Facial dry brushing is a huge beauty trend right now, and people who swear by it say that it exfoliates skin, reduces puffiness, and brightens complexion. But for the uninitiated, it seems...questionable—exfoliating with a lightly gritty cleanser or a Clarisonic is one thing, but rubbing your face with a coarse brush—especially in January, when dry winter air is sucking moisture from our skin—sounds like a recipe for irritation. So what gives?
Turns out dry brushing your face can be totally safe, as long as you take some precautions, according to the three dermatologists polled by Health. First, it should be done only one to two times a week, says Stacy Chimento, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami. Additionally, it's important to sweep the skin gently, since brushing too hard can cause irritation and inflammation. (Dry brushing enthusiasts recommend starting at the chin and making light strokes up toward the hairline.)
Choosing the right type of brush is also essential, says Diane Walder, MD, a Miami-based dermatologist. “The bristles should be much softer than those used on the body,” she says.
Kally Papantoniou, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in Fresh Meadows, NY, agrees: “Avoid firm bristles, as this can lead to dermatitis and be too abrasive, even possibly leading to worse dry skin,” she says. “If the brush you use to dry brush your body is soft enough it may be used on the face, otherwise I would advise getting a separate, softer brush exclusively for the face.”
All that said, if you're going to try out facial dry brushing, keep in mind that it might work—but that skin-transforming results are not guaranteed, says Dr. Papantoniou. While brushing the skin will temporarily increase blood flow to the area, there's no scientific proof that the surge will improve circulation or drain lymphatics. But if you try it out and you like the way it makes you look and feel, then there's no harm in continuing.