If the thought of dry brushing reminds you of that scene in Gattaca (starts at :38), you’re not alone.

Vincent, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, huddles in a UV shower, aggressively scraping a stiff-bristled brush over his arms and legs, in an effort to rid himself of every last dead skin cell that could reveal his inferior DNA.

My sensitive skin could never. 

What dry brushing actually is.

Dry brushing is a practice performed before showering, using a soft bristle brush to gently exfoliate and stimulate the skin.

Although trending, dry brushing is definitely not trendy: the practice is thought to have originated over 5000 years ago with most ancient civilizations incorporating dry brushing in their self care rituals in one form or another.

The actual benefits of dry brushing vary from “scientifically proven to be true” to “probably could do that” and include: 

  • Gentle exfoliation.

  • Prep for deeper hydration.

  • Clear clogged pores.

  • Lymph movement. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • Improved vascular circulation. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • Plumped skin. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The exfoliating benefits are legit. I started dry brushing a few months ago when my skin was looking dull and dehydrated no matter how much body cream I used. After just a few times, it felt like my skin was better able to absorb lotions, and it felt smoother, softer over all.

Dry brushing is also thought to help to stimulate the lymphatic system, the cleaning crew of your immune system which handles:

  • removing excess fluid from our organs

  • filtering waste and abnormal cells from our system

  • producing disease-fighting white blood cells

The sweeping motions, starting at the hands and feet and working towards the heart, are meant to move things along. It’s like a line of stagnant puddles along the sidewalk, and you’re helping to push the waste into the sewer. 

There are loads of great tutorials on how to dry brush to maximize the benefits, but essentially:

Use a gentle touch

I was initially turned off by dry brushing mainly because it seems too aggressive for my super sensitive, dry skin. 

Unlike Vincent in Gattaca, we don’t have to worry about leaving stray epithelials around town. So ease up on the heavy scraping action to avoid micro-abrasions, and possible skin irritation or infection. 

You can enjoy all the benefits of dry brushing using a lighter touch and a softer bristle. 

Find the right brush

It really comes down to preference.

Hand brushes provide more direct control while long-handled brushes are great for reaching challenging spots easily. For those who prefer vegan, this Tampico Vegetable Brush is made of medium-soft agave fibers.

Follow through

Shower or bathe as usual, using a purifying body wash to rinse off the detritus and dead skin cells. Follow up with your preferred body butter or lightweight lotion to lock in the exfoliating benefits. 

It’s recommended to dry brush around twice a week and to stop if your skin becomes irritated. If you have a sensitive skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, you should consider skipping it altogether. 

Remember: like a toothbrush, one dry brush per person. And keep your dry brush dry.