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I tried the 5,000-year-old beauty treatment that models swear reduces cellulite -- here's the verdict

Dry brushingShutterstockDry brushing claims to increase circulation, balance hormones, eliminate toxins, and reduce cellulite.

Recently on the beauty and health blogs I follow, I’ve noticed an uptick in women talking about dry brushing.

I’d never heard of it before, but reviewers were saying that it made their skin softer than ever and could even get rid of cellulite.

I was intrigued, so I bought a brush a blogger had recommended and reached out to dermatologists to discover if there was any truth to the health claims.

“As the name implies, the practice involves using a firm-bristled brush to sweep along dry skin,” board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarin at the Schweiger Dermatology Group, who practices dry brushing herself, explained to Business Insider. “The sweeping movement of the brush along the skin offers similar benefits to massage.”

The beauty routine isn’t new. It originated in
Ayurveda medicine, a 5,000-year-old Hindu traditional medicine, where it’s known as “Garshana.” Practitioners can use silk gloves, a sponge, or a soft bristle brush to increase circulation. It spread to top spas where models like Miranda Kerr and Molly Sims became familiar with it.

The directions are very simple. You brush your skin, starting at your feet and making long sweeping motions towards your heart (always towards your heart — it’s said to promote blood circulation), every day to slough off dead skin cells before taking a shower.

“Circulation is stimulated, and the lymphatic system is enhanced with the pressure,” Nazarin told us. “Additionally, because the bristles of the dry brush are stiffer, it behaves as a mechanical exfoliation, removing the top dead layer of skin cells. This, like any other type of exfoliation, gives the skin a nice even glow and smooth appearance.”

Dry brushing how toMegan Willett/Business InsiderThis diagram shows the most common directions to dry brush your body. Use long, slow, upward strokes towards your heart. It’s recommended you brush in a clockwise motion for digestion on the abdomen, and avoid sensitive body parts and skin irritations such as wounds, rashes, or eczema.

Among it’s benefits, dry brushing claims to increase circulation, balance hormones, eliminate toxins, and reduce cellulite.

But, like all beauty regimens, the effects wane over time. “Even though dry brushing can improve the appearance of cellulite, these benefits are temporary and short-lived,” Nazarin explained. “In fact, to keep up the benefits with cellulite the practice needs to be done as often as twice-daily, which would likely lead to skin irritation.”

And as for claims of getting rid of toxins, Nazarin said that dry brushing was at best a superficial solution and that a deep tissue massage would likely be more effective.

When I first tried it, dry brushing reminded me a bit of grooming a horse with a curry comb. It took roughly five minutes every morning and was very soothing — almost meditative. It felt as though I was giving myself a massage and exfoliating my skin at the same time.

After two weeks of trying dry brushing, my skin is extremely soft and I noticed that lotion seemed to absorb faster instead of sitting on top of my skin.

And though I didn’t experience any miraculous benefits, I did enjoy the mini massage every morning before a shower. It’s something I could even see myself incorporating into my morning routine — unless I happen to be in a rush.

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