How to Dry Brush Your Skin

Three Parts:Preparing to Dry BrushBeginning the Dry Brushing ProcessTaking Steps after Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is the process of brushing dry skin with a long-bristled brush. This exfoliates the skin, reducing the presence of unnecessary dead skin cells on your body; however, dry brushing too often or too hard can cause skin irritation and infection. Be sure you know the facts about dry brushing, as well as the best methods, before beginning the process.

Part 1
Preparing to Dry Brush

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    Know what to expect. Dry brushing, like many wellness trends, boasts a variety of health benefits; however, not all the buzz is scientifically sound. Know the facts going in so you don't dry brush too often or unnecessarily.
    • While the effects of dry brushing on blood circulation are debated, dry brushing does exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation is a process by which dead skin cells are cleared away; however, if you're in your teens or twenties it may not be necessary to exfoliate regularly. Your skin is young enough to automatically clear away dead skin. Beginning in your 30's, dead skin may not fall away on its own and dry brushing can help.[1]
    • Dry brushing can affect cellulite but it does not remove or even reduce it.[2] Dry brushing temporarily lessens the appearance of existing cellulite due to factors like skin plumping and swelling; therefore, dry-brushing before a day at the beach can be a great way to look and feel better, but the effect will wear off within 24 hours.[3]
    • Many beauty and wellness sites advise dry brushing twice a day, but this can be harmful. When skin is brushed too harshly or too often bristles cause micro cuts. These can easily become infected. Also, dry brushing more than once a week breaks down protective barriers in the skin. This leads to dryness and irritation.[4]
    • Dry brushing does affect skin conditions. People with eczema or chronic dry skin should avoid dry brushing as they're more prone to the above complications; however, if you have a condition called keratosis pilaris, in which the skin is inflamed with rough, red bumps, dry brushing could potentially remove the dead skin cells that cause such bumps.[5]
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    Select your brushes. If you've weighed the pros and cons and have decided dry brushing is right for you, you'll need to select the brushes you will use.
    • You will need a natural, non-synthetic bristle brush with a long handle. You can find a bristle brush like this at a health food store or at a beauty salon.[6]
    • The longer the handle, the better. You'll need to access hard-to-reach areas like your back.[7]
    • Choose firm bristles. Cactus or vegetable-derived bristles are ideal for the process of dry brushing. If you're not sure, ask an employee for advice.[8]
    • For delicate areas like your face, abdomen, and breasts, select a no-handle brush with slightly softer bristles.[9]
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    Decide when to dry brush, and how often. Before you begin dry brushing, you'll need to make a decision about what time of day to dry brush.
    • Many dry brushing advocates advise dry brushing in the morning, before a shower. This is because dry brushing allegedly energizes the body and some people believe this will give you an added energy boost at the beginning of the day.[10]
    • Remember, do not dry brush too often. While many fans of dry brushing do it daily, or twice daily, this is not necessary and can actually lead to skin infection, dryness, and irritation. Dry brushing bi-weekly is the safest option.

Part 2
Beginning the Dry Brushing Process

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    Stand on a tiled surface. Before you begin dry-brushing, you should get on a tiled surface. Most people prefer dry brushing in their showers. Dead skin flakes will fall away from your body during the process and you want a surface that can easily be cleaned or rinsed after the process.[11]
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    Start with the feet and move up the legs. Use your long-handled brush for this portion of dry brushing. Dry brushing begins with the bottom of your body and moves upward. By starting on the bottom of your body and moving upward, it is thought that you increase drainage to the lymph nodes and increase circulation to the heart. This may help remove unwanted toxins from the body and improve blood flow.
    • Use long, smooth brush strokes. Work backwards, each stroke moving towards the heart.[12]
    • If balance is an issue, prop your leg up on a foot stool or on the side of the bathtub.[13]
    • Pay extra attention to rougher areas, like your ankles and the soles of your feet. Brush these areas several times to ensure any dead skin falls away.[14]
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    Move to arms and then torso. Continue to work with your long handled brush. After you've worked your way up your legs, move on to your arms. Remember, the process is very similar. You're moving towards your heart with each stroke.
    • Start with your hands and move towards the shoulders. Once again, use long and smooth brush strokes.[15]
    • Give rough areas, like the elbows, extra attention. Make sure dead skin falls away.[16]
    • Move on to the back. This can be difficult, as some areas of the back are hard to access. Make sure your brush handle reaches far enough to touch your mid-back and other hard-to-reach areas. Move from the buttocks up to the shoulder blades.[17]
    • Finally, move on to the torso and sides. Brush up your rib cage, moving towards the heart. On your sides, move from your hip to your armpit.[18]
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    Dry brush sensitive areas. Set aside the long-handled brush and get your softer bristled brush. Move on to more sensitive areas of the skin.
    • Dry brush your face, using somewhat smaller and gentler strokes. Move from the forehead to neck.[19]
    • Nipples or breasts should also be dry brushed with a softer brush to avoid irritating more sensitive skin.[20]
    • If you want to go over your whole body again, it might be better to use the softer brush this time around to avoid undue irritation.[21]

Part 3
Taking Steps after Dry Brushing

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    Shower after dry brushing. Even if you do not dry brush in the mornings, it might be a good idea to shower after dry brushing. Any lingering dead skin can be washed off in a shower.
    • Some people recommend alternating between hot and cold temperatures to further enhance blood circulation, although this is not necessary. If you'd rather just take a normal shower using tolerably hot water, this is also okay.[22]
    • Pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it dry after a shower. Your skin might be extra sensitive after dry brushing and you don't want to encourage skin irritation or infection.[23]
    • Apply a natural oil to your skin to replenish any oils lost in the dry brushing and showering process. Rosehip oil and coconut oil are good options.[24]
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    Clean the area and brushes after dry brushing. After you finish dry brushing, you should clean the area where you dry brushed as well as the instruments used.
    • If you dry brushed in your shower, cleanup is easy as dead skin will probably flow down the drain afterwards. On other tiled surfaces, sweep up dead skin flakes and dispose of them.
    • Your dry brushes should stay dry. Do not hang them in the shower, where they will get wet and be exposed to mildew. Store them away from standing water.[25]
    • Periodically, your dry brush will need to be washed. Use a small amount of shampoo or liquid soap. Wash the bristles and blot out as much water as possible afterwards. Hang the brushes to dry somewhere safe, away from any further exposure to water.[26]
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    Keep track of when you dry brush. Remember, dry brushing can cause a litany of skin problems if done too often. Make a note on your calendar or phone of the date of your dry brushing session. Do not dry brush again until at least a couple of weeks have passed. Many people advocate dry brushing once or twice a day, but this increases the likelihood of infection and skin inflammation.[27]


  • It is not necessary to brush hard. A gentle exfoliation is better than a rough one.
  • Go over problem areas twice, once with a long-handled brush and again with the softer, handle-less brush. The feet and elbows are especially prone to dry, cracked skin.


  • Do not brush over broken skin, irritated areas, or other bruised or abnormal areas. Wait until skin infections clear up before continuing to dry brush.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden handled natural bristle brush.

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Skin Care