Ayurveda dry brushing has a variety of health benefits. While dry brushing is a relatively new trend today, it actually has its roots in ancient times. Dry brushing is a type of Ayurvedic medicine that has been around for centuries. Many cultures, including the ancient Greeks and Japanese, have used dry brushing to cleanse and beautify the skin.
Dry brushing is done at home or in a spa by a professional by buffing dry skin with a special exfoliating brush to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells, smoothing its texture. In Ayurveda dry brushing, the skin is typically brushed toward the heart, starting at the feet and hands and brushing toward the chest.
Ayurveda dry brushing is said to help your body release toxins. The lymphatic system helps your body fight off infections. Fluids flow through the system and are filtered through the lymph nodes. The coarse bristles on the brush stimulate the lymphatic system helping the toxins to be removed through the lymphatic system (1).
Dry-brushing is one of those rare things that feels just as good when you do it yourself as when someone else does it to you, and it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine. Most experts recommend dry-brushing in the morning, rather than before bed, because they believe it has energizing qualities. Some people use the brush on its own; others put a bit of body oil on the brush before they use it
Ayurveda Dry Brushing Benefits
1. Improves Circulation.
By dry brushing your skin, you increase circulation and promote blood flow so that skin cells can turn over and renew. Poor blood circulation can cause blotchiness, dark spots, and slow scar healing. Improved blood circulation also helps support whole-body health by promoting the flow of oxygen-rich blood. From our head to our toes, this is beneficial.
2. Rejuvenates The Nervous System
Our nervous system plays a major role in the functioning of our entire body, and most of our nerve ending are near the skin. These nerve endings are responsible for communicating senses to the brain which allows us to react according to the situation.
When a person regularly dry brushes their skin, these nerve endings are rejuvenated, making the body much more alert and responsive to stimulation, especially touch.
3. Lymphatic Support
The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts, and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body (2). Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin. Proponents of Ayurveda dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally.
4. Improves Digestion
When you dry brush your skin, you’re removing dead skin cells and unclogging blocked pores. This allows your skin to breathe better and also streamlines its ability to effectively eliminate toxins. The health of our skin, as our largest organ, largely influences the health of our entire body. It’s the first line of defense against preventing bacteria from entering our system.
Keeping it clear so that it can do its job effectively is vital to making the job of the digestive system easier. Blocking bacteria from entering the body early on keeps the digestive system from having to work harder later on.
5. Improves Muscle Tone
Ayurveda dry brushing activates the nervous system, which helps to improve muscle tone by stimulating muscle fibers. It also improves circulation, promoting the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to muscles to help with recovery and toning.
Through this mechanism, dry brushing is able to tighten skin, which is important if you’ve recently lost weight and are looking for a natural remedy to fix sagging.
6. Improves Kidney Function
The skin and kidneys are closely linked in several key ways. Both are responsible for detoxing the body through the excretion of toxins. Many natural kidney cleanses improve skin and overall wellness. In the case of the skin, that means pushing sweat out through the pores. For the kidneys, our blood is filtered and any waste is removed.
Dry brushing improves skin health by removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores so that the skin can properly expel toxins.
Catching and excreting toxins early can help ease the burden on the kidneys so that they won’t need to work as hard, later on, enabling them to function better.
7. Ayurveda dry brushing exfoliates your skin
Ayurveda dry brushing exfoliates the skin much like the more commonly used body scrubs do, via physical exfoliation. The bristles of the brush manually sweep away dull, rough, flaky skin cells. After a dry brushing session, your skin will feel softer and smoother.
8. Reduces the appearance of cellulite
Cellulite is the dimpling of the skin due to protrusion of the subcutaneous adipose tissue. The subcutaneous adipose tissue is a connective tissue that stores fat and also insulates or “cushions” the body. Unfortunately, such a vital tissue gets bombarded with toxins to the point that they literally “heap up” or protrude the skin over specific areas of the body.
Ayurveda dry brushing massages the subcutaneous adipose tissue thereby breaking down the toxins that may be piled in it. These broken down toxins can then be eliminated through the skin and other “filtering” organs such as the kidneys (3). Regular exercise and healthy eating are recommended to speed up the elimination process commenced by Ayurveda dry brushing.
9. Prevents ingrown hairs
Alongside smooth skin, regular body brushing encourages cell turnover so that your limbs will look and feel supple, and whether you wax or shave, a quick brush is fantastic at keeping pesky, ingrown hairs and clogged pores at bay.
Those undergoing laser hair removal will also find that the process helps to loosen zapped hairs from the root, resulting in fewer shadows and even less spikiness.
10. Enhances nutrients absorption by the skin
A mixture of dead skin cells, broken or crooked hairs, environmental pollution, and sweat can block our pores. And sometimes, the regular daily shower may not be enough to fully clear these blockages. When this happens, the skin cannot effectively absorb vital nutrients and substances our body needs.
Frequent dry skin brushing will help clear and open up the pores of the skin to freely eliminate waste and absorb nutrients, moisture and sunlight for overall well-being.
11. Boosts your mood
As blood flow and circulation is stimulated by the zealous brushing action, it lends the body, skin, and mind a much-needed boost. It really increases energy levels. Maybe it can become an energizing start to the morning, or quiet time you look forward to as a relaxing way to unwind after a long day. Either way, taking that time for yourself can help keep stress at bay.
How to Perform Ayurveda Dry Brushing
Choosing the Right Brush
Most dry brush experts recommend a natural bristle brush.
- These are made from plant sources like jute, sisal, even cactus fibers.
- A brush with a long handle makes it easier to reach those awkward areas like the back, behind the shoulders, and the backs of the legs.
- A smaller brush that fits in the palm of your hand is less unwieldy to use. Some brushes offer the best of both worlds with a removable handle.
- Check out a few styles to see what appeals to you.
How to: Ayurveda Dry Brushing
You’ve got your brush and you’re ready to start! The Ayurveda dry brushing process isn’t complicated. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll develop a technique that works for you.
Ayurveda suggests doing your dry brushing in the morning, rather than before bed, because of its stimulating and energizing quality. But really you can dry brush whenever it is convenient for you.
- To begin, some recommend standing in an empty bathtub or shower, but anywhere you’re comfortable and won’t slip is fine.
- Starting at the feet, brush upward toward the body with light, smooth strokes. Dry brush the entirety of each leg, working up to the upper thighs.
- Continue with the buttocks and back (provided you can reach; if not, no worries. It’s OK to skip it).
- Move on to the arms, starting at the backs of the hands and work upwards to the shoulders, again using light, smooth strokes.
- The stomach and chest are more sensitive than the arms and legs, so lighten your touch a bit here.
- You can continue with upward strokes here, or circular ones, depending on which is more comfortable to you. Don’t brush over breasts (for women) or nipples (for everybody).
- If you’d like to also brush your face and neck, switch to a smaller, softer brush.
- Brush lightly upward on the neck, then gently across the face from chin to forehead.
- After your dry brushing session, shower or bathe, then finish with an application of lotion, body balm, or body oil.
Tips for Ayurveda Dry Brushing
- Ayurveda dry brushing doesn’t take up much time, five minutes max, so don’t feel you have to linger.
- When dry brushing the body, work upward or toward the heart.
- Don’t go over the same area for more than just a couple of strokes. Otherwise, you can cause irritations.