Do You Body Brush? Four Reasons Why You Should

What is body brushing? What are the benefits of body brushing? Here’s why I started and kept it up! 

Four Reasons To Body Brush

I remember the first time someone asked me if I body brushed.

Huh?

Naturally, I brush my teeth. And I know lots of people brush their hair — though I haven’t combed my hair in 3 years thanks to Curly Girl’s method of caring for curly hair.

But body brushing?

I did a little surfing on the internet to figure out what the deal was… but at the time I was barely hanging onto life with a newborn and toddler and probably in adrenal fatigue already. It was a good day if I remembered to get toothpaste in my mouth – so any “extra” hygiene steps were pushed waaaaay to the back burner.

You might say I brushed aside the idea. (See what I did there?)

But before you brush this post off, let’s take a little peek into this idea of body brushing. (Okay, no more puns.)

Exactly What Is Body Brushing?

Body brushing – at its very basic level – is the practice of using a bristled brush to gently rub your skin.

Brushes come in all sorts of shapes and styles. The most highly touted ones are made from natural fibers, like animal hairs or plant fibers. They can be handheld or on a long handle – the preference is yours.

Essentially, you rub the brush against your skin in long strokes (fyi – the link is to a YouTube video by T-Tapp that will show you how to do it). Think of the long, methodical strokes of brushing a horse, not the rough strokes of scrubbing a pot.

You don’t have to apply pressure – the goal isn’t scrubbing or scouring.

Brush in one direction – towards your heart.

You can start with your legs or start with your arms (but always brush towards your heart). And don’t forget to brush certain target areas, like your stomach – which you would brush upward, pulling the brush toward your heart.

Get the theme here? Toward your heart. 😉

The best news? It’s not expensive to get a body brush, and they’re for sale on Amazon.

Although body brushing has been a trending fad in the last few years, its roots date back to multiple ancient civilizations, including Asian, Greek, Native American, and Russian/Scandinavian cultures. (source 1, 2

Advocates of body brushing give a long laundry list of reasons why you should pick up the brush – including reducing cellulite, balancing hormones, and eliminating toxins from your system. 

Interestingly, the Huffington Post is amongst those who tout body brushing for reducing cellulite.

And of course there are an equal amount of nay-sayers who say that dry brushing can’t possibly reduce cellulite and that it’s impossible to balance your hormones by rubbing your skin.

So many opinions. Sigh.

As I mentioned at the beginning of a post I recently wrote on how we handled the controversy of nonstick cookwareI struggle when it comes to being a wisely-informed researcher on the internet. I’m willing to think outside the box of mainstream medicine – but I also don’t automatically trust something just because it’s published on the internet.

So, just like I did in my nonstick post, let’s take a look at the reasons one should dry brush that ALL sides agree on.

brush horizontal 2

Three Reasons Why You Should Body Brush

1. Body Brushing Exfoliates The Skin.

Okay, this one seems like a no-brainer. Obviously, brushing will help with exfoliation.

According to wikiHow, your skin is designed to shed 30,000-40,000 skin cells… every minute.

(I know some of you just gagged reading that. I apologize.)

As our skin ages, the regeneration of our skin cells begins to slow down. If we’re not careful, old skin cells can build up.

“When old skin cells start to pile up on the surface of the skin, it can leave skin looking dull, rough, and dry. Furthermore, the build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne. Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below.” From “A Woman’s Health: The Importance of Exfoliation”  

Of course, one can exfoliate in many ways – including using microfiber cloths and sugar scrubs. But body brushing is universally recognized as an excellent way to exfoliate the skin.

Blausen_0623_LymphaticSystem_Female
Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014.” Wikiversity Journal of Medicine.

2. Body Brushing Stimulates the Lymphatic System

In my search for information, I stumbled across some fascinating articles about body brushing and the lymph system.

Last Wednesday I wrote about my struggle with exercise – trying to find a workout that didn’t leave me exhausted or contribute to adrenal fatigue, which can be a huge problem for many women. In the process, I discovered T-Tapp – an exercise routine that is specifically created with the lymphatic system in mind.

The lymph system isn’t one we talk about much – but it is crucial to our body’s function! Curious to read more? Check out: Are You Exercising Too Much? My Struggle To Find Balance Between Inactivity and Exhaustion.

The lymph system is intricately tied to the immune system. Unlike the circulatory system (which is pumped by the heart), the lymph system requires muscle-movement in order to flow smoothly.

Aside from exercising, one of the easiest ways to get your lymph fluid flowing is to dry brush your skin. The process is similar to the “lymphatic drainage massage” which is a medical procedure performed on people with lymph flow problems.

