We all know how important exfoliation is for our skin, and that benefit extends beyond just your face. The skin on your body is also prone to a build-up of dead skin and surface debris, meaning regularly exfoliating it is the best way to keep skin soft, smooth, and clear. One traditional way this is done is by using a dry brush.
Not familiar with the concept? Dry brushing, also known as body brushing, is a centuries old beauty practice that involves sweeping a specialized brush over dry skin in circular motions to exfoliate away dead skin and stimulate lymphatic drainage. It can even temporarily decrease the appearance of cellulite by plumping up the skin and will have an overall brightening effect. Everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Joanna Vargas is a fan of this holistic wellness practice and we can attest that it's extremely effective. Unfortunately, for many people with sensitive skin, it can also be too painful or irritating for them to do.
Dry brushes are made of stiff, natural fiber bristles that can, if not used properly, cause micro-scratches on the skin. While stimulating, they can also leave you feeling a bit raw if you press too hard or go over the same spot too frequently. Fortunately, you can still reap the benefits of body brushing without actually having to use the brush. We've put together this brush-free body exfoliating routine that gives you the same great results as dry brushing using a much gentler and more sensitive-skin friendly method.
Dry Brush Alternative #1: Bath Mitt
Exfoliating bath mitts have the same general idea as a dry brush, but are usually made with softer materials so as not to risk scratching the skin. The ritual is the same—prior to your shower, you massage your dry skin using circular or sweeping motions, working upwards towards your heart to get blood flowing. The Supracor Stimulite Bath Mitt is by far the most effective alternative we've found, thanks to its squishy, flexible material that somehow manages to be both firm enough to exfoliate but soft enough not to scratch. It's made with a unique, NASA-invented thermoplastics and thermoplastic elastomers blend in a unique honeycomb shape that cleans, massages, exfoliates, and stimulates the skin. It can also be used on wet skin with your favorite shower gel to wash the skin.
SHOP: Supracor Stimulite Bath Mitt, $36
Dry Brush Alternative #2: Body Scrub
One of the easiest ways to exfoliate away dead skin is with a body scrub. They come in a variety of types—from salt to sugar to pumice—and slough off surface debris to reveal smooth skin underneath. One of our favorites for that dry brush effect is Nécessaire's The Body Exfoliator. "The Body Exfoliator gives the same skin benefitting effects as a dry brush, but in a tube," says founder Randi Christiansen. "It has pumice and bamboo charcoal as physical exfoliants, which are partnered with chemical exfoliants glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. It’s unique because even though it has both physical and chemical exfoliants in it, your skin feels like it was exfoliated without getting red and irritated." It comes in three varieties—fragrance-free, eucalyptus, and sandalwood—and doesn't leave skin greasy or covered in oils, like some exfoliators can. Use it in the shower on damp skin, massaging it in using circular motions, then rinse and follow with your body wash.
SHOP: Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator, $30
Post-Exfoliation Essential: Body Moisturizer
Whether you use a dry brush or one of these alternatives, the final step after your exfoliation should be to add hydration back into the skin with a body lotion, serum, or oil. Any type of exfoliation removes the surface layer of the skin, so you need to add back in hydration. Plus, your newly polished skin is going to absorb moisture much more effectively now that all the dead skin isn't blocking it. After your shower, when skin is still damp, apply a healthy dose of moisture and press and pat (don't rub!) it into the skin. Our current fave is Leland Francis' Body Serum, which features a gorgeous mix of plant botanicals to hydrate, smooth, and firm skin. It has invigorating pink peppercorn and clove to stimulate circulation, plus bergamot and sandalwood to brighten. It's also bursting with essential vitamins and antioxidants to nourish and protect skin.
SHOP: Leland Francis Body Serum, $80
If you've tried dry brushing before and weren't a fan, or if you are interested in it but nervous about how your skin will react, consider opting for one of these dry brush alternatives instead. You'll get the same silky soft skin benefits without worrying about irritation or over-exfoliating.