Best way to start 2019? Try Dry Brushing!

Best way to start 2019? Try Dry Brushing!

I love dry brushing and swear by it.

What I love even more is that Joseph Pilates promoted the benefits of dry skin brushing in his book Return To Life Through Contrology back in the 1940’s. The man was ahead of his time in so many ways.

He said it better than anyone:

“While conceding the fact that nowadays practically every one of us routinely indulges in daily baths, experience has nevertheless taught us that only a small minority really achieve thorough cleanliness thereby, from our point of view.

In our opinion, the correct technique to use in accomplishing this highly desirable result is to use only a good stiff brush (no handle) since this type of brush forces us to twist, squirm and contort ourselves in every conceivable way in our attempts to reach every portion of our body which is otherwise comparatively easy to reach with a handle brush.

The use of a good stiff brush as described stimulates circulation, thoroughly cleans OUT the pores of the skin and removes dead skin too. The pores of your skin must “breathe” – they cannot do so unless they are kept open and freed from clogging.

Your skin will soon respond most gratifyingly to this perhaps seemingly “Spartan-like” treatment and acquire in the process a new, fresh, glowing appearance and develop a texture smooth and soft to the touch. So brush away merrily, and heartily too!” – Joseph Pilates


Why dry brush?

Dry skin brushing is known to have many benefits. Brushing daily will:

Remove dead skin cells allowing the body to eliminate toxins more efficiently.

Improve circulation which helps to cleanse the blood, again aiding in detoxification.

Stimulate the lymphatic system which is one of the body’s primary ways of removing toxins.

A healthy lymphatic system leads to a healthy immune system (avoid sickness!).

Reduce and prevent cellulite (though I have yet to hear research to support the claim, many say it’s true so I threw it in for good measure. Can’t hurt right?)

Keep in mind that the skin is the body’s largest organ.  And surprisingly, it’s responsible for 25% of the body’s detoxification.

Another interesting fact is that your body contains more lymphatic fluid than it does blood.

Blood is naturally pumped through the body by the heart. But the lymphatic fluid doesn’t have it’s own designated pump to keep things moving. So in our sedentary culture this becomes a problem. Exercise is the best way to get the fluid flowing but if you don’t work up a sweat every day, dry skin brushing can be a helpful alternative.

With this straightforward technique, you are on your way to glowing health, smooth skin and a happy lymphatic system — this last perk is especially important to keep immunity buzzing and your constitution robust. But how does it work?

When we brush the skin in an upward motion, not only are we removing surface toxins and dead skin cells, but we’re also stimulating the movement of lymphatic fluids — a secondary circulatory system that assists immunity by transporting white blood cells and removing waste. Since the lymph system doesn’t have a mechanism like the heart to keep fluid flowing, it needs to be manually encouraged through dry brushing and exercise such as Pilates.

Skin brushing is also known for firming cellulite, thereby smoothing lumpy problem areas of the skin. However, don’t be fooled. The taming of cellulite isn’t simply a cosmetic concern, it’s also linked with a lower toxic load. Since cellulite is comprised of fatty toxic build-up, when we brush the skin, we are essentially helping dissolve these formations so they can be removed by the waste channels of the body.


Beyond detoxification and promoting youthful skin, the practice also increases blood flow, improves muscle tone and tightens up sagging bits. On top of that, the production of hydrating oils is stimulated, further enhancing a healthy dermal surface. Dry skin brushing aids digestion as well as kidney function too.

Brush well and often

If you love the idea of dry brushing, here are a few tips to get you started.


You should try to brush your skin at least once per day, with each session lasting between 2 and 20 minutes. Before your morning shower is ideal. Otherwise, a brushing session at night might prove to be too stimulating and interfere with sound sleep.

Brush type

You will find that many sites would suggest that you look for a natural, stiff-bristled brush with a long, attachable handle for reaching tricky areas like the back. Well Joseph Pilates had his own idea about this and I totally back him up!

He didn’t believe in anything that made our life easier hence he suggested…. a brush with NO handle! Now’s that’s a challenge to our flexibility goals! But how flexible do you you need to be?  We must be flexible enough to reach and clean every part of our bodies with the no handle brush.

In his book he states that “only a minority [of individuals] really achieve thorough cleanliness.”

“The correct technique to use in accomplishing this highly desirable result is to use only a good stiff brush (no handle) since this type of brush forces us to twist, squirm and contort ourselves in every conceivable way in our attempts to reach every portion of our body which are otherwise comparatively easy to reach with a handle brush” – Return to Life, Joseph Pilates

Of course he wants us to “twist, squirm and contort.”


It’s best to brush first thing in the morning, but any time of day will work.

Dry brush before you enter the shower so that the shower can wash away the dead skin cells that are sloughed off in the process.

Start at your feet and work your way up toward your heart.

Use circular strokes with gentle pressure, focusing on areas where you have concentrated lymph nodes (back of knees, bikini line, inner arm and arm pit). When in doubt, think “toward the heart.”

The only exception: when dry brushing your chest move toward your underarms to help flush the toxins outward (and be gentle).

You do not need to brush the skin on your face or neck.

The process can take anywhere from 2 – 20 minutes depending on your preference.

According to Joe Pilates, Contrology [the Pilates method] serves like an internal shower to our system..

“Your blood will flow with renewed vigor as the direct result of your faithfully performing the Contrology [Pilates] exercises.This is the equivalent of an ‘internal shower.’

[Pilates] exercises drive pure, fresh blood to every muscle fiber of our bodies…

As a heavy rainstorm freshens the water of a sluggish or stagnant stream and whips it into immediate action, [Pilates] exercises purify the bloodstream and whip it into instant action.” – Joseph Pilates

So you see the Pilates workout creates the internal shower, the Dry Brushing technique gets your circulation pumping and detoxifies you and as you finish it off with a proper shower to get radiant and beautiful skin in addition to all the other perks mentioned above.

So here’s to a radiant and healthy 2019! Brush merrily everybody!

Want to share your own dry brushing experiences? We’d love to hear from you!

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