Is dry brushing really worth the hassle?

Written by Shannon Peter

It’s the body care ritual reported to improve circulation and leave you with softer limbs, but does it really live up to its reputation? Stylist investigates the benefits of dry brushing…

Granted, dry brushing isn’t anything new. It’s been a much-lauded self-care ritual practiced by many cultures around the world for centuries now. But in more recent years, the treatment has reached the masses as a key emblem of the modern-day wellness movement. Its devotees claim it boosts circulation, clears toxins trapped in the body’s lymph system and exfoliates the skin. So it’s no wonder why so many people devote ten minutes to dry brushing their entire body every single day.

But that’s a lot of hassle, right? If you’re someone who can barely muster the energy to apply body lotion post-shower (side note: try this one), you’re going to need to know that dry brushing is totally worth it before you even think about adding this new step to your routine. And that’s where we can certainly help. Here’s the need-to-knows of dry brushing: what it is, why it’s beneficial and how to do it.

What is dry brushing?

Dry brushing, quite simply, involves sweeping a dry, often natural-bristle brush over the entire body.

What are the benefits of dry brushing?

While there’s been very few studies to evidence its reported benefits, many experts back dry brushing as an excellent way to exfoliate and boost the circulation.

First and foremost, dry brushing works as an excellent exfoliating ritual to help buff away dead skin cells clinging to the skin’s surface, leaving you with much smoother, softer limbs. It isn’t necessarily going to exfoliate as rigorously as your favourite body scrub, but according to Noella Gabriel, founder of Elemis, it can enhance the results of the body products you use later on in your routine — if you do it regularly enough. “It kickstarts the lymph and circulatory systems and frees the healthy skin layers by removing the dead skin cells that can block pores,” she says.

And the benefits extend beyond the surface, too. “Daily dry body brushing is recommended for the removal of impurities from under the skin’s surface and it is extremely useful for decongesting all the systems of the body,” she explains. “Your energy levels, immunity and your personal rejuvenation are all areas of improvement you can look for when you make body brushing a regular habit.” 

And if nothing else, take it from us: your body certainly feels better after dry brushing. More energised. More invigorated.

How do you dry brush your body?

There’s no need to make dry brushing overly complicated, but if you want to reap the most of those reported benefits, then there is a bit of technique worth acquiring .

“Begin at the soles of your feet then continue working up the front and back of the legs in an upward direction towards the heart,” explains Gabriel. As you work your way up the body onto the stomach, back, arms and chest, ensure all strokes are in the direction of the heart to improve circulation.

And do be careful. Dry brushes tend to be fairly rough, so you don’t want to scratch the skin. “Brush the body in a sweeping light upward motion,” recommends Gabriel. “There’s no need to exert pressure, just let the bristles of the brush do the work for you.” She also suggests keeping the body brush flat and in contact with the body at all times to avoid scrubbing or leaving the skin feeling sore.

When and how often should you dry brush?

Inherently energising, dry brushing is best done in the morning, right before you take a shower, as the exfoliation will mean any body washes, oils or lotions you use after will have a better chance of nourishing your skin. And for the best results, most experts recommend you do it every day. Don’t have the time? That’s fine. Just do it as often as you can. 

The best dry brushes:

  • Best for: extra reach

    Elemis Body Detox Skin Brush

    Where traditional body brushes are held in the palm, Elemis’ one comes with a removable handle to help you reach the trickiest parts of your back.



  • Best for: firm bristles

    The Body Shop Round Body Brush

    If you have particularly dry skin, you’re going to want slightly firmer bristles that will chip away at the dead skin cells built up on the surface of the limbs. The Body Shop’s brush is especially rigorous.

    £9, The Body Shop 


  • Best for: a built-in massage

    Anatome Detox Body Brush

    Anatome’s body brush comes with built-in massaging prongs that feel great on tight shoulders and calves.

    £11, Anatome


  • Best for: soft bristles

    Dr Barbara Sturm Body Brush Soft No1

    Prefer something much gentler? Dr Barbara Sturm offers brushes in varying densities, and this one is particularly soft. 

    £25, Net-a-Porter


Images: Getty / courtesy of brands.

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