The news was shocking and disappointing to those of us who care for our bodies and skin: Microbeads, those tiny plastic scrubbing components used in exfoliators, were polluting our waterways. To fish that swim in these waters, these beads look like food but soak up toxins like a sponge. The microbeads didn’t simply go away once they washed down the drain; they came back in the form of tainted seafood.
As a result, in late 2015 President Obama signed a bipartisan bill prohibiting the sale and distribution of products containing microbeads. Was this the end of body scrubs? No — there are alternatives to plastic microbeads. An even better alternative has emerged on the market in the form of the dry brush.
Once an exotic tool in spas and the natural wellness world of Gwyneth Paltrow, the dry brush is quickly spreading in the mainstream. Used gently, this tool made of natural materials sweeps away dead, dry skin to improve its appearance and allow moisturizers to work more effectively. It is also said to stimulate lymph nodes, improve digestion and help remove toxins from the body. Some anecdotal evidence suggests it may even improve the appearance of dreaded cellulite.
In essence, a few minutes with a dry brush before your daily shower does a lot more for your skin and well-being than a few minutes with a granular scrub during your shower. Practitioners suggest starting at your feet and brushing upward before moving on to the arms, brushing upward from the hands, and working in a circular motion on the torso and armpits. A sweep of the back is both beneficial and refreshing. The idea is to brush toward the heart, where the lymph system drains.
Use a softer brush for your face, and avoid any cuts, abrasions or other sensitive areas. The skin should never be scratched or damaged.
Replace your brush every few months as the bristles wear out, and wash it every few weeks to prevent a heavy buildup of skin cells.
Having sampled the Saje “In the Buff” brush with its natural sisal bristles, I can attest to the superior benefits of exfoliation. With a price tag of less than $16, it is a bargain compared with jars and tubes of shower scrubs that often feel slippery and watery and simply wash down the drain. The brush feels invigorating, offering a boost of energy at the start of the day. I can’t confirm any reduction of cellulite, but my skin seems to absorb moisturizer better, and I have noticed a reduction in the appearance of stubborn age spots and the shrinking of purple veins on the ankles.
As cold weather moves in, using a dry brush before your shower and a rich moisturizer right afterward is likely to stave off the dry, itchy skin that comes with the season.