
  • Eczema
  • Chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer 

Keeping a healthy flow through the lymphatic system helps rid our bodies of toxins naturally so we stay healthier. There are many ways to increase lymphatic drainage besides dry brushing. 

In addition to supporting the lymphatic system, dry brushing increases circulation. Improved blood flow increases our energy level by stimulating the nervous system. Some even attribute dry brushing skin to the reduced appearance of cellulite. In the same ways massage can help reduce bumpy, dimpled skin, dry brushing alleviates cellulite.

A Mom’s Perspective on Dry Brushing 

As a mom and a woman, I have experienced skin brushing’s health benefits in my beauty routine. That’s because dry brushing skin is:

  • Great for exfoliation
  • Cleans and firms skin 
  • Reduces breakouts 

Beauty Benefits of Skin Brushing 

Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs 60% of what we put on it. We are exposed to so many toxins in the environment that we can’t be sure what’s leeching into our skin. Besides that, the average person isn’t well versed in how toxic skincare products can be. You may be exposing your body to many harmful chemicals and not even realize it. Dry brushing exfoliates the skin and eliminates dead skin cells and clogged pores, which frees the skin to eliminate toxins more efficiently when we sweat. 

Side note: if you need help figuring out which of your own personal care products might contain harmful toxins, I have a resource for you! I have a private Safe Skincare Facebook group where I educate on that very topic. I have also written a book that takes you through step-by-step.

Living in Minnesota, I am consistently battling dry, winter skin. Dry brushing helps remove dead skin and leaves it feeling much softer. Not only that, my face tends to feel cleaner, and my pores minimized. Sharing the benefits with my children and teaching them dry brushing techniques can reduce breakouts and increase their self-esteem. 

The Truth About Dry Brushing 

There are competing opinions about the medical benefits of dry brushing, but many professionals support the practice as an effective and helpful way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While there’s little scientific proof, as a nurse and a mom, I see the benefits and have experienced them firsthand.  I support dry brushing skin and make it a regular part of my self-care regimen because it helps me stay healthier and it feels great.

Dry Brushing Skin May Not Be for Everyone  

As in all things, dry brushing skin may not be good practice for everyone. Dry brushing should be used on healthy skin, without sores or wounds as infection can occur if bacteria is introduced. People who have chronic skin conditions should consult with their physician before beginning a dry brushing routine. Skin can become thin and fragile as we age, and dry brushing may irritate rather than invigorate. Care should be taken to use a softer brush to determine the right tolerance for your skin type. 

Here are the Details on How to Properly Dry Brush Your Skin

Dry brushing skin starts with the right brushes. Depending on your sensitivity and the area you are brushing, you’ll want to use various types (usually three) of brushes. It’s easy to find natural fiber brushes online or in your local store. Look for firm, natural bristles and avoid anything synthetic. 

For areas that can take more pressure, like the bottom of your hands and feet, use a stiff brush. For your face and any more sensitive areas of your body, find a brush with more flexibility that is less abrasive. You’ll also need a brush with a handle to reach your back and any places you need extra help if you have mobility issues. When you begin dry brushing, your skin may be more sensitive. Be sure to increase your brush’s density over time as your body becomes accustomed to the practice. 

Why is it Called Dry Brushing? 

You may have noticed the term “dry” used over and over to describe brushing the skin. That’s because dry brushing is performed before taking a shower (like when in the sauna!) with a dry, stiff brush. While some brushing forms are encouraged during the shower, I find dry brushing before the shower to be more beneficial.  Brushing your skin before getting it wet can help effectively remove dry, flakey skin. Additionally, hot water and many cleansers can dry skin out during a shower. Prepping skin by dry brushing before getting wet helps maximize the effectiveness of moisturizers used after the shower.   

Proper Brushing Comes from Proper Technique

The proper technique emphasizes brushing the skin in motions towards the heart, working with the natural flow of the lymphatic system. Here are some tips for the best practices:

  • Start at your feet and work your way upward
  • Brush skin using gentle motions towards the heart
  • Use circular, clockwise motions on your back and abdomen
  • Be careful with sensitive areas like the armpits, neck, and face
  • Take a cool shower after brushing to remove dead skin
  • After bathing, use a non-toxic moisturizer (here’s the one I use) to refresh your skin with a non-toxic skincare routine 

 How Often Should I Dry Brush? 

The health benefits of skin brushing are so varied that I have made it a part of my routine self-care plan. I suggest dry brushing as often as three times a week, especially if you live in a cold-weather climate as I do. Once you develop the habit of dry brushing your skin, you’ll notice the natural cycle your skin goes through and be able to make a plan that works best for you.

If you suffer from allergies, chronic pain, or fatigue, you may want to dry brush more often. You can also use dry brushing to help your children when they have colds to get their lymphatic systems going and rid the toxins in their little bodies. 

Dry brushing is a helpful way to keep your body healthy and your skin looking amazing. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require much of an investment. It’s great for the whole family and can make a big difference in your health and appearance. 

If you already use dry brushing as part of your self-care routine, leave a comment below and share your support for the technique. If you’ve got any questions about dry brushing, be sure to share them too! 

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A Mom & Nurse's Guide to Dry Brushing Skin and Why It's Beneficial | Real Food RN
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