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Dry brushing is a method of gently exfoliating your skin using a special firm-bristled brush. Some people use it as part of their skin routine to try to restore firmness, get rid of dry skin flaking, and encourage blood flow to certain areas of the body.

Dry brushing has roots in healing practices of ancient cultures. But it has become more and more popular in recent years, as some celebrities and influencers swear by this inexpensive and simple way to massage and exfoliate skin at home.

While some techniques of dry brushing focus on how to dry brush your whole body, this article will focus on dry brushing the sensitive skin on your face.

While no major studies support the benefits of dry brushing, some research and anecdotal evidence suggest that this method may help with the following:

Exfoliation

Dry brushing does work to exfoliate your skin. Especially in drier climates or in the winter, skin gets robbed of the moisture that keeps it soft to the touch.

Skin flakes that result from dry skin can clog your pores and cause itching. Dry brushing gets rid of skin flakes and dead skin cells that could otherwise cause clogged pores. For this reason, dry brushing your face may work to prevent acne breakouts.

Lymphatic drainage

Dry brushing may work to help stimulate lymphatic drainage. Your lymphatic system is important for your immune health. Lymph nodes that aren’t draining properly or completely can aggravate the appearance of cellulite, as well as cause swelling in your limbs.

A small 2011 study showed that manual lymph massage treatment brought down swelling and improved cellulite significantly over the span of 10 sessions. However, whether or not dry brushing actually stimulates lymphatic drainage isn’t conclusive.

Wrinkle reduction

Lots of skin care aficionados link exfoliation to the prevention and treatment of wrinkles. Laser ablation treatments, skin peels, glycolic acid, and retinals all work to deeply exfoliate the skin and promote cell turnover so that skin looks younger.

Dry brushing does exfoliate, but it’s unclear if exfoliation alone is enough to treat wrinkles in any substantial way.

And while dry brushing does draw blood circulation to the area you’re treating, the blood flow isn’t going to stay concentrated in that area for long after the dry brushing is over.

Let’s make one thing clear: Dry brushing isn’t safe for every skin type. If you have rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, dry brushing your face can aggravate your skin and probably do more harm than good.

In fact, dry brushing can irritate anyone’s skin if overdone. Dry brushing works to exfoliate, but that means that it can also dry out your skin and even do superficial damage to the epidermis, your top layer of skin.

Some people believe that dry brushing can help drain lymph from under the skin and detoxify the body. To dry brush your face properly, follow these steps:

1. Use the right tool

Start with the proper tool — see “Where to find a dry brush” below — and a clean, dry face.

2. Start at the top

Work from the top of your face and down toward your heart. Start by brushing your forehead, from the bridge of your nose and toward your hairline. Repeat in the opposite direction on the other side of your face.

3. Move to your cheekbones

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Move toward your cheekbones, brushing in gentle strokes down toward your chin. Try to move the brush with deliberate, slow brushstrokes and apply gentle pressure.

4. Cleanse your face

After you dry brush your face, use warm water to cleanse any skin flakes left on your skin.

5. Apply moisturizer

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Make sure to apply a moisturizing serum or lotion to your face as your last step after dry brushing.

Some people would say that you won’t get the maximum benefit of dry brushing unless you use a brush with soft natural bristles.

Toothbrushes have synthetic nylon bristles. If you want to try dry brushing with a toothbrush, make sure to use a clean, new toothbrush that you’ll only use for dry brushing.

You can find dry brushes at some beauty supply stores and stores that sell natural health products. You can also find dry brushes online. Here are some options to try:

  • Rosena Dry Brushing Body Brush Set comes in a set of three brushes. The set’s smaller brush is specifically made for your face, and features a shorter handle and all-natural boar bristles.
  • C.S.M. Body Brush is one of the best-reviewed dry brushes on Amazon. It’s at an affordable price point, too, so buy two — one for your body, and one specifically for your face.
  • The Angel Kiss Dry Brushing Body Brush has a strap that you wear around your hand, making for a hassle-free dry-brush experience. The all-natural bristles and polished wood base make this brush gentle enough to use on the skin on your face.

Dry brushing is a novel and low-risk way to treat dry, flaking skin and stimulate your circulation. But it’s not a replacement for a treatment regimen recommended by a doctor.

If you have concerns about acne, wrinkles, eczema, or any other skin condition, you should speak with a dermatologist about medication and other treatment options.

Any skin condition that’s affecting your self-confidence or interfering with your daily life should be addressed by a healthcare professional.

Dry brushing may work to exfoliate your skin enough to prevent some acne breakouts on your face. There’s also reason to believe that it promotes healthy circulation, and it just feels good to run dry bristles over your face.

Remember that it’s possible to overdo it with dry brushing, and you should only dry brush your face when it’s completely clean. Always follow dry brushing with a moisturizer, and don’t expect it to be a miracle cure or a replacement for medical treatment.