What is Dry Brushing?

Written by Michelle Rostamian — August 24, 2020

What is Dry Brushing?

What if we told you that there was a way to get smoother skin, but that it would require rubbing a brush that has firm, stiff bristles onto your face and body? Sounds crazy but cue dry brushing, one of the beauty industrys most sought-after treatments whose devotees swear by. But first, a little history lesson.  Dry brushing is a centuries-old practice thats been used in ancient Ayurveda (where its called garshana), as well as in ancient Egypt and Greece, to help promote blood circulation, exfoliate dead skin cells, and soften the skin. Nowadays, fanatics swear by dry brushings ability to do all that, as well as tighten and tone.,. Many even call it a spa-like, detoxifying ritual that's essential in their routine. A quick Google Image search of a dry brush may be enough to scare you away, but when used properly, the experience can be incredibly soothing and pampering. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to dry brush the skin and the various benefits it brings.


Dry Brushing Benefits

Many tout exfoliation as being at the foundation of most skincare regimens, and if you’re looking for a way to kick things up a notch, you may have found your answer with this. There are a number of beauty benefits associated with dry brushing. For one, it contributes to softer, brighter, more radiant skin by sloughing away dead skin cells - aka the top layer of skin that accumulates a build-up of dirt and excess sebum. Dry brushing the face and body can also aid with lymphatic drainage (when the body flushes out toxins and unwanted waste), as using the tool helps stimulate the lymph nodes and encourages the body’s natural detoxification process. Finally, dry brushing is said to help with plumping the skin and—wait for it—diminishing the appearance of cellulite. While there's no scientific proof that this technique actually gets rid of cellulite, anecdotal evidence suggests brushing is effective at making cellulite appear less noticeable.


How to Dry Brush

Because dry brushing involves running a tool with stiff bristles onto your skin, some care should be taken. Below, find out everything you need to know about how to dry brush.


Choose Your Brush

As with most beauty tools, you have options when it comes to dry brushes. Some feature a long, ergonomic handle, making it easy to access hard-to-reach areas. Others have goat-hair bristles that are softer and less rough on the skin, thus reducing the risk of micro-tears. If you’re the sustainable type, there are many eco-friendly options using biodegradable fibers or wood that’s been harvested consciously. There are also sets that come equipped with a dry body brush, a face brush, and a pouch for easy storage. For more control, opt for one that features a strap you can slip your hand into. And if you’re looking for one that really mimics a spa-like experience, choose one that has massage nodules nestled in between the bristles.


Get Ready

Not a morning person? Many people love dry brushing for its energizing and revitalizing properties, so it’s best done at the start of your day as the first step of your morning routine. Since the process involves buffing away dead, dry skin cells, you’ll want to dry brush standing nude in the shower (just before turning on the water) to have somewhere for the dry skin to fall into. Not to mention, this makes for easy rinsing afterward.


Use Upward, Circular Motions

Starting at the feet, use circular motions and begin buffing the skin. Use long, rhythmic strokes, always moving upward toward the direction of your heart, as this is where lymphatic fluid is said to circulate. Strokes should be firm but never harsh. After brushing the feet, ankles, thighs, and knees, move on to the backs of your legs, buttocks, and lower back, again using circular motions aimed at the heart. Once you reach the upper body, regroup at the hands, taking long strokes up the elbows, arms, and shoulders. When dry brushing the underarms, stomach, and chest move in a clockwise direction. Lastly, finish your dry body brushing routine with the neck and décolletage, being mindful of the fact that this area has thinner, sensitive skin compared to the rest of the body. Because these areas sit above the heart, you’ll want to move in a downward motion. The entire process will take about three to five minutes.


Dry Brushing Your Face

Not to be confused with cleansing brushes (the electronically powered brushes that are made to be used with your daily cleanser), dry brushes for the face are smaller versions of their body counterpart and can provide a deep exfoliation that’s also extremely meditative. That said, the skin on your face isn’t as tough and resilient as the rest of your body, so it’s important to proceed with caution when it comes to dry brushing this area. If you’re new to the dry brushing world, try using a face-specific brush with softer bristles, and start with cleansed skin that's free of lotion, oils, and makeup. Just like using a dry body brush, use small, circular motions to slough away dead skin cells that may be lingering on the face. Move in an outward direction, avoiding the eye area.


Take a Shower

Once you’ve treated your whole body, shower as normal, making sure to rinse off all of the dead skin flakes that have been lifted away during the dry brushing process. Remember, your body just went through a major detox, so avoid using body scrubs and coarse loofahs at this point. Stick with mild cleansers and a soft sponge.


Follow Up With Hydration

Now that your skin is thoroughly exfoliated and clean, it’s time to treat it with some much-needed moisture. At this point, your body has new skin cells at the surface that are ready to absorb whatever moisture you put on top, making this the perfect time to further treat areas that are prone to dryness (think: elbows and knees). Try SiO Beauty’s Chestlift ($30), a medical-grade silicone patch that can perfectly complement a dry brushing routine. Used on the décolleté area, or anywhere on the body in need of smoothing hydration, it encourages these areas to remain flat and boasts a comfortable fit to support proper moisture retention.


Dry Brushing Alternatives

Not ready to take the leap of faith and give dry brushing a whirl? Try popping on a pair of exfoliating gloves—they’re less likely to be abrasive and cause irritation but will still yield glow-worthy results. Or, if your skin is ultra-sensitive, simply use a physical body scrub and a washcloth to gently exfoliate your skin—the combination of the scrub and washcloth will give you maximum exfoliation benefits while eliminating any potential risk of damage or irritation to the skin.



Dry brushing is to self-care routines what creamer is to coffee. While you don’t necessarily need it, the benefits it poses can be enough to make you never live a life without it. You’ll need to be consistent with dry brushing to see results (two to three times per week should suffice), but you’ll notice smoother skin and a healthier radiance the more you do it.


dry brushing