A body brush can cost between $12 and $32 and, if properly cared for, can last a lifetime. Whether professionals are considering using the dry brush method in the salon or recommending it for clients’ homecare regimen, there is important information to know to garner the most benefits.
1. The Importance of Exfoliation
Dry brushing is a vigorous form of manual exfoliation that helps loosen dead skin cells on the body, performed by rubbing the skin with a dry, stiff, natural-bristled brush. By eliminating the build-up of dead skin cells, there is an improved appearance in the tone, texture, and feel of the skin. Physically, dry brushing stimulates nerve endings. By removing surface debris, skin is better able to release waste through the surface, helping eliminate toxins. Pores are also more thoroughly cleansed, while the skin’s own natural moisturizing oils are stimulated, providing hydration.
2. What It Does
Besides being a great alternative to body scrubs in the spa, dry brushing legs is a great pre-wax treatment to prevent ingrown hairs. Also, because a full-body exfoliation is recommended before application of a self-tanner, it can also be used prior to application of faux tanner as part of the spa service. Dry brushing is also a great body exfoliation treatment before a steam or sauna, which helps to deep cleanse body skin and rid it of all debris, allowing for better perspiration.
3. History of Exfoliation
Dry brushing has been part of body and health treatments in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Called garshana, this traditional Ayurvedic dry massage is said to refresh and stimulate the skin, enhance blood circulation, and release accumulated toxins. Typical garshana treatment includes a full-body massage with a dry brush, avoiding sensitive areas such as the genitals, breasts, and face. The garshana is completed with a shower that alternates temperature, with a few cycles of hot then cold water. This treatment is not for anyone with contraindications such as heart problems or high blood pressure. A soothing, full-body massage with traditional Ayurvedic oils follows to rehydrate the skin.
4. Best Method for Dry Brushing at Home
Dry brushing at home can be extremely beneficial. Some find that brushing in the morning before showering helps to boost energy and set a good foundation for self-care throughout the day. To do this, clients should dedicate at least three to five minutes to brushing. The brush should be clean and dry. On bare skin, clients should start at the feet and brush upward towards the hip area with firm strokes. They should stop at the breast area and dry brush the arms, going upwards towards the shoulders. The back is the only exception: it should be brushed from the neck down to the lower back. Clients will need a long-handled brush for this motion. To exfoliate the delicate décolleté, neck, and face, a smaller, dry, clean face brush should be used. Clients should use long, sweeping strokes on the arms and legs, but use circular strokes on compact areas such as the stomach, shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles. For the stomach, it is best to work in a counterclockwise circular motion. Pressure should be light, especially in more delicate areas, such as the stomach and arm pits, although thicker skinned areas, such as the thighs and soles of the feet, can take slightly more pressure. As a general rule, pressure should never be applied to an area where the sensation is uncomfortable or painful. If clients enjoy the process and remain comfortable, they can continue to brush for up to 20 minutes.
Some clients may prefer to do a less aggressive brushing at night to help relax. If this method is preferable, they should shower or bathe beforeskin brushing, then apply a few drops of moisturizing oil that contains soothing herbal extracts of vanilla and rooibos tea to the brush and perform the exfoliation. They can sleep with the oil on the body for maximum benefits.
5. What Kind of Brush to Use
A brush with wood oval and natural-fiber bristles is ideal. Boar bristles are softer, easier to clean, and longer-lasting than many synthetics. Oval shaped brushes fit into the palm of the hand for ease of use and to provide the right amount of pressure. Clients should use a brush with a long wooden handle if they intend to include the back in their program. Kiln-dried wood is most resistant to mold and bacteria. Bristles need to be washed with mild antibacterial soap, avoiding the wood area. Spas generally spray the bristles with 70 percent alcohol solution after cleaning and leave them to dry. Clients can do this cleaning at home or use a spray that contains natural antibacterial oils such as tea tree oil.
6. Frequency of Brushing
The skin has its own mechanisms for maintaining just the right amount of hydration and desquamation, as well as the proper pH level to create a healthy environment for soft, supple, youthful skin head to toe. If any of these factors are over-compromised, it can lead to a cascade of events that can leave skin severely damaged. One of the most important factors to consider before entering an exfoliation program is to not compromise the skin’s own natural moisturizing factor, which is the skin’s natural protective barrier. Some advocate a 30-day daily program, then weekly for maintenance, but this is only if the skin is not dry or sensitive.
7. What to Do After
If clients use a dry brush, they should follow with a shower or bath to wash away the dry, dead skin cells that have been dislodged on the skin’s surface. Alternating temperatures in the shower from hot to cold could help further invigorate the skin. Moisturizing with a rich body cream, lotion, or oil that contains seaweed extracts and coconut oil to help skin feel soft and smooth should follow.
8. When Not to Dry Brush
Clients should not dry brush if they are undergoing any serious medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, or have any serious health condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, unless they speak to their doctor about it first. Those with extremely dry skin conditions, including eczema, should not dry brush. Soft massage with a hydrating cream can be most beneficial for these skin types. Clients should not dry brush if they have shaved that day already, been in the sun, or recently had any kind of chemical exfoliation in the area. If skin becomes the least bit red or irritated, the client has been too aggressive. Using a brush that is too stiff or scrubbing too hard can cause skin to become scratched, resulting in microcuts in the skin. Skin should never feel irritated or look red and inflamed. Clients should stop immediately if this is the case.
9. Dry Brushing at the Spa
Besides being a great alternative to body scrubs in the spa or salon, dry brushing legs is a great pre-wax treatment to prevent ingrown hairs. With this process, the skin care professional gently buffs the skin on the lower and upper legs for a few moments to lift the hairs in preparation for the wax application. Hairs will grip the wax more efficiently for a smoother depilation and are less likely to become ingrown afterwards. Also, because a full body exfoliation is recommended before application of a self-tanner, it can also be used prior to application of faux tanner as part of the spa service.
Dry brushing is also a great body exfoliation treatment before a steam or sauna, which helps to deep cleanse body skin and rid it of all debris, allowing for better perspiration.
10. Dry Brushing and Ayurveda
Dry brushing has been part of body and health treatments in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Called garshana, this traditional Ayurvedic dry massage is said to refresh and stimulate the skin, enhance blood circulation, and release accumulated toxins. Typical garshana treatment includes a full body massage with a dry brush, avoiding sensitive areas such as the genitals, breasts, and face. The professional uses circular strokes on the stomach and joints (shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles) and long, sweeping strokes on the arms and legs. Pressure is kept extremely light, with even less pressure on delicate areas, such as underarms, and is performed for about five minutes. The garshana is completed with a shower that alternates temperature, with a few cycles of hot then cold water. This treatment is not for anyone with contraindications such as heart problems or high blood pressure. A soothing, full body massage with traditional Ayurvedic oils follows to rehydrate the skin.
Whether added into a spa menu or used as a recommendation for homecare, it can be highly beneficial for professionals to understand the benefits and uses of dry brushing.
Lydia Sarfati is a master aesthetician and the founder and CEO of Repêchage. Sarfati is an international industry leader and the developer of the world-renowned Repêchage® Four Layer Facial®. Today, together with her husband, David Sarfati, co-founder and COO, Sarfati oversees a 50,000 square foot manufacturing, research, development and training facility in Secaucus, NJ. Sarfati appears nationally and internationally at aesthetic trade shows and attends and conducts overseas conferences in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central America, and South Africa. She has produced 17 step-by-step instructional videos, as well as published Repêchage: The Book, Skincare Sciences & Protocols and Success At Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business.