 

Lymph fluid enters and leaves the lymph system through special capillaries. About ¾ of these capillaries are located near the surface of the skin. So, it makes sense that dry brushing would be particularly good at getting your lymph fluid flowing. (source)

And just so you can see the variety of opinion on body brushing and the lymphatic system, the New York Times interviewed a dermatologist at Georgetown University Medial Center who also referenced the benefits of body brushing for the lymphatic system.

(This doctor also dismisses claims that body brushing will release toxins from the skin and reduce cellulite. Remember – I’m only looking at what all sides agree on.)

cold water glass zywa KUO

3. Body Brushing Reduces Bloating and Eases Tight Skin

According to an internationally recognized skin and spa expert, body brushing helps ease bloating:

“Many naturopathic doctors use dry brushing to help with bloating because massaging the lymph nodes helps the body shed excess water and toxins. One of the immediate effects of dry brushing is smoother skin, but it can also help improve digestion, kidney function, and more.” (source)

The skin doctor from the New York Times also confirmed that body brushing eases bloating.

Once again, it’s the lymphatic system that comes in to play.

I have seen this play out in my own life. Sometimes I can wake up in the morning feeling… well, for lack of a better word … puffy. My wedding rings are tight and I can tell I’ve got a lot of water retention going on. Body brushing has been a fast and easy way to help reduce that water retention/bloating.

A Fourth {Unsuspecting} Benefit of Body Brushing

I’ve been pretty surprised by how fantastic body brushing makes me feel. I spend a few minutes with a brush and I feel unexpectedly energetic. I’ve even experienced relief from a swollen lymph node under my arm … simply by dry brushing.

But perhaps the BIGGEST impact I’ve experienced with body brushing has nothing to do with scientific research or medical analysis.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post last week on exercise, I live a very full, rich, and blessed life. I have the honor of being the home keeper for my family – raising our children, cooking meals, cleaning and organizing. And unfortunately it’s sometimes easy for me to let those blessings – those good things – tip the balance and overwhelm the stewardship of my time. I forget to take intentional pauses in my day to rest and revive myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

(Confession: it’s far, far too easy for me to escape into social media as a method of recovery … but I’m being convicted that it really isn’t a restorative measure and merely a means of escape and distraction.)

In our run-at-fast-speed culture, it takes true discipline to slow down and not rush body brushing. As I paused my mental chaos/multitasking and focused on my body brushing, I came to notice this one surprising thing:

I began to be comfortable with my own skin.

GET YOURS HERE

Chasing A Phantom Reality: Body Image and Body Brushing

I think if every human being were honest, they would admit that they have struggled with insecurity over their body at some point in their life.

We usually stereotype teenagers as being stressed with their body image, but it would be a lie to say that the struggle ends with the entrance to adult hood. As we mature emotionally, I think our concerns can mature with us.

This has become starkly apparent as I celebrated my 30th birthday this year. As my body naturally shifts and my metabolism changes, I find myself branching out to discern what is “normal” for this life stage.

And where are we surrounded with images of humans? Hollywood.

While we’d all say “yeah, Hollywood isn’t normal!” it is still an active fight to beat back expectations that if I just tried a little harder (or had my own personal trainer, chef, and make up artist – haha!) I could look as good as any actress on the big screen.

Whether I mean to or not, the comparison is there. So I sigh in frustration at my body “flaws” and silently add them to my mental list of things to work on “Someday.”

But here’s the thing. I will never, ever look as good as the actresses on the big screen.

And neither will you.

cinema hall background Gk YC Td 5u

Recently, Mashable posted a lengthy exposé on the secretive practice of digital beauty-editing in Hollywood. [WARNING: This link contains some inappropriate photos.]

We’ve all heard about the magazine industry practice of photoshopping. And while we are impressed by the CGI effects of the latest Avengers movie, we don’t realize that CGI beauty-touching is being applied to run-of-the-mill scenes post-production.

Claus Hansen, one of the industry pioneers for beauty-editing, finally broke the secret silence surrounding this Hollywood trade. Here are excerpts from his interview:

“We were seeing hundreds of thousands spent on this, anywhere from $500 to $2,500 per shot — maybe more if there’s a lot going into the scenes.” […]

Hips are narrowed, calves slimmed, turkey-necks tucked. Pores are tightened. Eye-bags reduced (often, entire hangovers are erased). Hair is thickened, teeth whitened. Underarm-skin is de-jiggled. Belly fat obliterated, abs raised.

