Uncovering the Truth: Dry Brushing vs. Body Scrub Explained

Summer weather is almost here and that means legs out and summer dresses! While that's extremely exciting, we're here to settle this top exfoliating question: Dry brushing or body scrub?

What is a body scrub?

A body scrub is a physical exfoliant that is usually either salt or sugar-based, used to remove dead skin cells from your skin. The abrasive ingredients (sugar or salt) are worked into the skin and work as a natural exfoliant, clearing the skin of older skin cells so your skin feels soft supple and nourished.

What is a dry brush?

On the other hand, dry brushing is done when you rub a brush with coarse, natural-fiber bristles over the body in a particular pattern. The idea is that the coarse fibers will help to remove dead skin and improve the skin's ability to eliminate toxins through the pores.

Dry brushing vs. using body scrub: How to know which to use

Body scrubs and dry brushing might seem like basically the same thing, but they’re actually quite different and each one has its own purposes.

For exfoliation, a body scrub is the go-to option. Exfoliation is its sole purpose, removing dead skin cells for incredibly soft and smooth skin.

A dry brush, on the other hand, does exfoliate your skin a bit but its real magic lies in its benefits for your circulation. The dry brushing enhances the circulation throughout your skin which makes it fantastic for enhancing your skin’s health and brightness while also temporarily reducing the appearance of cellulite.

Dry brushing also sparks lymphatic drainage. That might sound icky, but your lymphatic system is the system that removes the waste and byproducts your cells produce, and helping that system along means healthier, glowing skin.

So, what’s the verdict? Should you use a body scrub or dry brush? While it depends on what your skin needs, most people can actually benefit most from using both.

How to use each

Technique matters when it comes to exfoliation, and the techniques are different for body scrubs compared to dry brushing.

You want to use a body scrub while your skin is wet. It’s ideal to do it while you’re in the shower and after you’ve been in the shower for a few minutes to loosen up your dead skin cells. Take the product and massage it gently on your skin using circular motions. Despite the name, you don’t want to actually scrub your skin with it – I know, the name irks me too. When you’re done, make sure to rinse off.

A dry brush, on the other hand, is much more appropriately named because you need to use it while both the brush and your skin are dry. It’s ideal to use it before a shower so you can then rinse off the exfoliated skin cells.

Take your dry brush and glide it along your skin with firm yet gentle strokes. It’s best to start at your feet and progressively brush up toward your heart. Make sure to avoid particularly sensitive areas like your face and breasts, and also avoid any broken skin, bruises, or areas with visible spider veins.

Don't overdo it

As beneficial as exfoliation is, you don’t want to overdo it; it’s not something to put in your daily routine. For most people, it’s best to exfoliate twice per week, so one body scrub and one dry brushing session per week can work perfectly. Don’t do them on the same day, though – wait a day or two.

It’s also important not to exfoliate too soon after shaving because that combo can be very irritating to your skin. If you really want silky skin, exfoliate and then shave directly after.

Make sure to moisturize your skin afterwards

As beneficial as exfoliating can be, it can also dry out your skin. To make sure you’re not making any compromises, apply a body moisturizer immediately after your shower.