A Skin-Care Expert Explains Why Dry Brushing Can Be Great for More Than Just Your Epidermis

When Dr. Jacqueline Schaffer found out her mom had skin cancer, she dropped everything—including her family medicine practice—to take care of her.

“She’s the reason why I have a book that became a best-seller—(“Irresistible You”)—and now Schique skin care, [a vegan glam skin-care line that uses the anti-aging properties of dandelion]. I can reach a lot more women [through Schique],” Schaffer says.

Schaffer is a huge proponent of combining Western and Eastern medicines for wellness, so we asked the skin-care expert for her thoughts on the Eastern practice of dry brushing—brushing the skin with a brush to stimulate lymph flow, circulation and more—that has recently become so popular in the Western world.

24Life: Why should we consider dry brushing?

Jacqueline Schaffer: Talk about natural glow! What’s great about dry brushing is that it helps remove dead skin. Your skin has a 28-day life cycle. As we get older, that 28 days expands to 30, 31, 32, 33, and it can go up to even 50 days. So our skin looks dull and dry, and not as alive, renewed, fresh or glowing.

What dry brushing does is naturally helps the exfoliation process and helps keep your skin cycle on a 28-day process, without putting any type of toxic chemical on or in your body—nothing is being absorbed. That’s why when people try dry brushing, some say, “My cellulite has gone down, my skin looks smoother, I’m glowing.” That’s what’s happening.

24Life: Does dry brushing have internal benefits?

JS: What is really great about dry brushing is that it stimulates not only the lymphatic system, but also the digestive system. Dry brushing gets the blood flowing, which leads to better digestion, and causes more micronutrients to be absorbed in your small intestine. So it’s not just the lymphatic system detoxifying and eliminating; it’s also your GI tract, as well. We need movement so we can absorb the great nutrients in our food that we consume, and we can also eliminate whatever is not necessary so it isn’t stored in our adipose tissue, which is our fat cells.

24Life: How often should someone be dry brushing and for how long each time?

JS: I think you should dry-brush once a week. You don’t really need to do more than that—giving at least two to three strokes on any area is more than enough. You don’t need to go overboard and stroke 100 times.

24Life: Any specific patterns I should be dry brushing along my skin to get the best effect?

JS: You hear all these myths about how to brush your hair. You always want to brush your hair from the bottom and up, so same with dry brushing. You want to start with your feet and go up.

24Life: Any areas to avoid dry brushing?

JS: Avoid the face. The thinnest part of your skin is around your eyes and your nose.

What’s interesting is that your décolletage really benefits from dry brushing. Have you noticed as we age that people take really good care of their face, but then they avoid their neck and décolletage area, their age really shows? This is really good for your décolletage area, and that skin is really thick there. So brush up to your décolletage.

24Life: Anything to do directly after dry brushing?

JS: Always moisturize after you exfoliate.

24Life: What happens if I over-brush? Is that possible, and what happens to my skin?

JS: If you are really irritating it, you’re going to cause redness, irritation, and you’re going to look red. You don’t want to do that. Just do it once a week, make it simple, and you don’t need to over-exfoliate. If you do overdo it, put some tea-tree oil on.

24Life: People are busy. There are lots of things that we’re told to do, especially when it comes to skin and beauty products. How important is dry brushing?

JS: Anything that’s going to exfoliate your skin once a week is going to benefit you, period. You can do exfoliant on your whole body in the shower, or you can do dry brushing. Do whatever you’re going to commit to.

24Life: Any myths about dry brushing that you want to bust?

JS: It does not happen overnight. When people post, “I did dry brushing and my cellulite is gone,” they probably have been doing it at least four to six weeks—keep that in mind.

Photo credit: Edalin, Adobe Stock; Courtesy of Jacqueline Shaffer