I Tried Dry Brushing, and Here’s What Happened (A Skincare Adventure)

An old friend told me a couple years ago that he had started dry brushing his skin. “OK,” I said, “You do you, buddy.” At the time, I didn’t know what he was talking about, and I was too embarrassed to ask for an explanation. As the months went by, though, I started to see this term more frequently in the blogs and magazines I enjoy, so I thought it might be worth a shot. “Dry brushing” is taking a body-scrubbing brush and gently sweeping it in circles over your skin while it’s dry, starting at the feet and working toward the heart.

Body scrub

I realized as I considered writing this piece that I neglect the skin on my body. I use all sorts of great exfoliators and oils and creams (oh my) on my face and neck, but beyond a glycolic acid body wash, used occasionally, and the Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Scrub Soap, used just about daily, I don’t do too much to exfoliate my body. I moisturize like it’s my job (it actually kind of is, to be honest), but of course, moisturizing over a layer of dead skin doesn’t do much good.

Below, my adventure begins…

Day One, pre-brushing

I tell Angela while we wait for a vendor meeting to get started that I’m going to try dry brushing. She looks at me and takes a sip of her coffee. “OK,” she says, “Have fun, I guess?” I assert that I will, and later on at work I Google what to look for in a dry brush, and what benefits actually exist. It turns out Whole Foods is a pretty safe bet to find what I’m looking for, and I decide to go there on my way home from work. Dry brushing is purported to increase circulation, decrease the appearance of cellulite, decrease skin sensitivity, and intensely exfoliate. If it does even one of those decently well, I’ll be happy.

All the tutorials say to get a brush with natural bristles, rather than synthetic, and to wait until morning to have an invigorating dry brush before showering…but I shower at night, mostly, and don’t like to be told what to do, so I decide nighttime dry brushing will suffice. I’m contrary like that.

Day One, post-brushing

I have decided — as though it were something I can control — that dry brushing will give me excellent skin before my wedding. Even if I never pick up a body brush again from my wedding day until the end of time, I will do it pre-nuptially, darn it. I choose this day to also do a hair mask, and the skincare zealot in me forgets that it really is possible to have too much of a good thing, so while I’m out of round one of my shower, waiting for my mask to work its magic, I dry brush again. It’s actually kind of relaxing, and I’m tickled by the idea of my dry skin sloughing off and leaving me fresh.

Day Two

I have breakfast with Christen from The Shoe Hive. Near the end of our meal, I thrust my arm across the table at her, “FEEL MY ARM, CHRISTEN, I’M DRY BRUSHING.” She side-eyes me a little, then hesitantly touches my arm.

“Oh my goodness, WHY are you so SOFT?!” She withdraws, touches her own arm, then pets mine again. “You are ridiculously soft.”

I think I’m going to like this dry brushing thing.

Day Three

I forget to dry brush today. I find that I’m exhausted from work and wedding planning, and spend most of the day on my couch with my good friend, Netflix. Sometime in the midafternoon, I find the energy to do a glycolic peel on my face, then sit back down for an hour before realizing that I forgot to moisturize my face afterward. I’ll continue the adventure tomorrow — standing sounds much too trying today.

Day Four

Back to the dry brushing! When I wake up this morning, I think my skin might actually be rougher from forgetting to dry brush yesterday. I take a little extra time dry brushing this round, and when I’m out of the shower, I pile on my favorite body mixture: Maya Chia Body Oil and Kiehl’s Crème de Corps. Ahhh, much better.

Day Five

I have trouble today, because I find a small breakout on my back. I avoid this spot so I don’t use the dry brush bristles to spread any unsavory bacteria, and then spend a few minutes stewing about feeling lopsided from the uneven dry brushing. Oh well, at least my appendages are silky.

Day Six

I throw caution to the wind and dry brush all over today, including the spot I avoided yesterday. I figure I’ll be getting in the shower in a moment anyway, so the life of any spread bacteria is likely to be short. I might be imagining this (OK, I’m almost definitely imagining this), but I feel like the cellulite on my booty and thighs is less noticeable today. I will count this as a dry brushing win. My skin is softer than ever, and that’s certainly result enough for some of my more shallow tastes.

Day Seven, in the midst of brushing daily, but at the end of this experiment

My skin is ridiculously smooth, and I find that I really am starting to see a more even tone across my back and abdomen, which have always been sort of blotchy. I also love how the brush itself feels–it’s the same sort of pleasant, sleepy sensation as having someone lazily comb their fingers through my hair.

So will I continue to dry brush? Totally. I look glowier and feel prettier on the days I do it, and it takes a total of maybe two minutes to thoroughly do my whole body (I’m short, OK?). If you’re looking for the answer to softer skin with minimal work, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s the only thing I changed in my daily body skincare regimen, and my results were out of this world.

Now, in case you’re wondering, here’s exactly what I used this past week:


1) Earth Therapeutics Skin Brush (natural bristles), from Whole Foods

2) Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod Body Wash

3) Maya Chia The Revitalizer Body Oil

4) Kiehl’s Crème de Corps

5) A can-do attitude

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