Dry brushing is one of those wellness techniques advocated by celebrities and Instagram influencers for “detoxifying” the body and reducing cellulite. To ease your raised eyebrows, we spoke with expert dermatologist for Gillette Venus Jennifer Herrmann and dermatologist and founder of Skin of Color Society Susan C. Taylor, to see if dry brushing is actually too good to be true.
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What is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: it involves taking a natural-bristle brush and rubbing it against dry skin. Herrmann describes it as a form of manual exfoliation that can be used to remove dead skin cells and increase the skin’s blood flow. She says you’ll want to use mild to moderate pressure to rub the brush over the skin. No water or topical products (moisturizers, lotions, oils, etc.) should be used—and if you want to target different parts of the body, she says you’ll want to look for brushes with varying firmness.
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Should You Be Dry Brushing?
Both Herrmann and Taylor agree that dry brushing is a great way to incorporate exfoliation into your beauty routine. “Because brushing can loosen dead skin cells, it’s an effective method for manually exfoliating the skin,” says Hermann. She explains that it makes skin appear brighter and firmer right away and the brushing motion can give an invigorating sensation.
You just have to remember to take it easy—don’t rub your skin raw. “If too much pressure is applied when brushing or if bristles are too stiff, brushing can cause micro wounds or scratches on the skin,” says Hermann. She also suggests that anyone with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis should skip dry brushing.
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So, Does it Get Rid of Cellulite?
As for claims that dry brushing can treat cellulite or remove toxins from the body? Sorry—no matter how hard or often you brush, it’s not magic. “There is no medical literature that substantiates dry brushing to treat lymphedema, cellulite, or remove toxins from the body,” says Taylor. “A brush is not going to go deeply enough to stimulate the lymphatic system and will not exert constant pressure.”
Your body doesn’t really need help with detoxing. “Brushing exfoliation is too superficial to really impact the lymph system,” says Hermann. “Moreover, the body’s liver and kidneys are the only organs responsible for detoxification, and unless someone has a liver or kidney disease, these organs do a superb job of detox on their own.”
She explains that because brushing increases blood flow and creates transient swelling, it makes skin look plumper, therefore minimizing the textural appearance of cellulite. But these changes are temporary. “Skin exfoliation is a very superficial process that does not penetrate deeply enough to affect these bands at all,” she says. “Although the act of brushing may temporarily brighten the skin by reducing dead skin cells, increased reflection simply reduces the shadowing caused by dimples but doesn’t actually change the dimpling itself.”
This post originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.