WIN-ning Wednesday: Skin Brushing

‘Tis the season for dry flakey skin!  With the change in weather, many people notice their skin gets dryer during the winter months.  Certainly, piling on the holiday themed lotion can help make skin look more nourished, however that won’t address the layers of dried up skin cells that remain on the surface of the skin trapped under a blanket of lotion.

Naturopathic Doctors have long recommended a technique called Dry Skin Brushing for overall skin health, and also for lymphatic drainage, blood circulation and to aid in detoxification.  When thinking of just skin health, dry skin brushing is like a gentle whole body exfoliation that sloughs off dried cells on the skin’s surface.  Also, the stimulation of blood flow and lymphatic circulation helps the skin’s integrity and appearance.

More recently, some spas have offered dry skin brushing as part of their whole body treatments.  Another take on skin brushing at the spa is the “salt glow” treatment where coarse sea salt is used to exfoliate the skin.  It’s the classic case of everything old being new again.

This type of body exfoliation dates way back to the early days of medicine where “hydrotherapy” or water therapy was used to help address certain ailments and strengthen the body.  Hydrotherapy incorporates hot and cold baths, sauna, jaccuzzi, steam therapy, mineral baths, which all have different water properties, such as temperature and pressure.  These water properties have therapeutic qualities that can stimulate the essential aspects of good health. Although they have become less common in North America, there are many centres for therapeutic hydrotherapy throughout Europe and Asia.

Dry Skin Brushing is done using a natural bristle brush or a natural loofa.  The exfoliation is done over dry skin.  There are many different methods around this therapy, such as, time of day, doing it before a shower to help enhance circulation, direction of brushing, type of movement when brushing… all of this is well intended by those recommending it, yet it can be really simple and really effective even if it’s done on its own and in the basic way.

How to Dry Skin Brush:

1) Using a natural brush or loofa start at the top of your feet and make small circular motions with the brush on the skin moving up the feet to the legs.

2) Pressure should be light.  This should not hurt.  The movements are quick and short.  The whole body should only take 3 minutes.

3) Continue brushing up both legs.  Abdomen up towards the heart. Hand, arms, under arms, again moving toward the heart.

4) Chest down toward the heart.

5) Back (as far as you can reach) around to the abdomen.

6) Wash off your brush and leave it to dry to use next time.

How Often?

Skin brushing can be once a day, but even if its done 2-3 times a week it can still be effective.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ!  Skin brushing is a simple easy home therapy that can be very beneficial.  If your skin could use further support and you are interested in addressing your skin naturally, consult a licensed Naturopathic Doctor for natural skin care solutions.



  1. dk · April 23, 2014

    Sounds like it would feel really good too, but just curious..why is it better to do it dry than in the shower?

    • Dr. Laura Imola, BSc, ND (Licensed) · April 23, 2014

      Hi There! Brushing the skin is best done on dry skin because it provides a higher amount of friction on the skin. When the skin is wet, it’s more slippery and although you could get some exfoliating benefit, the therapeutic benefits are diminished. The friction enables all the great benefits dry brushing like blood and lymph stimulation, skin integrity enhancement, skin gland activation, detoxification and the removal of dead skin cells.

      When brushing on the skin, you may notice a warm sensation over some areas, however some areas can be more sensitive and it can feel like an irritation. Sensitive areas of skin can be avoided. Check out this great article that goes over the practice in detail… I thought you might find it helpful:

  2. Edward · September 17, 2014

    What would you say are the main benefits of skin brushing?

    • Dr. Laura Imola, BSc, ND (Licensed) · September 17, 2014

      Hi Edward,

      Great question! Skin brushing has a profound and deep acting effect on the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system supports a healthy immune system and aids in the detoxification of our body. In addition, the physical effect of skin brushing helps to improve circulation to the skin and sloughs off dead skin cells. This helps to improve the integrity and appearance of our skin, too!

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