After months of hiding underneath our warm and cosy layers, it’s nearly time to start unwrapping ourselves and show our skin to the world again; to let it be stroked by sun rays and the soft spring breeze … Emerging after the long dark weeks of central heating, our skin may not feel as wonderful as we wish it was, and needs to be teased from its winter-induced sleep to show itself in all its vibrant glory.
But worry not – this is not an article that will list twenty different creams, lotions and potions you must put onto your bathroom shelf to save your skin. Rather I am here to talk, out of all things, about the old art of dry body brushing, and why it is worth your time to give it a try.
I am not quite sure when I first heard about dry body brushing, but it would have been at least fifteen years ago, and since then, one kind or another of a wooden brush has been a frequent resident of my bathroom.
It helps increase the blood and lymph circulation in your skin, bringing fresh nutrients and taking away what is not needed by the cells any more, resulting in more vibrant, stronger and healthier skin. Your skin becomes more evenly toned, and at the same time soft and glowing.
If this is your first time playing with dry body brushing, when shopping for one, choose a softer, rather than harder brush, to allow your skin to get used to the sensation. You will know when the time has come to step it up, as you will stop feeling the effect of the brushing. Make sure that the bristles are 100% natural, not plastic, for two reasons – first, why would we want to rub plastic all over our beautiful skin, and two, plastic bristles are actually too soft to have the desired effect.
Body brushes come in all shapes and sizes as well, round, oblong, square, with, or without, a handle. Choose one that fits well into your hand, one that you will have fun using. It is interesting to note that the handle can be useful for reaching the whole of your back; however, at the same time, I find that especially the long handle gets in my way, and so I prefer just a brush I can comfortable hold in the palm of my hand. If, like me, you choose to use a brush without a handle, you may end up doing some yoga as you try to reach the places and spaces on your back – multitasking at its best.
Whatever the brush, make sure your strokes are light, as a feather. We are not trying to scrape a layer of skin off. What we are doing is encouraging our lymph to flow, and as the lymphatic vessels are just underneath the skin, a light touch is all you need. You won’t get better results by pressing hard.
You want to start with one of your feet
- First brush the sole of your foot and under the toes. From here carry on over the top of the foot, both ankles, shin, calf, knee, the thing, front and back, your bum.
- Then the other leg in the same fashion.
- Then brush your lower back as far as you can reach, all the time stroking towards the heart.
- It is beneficial to brush your armpits, as there are many lymph nodes in the area, but be super gentle, as the skin here is baby soft.
- Once you have circled the brush around the pit a few times, move onto your hand, palm, and up your arm all the way to the shoulder.
- Do the other arm.
- Brush across your neck and your décolletage, from the centre towards your armpits, softly brushing along the top and the bottom curve of your breasts, avoiding the nipples completely. Finish with your belly – I love letting my brush glide in a spiral motion away from my belly button outwards, then let it spiral back to the centre a few times.
You can move the brush in circular motions, long or short straight sweeping strokes, or any combination that comes naturally to you, so you feel nourished, cared for and energised. I like to use long strokes, brushing with one hand and then following in the same place with my other hand. That way I am alternating between brush and hand strokes, making the routine quite soothing. I move slowly out to the sides, making sure I cover the skin all over my body by the end.
Like it so far? I have something that will take it to another level. Before you start brushing, put a drop of your favourite skin loving essential oils into the palm of your hand, and swipe the bristles over it, to flavour them with a tiny layer of your essential oil. This way you bring an extra depth and care to your routine. You can try skin loving Lavender, Geranium or Frankincense, lymph awakening Juniper, Sage or Cypress, or cooling Peppermint in the midst of Summer. And for a truly exotic experience, try a drop of Jasmin or Ylang Ylang. **
So as the days grow brighter and the early morning bird song louder, I invite you to join the tribe of women who brush.
Next months – on the virtues of (cold) water.
** some essential oils are not recommended in pregnancy, with high blood pressure or if you are on medication. Please do your own research, check with your medical professional or get in touch with me to learn how to use essential oils safely in your daily life.
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.