Well, the good news is it doesn't have to be horrible — in fact, according to legendary aesthetician Susan Ciminelli, it can be quite enjoyable once you make a habit of it. "I'm not sure why American women don't take more time for herself," she says. "The rewards of dry brushing are long-lasting — you even sleep more soundly. This treatment is so worth it."
How worth it? According to Ciminelli, dry brushing increases the circulation of lymphatic fluid and blood flow. It helps circulate nutrients through the body as well as waste, helping to take pressure off the kidneys to regulate the amount of water in the body. Excess water is secreted, and Ciminelli even claims that it "helps to keep the layer of fat under the skin's surface very thin. The thinner that layer of fat, the easier it is for the body to excrete toxins through the skin."
Ready to try dry brushing again (or for the first time)? First things first: You need a brush. Ciminelli says you'll want to choose a brush with natural bristles that have some give. You can also use a loofah, but she warns against those "cheap, waxy ones from the drugstore. They won't brush your skin effectively." Instead, look for a nylon one — Ciminelli is a big fan of loofahs made by Japanese or French companies, as she says they are usually of a superior quality.
There's no "better" time of day to dry brush, says Ciminelli, although she notes that if you don't want to walk around with just-brushed pink skin, she recommends doing it at night. Just be sure before you start that your skin is 100% dry — no dampness or oiliness. Ciminelli likes brushing prior to her shower or bath. "Taking a therapeutic bath right after is extremely beneficial," she says, and recommends her Algae Fine Powder.
Now, the technique. Ciminelli says to start at your ankles and work your way up the body. You should always be rubbing toward your heart. "On your legs, you'll be rubbing in an upward motion," explains Ciminelli. "Once you get to your midsection, you'll draw from your back toward the belly then rub clockwise on the belly. For your arms, lift them above your head and rub downward toward your heart. Start at the back of the hand and go to the armpit. Make sure you scrub until the skin turns pink from increased blood flow." You should be moving the brush in a light, quick motion so as not to damage the skin by brushing too hard.
Ciminelli says you get the most benefit from doing dry brushing three times a week; however, if your skin feels raw or delicate after your first few times, drop down to twice a week and try using less pressure. Or, if you have an open wound, rash, or sunburn, she says to wait until it heals completely before attempting dry brushing. "Be sure to keep your brush clean!" warns Ciminelli. To keep bacteria from building up and infecting your skin (ew), she recommends washing your loofah in a 10-1 water-to-bleach mixture and then letting it air dry.
For best results, after you finish with your dry brushing session, Ciminelli says you should follow with a nourishing body lotion, again applying it from the ankles upward and toward the heart to help keep circulation optimized. Baby-soft, glowing skin is just a brush away.
Hydrea London FSC Certified Classic Body Brush, $12, available at Spirit Beauty Lounge.
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