A technique that harkens back to antiquity, dry skin brushing has regained popularity in recent years as an exfoliating treatment for soft and supple skin. It is also recognized for its positive effects in stimulating both the circulation and nervous systems, encouraging a reflex response.
Serving as a messenger, in its role of communication, the skin has a direct link to our underlying organs and dry skin brushing has been embraced by naturopathic hydrotherapists, as a tonic for the whole person, increasing resilience to colds, flu, and general fatigue.
Healthy skin is our first line of defense and the action of dry skin brushing serves to maintain skin health.
As the largest organ of the body, the skin plays a major role in our defense, both as an organ of protection and elimination. Healthy skin is our first line of defense and the action of dry skin brushing serves to maintain skin health.
Methods of dry brushing vary depending on the desired results. (All methods exfoliate and stimulate skin elimination.) My favorite method is the one used to stimulate lymph flow, directions below. For this you need a softer brush.
The Lymphatic Technique
Short sweeping strokes are used in the direction of the clavicle
• From the deltoid muscle brush up over the shoulder towards the junction of neck and clavicle.
• Start your brushing regime on the anterior thorax (chest) and from the center line and above the navel, outward and upward. Brush toward the lymph nodes that are under the top of the arm (right to right and left to left).
• Brush the arm. Start close to the top of the arm and work toward hands.
Here’s a helpful video that will show you exactly how to perform the Lymphatic Technique.
• Brush the skin of the abdomen with the same sweeping strokes downward toward the junction of the thigh and pelvic region.
• To influence digestion additional brushing may be employed in the direction of the large intestine.
• The skin of the thigh (front and back) is brushed toward the thigh/pelvic joint.
• Lower leg is brushed upwards toward the thigh.
• Top of the feet: Same upward direction.
The Back of the Body
This follows a similar pattern as the anterior. Differences include:
• The posterior buttocks are brushed toward the front of the body (right to right, left to left)
• The lower leg and sole of the foot is brushed toward the popliteal.
Note: Never brush to an area of compromised lymph nodes, i.e., post surgical removal or irradiation.
Stimulating Blood Circulation Technique
A firmer brush is recommended and the goal is to generate an erythema (reddening) response on the skin as you are working. This response is, in effect, the blood capillary dilating, releasing oxygen and other nutrients into the dermis network. The friction action of the brush acts as a nerve stimulant and will increase local blood pressure.
As this is specific to the blood, the general direction is toward the heart. You may start with the extremities (arms, legs) and move upwards in circular motions toward the abdomen and thorax. The same method is employed over the abdomen.
Here’s a video that will show you how to dry brush using the Stimulating Technique.
The Benefits of Dry Brushing
Body brushing is recommended for nearly everyone, but is particularly useful for those with low energy, sluggish circulation, dull inactive skin, poor resistance, fatigue, and general weakness.
Eczema and psoriasis sufferers should not use over the area of distress. The lymphatic brushing method is recommended for these conditions and should be done above the region of distress.
Who Should Not do This
Body brushing should not be performed over skin lesions or palpable tumors. Other considerations: if the lymphatic system is compromised due to either insufficiency, radiation or surgical removal of lymph nodes then please contact us to receive specific instructions.
A respected spa industry mentor, Anne Bramham is the founder of ASTECC (Advanced Spa Therapy Education Certification Council) and an instructor for the Dr. Vodder School of North America. She has introduced ASTECC training to top spa and wellness destinations throughout the U.S., including Montage Resort & Spa, Grand Del Mar, Spa Shiki Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton. She resides with her family in South Florida.