Never underestimate the power of the dry skin brush. I talk about it loads to my clients and it can make a big difference to your health.
I’m also always talking about flow – and keeping the blood clean and giving your liver a helping hand. This little brush is a very helpful tool when it comes to getting the toxins out.
As well as the other main detoxing organs of the body such as the liver, kidneys, colon and lungs, our skin is responsible for the removal of waste from the body. In fact, it is estimated that almost a quarter of the waste we excrete every day is eliminated by the skin in the form of dead skin cells and sweat.
I know the thought of shedding skin sounds a bit grim but it’s part of our cell renewal, which is a good thing. Dry skin brushing is one of the best ways to help stimulate lymphatic flow. This can enhance your immune system, improve digestion and aid stress relief.
So, it's much more than just a beauty aid!
A large part of the lymphatic system – the peripheral or superficial lymphatics – lie just beneath the surface of the skin so dry skin brushing is ideal to boost the flow of lymph through these tiny vessels as well as stimulating a number of the main lymph node sites, located as follows:
Lymph nodes are responsible for not only filtering and cleaning the lymph of unwanted substances such as cell debris and other toxins but are also instrumental in fighting infection by attacking and destroying pathogens that could otherwise cause infection or disease.
A lymph-friendly way of brushing is to start at the collar bones, as this area is adjacent to the two main ducts that return the body’s lymph to the bloodstream. This will have the effect of ensuring that these important lymphatic vessels are cleared in preparation for the movement of lymphatic fluid in from the rest of the body.
Starting on the left-hand side - where the largest duct – the thoracic duct is located, and gently brush the collar bone from the outside edge in towards the centre. Do this a few times then repeat on the right-hand side. Follow this by lightly brushing the neck, starting from just under the jawline, moving down towards the collarbone.
The remaining lymph node areas can then be gently stimulated by brushing in the crease of the armpits, elbows, groin and knee. You are now ready to start the main routine as follows:
Lower Leg: Work in an upward direction, starting at the soles and top of the foot, and ending at the kneecap (front) and knee crease (back)
Thigh: Work in an upward direction, starting at the knees, and ending at the crease of the groin (front) and buttocks (back)
Lower Abdomen: Work downwards from the belly button towards the groin and pubic area
Upper Abdomen: Work upwards from the belly button to just below the breast crease
Back: Work from the waist area upwards and slightly outwards towards the armpits. This stroke will require the use of a long-handled brush.
Chest: Working downwards and outwards from the collarbone, brush gently towards the armpit. Care should be taken when brushing this area as the skin tends to be very thin and sensitive. If necessary, simply brushing with the hand will be sufficient.
Forearm: Starting on the inner part of the arm, brush upwards from the wrist to the inner elbow then from the top of the wrist to the elbow joint.
Upper Arm: Lift the arm and gently brush from the elbow crease to the armpit, then from the elbow bone to the shoulder.
Two or three brush strokes for each area is ideal and if time permits, a repeat brushing of the collarbone to conclude the routine would be helpful for maximising the return of lymph into the blood circulation.
What’s the best time of day to dry skin brush?
This is a good question because dry skin brushing can be energising and invigorating, so it’s probably not ideal just before going to sleep. Being part of your morning routine before showering is always best, as this will provide the following benefits:
The movement and gravity needed to keep our lymph flowing are at a minimum when we sleep, so first thing in the morning is an ideal time to give the lymphatic system an extra ‘push’ to get it started for the day.
Showering immediately afterwards will remove the dead skin cells and cleans the pores whilst the warm water of the shower will further boost circulation.
Body oils and creams will absorb more readily as pores are now clear and open, leaving the skin softer and more hydrated as a result.
You can use a number of different shapes and size brushes, but a long-handled, natural bristle brush is best to enable you to get to hard to reach places such as the back, soles of the feet and back of the legs.
The bristles should be hard enough to provide an invigorating sensation – sometimes described as ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ but not so hard that they could scratch or break the skin.
Remember when using a new brush for the first few times to take extra care as the bristles will need a few sessions to soften.