In this article, we reveal the difference between dry brushing and wet brushing, how you dry brush your skin vs how you wet brush your skin, the different benefits of dry and wet brushing and factors to consider when deciding whether to dry brush or wet brush.
Participating in wellness routines often requires considerable time and effort, and that is why the modern woman has fast embraced the relatively easy and quick practice of skin brushing. Many women swear by the benefits of dry brushing, claiming that it keeps their skin soft and smooth. There are also claims that brushing your skin brings a whole lot of health benefits. For example, proponents of dry brushing say that it leads to increased energy or circulation. Dermatologists even agree that brushing the skin gently has exfoliating benefits, which may stimulate your body in a similar way to a massage.
There are two main types of skin brushing: wet brushing and dry brushing. For a beginner, it might be confusing to know which method you should use. But it doesn’t have to be once you understand the difference between the two and the benefits of each approach. That can help you decide what method to use to achieve as well as maintain a healthy glow.
What is the Difference Between Dry Brushing and Wet Brushing?
As the names suggest, the main difference between dry exfoliating and wet brushing is that while wet brushing requires water, dry exfoliation doesn’t.
Dry skin brushing involves moving a dry brush on your dry skin in specific motions. It’s done with the aim of getting rid of dead skin cells and improving circulation in the skin.
Wet brushing, on the other hand, involves scrubbing your skin with an exfoliation tool such as a wet skin brush, a loofah, or a washcloth using water.
Dry skin brushing is done before taking a shower or bath, while wet exfoliation is part of showering or bathing.
How Do You Dry Brush Your Skin?
First of all, you’ll need to get a dry brush with bristles, preferably made from natural fibers. Natural fiber bristles are softer than synthetic bristles, and will, therefore, be less harsh on your skin. It’s better to use a brush with a long detachable handle that enables you to reach all parts of your body.
To dry brush your entire body, you’ll need to go through the following steps:
- Start with the bottom of your feet. Brush in circular motions, heading towards the heels.
- Move on to the legs, using upward motions. Brush one leg at a time.
- Brush your stomach in circular, clockwise motions. For your mid-section, always brush from the back towards the front, maintaining an upward movement.
- For your hands and arms, stroke the brush towards the shoulders.
When using a dry brush, always make sure you:
- Stroke your dry brush in the direction of your heart. That means brushing upwards for parts of your body that are below your heart, such as your legs. For other parts like the armpits and neck, brush downwards, still towards the heart. The purpose of brushing towards the heart is to encourage the normal lymph flow within your body.
- Use gentle pressure, just enough to scrape off the dirt and dead cells on your skin. When you apply too much pressure, you risk scratching your skin. That could result in redness, rashes, soreness, or even infections.
- Never use your body dry brush on your face. The face has more delicate tissues compared to areas such as your legs and back. There are special facial dry brushes meant for use on the face. Such brushes have softer bristles that are suitable for facial tissue.
- Dry brush your skin before taking a shower. By having a shower afterward, you wash off the dirt that has been loosened up by brushing. Failing to shower after brushing may not improve your skin in any way as the dirt is still on your skin and capable of causing more problems, such as acne.
- Always ensure that your dry brush is not dirty. Over time, your brush is bound to accumulate oil, dirt, and dead cells, which might expose your skin to infections. A dirty brush also affects the effectiveness of the mechanical action of the bristles. If you use your brush daily, you should clean your dry brush once every week. However, if you brush your skin sparsely, it’s okay to clean it once a month.
How Do You Wet Brush Your Skin?
Wet exfoliation can be as simple as using a wet brush, loofah, or washcloth and water to scrub your skin. To wet brush, you should:
- Begin from the top of your body, working from your neck downwards.
- Rub your skin gently in circular motions. That loosens up the dead cells and dirt on the skin's surface. Scrub down to the ankles then move to your back.
- Brush the arms, hands, heels, and soles of your feet.
- Rinse your skin with cold water, which closes your pores.
To ensure that you get the best out of wet brushing, you should:
- Use lukewarm water – A long hot shower sounds like heaven sometimes, but it may not be the best for your skin. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and exposed. Lukewarm water is more effective in washing off the dirt without irritating your skin.
- Avoid showering for too long – Getting used to long showers can be detrimental to your skin. When you do it too many times (more than once daily) for too long (10 minutes or more each time), it dries out your skin. That defeats the purpose of wet brushing.
- Replace your loofah after two months – most people cannot remember exactly when they last bought the loofah in their bathroom. Your loofah should be replaced every two months. That is because it accumulates dead cells after every shower, which then acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. It’s even worse if you don’t put out your loofah to dry after every use.
What are the Different Benefits of Dry and Wet Brushing?
While dry and wet brushing are both aimed at exfoliating the skin, their benefits differ. That is especially as a result of the technique used in each method. When you dry brush, you’ll experience the following benefits:
- The process of running a natural-bristled brush over your skin naturally exfoliates it by loosening and removing the dead skin cells. The result is much softer and smoother skin.
- The lymphatic system is comprised of vessels, lymph nodes, and ducts that transport the lymph in the body. There are many lymph vessels just below the skin. Dry brushing frequently stimulates the lymph flow and encourages the body to naturally detoxify itself.
- Blood flow and circulation on the skin is improved. As a result, the skin gets nourished adequately, while waste is removed from the cells just as fast. This kind of activity enhances the production of collagen and sebum, hence making the skin tighter, stronger, and wrinkle-free.
- A decrease in the appearance of cellulite. This is because when the pores and lymphatic system are unclogged, toxins are removed from the skin tissues. In the absence of toxins, there is an increased production of collagen. That strengthens and tightens the skin, making it harder for the fat cell lumps to push through.
- The systematic and slow pace of dry exfoliation is meditative and useful in relieving stress. Besides your body, your mind will also feel refreshed once you’re done with the exercise.
Wet brushing your skin, on the other hand, comes with these benefits:
- You get rid of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. That cleans up the skin and ensures there’s no buildup of waste that may encourage bacterial growth. As a result, your skin is protected from breakouts.
- Wet brushing allows the regeneration of skin cells after the removal of dead ones. That results in glowing and younger-looking skin.
Dry exfoliating is considered to have more benefits because the removal of dirt and dead cells is more efficient when the skin is dry. Water pumps up the skin, which makes wet brushing a bit less effective.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Dry Brush or Wet Brush
Even though both techniques are used to remove dead skin cells, the decision to dry brush or wet brush may depend on your skin type, age, and climate.
For instance, if you live in an arid climate where the skin is more likely to be drier, wet brushing may be a better option as it will help infuse your skin with moisture. Also, since water is like a lubricant, wet brushing can minimize irritation for people with easily-irritated or thin skin. On the contrary, dry brushing can be quite harsh for older skin or those with sensitive skin. Dry brushing would be more beneficial for individuals living in humid climates, with oiler, or younger skin.
If you are interested in dry brushing, you should consider trying an ionic body brush. These unique brushes use special ionized copper bristles to deliver an incredible enhanced dry brushing experience.
The Bottom Line
Choosing between dry and wet exfoliation may be a matter of personal preference. That said, skin that's broken or has cuts, sores, sunburns, or scrapes should not be brushed. Also, avoid using a dry brush if you have skin conditions such as eczema, acne, or excessively dry skin. If your skin gets inflamed easily, it’s better to avoid any harsh exfoliating action. This means that you may have to stick with gentle, wet brushing. Brushing is generally safer for those with oily and normal skin than those with dry skin.
At the end of the day, both methods are a great way to avoid chemical exfoliants if you're more inclined towards natural skincare regimens.