Does Dry Brushing Actually Work?

If you're interested in beauty and wellness, it's likely you've heard of dry brushing. If not, it's worth learning about, as the popular wellness ritual is said to tone skin, reduce cellulite, and assist in the removal of toxins. "Dry brushing is the process of using a brush with stiff bristles against the skin to help exfoliate dead cells from the skin surface and enhance blood flow," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, explained to SELF. But are these claims true? Does dry brushing actually work?

When it comes to removing toxins, Dr. Zeichner notes, "The only detoxifying organs in the body are the liver and the kidneys." In other words, it is unlikely that dry brushing can affect your body internally. "Dry brushing is used on the surface of the skin, while your lymphatic vessels are deep under the skin surface," he adds. "While exercise and contraction of your muscles may help improve lymphatic flow throughout the body, we do not have good data showing that a treatment like dry brushing is truly effective for this purpose."

Dry brushing improves the appearance of skin

However, this doesn't mean dry brushing isn't effective in other ways. According to Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., NYC dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, dry brushing can improve the appearance of skin. "In general, rubbing the skin (whether it is with a dry brush, any applicator, or your hand) will increase blood flow and circulation," Dr. Levin told SELF. "The skin will then have a pink to red appearance, looking slightly swollen, which can give a more youthful appearance — but this is temporary." 

Dr. Zeichner agrees, adding that dry brushing can also "enhance skin radiance and light reflection so the skin looks brighter." 

Dry brushing can also make skin feel smoother, because when you're brushing, you are basically exfoliating. "When you exfoliate on dry skin, the friction is increased as opposed to when the skin is wet. When the friction is increased, exfoliation is more effective," Levin noted. To achieve the best results and get great, exfoliated skin, dry brush twice a week before showering. As far as its other purported benefits, well — there may not be any. But that doesn't mean you won't love the results anyway.