One of the most popular recommendations I give to clients is dry skin brushing. This is a simple self-care home routine that can take as little or long as you have. Even doing for a minute a few times a week can have noticeably beneficial effects and most people find it is so enjoyable that it becomes part of their bathing routine very easily. Stimulating the skin in winter is important when it gets less exposure to the natural stresses of the outdoors.
The main aim behind skin brushing idea is to move out surface toxins and ‘energise’ your skin to get blood flow going. This is also stimulating your lymphatic system, the fluid channels of your immune system which run beneath the skin. As your skin is your largest organ and the second organ of detoxification after the liver (via the lymphatic system), brushing it increases the capacity of your skin to eliminate toxins, making it easier for your whole body to shed wastes. Dry skin brushing also rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin, contributes to healthier muscle tone and better distribution of fat deposits – in other words helps to reduce cellulite! Since you’re actually brushing over every piece of skin you have, your lymphatic system responds well and you receive a whole body mini-acupressure workout.
You can buy body brushes in good chemists, health stores and department stores – choose a good hard one, your body will thank you for it. Your skin may feel sensitive at first and you can start slowly as you get used to it or even start with a softer brush, but this just shows how much you need it!
Dry brush as often as you can before a bath or shower. Start by brushing the soles of the feet and then the whole body by brushing with long strokes all over, towards the heart and concentrating on upper arms, thighs and stomach for the thyroid and female hormone regulation. Brush your entire back and abdomen area, shoulders and neck. You can concentrate on any areas that feel ‘sore’ as you may be holding onto toxins there, but build up with this, so you don’t detoxify too fast. Finish by brushing the stomach in a clockwise circle to follow and encourage the movement of digestion. Avoid any sensitive, irritated, infected or damaged areas of the skin and avoid facial skin as well.
- Alternating hot and cold showers afterwards can also help circulation, but take some getting used to! The effects can be very stimulating and a ‘good stress’ the body responds well to; they can help us feel more resilient. If stressed, you can direct cold water towards the adrenal glands just below the mid-point of your back, which will help to stimulate them.
- For extra detoxification, you can rub unrefined organic sesame or linseed oil (from health food shop) into your entire body after dry brushing and before your bath or shower and when you have time, you can make this a thoroughly relaxing experience by lying for 20 minutes to allow it to soak in. Hot water will then drive the oil into your body tissues as it attempts to escape from the water, providing natural hydration and detoxification.
- As an alternative, you can rub in your chosen oil after your bath or shower instead of drying (to aid its absorption), then wrap yourself in plenty of towels to stay warm and lie in savasana (corpse pose) for 20 minutes. This is great before bed, especially if you have trouble sleeping and you can add any essential oils that help you sleep – like lavender, camomile or valerian or a blend – for a thoroughly pampering experience.
- Wash your brush regularly with soap and water and you can add a few drops of lavender oil to the bristles before brushing to ward off bacteria and give yourself a bit of extra cleansing and love.
This article was first published in Charlotte’s De-Stress Your Life column in Om Magazine December 2013 issue – see full article here