By Emma-lee Strachan, Naturopath

Dry body brushing  also called skin brushing - is one of the best ways to care for your skin. It helps to break up fatty deposits, aids in lymphatic drainage and detoxification, and stimulates circulation on top of the basic exfoliation.

Body brushing is often done in spas as part of detoxification and slimming treatments. The gentle massaging motion of the bristles has a beneficial effect on areas of cellulite, and it is an effective treatment for helping to eliminate toxins from the body. Most of us can't manage to have a luxury spa treatment every week, let alone every few days to revitalise our body and mind, but it is easy to fit in 3-7 minutes of body brushing every morning for similar effects.



Reasons to body brush

Reason 1 Stimulates blood flow to increase nutrient delivery to cells
Reason 2 improves lymph flow to carry toxins and waste products out of the body
Reason 3 Removes dry, dead skin cells
Reason 4 Encourages cells to regenerate
Reason 5 Results in smooth glowing skin
Reason 6 Stimulates production of sebum (oil), to nourish dry skin
Reason 7 Helps combat cellulite and fatty deposits
Reason 8 Increases energy and stimulates the body
Reason 9 Feels great


More about lymph

The lymphatic system is like the circulatory system - the tubes (vessels) branch through all parts of the body like the arteries and veins that carry blood. Except that the lymphatic system carries a colourless liquid called lymph.

As your blood circulates, fluid leaks out into the body tissues. This fluid is important because it carries ?food? to the cells and waste products back to the bloodstream. The leaked fluid drains into the lymph vessels, and is then carried to the main lymph nodes before continuing to the base of the neck, where it is emptied back into the bloodstream.

Lymph nodes act as filters that collect and destroy bacteria and viruses. The main lymph nodes are located in the groin, the armpits, the neck and the chest. When body brushing, always brush towards the lymph nodes finishing at the heart.

The lymphatic system has three interconnected functions: (1) removal of excess fluids from body tissues, (2) production of immune cells, to help fight bacteria, viruses and infections, and (3) absorption of fatty acids and subsequent transport of fat, to the circulatory system.

To get the most from body brushing, it is important to make sure you are doing it correctly. By simply adjusting the direction of your strokes you can have a big impact on the effects. Remember where the ducts are located, and always brush towards these, ending at the heart as this is where the fluid along with all the toxins, is finally pushed back into the circulatory system.

Make sure the room is warm. Find somewhere comfortable to sit so that you can easily reach your feet and lower legs.

1. Take the brush and begin with the sole of your right foot. Use firm, rhythmic strokes to cover the sole several times. Next, brush the top of your foot, brushing up towards your ankle. Then go on to your lower leg, making sure you cover the whole surface. Always brush in an upward direction, towards the heart.

Stand up and brush the area from your knee to the top of your thigh. Using long rhythmic strokes - make sure you cover the whole area several times. Brush your buttock area as far up as your waist. Then repeat the whole procedure on your left leg, starting again with the sole of your foot. Now, starting from the top of your buttocks and moving in an upward direction, brush the whole of your back several times all the way up to your shoulders.

Next, brush your right arm. Start with the palm of your hand, then move on to the back of your hand. Next, ensuring that the whole surface of your skin is brushed, brush from your wrist up to your elbow. Brush your upper arm, working from your elbow towards your shoulder, again covering the whole surface of your upper arm.

2. Repeat on your left side, starting with your hand. Then, very gently, brush your abdomen, brushing in a circle, always in a clockwise direction. Cover the area several times but with less pressure than on your arms and legs. If it feels uncomfortable, stop.

3. The neck and chest are sensitive areas, so, again, brush here very gently. Always work towards your heart. If the bristles are too hard on your neck, don’t brush here. Lastly, work on your face. Use a small, soft brush or a dry face towel and soften the pressure, as vigorous rubbing can stretch or otherwise damage the facial skin.

Overall it should take between 3-7 minutes to brush the entire body. It is great followed up with a body moisturiser.

Types of body brushes

When you first start dry body brushing, it is best to use a softer brush, and then as you get more used to the feel of it, you can move onto a brush with firmer bristles.
Brushes with natural bristles always feel good, most are made from sisal.
Brushes with long handles give easy reach to the back and feet without the need for excessive bending. Some have woven hand straps, good for a firm sweeping action and to reach small areas that are hard to maneuver in with the long handle.

Body brushing is a cheap and effective way to make you feel great and keep your skin looking radiant. Once you make it a habit, you will wonder what took you so long to start in the first place!