Treating Cellulite with Dry Brushing

Once you understand how the lymphatic system causes cellulite, it’s easy to see how brushing the skin could have an effect on the appearance of cellulite.

Often referred to as the third kidney, the skin is one of the largest eliminative organs in the body.  In fact, healthy skin can excrete a pound of waste a day!  Clogged pores impair the skin’s ability to get rid of waste products, adding to the load that must be carried out through the lymphatic vessels.

Dry brushing is not a complicated technique.  All it requires is a stiff, natural bristle brush.  It must be performed when the skin is dry, otherwise it won’t effectively clear the pores.  Brushing should be firm, causing the skin to achieve a slight glow (a good indicator that circulation is increased), but not so much that it becomes red or irritated.

Instructions vary as to the most efficient method for dry brushing but most lymphatic specialists suggest it is best to start with areas that have a high concentration of lymph nodes.  A good routine is to start with several brisk strokes over the inner thigh, and then go over the upper leg –always moving towards the heart.  Continue with the lymph nodes behind the knee before covering the lower leg and feet.  Since you are trying to follow the direction of lymphatic flow, then continue up over the abdomen and lower back.

For the upper body, first target the dense lymph concentrations in the neck and collarbone region before brushing the upper arms, the inner elbows, and then the forearms and hands  -still moving in the direction of the heart at all times.  Finally, brush along the sides of the torso as well as the upper back.  Dry brushing takes only a few minutes and can be done once or twice a day if desired.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo PicassoJoin the Cause

Start healing your cellulite right now by visiting our Cellulite Treatments page.  Please come back and let us know how it’s going along the way!

Or to make the most of your time and effort, why not first take a few minutes to get smart on cellulite theory by reading Cellulite 101?

*Signup to receive email when we announce a breakthrough in the case.


By submitting a comment below, you agree to abide by our comment policy

Rosy says:

I love to do dry brushing. If you want to see how much more gunk it works out of your body try this. The first night you try it soak in a bath of hot water with 1 cup apple cider vinegar in it. Don't use soap or any thing. See how cloudy the water is. I suggest rinsing off in a cool/cold as you can stand with our crying, shower and soap up in there. The next day try the same thing only with out the dry brushing. see how coudy the water is? Depending on your body and what toxins you are exposed to, you may have more cloudy water with epsom salts. Always follow a hot bath with a cool shower if you are soaking for detox, this closes you pores and helps the circulation of blood and lymph to the skin. Otherwise you will leave you skin all hot, swollen, and open to those little nasties that are waiting to get into your skin, such as residues on clothes.


Intriguing! I will have to try that in the future. Right now, I have a self-imposed moratorium on baths even though I adore a good soak with some epsom salts. It was a big part of my dry brushing routine when I first got started with it back in Scotland.

Sadly, I haven't been able to enjoy this small luxury since returning to the States. I will explain why in an upcoming post. It's something I would have never noticed if I hadn't moved in and out of the U.S. so many times. I suspect it could be a contributing factor to the cellulite epidemic, as well…

Rosy says:

Chlorine? It's the devil! I use a filter on my spickett.


Not chlorine. Something even worse!

missmessy says:

flouride? I wish a could afford a whole house water filter. We're saving up…


Yes, missmessy! You are right! It took me a few decades to figure out, but I have a skin condition called fluoroderma. I wrote more about that story here:

What kind of filtration system are you going for?  Before I figured out the fluoride thing, I bought a simple one from  I know I've recommended them before, but I have no vested interest in the company. (I promise!) I just think they know a lot about water filtration, have good customer service, good prices, and their website is very informative. I went with a whole-house carbon filter ($178) and a separate reverse osmosis system for drinking water, installed under the kitchen sink.  I think a system like that would work well for most people, if you don't have fluoroderma or some other sensitive condition.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!

harbour house says:

Would brushing on wet skin work too? It's so much easier to brush under a stream of hot water than to dry brush shivering in the cold air! What's the different between dry brushing and exfoliation (which I define here as brushing with water and soap). Also, how hard do you have to brush? I ask because you wrote that manual lymphatic drainage massage is actually quite gentle.


