How to Properly Dry Brush for Lymph Health

February 25, 2024

Dry brushing has been featured in Goop, MindBodyGreen, and wellness magazines like Women’s Health. Its popularity continues as influencers on social media promote its health and beauty benefits. However, many articles and videos actually incorrectly explain dry brushing and how it supports our lymph.

What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a traditional Ayurvedic practice known as garshana. Using raw silk or linen gloves or a natural fiber brush, it is recommended to gently, but firmly brush the skin towards the heart. Traditionally, this was done to help increase energy and vitality.

Let’s discuss the benefits and mechanisms of dry brushing to understand what the proper way to dry brush is and why.

wooden brushes prepared for washing and cleaning for dry brushing

Health Benefits of Dry Brushing

1. Exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells

Dry brushing is great for skin health! The glove or brush fibers help to physically remove dead skin cells, exfoliating the skin. This should be a gentle exfoliation without being painful. Many people find that their skin is very smooth after dry brushing consistently.

2. Stimulating The lymphatic system

One of the major benefits of dry brushing is its impact on the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system runs throughout the body in a network of vessels, similarly to the circulatory system. However, unlike the circulatory system where the heart acts like a pump to move blood, lymph fluid relies only on muscle contractions from skeletal muscles, breathing, and smooth muscle contraction in vessels to move lymph fluid. One can easily see how a typical sedentary lifestyle with low movement could contribute to stagnant lymph that gets stuck in our extremities.

Dry brushing can fight gravity by manually pushing lymph fluid back up towards the heart, where the lymph fluid drains. Ensuring proper lymph fluid helps to:

  • decrease swelling in ankles, arms, abdomen, or armpits
  • increase energy
  • decrease brain fog
  • support detox
  • increase immune system

3. Reduction of cellulite

Although we currently have no scientific evidence that dry brushing does or does not help cellulite, we do have some evidence suggesting that massage helps improve cellulite. Because dry bushing acts as a gentle massage, it may also help to decrease cellulite by promoting collagen growth to help keep fat cells in place.

4. Stress relief and relaxation

Dry brushing is a form of self-care that is relaxing and easy to do.

Myths About Dry Brushing

…and the truth on how to dry brush correctly!

MYTH: You have to use a coarse brush

TRUTH: For some, coarse brushes made of natural fibers can be too harsh on the skin. If you already have sensitive skin and dry brushing with even a light touch is uncomfortable or painful, opt for a silk mitt instead. A silk mitt will help you effectively dry brush without irritating the skin or damaging the skin barrier. Raw silk also contains proteins that may help to support skin barrier integrity.

Tamara’s Tip: Silk mitts are a great option for those with more mature skin.

MYTH: It is safe to dry brush without any prep work

TRUTH: For best results and to dry brush safely, we should prep the body by stimulating the major lymph nodes. This will help to effectively move lymph fluid while dry brushing up towards the collar bone, where the lymph eventually drains. I recommend following Dr. Perry Nickelston’s Big 6™ Lymph Reset. This short routine is essential for safely dry brushing and draining toxins.

MYTH: You should start from the bottom (feet) and work up towards the heart

TRUTH: In most instructional videos, the recommendations to are to start at the feet and work up the body in short strokes are incorrect. If we have a clogged lymph system, starting at the feet makes no sense at all!

Dr Caitlin Czezowski has a great visual explanation: Imagine a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. If we start dry brushing from the feet, that would be like the last car in the traffic line driving at full force into the traffic. That would be a disaster! Instead, we need to get the very first cars moving, so that all the cars behind it can move too.

First, start with the Big 6™ Lymph Reset before dry brushing. Using the traffic jam analogy, this would be like turning on green lights throughout the traffic jam, starting with the front. Then, once the lymph nodes are more open, start dry brushing in the following order: Upper arms (above the elbow), lower arms, abdomen, upper legs (above the knee), lower legs.

Only brush towards the heart/collarbone, not in back and forth motions.

bottle with dropper and rolled face towels on a wooden tray

Incorporating Dry Brushing into your Routine

Are you new to dry brushing and lymph support? Try this tips for beginners:

1. Start by doing the Big 6™ Lymph Reset daily

The Big 6™ Lymph Reset is gentle enough for beginners to practice daily. It will not only help you prepare for dry brushing, but will also help with lymph flow, energy, and detox on its own.

2. Find time in your schedule when it makes The most sense to dry brush

A great time to dry brush might be in the morning as you are changing or before a shower. Because dry brushing is best on dry skin, it is best to do it before a shower, not after. However, dry brushing can be done any time of day.

3. Start by dry brushing a few times per week

Especially if you are new to dry brushing, you likely do not need to dry brush every day. For most people 1-3 times per week is sufficient.

4. Focus on the basics

The basics to supporting lymph and skin health are walking, eating whole foods, and drinking plenty of water. These factors help to naturally support our lymph and skin health.

Who should not dry brush?

Is dry brushing for you? Take caution or avoid dry brushing if you have one of the following:

  • Sensitive skin
  • Open cuts or wounds on the skin
  • Are pregnant

Always check with your healthcare practitioner before starting a new health practice.


In summary, dry brushing can be an easy way to practice self care, support lymph, increase detox and improve energy. To get the most out of your dry brushing experience, follow these simple steps:

  1. Use a natural fiber bristle brush or raw silk mitt
  2. Do the Big 6™ Lymph Reset before dry brushing
  3. Dry brush in the correct order
  4. Only brush towards the heart


For More Lymphatic Resources:

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your medical provider before making any changes.

Who do we work with?

We work with clients who are dedicated to changing their health. Making dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and taking supplements are part of the healing journey.