Stacked among the clear glass jars of homeopathic remedies, immune-supporting supplements, rose creams, and carrot cleansers on the sparkling shelves of the Organic Pharmacy on Bleecker Street in New York, you’ll find a long wooden brush that looks straight out of an especially well-made Norwegian sauna. The brush is one of the favorite items of London-based apothecary’s founder, Margo Marrone. “It’s invaluable in helping with so many issues, but especially detox,” she says. Indeed, the practice of brushing the skin once or twice daily with a soft but firm brush is more common during a detox, but regular users and fans report more benefits when it becomes a permanent habit—from sweeping away dead skin cells to improving the appearance of skin.
A long brush like the one from goop or Organic Pharmacy’s allows you to get at hard-to-reach spots like the middle of your back; the shorter one from Aromatherapy Associates fits in your hand perfectly, making it incredibly easy to use.
Dry-brushing is one of those rare things that feels just as good when you do it yourself as when someone else does it to you, and it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine. Most experts recommend dry-brushing in the morning, rather than before bed, because they believe it has energizing qualities. Some people use the brush on its own; others put a bit of body oil on the brush before they use it. “Shower before skin-brushing if you’re using an oil on the brush,” says Marrone. “If not, shower after skin brushing, then apply oil or lotion.” It’s fantastic to do in conjunction with a sauna or steam, too.
How to Dry Brush: Step by Step
Illustrations by Louisa Cannell
To do it yourself, start at your feet and brush upward toward the heart. Similarly, when you start on your arms, begin at the hands and work upward. Use firm, small strokes upward, or work in a circular motion. For the stomach, work in a clockwise direction. Harsh exfoliation is never the point; be sure not to press too hard or use a brush that’s too stiff. “Any kind of brushing or exfoliation should be gentle and should never break the skin,” Marrone adds. “I’ve tried skin brushes that are so hard, they cannot be used due to the damage they do. I chose medium-soft cactus bristles for our skin brush for gentleness; the skin should never be scratched or damaged.”
Dedicate at least three to five minutes a day to brushing for vibrant, healthy results. Remember self care can be fun! Enjoy giving yourself the attention you deserve.