Dry Brushing for Beautiful Skin and Lymphatic Vitality

Dry brushing promotes vital lymphatic flow. It’s benefits for beautiful skin are only part of the story. This simple but robust self-care ritual enhances lymphatic health to detoxify, energize, and balance your being and your body.

Detoxify, Energize, and Balance Your Being and Your Body.

Our amazing skin!! It is the largest eliminatory organ of our body, the pathway for the removal of 10-15% of our daily waste accumulation. It receives a third of all the blood circulating within us and is the home of our superficial lymphatic system. The skin both detoxifies and metabolizes, playing a critical role in immune health. There is nothing superficial about our outermost layer!

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Indians all used the healing art of dry brushing in some form. The Russians, Turks, Japanese, Scandinavians and Native Americans, too. This self-care ritual for daily grounding and energizing crosses cultures and time. When we connect with ourselves in this way, we connect with our ancestors and tap into an ancient source of healing wisdom.

In India over 5,000 years ago they used silk gloves or gharshana.

The ancient Greeks and Romans employed a curved bronze blade similar to a spoon called a strigil; this ritual was so intimate and important, individuals were typically buried with their exfoliating strigils. The Chinese used loofahs (the gourd fruit, silk squash), Native Americans, dried corn cobs. Egyptians included exfoliating honey, wine and milk in their ritual.

Little scientific research has been done to prove the efficacy of this treatment and these varied tools, but anecdotal evidence, as well as a generalized understanding of our physiology, strongly supports the benefits. The experience of this ancient art in your own body will verify whether this potentially loving and healing practice is for you.

Why Dry Brush:

  • Exfoliate: Sloughing off dead skin cells stimulates new healthy cell proliferation to replace old dead cells.
  • Boost circulation: A mild localized inflammatory response provokes increased blood flow in the skin.
  • Promote flow: The superficial lymphatic vessels live just beneath the surface of the skin in the dermis (the dual-layer of skin just beneath the most superficial epidermis). By brushing along the lymph pathways we are directing and accelerating lymph flow and drainage.
  • Invigorate: The dry brush awakens the nerve endings that reside in the dermis with the lymphatics, leaving you feeling invigorated and energized.

From a traditional Ayurvedic perspective, dry brushing detoxifies the body by promoting the healthy flow of tissue fluids (known in Sanskrit as rasa dhatu), particularly lymph. Rasa dhatu refers to our “inner ocean,” the blood plasma, lymph, and interstitial fluids that bathe and nourish us from within. When our inner ocean and all its tributaries and rivulets flow easily and in balance, the whole body experiences well-being.

People with sensitive skin should take care when dry brushing. If using a dry brush causes any irritation, try silk gloves (gharshana). If even the gloves are irritating, dry brushing may not be a good option for you. 

Avoid dry brushing skin affected by eczema, psoriasis, acne, infection, sunburn, cancer, moles, warts, or open wounds. Brush gently around varicosities, and do not brush areas where you have papillomas (lymph fluid-filled blisters that can be fragile and easily ruptured).

The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and your last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with.

Guidelines for Dry Brushing:

  • Dry brush 2-5x/wk–use your own skin response as a guide to what’s uniquely right for you!
  • The ritual should take 3-5 minutes
  • Never dry brush on broken skin
  • Generally, dry brush, then shower, then moisturize
  • Short strokes; a general rule is gentle on softer areas, firmer on denser, harder areas
  • Chest, breasts and stomach tend to be sensitive: be mindful, gentle, loving
  • More vigorous in the morning to start the day, gentler in the evening to send you to sleep
  • Clean brush weekly with warm water and soap and hang to dry (*see more detailed instructions below); replace annually

Skin can be sensitive: be mindful, gentle, loving.

