I dry body brush every day like Gwyneth Paltrow - here are all the benefits

By Hannah Coates

Photo: Getty

Is this Tiktok-trending beauty ritual as revolutionary as they say? Read on to get the full low-down

You’ve probably heard celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracee Ellis Ross extolling the benefits of dry body brushing. Those in the know, including well-qualified nutritionists and functional health doctors, seem to love it. Said to offer myriad health and skin benefits–more on which later–I’ve dabbled with a quick dry brush here and there in my time, but never really committed. But, since “dry brushing” is trending on TikTok (with 130.5 million views and counting), I decided to give it a proper try.


What actually is dry brushing?

True to its name, dry brushing involves running a bristled brush over dry skin, most commonly on the body, rather than the face. “It is a powerful Ayurvedic practice that both exfoliates the skin and opens detox pathways to support lymphatic drainage and boost immunity,” says Lauren Berlingeri, co-founder of HigherDose.

A simple pre-shower ritual, it isn’t just used in Ayurvedic medicine to stimulate the skin and the body’s lymphatic system, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine too. It’s a practice that has stood the test of time, which is always a good sign when trying to understand whether a wellness “trend” is really worth its salt.

As well as stimulating lymphatic drainage, which helps to escort toxins out of the body, dry brushing is supposed to be great for removing dead skin cells, boosting circulation and reducing puffiness and water retention. It is also a great way to invigorate body and mind, especially at the start of the day. Some also say it’s great at reducing cellulite, but from my personal research, this seems somewhat unfounded.

How to dry body brush effectively

It’s been a breakout search term on Google Trends in the past 30 days, but what actually is the right way to dry body brush effectively? I was taught to do it as follows: whip the brush lightly in upward strokes towards the heart. I always start at my feet, move my way up, then move to hands and brush inwards towards my chest.

There are different ways of doing it, though: “We always recommend starting at the hands and feet, then stroking upwards with small, circular motions towards the lymph nodes,” explains Berlingeri. “When you do your stomach, brush down towards your groin.” To yield maximum results, she says, brush before working out or hitting the sauna, and aim to spend three to five minutes on it, three times a week.

My experience with dry body brushing

Like I said, I’ve used a dry body brush during episodic health kicks previously, but rarely consistently. What I’ve most noticed since making it (at least) a four-times-a-week thing is that my skin is infinitely less lackluster. It’s an excellent way to quickly slough off the dead skin cells that form a grey veil over what was previously an okay summer tan, and it’s certainly a good way to wake yourself up in the morning.

I have found that combining it with a “contrast” shower–i.e. turning the temperature hot, then cold, then hot, then cold–makes me feel extremely energized, particularly after a vigorous workout. You also don’t really need to commit to doing five minutes to reap the benefits–give it three minutes and you’ll feel fantastic as you start your day. It’s worth noting that–as hard as I willed it–dry brushing won’t stimulate lymphatic drainage enough to cure a hangover. Which is deeply sad.

Newbies to the practice should know that once you’ve dry brushed, you’ll likely experience an itchy, tingling sensation, along with some possible redness, which soon settles. This feeling quickly becomes less prominent with regular use, but it’s actually a sign that your circulation is revved up and blood is en route to the surface of the skin.

The final verdict on dry body brushing

Dry body brushing is a really easy–and affordable–ritual to commit to, which is why it gets a yes from me. You can’t always see the many benefits it has on the body, but you can often feel them. I have personally noticed a more even skin tone, slightly lighter legs (not yet as streamlined as Gwyneth’s unfortunately) and more morning vitality. I also firmly believe that taking a few intentional minutes to do something positive for your body each day is underrated. Next up… time to crack body moisturizing.

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