What is dry skin brushing?
Dry skin brushing is a thing that cool, fancy people do. You take a brush, and instead of brushing something like hair, your teeth, or an animal, you brush your skin. All over your body. This is what cool people do to make their skin nice, and I wanted in on the action.
I've always wanted to be a fancy person. But I'm not. I don't have a "skin-care routine." I don't own any products with "serum" in the name. I don't spritz my face with a gentle rosewater mist when I'm on an airplane. I wish I could be that person, but I'm just so, so lazy.
But I wanted to try this skin-brushing thing. Fancy beauty bloggers rave about it. They lured me in with their claims that dry brushing benefits your overall health — by "improving circulation," "helping remove toxins from the body," and "reducing the appearance of cellulite."
I asked New Jersey dermatologist Dr. Marc Glashofer about the alleged health benefits associated with dry brushing. He said there is no scientifically validated medical benefit of dry skin brushing when it comes to claims like removing toxins from the body and decreasing cellulite.
"Though dry brushing has become increasingly popular, actual benefits are unclear," Dr. Glashofer said. "And there is not much research to back up any related health claims."
Technically all we know for sure about skin brushing is that it exfoliates the skin. Even if other benefits are unproven, I want to be fancy, so I decided try it out. I bought a brush specifically labeled "skin brush." It's not all that different from a loofah, but "skin brush" sounds like something a serial killer would own.
This is the skin brush I used. (Available here for $11.99.) I got mine at Whole Foods.
Even though medical professionals say skin brushing doesn't reduce cellulite, I tried to make a note of my current cellulite level just in case magically there was a difference later.
The brush directions suggest brushing right before a shower, starting with the hands and feet and working your way upward and inward with brush strokes along the skin until you've covered the entire body (except for the face, breasts, and genitals — don't brush those).
I grabbed my brush, headed to the bathroom, and started lightly brushing my skin. I felt like I was brushing a cat or a dog, except it was myself. It didn't hurt. The sensation was no more intense than scratching an itch. It took only a few minutes. According to the skin brush website, you're supposed to feel a tingling sensation when you shower right after brushing. I did not feel tingly in the shower, which I was OK with. Maybe even a little relieved, because "tingly" can mean anything.
After showering, I used lotion, which is often recommended after your post-skin-brushing shower. I struggle to type the word "lotion" without feeling creepy. But I can't let my insecurity stop you from knowing the truth. I used lotion. On my skin.
The skin brush website recommends brushing every day, but Dr. Glashofer recommended brushing only one to two times per week to minimize potential over-exfoliation and drying effects on the skin. I was also careful not to brush too hard — mostly due to fear and confusion, but also because it's a good idea to be gentle.
Don't brush your face.
After a few skin brushings, my skin really did start to feel smoother.
Once I got over the initial weirdness of dragging a brush across my skin, I found it relaxing. I felt like the brushing put me into a meditative state.
After a few weeks of skin brushing, my skin was so smooth I found myself shouting, "Feel my leg!" Other people even agreed, after hesitantly touching my leg, that my skin was VERY smooth. Eerily smooth. Creepily smooth. I've never touched a dolphin, but I imagine my skin felt like what a dolphin feels like. It was cool to see results, but honestly, I'm not sure my skin needed to be THAT smooth. It felt like overkill. But maybe that's my laziness talking.
As I expected, there was no change in my level of cellulite. But I'm not even mad at cellulite. I'm often very critical of my own appearance, but I've just accepted cellulite as fine and normal. So many people have it that it's hard to care. I'm just like, "Hey, cellulite, what's up?" And the cellulite is like, "Yo, not much." And we go about our days.
Final thoughts on skin brushing:
Just as Cookie Monster emphasizes that cookies are a "sometimes food," I feel that, for me, skin brushing is a "sometimes skin-care ritual."
Times I would use skin brushing in the future:
* If I need to relax. The massaging action of the brushing was the biggest benefit for me.
* If I'm ever entering a skin smoothness contest.
* If my boyfriend was thinking about leaving me and running away with a dolphin because he preferred the texture of the dolphin's skin, I might use skin brushing as a last-ditch effort to save my relationship.