The Steps to Dry Brushing to Promote Lymphatic Drainage  

Lymphatic Clearing:

  • Engage the diaphragm muscle and jumpstart the lymphatic engine with 5-10 belly breaths.
  • Manage the mother drains in each lymphatic region of the body first.
  • The termini, where the lymph enters the bloodstream, are located at the base of your neck, right above your collarbones. Gently pull your hands from the base of your ears at the sides of the neck to the hollows above your collarbones in a down and inward motion ten times.
  • Clear the axillary lymph nodes in the armpit. Begin by placing your hand where you would put deodorant or shave and slowly pump up and into the armpit, moving the lymph fluid along a deep pathway toward the neck. Repeat ten times on both sides.
  • The inguinal lymph nodes, located in the groin crease at the top of the thigh, are the last of the nodes to stimulate before dry brushing. Place the whole hand, palm down, at each groin crease and stroke up and in toward the belly button ten times.

Begin To Dry Brush:

  • Begin at the midline of the chest and brush gently toward the armpit. Start below the collar bones and make a line from sternum to armpit in short strokes. Return to the sternum and work in lines toward the armpit moving each line progressively down toward the belly button, brushing one whole side of the chest to the armpit and then the other side of the chest to the armpit. ** On radiated skin and some scar tissue use only silk gloves or avoid dry brushing completely. Consult your physician and/or lymphatic therapist prior to addressing these areas with any exfoliating practice.
  • Brush the back body from the spine to the sides and up toward the armpit . This area can be tough to reach. Be kind to yourself. Employ a long-handled brush if this helps.
  • Brush each arm in upward strokes starting from the back of the hand to the wrist, towards the inside of the elbow, and moving from the elbow towards the underarms. Direct the lymph to drain through the armpit. Don’t forget to repeat this on your opposite arm!
  • Brush your lower abdomen below the belly button toward the groin on each side, and your buttocks and low back on each side from the midline/spine to the groin in front.
  • Brush from the tops of the feet past the ankles towards the knees in an upward & gentle motion, repeat in the same manner on the sides and from behind the ankle, up towards the back of the knee, brushing the whole calf and foot. Use the same technique on your opposite leg.
  • Brush in upward strokes from above the knee towards the groin. Repeat on the back and sides of the thigh. Use the same technique on your opposite leg.

This vitalizing practice should take 3-5 minutes and may become one of your favorite and most effective lymphatic nourishment rituals!

After Dry Brushing for Glowing Skin and Vital Lymphatic Flow:

  • Enjoy a shower. This will help remove the dead skin cells you just brushed loose. Then rehydrate and nourish the skin, applying your lotion of choice (I recommend Lymphology Skincare Body Cream, coconut or almond oil). Your pores are open, and this is the best time to apply clean skin food to complete your immune-boosting ritual. 
  • Cleaning your brush is a must.  Place a few drops of castile soap, a few drops of tea tree and lavender essential oils (tea tree for its antibacterial properties, lavender for disinfection, blood circulation, and wonderful scent), into a shallow bowl. Tap brush over a trash or sink to remove excess dead cells, place in water only to depth of bristles (to preserve the health of your brush, don’t get wood wet), shake off and leave, bristles down, in a well ventilated location to dry.
  • Machine wash and dry your gharshana gloves. Hand-loomed, thick-weave 100% raw silk allows gharshana to be machine washed & dried, making them even more exfoliating & nubby with each wash. Do not iron or bleach.

Concerns and Questions:

And after going through this healing ritual–-if you have questions or concerns about your vital flow you’d like support with, please schedule a Vital Lymph Solutions Call with me.

This call is for you if you know you want to feel better and wonder what that could look like.

The Vital Lymph Solutions Call: In this 30-minute call we will assess your biggest healing challenge together and lay out a plan for you to shift and solve that issue. You will walk away from this call with at least one strategy that you can begin to implement immediately to feel better. If it’s a fit to do more work together, I will let you know what that would look like. And if there’s someone else I can recommend that would be a better match, I will get you that referral.

Book a Vital Lymph Solutions call with me to discuss your unique needs.

It really IS possible to unblock your vital flow, no matter what your experience or diagnosis, and live the life you love.  

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.