Why We Should All Be Body Brushing On A Regular Basis

By Charlie Colville

4 weeks ago

It's not just your teeth that need a daily brushing...

There are plenty of micro-routines and good habits to pick up when it comes to health and beauty, and body brushing is one of them. We ask the experts what we need to know before picking up a brush.

What Is Body Brushing?

‘Dry body brushing is a technique that involves using a firm-bristled brush to massage the skin,’ explains Dr Galyna Selezneva, an aesthetic doctor and body sculpting expert. ‘Using a natural body brush, you brush the skin in small circular motions from the feet upwards in the direction of the heart. While a popular beauty technique for cellulite reduction, this method also aims to stimulate the lymphatic system, exfoliate the skin, boost circulation and promote overall health and well-being.’

‘This is a practice that has its roots in traditional Ayurvedic massage techniques,’ adds Nicola Moulton, Beauty Pie‘s resident skincare expert. ‘It involves using a dry, stiff-bristled brush on your body to help remove dead skin cells and support lymphatic drainage, leaving you with wonderfully smooth and radiant skin.’

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How To Do It

So, where to start? Our experts recommend beginning with the feet, before working your way up. ”You should brush from the foot upwards in gentle sweeping strokes,’ advises award-winning aesthetic doctor Dr Sophie Shotter. ‘Move up the leg in circular motions. When you get to the stomach, move the brush in anticlockwise circles. With the arms, again start at the hands and brush upwards towards the shoulder.’

Nicola also shares her step-by-step guide to the correct body brushing technique:

  1. Start at the feet and brush upwards.
  2. Using big circular, anti-clockwise motions, move up the legs and continue on the stomach.
  3. Arms should be brushed using upward strokes, continuing to the shoulders and chest.
  4. Have a shower after you’ve finished brushing and then moisturise once you’ve got out and dried your skin.

Can You Body Brush In The Shower?

For the most part, it’s advised you try it out on dry skin, before you shower. ‘While body brushing is typically done on dry skin, some individuals do prefer to use it in the shower,’ says Dr Galyna. ‘However, for the most effective lymphatic stimulation and exfoliation, dry brushing is generally recommended.’

How Long Should You Do It For?

Good news: this isn’t a long, arduous procedure. ‘It can be done really quickly,’ confirms Nicola. ‘You probably only need around five minutes.’ As a general rule, body brushing shouldn’t take any longer than 10 minutes.

When Should You Do It?

You can body brush at any time during the day, although it’s recommended you do it before bathing. Dr Galyna also notes that, ‘doing it in the morning can be especially invigorating and help kickstart your day. The increased circulation can leave you feeling refreshed and energised.’

As for how often, advice varies from once a day to a few times week. ‘For optimal benefits, aim to practice body brushing three to four times a week,’ advises Dr Galyna. ‘Some people prefer to do it daily, but it’s important to listen to your skin and adjust the frequency based on how it responds.’

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What Are The Benefits Of Body Brushing?

While the most immediate take-away might be smooth skin, body brushing also has a list of other health and beauty benefits. ‘Its boosts lymph circulation to improve fluid and toxin drainage from the skin, and also improves the circulation of oxygen and micronutrients,’ says Dr Sophie. ‘It can also help the skin to appear brighter due to improved exfoliation.’

‘There are several benefits,’ adds Dr Galyna. Below, she lists the top four:

  • Lymphatic System Stimulation: It helps promote the drainage of lymphatic fluids and reduces toxins in the body. For women, the function of the lymphatic system can ebb and flow with their menstrual cycles. Periods can really affect the function of lymphatics. During these times of the month, clients could need even more lymphatic activation.
  • Exfoliation: It removes dead skin cells, which can result in smoother, brighter skin.
  • Improved Circulation: The brushing motion stimulates blood flow, potentially improving skin tone and texture.
  • Reduction Of Cellulite: While not scientifically proven, many people report a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite with regular use.

Can Body Brushing Help With Collagen Production?

One particular rumour going around suggests that body brushing can also help stimulate collagen production – but when we asked our experts if this is true, we received mixed responses. ‘I haven’t seen any evidence to back this up, and it’s a bit of a strong claim,’ said Dr Sophie. ‘There’s nothing here that’s stimulating the collagen-producing fibroblast cells, which are found deep within the skin.’

Dr Galyna, on the other hand, said: ‘It can stimulate collagen production indirectly by promoting blood flow and the removal of dead skin cells. This process can enhance the overall health of your skin, contributing to its elasticity and firmness over time.’

It’s worth noting that nothing has been proven yet, and even if body brushing has no impact on our collagen stash it still has plenty of other benefits.

What To Do If You Have Sensitive Skin

‘If you have sensitive skin, you can still enjoy the benefits of body brushing by using a brush with softer bristles and applying very gentle pressure,’ highlights Dr Galyna. ‘Start with shorter sessions to see how your skin reacts, and always follow up with a soothing moisturiser.’

But if you struggle with skin conditions that make your skin easily inflamed, then it might not be for you. ‘This technique shouldn’t be used on sensitive or inflamed skin, or if you have eczema, psoriasis or open wounds,’ says Nicola.

Is It Good To Do While Pregnant?

Body brushing is also thought to have lots of benefits for those who are pregnant. ‘They can benefit hugely from dry brushing to help reduce swelling and keep the body working healthily,’ confirms Dr Galyna. ‘In fact, in Brazil, where lymphatic drainage is hugely popular, it is often built into pregnancy plans.’

If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, however, make sure you consult your GP or midwife.

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How To Get Started

Thinking of trying out body brushing? Our experts leave us with a few tips to get started. ‘I think for me the thought that you’re always brushing towards the heart is a good thing to remember – that’s the direction you want to encourage lymph to move in,’ says Dr Sophie. ‘Also, be patient. This won’t give immediate results, but is more of a long term investment.’

‘Opt for a natural bristle brush with a long handle to reach all areas of your body,’ advises Dr Galyna. ‘Use light pressure, especially when you’re new to body brushing, and avoid sensitive areas or broken skin. And finally, follow a routine; brush in the morning before your shower to invigorate your body and mind.’

‘Remember that this is a technique for the body only – it should never be used on the face as skin there is more sensitive and could become inflamed or irritated,’ adds Nicola. ‘It should also never be painful; it’s supposed to be a massaging technique.’

How To Clean Your Body Brush

You’ll need to clean your brush regularly to make sure it’s still up to a good hygienic standard when being used. ‘You should clean your body brush at least once a week to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and bacteria,’ advises Dr Galyna. ‘Wash it with warm water and mild soap, then let it air dry in a well-ventilated area.’

How Often Should You Replace Your Body Brush?

‘Replace your body brush every six to 12 months, depending on its condition and how often you use it,’ recommends Dr Galyna. ‘Over time, the bristles can wear out and become less effective.’

What To Look Out For When Getting A New One

When shopping for a new body brush, there are a few things you can look out for. ‘Look for a brush with densely packed, firm bristles and a long handle so you can use it on all parts of your body,’ advises Nicola.

‘Natural bristles are gentle, yet effective,’ adds Dr Galyna. ‘Choose a brush with medium firmness – too hard can irritate, too soft may not be effective – and opt for a long handle can help you reach all areas of your body.’

Bag and brush

Balance Me

Vegan Body Brushes, £28

Long handle body brush

The Body Shop

Cactus Long Handle Brush, £12

Long handle body brush

The Organic Pharmacy

Skin Brush, £16

wooden stick with bristles

Hydrea London

Professional Dry Skin Body Brush, £15.99


Featured image: Sun Studio Creative, Unsplash

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