Give yourself the brush-off

By Jo Finzi

Did you know that every day, between 10 and 25 per cent of your body’s detoxification is handled by the largest organ in your body - your skin?

Lots of common things can encourage toxicity to lurk beneath the skin’s surface - including soaps, skin creams, anti-perspirants, synthetic fibres and even fabric conditioners. Today’s modern diet, with its artificial flavourings, colourings, trans-fats and preservatives, does little to help the situation. pictureThe good news is that you can solve these problems in just a few minutes a day, by skin brushing - a simple technique that gets your lymphatic system moving. With the pores opening up, you’ll eliminate metabolic waste fast and get rid of those sluggish feelings.

French women have for years known the benefits of skin brushing, and made it part of their daily regime, hence the lack of cellulite on French thighs.

Brushing has an amazing range of benefits including skin tightening, improving digestion, banishing cellulite, stimulating circulation and increasing cell renewal and sebum production. Dead skin layers are removed while the lymphatic cleansing action helps strengthen your immune system.

So where do you start? First get a natural bristle body brush (available from the Body Shop and many other health and beauty outlets). Get a hand held brush, preferably with a strap for the back of your hand, and also one with a long handle (or a long loofah) so you can reach everywhere.

Many brushes are dual purpose and come with a detachable long handle. Do not use a synthetic brush ,as it will scratch the skin. You will also need a very soft brush or flannel for the face and neck.

Brush your skin when it’s completely dry before showering in the morning, and again in the evening if you have time. Start at the soles of your feet and work upwards, brushing the legs, then buttocks, then on to the chest and stomach and finally the face. Brush more gently where the skin is thinnest and always brush towards the heart.

Here’s our five-minute step-by-step skin brushing guide:

Make sure your room is warm and there are towels to sit on.  Undress and find somewhere comfortable to sit so that you can easily reach your feet and lower legs. Try to find time for at least six strokes of the brush in each direction

1 Take the brush and begin with the sole of your right foot. Use firm, rhythmic strokes to cover the sole.  Next, brush the top of your foot, brushing up towards your ankle.  Then go on to your lower leg, making sure you cover the whole surface - shin and calf.  Always brush this area in an upward direction.

2 Stand up and brush the area from your knee to the top of your thigh.  Make sure you cover the whole area several times, using long, rhythmic strokes. Brush your buttock area as far as your waist. 

3 Now repeat the whole procedure on your left leg, starting again with the sole of your foot.

4 Starting from the top of your buttocks, and again moving in an upward direction, use the longer handled brush or loofah to brush the whole of your back all the way up to your shoulders.

5 Next, brush your right arm. Start with the palm of your hand, move on to the back of your hand and then brush from your wrist up to your elbow, always in an upward direction and ensuring that the whole surface of your skin is brushed. Brush your upper arm, working from your elbow towards your shoulder, again covering the whole surface of your upper arm.

6 Repeat step 5 on your left side, starting with your hand. 

7 Then, very gently, brush your abdomen, brushing in a circle, always in a clockwise direction.  Cover the area several times but with less pressure than on your arms and legs.  If it feels uncomfortable, stop.

8 The neck and chest are also very sensitive areas so, again, brush here very gently.  Always work towards your heart.  If the bristles feel too hard for your neck, don’t brush here, but use your softer brush or flannel. 

9 Lastly, work on your face.  Use your soft brush or a dry flannel and soften and shorten your action, as brisk rubbing can stretch or otherwise damage the facial skin.

Just how much waste is being removed?

If you want to check for yourself just how dramatic the skin’s elimination of wastes can be, try performing this experiment…

Every day before your shower, brush your skin all over for five minutes. Then take a damp flannel and rub it all over your freshly brushed body. Hang the flannel up and repeat the process with the same flannel the next day. After a few days, the smell of the flannel will be quite revolting because of the quantity of waste products that have come through the skin’s surface.

Get the glow

The best thing about skin brushing (apart from the beauty benefits) is the tingling warm glow your skin will experience every morning as the circulation increases and your whole body feels wide awake.

Tips to preserve your body brush.

Gently wash your brush every month or so in mild soap or shampoo, rinse it and let it dry thoroughly and don’t leave it in your bathroom, or you’re in danger of your maid using it to scrub the bath!

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