Dry skin brushing helps eliminate dead skin cells and toxins, helping to create healthier, revitalized skin. But that's just the beginning of the benefits derived from this practice.
Skin brushing isn't a new practice, as many historical texts and legends talk of massaging the skin with various instruments including sticks, sand, and rocks.
When attempting to detox through fasting or cleansing diets, opening the pores of the skin helps facilitate the discharge of toxins.
The skin is a major eliminative organ; it is estimated that a third of the body's toxins and waste materials are excreted through the skin during a fast. It is the increased perspiration and elimination of wastes during fasting that can cause the unpleasant body odor associated with fasting.
The lymph system also plays a major role in the detoxification of the body. When waste materials leave the cells, whether they're of a foreign nature or the natural by-products of cell metabolism, they are carried off by either the blood or the lymph.
While the blood has the heart to pump it quickly throughout the body, the lymph moves much more slowly, powered either by small muscle tissue lining the lymph vessels or by the movements of the larger surrounding skeletal muscles.
Additionally, when the lymph is carrying a large toxic load, it contains more mucus to hold those toxins in suspension. This mucus thickens and slows the movement of the lymph through the body. This not only happens when we're fasting, but also when we're sick. One of the purposes of a fever is to thin the mucus so it can flow more easily.
By stimulating the lymphatic system during fasting or cleansing, we can help the body to eliminate the toxins being thrown off.
Use a natural bristle brush (synthetic bristles can actually scratch the skin), or a natural loofah sponge. Keep your brush or loofah dry and don't use it for regular bathing. Those with long handles are best for the hard-to-reach areas of your back.
Dry skin brushing is best done just before your bath or shower, which will wash away any impurities expelled from the skin.
Use long, smooth sweeping strokes, with light pressure, working toward the heart. Begin with your right leg, starting with the sole of your right foot, and work up the leg. Then do the left leg, starting with the sole of the foot. Then move to the right arm, working from fingers toward the shoulder, then the left arm, the back, the belly, then the neck and chest, avoiding the nipples.
Skip the face, genitals, and any varicose veins, rashes, broken skin, or recent scars. Dry skin brushing areas with cellulite is fine, even helpful in some cases.
Brushing your whole body doesn't take more than a couple minutes. You can dry brush more than once a day. Twice a day, morning and evening, before bathing is good during a fast.
Some fasting professionals advise against the use of saunas during water fasting because of the dehydrating and depleting effect. But if you are doing a milder fast and will be using a sauna, you can use the same skin brushing technique in the sauna.
If you feel so inclined, add the hot and cold shower technique to your routine. At the end of your shower, finish with a rinse under cold water, or as cool as you can stand, for 20-30 seconds. Return the water to warm for 2 or 3 minutes, then to cold again for 20-30 seconds. This is said to be beneficial to the glands, the circulation, and the skin, and protects the body from deeper chills caused by cold winter air.
Alternatively, if the hot and cold shower doesn't appeal to you, you can rinse your legs with cool water after skin brushing, for no more than a minute, then take your regular shower.
What I've found useful, especially in winter, is to turn the water to lukewarm for the last minute or so of my shower. Not so much cool and uncomfortable, as no longer hot and relaxing, this lukewarm rinse makes it feel good to shut off the water and helps me feel warmer afterward.
After your shower, massage your skin with a natural oil or moisturizer. Coconut and jojoba oils are good
for this, as is aloe vera gel. Zum has a great line of natural hygiene products. I'll provide an Amazon link below to my favorite Zum body lotion. Take a look at its natural ingredient list!
Speaking of ingredient lists, if you still have any brand name bottles of moisturizers in your bathroom, now is a good time to read those labels. Most will have petroleum products and synthetics and plastics--toxins we're eliminating from our lives. Throw them away and purchase all natural products.
Be careful with highly perfumed products as well. Not only do they contain questionable chemicals, but they can be irritating to the more sensitive sense of smell that often occurs during fasting. Sometimes the smell of artificial perfumes will be downright nauseating.
If you want to use scents, for your long luxurious bath perhaps, use quality essential oils. Just a couple drops will do it.
Dry skin brushing isn't just beneficial during fasting or cleansing, it's a great addition to your regular everyday routine. The health and beauty benefits can extend well beyond your fast, keeping your skin healthy and your lymph moving.
For further information, check out Dr. Berkowsky's page on dry skin brushing. Through his years of practice as a naturopath and homeopath, he developed what he calls the Vital Chi Skin Brushing System. Just scroll past the sales items to the bottom of the page for lots of good tips. (I have no affiliation with him.)