The winter months are a time to cozy up in your house and crank the heat until you can imagine yourself on a beach soaking up some warm rays from the tropical sun. Winter is a season punctuated with long hot baths and feverishly covering yourself head to toe with every well-loved blanket you own. By this time of year, we start counting down the days until our hibernation - skin and otherwise - is over. Irritated, angry, or dry skin seems to be our seasonal normal, but it doesn’t have to be this way! In preparation for spring, let’s nourish our tired winter skin and try the self-care ritual of dry brushing.
WHAT IS DRY BRUSHING AND WHY DO WE DO IT?
Dry brushing is the act of brushing your entire body with a stiff bristle brush. It is done to stimulate blood flow, increase circulation, boost the natural flow of lymph, and, of course, exfoliate the body's largest organ - your skin. Lymph, a clear fluid containing white blood cells, works to remove unwanted toxins and bacteria from the tissues in the body. Unlike our circulatory system, where the heart is pumping blood through the body, lymph can be stagnant, as it requires outside forces like muscle contraction to keep it moving. Lymph channels run very close to the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, so rubbing a dense bristle brush over your body can actually stimulate healthy lymphatic flow. While our bodies do a pretty fantastic job of ridding themselves of toxins on their own, a little help from the outside can't hurt!
Many dry brushing advocates claim that this practice can help to lessen the appearance of cellulite and aid in weight loss. Even our 90’s favorite, Bridget Jones, was a devout dry brusher. Alas, without any medical evidence of dry brushing creating cellulite-free legs and helping us appear 10 pounds lighter, it is probably best to stick with a healthy diet and regular exercise for now.
The most appealing part of the act of dry brushing may be the quiet, focused, ritual itself, and the way it feels on your skin. Imagine waking up and starting your day with an invigorating, meditative self-care routine every morning. It's like a whole-body back scratch. Heavenly, right? What could be better than a special time in the early morning hours to slough off the old and daydream about the new day ahead! Plus, it gets your skin prepared to absorb all the delicious Osmia products you're about to use, from your gorgeous bar of soap to whichever body oil you're going to slather on your wet skin after you shower.
HISTORY OF DRY BRUSHING & DEEP EXFOLIATION
With trendy words like “detox” flying around, it’s no shock that there has been a resurrection of dry brushing. Scrubbing the skin for a desired glow, however, is deeply rooted in history. Ancient Greeks and Romans are known for using a curved metal object called a "strigil" to scrape their skin post-bath and/or post-workout. In fact, our word “streak” is derived from the Latin word “strigilis”, which means to touch lightly. Many scholars believe Greek athletes used the strigil to comb the sweat from their skin so they could offer it to the Gods as a gesture of thanks. (Luckily for us, the viewers of the 2018 Winter Olympics won’t see any boastful skin scraping!)
The Chinese also harvested a sponge gourd, called the luffa, to encourage circulation and skin revival. These tropical plants thrive in a humid environment. Resembling the shape of a cucumber, dehydrated Luffas are porous and rough. These luffas were used for centuries to scrub and clean household items. It wasn’t until the 20th century, when higher hemlines caused a new craze for deep skin exfoliation, that we realized the skin benefits of using luffas. The tangled, rough exterior of the luffa gourd did a great job renewing the skin; however, the plant's natural size - that of a rolling pin - was hard to handle. In 1899, Judson S. Snyder of New York, created a puppet-like loofah for easy, hand-held convenience and patented the Improved Bathing Mitten, much like the loofah we use today.
Finally, in the 1970’s, Finnish nutritionist and naturopath Paavo Airola, promoted using dry sticks, rocks and sand to exfoliate the skin in hopes of detox and curing his patients of various ailments. Ouch! Glad this didn't become a trend, right?
HOW TO DRY BRUSH
If you’re up for giving the dry brush a try, be on the lookout for a natural (not synthetic) bristle brush, preferably with a long handle so you can also brush those hard to reach areas of your back. In the morning, retreat to a quiet area of your home and grab your dry brush. Think of the dry brush as your full, sensory, caffeine-free wake-up call. Start at the feet and ankles and make short, sweeping strokes towards the heart. Be thorough, but gentle. Moving up the legs, change your pressure on the brush based on skin sensitivity, and continue moving along the body meticulously. Notice how the brushing affects your skin, and how it feels when you change your pressure. What areas are more sensitive? Next, follow this same process for the arms. Starting at the hands, work your way up the arms, remembering to always brush towards the heart. When you reach the stomach, move the brush in a counter-clockwise motion. The whole dry brushing process should take about 3 - 5 minutes. Once you are finished brushing, enjoy a warm shower to rinse off the dead skin cells, and uncover glowing, invigorated skin. After your scrub, we recommend using our Oh So Soap in the shower as it’s oh so gentle and will moisturize your newly exposed skin. Once you’ve stepped out of the shower, treat yourself to some of our Light Body Oil, with ylang and bergamot to soothe the senses and balance the skin. Don’t forget to clean your brush thoroughly with soap and water at least once per week.
WHO SHOULD AVOID DRY BRUSHING
It should be noted, that dry brushing can be intense and can cause some skin irritation for super-sensitive types. So, if you are prone to eczema, or other similar skin irritations, you may want to consult your doctor first. Be sure to avoid dry brushing directly over sunburns, scrapes or otherwise irritated skin.
As long as you don't have any of the above, let’s peel off those leg warmers, grab your dry brush and start shedding your dry winter skin with regular dry brushing!
Wishing you love and super soft winter skin from us to you,