Harbour House, you ask some great questions! From what I've read so far, it's more effective to brush the skin when it is dry because it doesn't stretch as much and the bristles are able to more effectively clear out the pores. As far as how hard to brush, Bronwyn Hewitt (our resident cellulite guru here at CI) explains that the goal is to achieve a slight rosy glow so you know the blood has circulated to the surface of the skin.

You've inspired me to seek out a dry brushing expert for more details on this important practice. I've seen a few books on the topic so I will approach one of those authors with an interview request. Thanks for asking such detailed questions. You really have me curious, now!

Helen says:

Hello! Started dry brushing about a month ago and the only problem I have is that I itch like crazy the rest of the day. I dry brush, then shower then apply coconut oil or essential oils to my skin. It seems like no matter what I do, I feel like I'm going crazy from the itchies. Any suggestions?


Helen –When I first started dry brushing, I broke out in an incredibly itchy rash. I suspect it was a detox reaction. Do you think this is what you are experiencing? I found relief in hot baths with epsom salt. I also added a few drops of tea tree oil to my almond oil base. You could add a few drops to the tub, too. If it's not a detox reaction, perhaps you are reacting to the essential oils you're using? Some people are sensitive to essential oils because they're so concentrated. Does any of that resonate with you?

Adornya says:

Any chance one of the lymphatic specialists would do a how-to video on that would demonstrate the techniques you describe?


Great idea, Adornya! I've thought about trying to do a video blog entry but haven't gotten around to figuring that one out yet. I'll see what I can do.
To clarify, are you referring to the dry brushing technique mentioned in this post or the manual lymph drainage technique Mya described during Love Your Lymph month? Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous says:

Hello! i feel intrigued about this technique, i used to do limphatic massages, but i never did anything with a brush, what kind of brush do you think is better to use, could you post pictures of them, and also, what if the brush is too hard and does it cause a rash on the skin? because it seems a bit harsh. But most importantly, DOES IT WORK?. 🙂


Thanks for your questions! There are a lot of different dry skin brushes on the market, and most of them will do the trick. I use the one pictured above. It's made from Japanese palm fibers. I also have one with a long wooden handle that I like. Look for a brush with natural bristles. If it's too hard, you can soak it in warm water to soften it up before the first time you use it. Also, your skin will get accustomed to a stiffer brush so you might find it's not so bad after a few uses.

I broke out in an itchy rash the first two weeks I started brushing my skin (it was only on my legs). My legs have always been sensitive to different lotions and cleansers and I wonder if some of those chemicals were released through the dry brushing.

Does it work??? Yes! It probably won't cure your cellulite completely, but a lot of women (myself included!) see miraculous results with dry brushing alone. It has to do with how blocked your pores and outermost lymphatic vessels are. But in order to truly cure cellulite, you still have to identify what is causing it in the first place. We're still working on that one here at the Cellulite Investigation. Thanks for joining us!

Michelle says:

After receiving massages or using the brush, what happens to the fat? My legs feel like I have little fat pellets. I want to know if it’s safe to break them by massaging? Where does that fat go? Help I’m in pain.


Dry brushing increases lymphatic circulation. Trapped toxins and fluids are slowly released through the lymphatic vessels. Gentle massage is a good option for cellulite, but you don’t want anything rigorous that could damage the circulatory pathways. If you’re seeing bruises then your definitely massaging too much.

Of course if you are in pain, it’s not a bad idea to see a doc (preferably one who has experience in holistic treatments) and make sure it’s not a symptom of something more serious than just cellulite. What is the pain like? I had a dull pain in my legs when I first launched The Cellulite Investigation but it’s gone now.

Michelle says:

Thank you for your quick reply. I suppose I am massaging too hard as I am bruising. The pain is felt when I’m getting massages and even simply by putting pressure with just one finger. The massages might be too rigorous. I’ll ask that they be more gentle. I need to be more patient. I thought that by massaging harder, the cellulite would dissapear faster. Thank you so much.


You might want to look into getting a lymphatic massage. They are very gentle and particularly effective for cellulite. Please let us know how it goes!


Oops!Please fill out all required fields