To be clear, those dimples are totally normal, extremely common, and don’t deserve the hate they get. But more to the point of this article, these promises and anecdotal endorsements are misleading, Dr. Gohara says. The increased blood flow from dry brushing may make skin appear plumper and less dimpled temporarily, but no products—including creams, supplements, or, yes, brushes—can permanently eliminate cellulite.
How to dry brush, step by step
If you’re looking to upgrade your shower routine with dry brushing for the aforementioned beauty and health benefits (or perhaps it’s your skepticism that’s motivating you?), our experts offered some advice on how to do it correctly.
One quick thing before we get into the nitty-gritty, though: “As a general rule of thumb, you should only be doing this once a week or every other week, or else it may increase your risk of irritation,” Dr. Pomerantz warns, cautioning against rubbing too harshly, quickly, or often, which can lead to bleeding, cuts, or inflammation.
Okay, here’s what to do:
1. Choose a body brush for your specific skin needs.
If you’re not sure where to start, Ellen Marmur, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and founder of Marmur Medical, recommends a brush with medium-firm, natural bristles. “It should never break the skin and it also shouldn’t hurt,” she says, adding that one with a long handle can help you exfoliate harder-to-reach areas like the back.
Also important to note: In general, dry brushing isn’t recommended for people with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and excessive dryness, as, again, it can be irritating. For that reason, Dr. Gohara and Dr. Pomerantz suggest folks with sensitive skin either skip the practice altogether or at least opt for gentler alternatives, like a brush with softer fibers or even a washcloth.
Luckily, there are tons of options for all different skin needs. Some of our faves:
2. Brush upwards in sweeping circular motions.
Starting at your feet, brush in a clockwise circular motion, Dr. Gohara recommends, working your way up your legs, butt, stomach, back, then décolletage. These movements, she says, will allow you to apply pressure more evenly (and gently) compared to rubbing up and down or side-to-side.
Depending on the area, you can also adjust the pressure and speed accordingly. For example, the soles of your feet may require a firmer touch compared to your more delicate neck area. If you experience any swelling, pain, bleeding, or (in some skin tones) redness during the process, stop immediately, Dr. Pomerantz says, because that means you’re going way too hard or your skin is getting irritated.
3. Clean everything off in the shower.
After all that exfoliating, Dr. Pomerantz suggests taking a shower (preferably a cool or lukewarm one, to avoid aggravating your freshly brushed bod) to rinse away the dead skin cells.
“While you’re in there, make sure to wash off lingering flakes or dirt on the brush with soap and water, too,” she adds. That way, you’re not continually scrubbing yourself with the same gunk you were trying to get rid of in the first place. As you might imagine, a dirty brush isn’t very hygienic, and it can also clog your pores (which, again, can cause breakouts or ingrown hairs) and infect any open wounds, Dr. Pomerantz notes.
4. Finish off with a hydrating moisturizer or body oil.
Your newly polished skin deserves some much-needed hydration, especially after so much sloughing and scrubbing. Ideally, you should look for a fragrance-free lotion or oil (since added scents can be irritating) with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, ceramides, or shea butter—all of which help to lock in moisture and prevent further water loss and dehydration, Dr. Gohara says. Some options to try:
The bottom line: Brush with care—and manage your expectations. No, this beauty tool isn’t a magic wand that will solve all your skin struggles. Still, it’s a relatively affordable (and might we mention, super simple) way to exfoliate and luxe up your body care routine from the comfort of your own bathroom—no spa day necessary.