Dry brushing: Gwyneth Paltrow’s obsessed with it but does it actually offer any benefits?

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

Published Aug 18, 2023 at 08:30 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes


Chances are you’ve seen plenty of skincare content while scrolling on your social media platform of choice over the years. Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist when it comes to your self-care regimen, here’s a method to take note of: dry brushing. Like most wellness-related trends, its popularity was accelerated by IV drip connoisseur, Gwyneth Paltow and, of course, her lifestyle brand, Goop.

To understand the ins and outs of dry brushing, we did the research so you don’t have to—plus, we spoke to a dermatologist. Below, find out its origins (spoiler: it’s been around for a lot longer than your FYP will have you think), its potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as expert-backed advice to consider before adding a dry brush to your TikTok Shop cart.

What is dry brushing?

Put simply, it’s exactly what it sounds like. This skincare practice involves using a dry brush to gently exfoliate. As a result, it can “detoxify the body, stimulate blood flow and exfoliate the skin, leaving rejuvenated and healthier-looking skin,” says Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist.

While you may not have heard about dry brushing until recently, it’s a much more traditional practice than you may think. According to Dr. Green, dry brushing was initially known as Garshana, and “is a part of Ayurvedic medicine, an Indian medical practice that relies on a holistic approach to mental and physical health.” That’s why using a dry brush can offer a variety of benefits when practised mindfully.

What are the benefits of dry brushing?

You may be doubting that dry brushing can actually offer any benefits—but hear us out, it may be just what your weekly skincare routine is missing. Like other exfoliation methods, it can remove “dead skin cells, debris and impurities from pores to promote healthy, new skin and even texture,” explains Dr. Green.

Dry brushing is also an effective way to increase blood circulation, which in turn allows more oxygen and nutrients to flow to skin cells around your body, she adds. Just like your average massage, one common result is an improvement in the appearance of cellulite. After you finish dry brushing, you may notice your skin looks tighter and smoother.

However, sadly, this effect is only temporary, adds Dr. Green. Last but not least, dry brushing is said to aid lymphatic drainage, which aids in removing toxins and pathogens from the body.

What are the drawbacks of dry brushing?

Now for the cons; dry brushing—like any other skincare practice—isn’t suitable for everyone. If you have sensitive skin, stick to using your dry brush only once every week or two to avoid irritation, and if you have a condition like eczema or psoriasis it may be best to avoid it altogether. However, even if you don’t have sensitive skin, you could experience excessive redness or swelling if you brush too hard, says Dr. Green.

“If this occurs, decreasing the pressure or switching to a dry washcloth or gentle exfoliating gloves will be less irritating while providing the same results,” she explains. This may be common sense, but you also shouldn’t use your dry brush over scrapes, sores, raised bumps, moles or burned skin, Dr. Green adds.

How to incorporate dry brushing into your skincare routine

Next, you may be wondering: when (or how) should I dry brush? Dr. Green suggests dry brushing before taking a shower. From there, “start at your ankles and create long, circular motions up the body.” To get the most (mentally and physically) out of your practice, Dr. Green recommends that you “think of your heart as the centre of these movements, and focus all of your strokes upwards or towards your heart.”

Then, when you’re all done, jump in the shower to wash off any skin that may have flaked during the process. Lastly, be sure to apply lotion when you’re done to “replenish moisture back into the skin.” As you would with a loofah or a beauty blender, clean your brush regularly with a gentle soap to remove any dead skin cells or bacteria that may have built up on the bristles.

What to look for in a dry brush

When it comes to choosing the perfect dry brush, keep in mind that it should have natural, stiff bristles first and foremost. Dr. Green also suggests looking for one with a long handle, which will allow you to easily access hard-to-reach areas. Alternatively, some may have a back strap to put your hand through to help seamlessly guide the tool.

In terms of pricing, dry brushes typically aren’t too expensive (you can probably find one in your local high street store), but if you’re looking for a kit, the price may go up.

Not sure where to begin looking for a dry brush? Here, browse a few of our favourite options available to shop now:

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