During my time as a beauty editor at Woman & Home magazine, and then O, The Oprah Magazine, I had the opportunity to interview some of South Africa’s leading skincare experts, and one thing that came out of just about every interview was this: start every day with a good dry body brushing session.
Sadly, I never quite took heed of this little nugget of wisdom – until a couple of months ago, that is. I’m not quite sure exactly what caused it, but I decided to buy a dry body brush on a whim while stocking up on groceries at Pick ‘n Pay one afternoon, and I’ve been treating my skin to a daily brush ever since.
One thing that I’ve become more and more aware of as I’ve gotten older is just how much we tend to neglect the skin on our bodies, while spending hundreds and thousands of rands on serums and concentrates and night creams and sunscreens for our faces. It’s a well-known fact that your skin is the body’s largest organ, but it’s so easy to overlook it and forget to take care of it properly.
Since I’ve started dry body brushing, I’ve been amazed at just how good (and glowing) my skin looks – I haven’t experienced an unsightly breakout on my back all summer, my tummy looks and feels firmer (despite doing less yoga during December when compared to previous months… and eating a whole lot more!) and the cellulite on my upper thighs is barely noticeable these days. The only thing I’ve been doing differently? A daily dry body brushing session, followed by a quick shower and a good dose of moisturiser.
Not entirely convinced? Here are just some of the benefits of dry body brushing:
- It helps to shed dead skin cells and encourages cell renewal, leaving your skin looking smoother and more radiant. It also helps to prevent breakouts and ingrown hairs – score!
- It stimulates blood circulation and lymph drainage, and helps your body to get rid of toxins and metabolic waste. This helps your body to run like a well-oiled machine, and also helps to give you a healthy, rosy glow.
- Dry body brushing reduces the appearance of cellulite – yes, really! It eliminates toxins and gives you a more even distribution of fat deposits, which means fewer lumps and bumps on your upper thighs.
- It also aids the absorption of ingredients in your skincare products – this is mainly due to the fact that it helps to slough of dead skin cells and unclog pores, which makes it easier for your skincare products to penetrate and work their magic.
- It energises you and boosts your mood. I’ve found that starting my day with a quick pampering session that includes dry body brushing, a quick (sometimes cold) shower, followed by massaging my favourite body lotion into my skin from top-to-toe (this is my current favourite), goes a long way towards boosting my mood and making me feel happier and more energised. It’s the quickest way to wake you up when you’re feeling groggy!
The best bit? There’s no need to splurge on any fancy products or brushes, and you don’t have to book yourself in for an expensive spa treatment either! All you need is a natural bristle brush (you can find these at most health and wellness stores, but I bought mine at Pick ‘n Pay for R70), a shower, and a body lotion (again, nothing fancy needed – although I adore Skin Creamery’s Everyday All Over Cream, I find that Vaseline’s gorgeous range of body lotions works just as well).
TIP: Opt for a long-handled brush, if possible – this makes it so much easier to brush those hard-to-reach areas!
Ready, set, brush!
- Brush dry skin, before showering. It’s a good idea to brush in the shower (water off, obviously), so that your dead skin cells don’t go flying all over the place… ewww!
- Start brushing your skin at your feet, using long, upwards strokes. Always brush towards your heart to help aid lymph drainage (lymph flows through the body, towards the heart). Don’t forget to brush the soles of your feet, too!
- Once you’ve brushed both legs, move onto your arms: start brushing your palms, the tops of your hands, up towards your elbows, then shoulders – and don’t forget your armpits!
- Next, move onto your tummy, brushing in a big circle across your tummy, around your belly button. This also works wonders in terms of aiding digestion.
- Brush your lower back and sides, brushing up towards your heart.
- Finish off by brushing your upper back, using long (well, as long as possible at this awkward angle!) strokes down towards your heart.
- Hop into the shower (if you’re not already in the shower, that is) and give your body a good rinse and wash. I like to alternate short bursts of hot and cold water to really get my blood pumping and wake me up in the mornings.
- Don’t forget to apply a body lotion after your shower, to ensure that your skin is hydrated.
Although you won’t notice a reduction in the appearance of cellulite immediately, you’ll definitely find that your skin is a whole lot softer and smoother after the very first session. I didn’t notice an improvement in terms of cellulite for a good month or so, but all the other benefits (soft skin, a healthy glow, improved digestion and more energy) were way worth the effort.
After just over two months, dry body brushing has become a habit, and one I couldn’t bear to go without – it makes me feel so much better about myself, both mentally and physically. If there’s just one habit that you adopt this year, let it be dry body brushing… it’s so, so worth it; trust me!
(PS: Just a quick note – dry body brushing may be slightly painful at first, so go gently. The hard, dry bristles take some getting used to, so use soft, gentle strokes until you’ve gotten used to it. I found that my skin got used to it pretty quickly, and I used much harder strokes after just a couple of days. Also, your skin will go red – this is perfectly normal, but don’t overdo it. Raw, bloody skin is not the aim here! And whatever you do, don’t brush over broken skin… and if you’re pregnant, it’s probably best to check with your doctor before you start dry body brushing).