The list of enhancements can be as long as any given actor’s complaints — or studio’s expectations — regarding his or her appearance, and the consensus is that the men are getting as much work done as the women. Probably more. […]

Hansen said he’s been in many sessions with actors who point out features they don’t like, from little things like flyaway hairs to folds of skin under the arm to complete dissatisfaction with the entire body, in which case, “We have taken actresses’ faces and put them on more muscular bodies … that happens all the time.” […]

“I’ve done beauty on cars, beauty on products, beauty on computers — if you look at someone holding a telephone, it’s not just the person who has to look good. The telephone has to look great,” Hansen said. “Everything in commercials has to look pristine.” […]

That level of precision takes time. A three-second medium to close-up shot can take anything from three to six hours — and that’s actual artist’s time, not including rendering.

A recent comedy hit featured a top actress in her 40s who required beauty work on every single shot she was in — some 600 total. With artists working around the clock, seven days a week, the beauty work alone took close to three months.

The payoff? Nearly everything written about the film remarked at how fit and young the actress looked. No one suspected it was anything but good genes and clean livin’. (source)

Sadly, Hansen said he even touched up home birthday videos for A-list actors who wanted to look as good on their home movies as they did on the big screen.

My Biggest Benefit from Body Brushing: The Gift of Freedom

So why do I share all this? Because when I read this article, I felt immense freedom.

  • Freedom that this idea of “perfection” is both unattainable and completely unreal.
  • Freedom that I don’t have to mentally compare myself to the digital screen.
  • Freedom from my impractical expectations – even those who are paid to be “beautiful” struggle with this very thing.

Most importantly, as I began to become a student of myself through body brushing, I began to look beyond the bumps and lumps that always made me feel down about myself. And I began to view myself through healthier, more content eyes.

It’s not that I’ve lost lots of weight or suddenly became hyper muscular. Rather, I’m learning to celebrate how God made me and am taking the time to appreciate it.

So, are you intrigued to try body brushing yet?

Four Reasons To Body Brush

In case you need more inspiration, you can check out this personal testimony of a gal who used T-Tapp and body brushing to help tone her stomach post partum. The before and after pictures are amazing!

Do you have any experience or testimonials with body brushing that you care to share? Think you might give it a try? Tell us in the comments below!

We here at Kitchen Stewardship® are not doctors (nor do we play one on TV!) we just love to share what we know from our experiences. Ask your doctor about body brushing if you are unsure.

Photos used with permission from GraphicStock.com. 

6 thoughts on “Do You Body Brush? Four Reasons Why You Should”

  1. I have just bought a dry brush and like the reviews so far. Once I dry brush fir a week, I’ll feedback .
    Just getting over an heavy cold. So I will be dry brushing lymph node areas to give them a good detox. Will help them restore their function after working hard on my cold.

  2. Loved the article. I have only known about body brushing as a therapy for people with sensory processing disorder. I have 2 kids who use it for this reason and I started it because I wanted to feel what they were experiencing and l loved it! I stuck with it!

  3. Yes, I do, just started. But I have a few questions, so I’m hoping you’re as thorough as Katie is in looking into stuff! 🙂
    This is the method I use, even though it doesn’t entirely the “towards the heart” method that is most prevalent:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AZfMhXsjXeQ
    I’m going with this based on a gut feeling that this is more accurate, but would love to hear others’ thoughts on this.
    Question 2: it’s often stated that you should brush before you shower so you don’t brush over wet or oiled/lotioned skin. I dry brush on the days I don’t shower. Or would it be better to dry brush before showering? Or wipe my skin with a wash cloth after dry brushing?
    Question 3: I rinse my brush after dry brushing? Is that sufficient?
    If you have any wisdom to share, I promise I won’t brush it off! 🙂

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Jacqueline —

      1. I didn’t see your first question — wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it. 🙂 I’m only beginning to tiptoe into my depth of knowledge about the lymphatic system. I know there are great videos on massages to aid lymphatic drainage, especially around the face/sinuses. I don’t have the ability to watch the full video at this moment, I but I caught the first bit.

      2. I know a lot of people dry brush right before showering. If you want to brush more, you could totally add dry brushing right before your shower (as well as your off days). Wiping your skin down with a wash cloth after dry brushing is never a bad idea — though you won’t hurt yourself if you don’t. 😉

      3. I actually have no idea about this question. I would contact your brush manufacturer and see what they say. I’ve not seen a need to rinse my brush daily, but that’s just me. 🙂

      (Just a heads up that I’m not a medical professional or anything. So please always take the wisdom shared here with that in mind.)

  4. marsha kannry

    Yes, Katie,

    I body brush. My beloved yoga and ayurveda teacher got me/us (was part of a digestive ‘cleanse’ class) as part of a morning ‘regimen’ (including, ta da! oil pulling 🙂

    I LOVE the way it wakes up and energizes every bit of my skin and me, (all a’board!).
    Delight in how simple AND effective this is. Becoming personally aware of every part of my skin covered body (though I do not brush my face or ears, but have seen those in the mirror for most of my life 🙂 thanks for sharing the article Hugs, Marsha

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]