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(Note: This article is a part of our 31-day series, “31 Days to a Whole Body Makeover“.)
Body brushing is a great ritual to add before your morning shower! All you need is a dry body brush and some oil (coconut, jojoba, or almond, for instance), and you have everything you need for amazingly soft, smooth, healthy skin. Many people do it for the sole purpose of reducing the appearance of cellulite. But those are the least of the awesome benefits of body brushing! Oh, there is more.
So. Much. More.
Body Brushing Stimulates Your Lymphatic System, and Yes, Reduces Cellulite:
Moving lymph should be reason enough to add body brushing to our morning routine, but let’s be honest: We all want to decrease the appearance of cellulite, am I right? Well, taking care of your lymph system is going to be key! There are no creams or anything else you can put on externally that reduces cellulite.
Your lymphatic system is a huge part of your immune system. The lymphatic system lies just ever so superficially beneath the skin, and it carries waste materials from the cells to the blood stream, to eventually be emptied out in our urine. I’ve heard it said that if blood brings in the groceries (nourishment), lymphatic cells take out the trash (waste products). The lymphatic system can get backed up very easily, and our skin is the first to show signs of excess waste backup.
Many skin experts say this is where cellulite comes from. Fat cells are loaded with excess stored hormones, and when they are not getting cleared out properly, the fat cells are unevenly distributed where the lymphatic system gets backed up, giving you the uneven, lumpy appearance in your skin. Lymphatic massage (and yes, body brushing, too!) has been shown to effectively reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Body brushing is the next best thing to real lymphatic massage. Lymphatic massage is costly, and it is hard to find a practitioner who specializes in it. (My esthetitician license required 200 hours of lymphatic massage training, and yet, I still don’t feel that it’s something I specialize in.) But regular, Swedish massage is way too deep to stimulate the lymphatic system properly. Swedish massage pushes right past it, crushing it down, not giving it what it needs to pump its fluid along. That is why body brushing is wonderful. It is light pressure applied just hard enough to stimulate the lymph system and get things moving properly, giving you excellent health. AND you can do it at home! For free!
Body Brushing Stimulates Your Metabolism:
Because hormones play a huge part in our metabolism, as I said in the last section, stimulating those hormones helps so much in helping your metabolism.
Body Brushing Creates Friction Creating Blood Alkalinity:
Why is this important? According to Ayurvedic practitioners, the static caused by the friction of body brushing turns the pH balance of our blood alkaline, which then in turn helps our body shed fat much more easily. In fact, many nutrition specialists say that eating foods that creates balanced alkalinity are awesome for weight loss. That includes tons of vegetables (especially leafy greens), fruits (lemons being one of the best for this purpose!), and wholesome protein sources. Pretty common sense, right?
Body Brushing Helps Our Bodies Better Assimilate Important Minerals:
Our lymphatic system is so important for assimilating vitamins A, D, E, and K, making absorption much more effective!
Body Brushing Helps Relieve Muscle Pain:
Thanks to the increased blood flow due to the brushing, oxygen is able to more easily flow through and carry away waste products that are causing muscle pain such as lactic acid and anything else that is getting stuck within recently torn (from injury or exercise) muscle fibers.
Body Brushing Gives You Glowing, Youthful Skin
When the lymphatic system backs up from an overflow of cellular waste, it doesn’t know what to do with it, so it gets pushed to the surface of the skin. Have you ever been on a really high-fat diet, or have been eating a lot of junk food and notice that you are breaking out like crazy? That is just one of the by-products of backed up lymph!
How to Do Body/Skin Brushing:
You will need just two things for effective skin brushing:
- A dry brush (or exfoliating body gloves), with soft bristles, not coarse bristles.
- A good oil that nourishes, but does not clog, your skin: Coconut oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil
Most tutorials for skin brushing don’t even bother telling you to moisturize your skin after brushing! But I am telling you that if you are going to exfoliate your skin, even if it’s just from shaving your legs, you MUST replenish your skin! Replenishing your skin with a good oil (one with molecules too large to penetrate the skin, as those contributes to acne), protects your skin from drying out and aging too quickly. Dry skin = early aging skin.
Skin Brushing Protocol:
I was trained in traditional lymphatic drainage techniques, but when it comes to body brushing, I much prefer the Ayurvedic methods I was trained to do in the spa for our signature spa treatments. The Ayurvedic method follows the lymphatic flow and is very similar. The difference is that I want you to focus on long strokes on the long parts of your body, and small circular strokes on the joints. Each stroke you make, I want you to think about making sure you are moving in the direction of your heart. This will ensure that your lymphatic system is draining towards the major lymph areas of your body. Remember to keep your pressure light. Make sure that your brush and your skin are completely dry.
- Ankles – Start with your ankles, exfoliate with gentle upward circular strokes.
- Lower legs – use long strokes, moving upwards. (If the long strokes are to difficult, you can do shorter upwards strokes and move your way up.)
- Knees – Upward circular strokes, being aware of vericose veins. If you have vericose/damaged veins, go very minimally on them, or you can skip them altogether.
- Thighs – Long, upward strokes.
- Buttocks – upward and outward strokes; circular, upward strokes over the hip joint on the side.
- Back – Divide the back into lower and upper back. On the lower back, starting at the spine, brush outwards towards your side, wrapping around to the front. Start from the bottom and move upwards. On the upper back, reach down from above and draw the brush upwards with long strokes toward the shoulders.
- Shoulders, Neck, and Chest – Strokes will go down, toward the heart, circular right on the shoulder joint. Ladies avoid the thin, tender skin of your breasts.
- Arms – Start with the fingers, small circular strokes, moving up to the wrist, making sure all strokes are upwards, towards the heart. On the forearm, long strokes upwards. Raise arm in the air in order to access the back of your upper arm, and stroke to the heart.
- Armpits – Long strokes flowing towards the heart.
- Stomach – Use long, clockwise strokes to aid digestion.
- Finish with your feet, circular strokes over the top and the bottom of both feet.
Take a warm shower (not too long or hot; it will dry out your skin!).
After your shower, as soon as you towel off, and while your skin is still moist, apply the oil of your choice using the same strokes and same order as above.
If you brush lightly and only a few strokes over each area, this is perfectly safe to do every morning. In three months, you will notice a big, tangible difference in the way your skin looks, and how you feel!