How To Dry Brush Cellulite

07 Jul

The most pivotal information I gleaned from Dr. Berkowsky’s Vital Chi Skin-Brushing System is how to dry brush cellulite-prone areas. With all the dry brushing articles I’ve read throughout the course of our investigation, I’m still picking up new tidbits of information to tweak my dry brushing routine.

Where To Start with Dry Brushing

Many dry brushing instructions advise to start at the feet and brush towards the heart. My lymph drainage therapist informed me it’s better to start at areas with dense concentrations of lymph nodes such as the groin/armpits and then move on to the outer regions (still moving towards the heart).

Dr. Berkowsky takes that advice one step further. He advocates beginning with the axillary (armpit) nodes. These nodes drain a large section of the body and are located near where the lymph ducts empty into the blood circulatory system prior to reaching the heart. “Reducing lymphatic tension in the chest enhances tissue drainage of the entire body,” Dr. Berkowsky explains. Only after brushing the entire upper body does the Vital Chi method address cellulite-y regions.

Dry Brushing the Butt and Thighs

Again, it’s best to start with the dense concentration of lymph nodes in the groin. After a quick technique on the abdomen, Cellulite Region Number One is finally addressed. And can you believe I’ve been doing it wrong all this time?

Following normal dry brushing instructions, I’ve always brushed my glutes up towards the heart. But as Dr. Berkowsky explains, “the superficial lymphatic vessels of the gluteal region turn horizontally around the outer side of the buttocks and join the superficial inguinal glands of the groin.” When it comes to the butt, it’s best not to brush towards the heart. Instead, start brushing from the center, go up and around the hip, and then down towards the groin.

After brushing the lower back and feet, the legs are the last to be brushed. Before I read Dr. Berkowsky’s book, I would brush them first. For our purposes, it makes more sense to brush the legs last, once the rest of the lymphatic system is already moving along. You learn something new everyday!

More on dry brushing as a cellulite treatment:
How to Dry Brush Your Butt
Do You Dry Brush Your Head? And Other Such Questions
Strigils: Is it Time for a Comeback for this Ancient Roman Bath Tool?

A Cellulite Investigator Update

Thanks for stopping by The Cellulite Investigation.  Things are a little quite around here at the moment.  I’m taking an extended break as I get married and settle into married life and a new home.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Comments

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radcrow says:
7/7/2010

ok, might be a stupid question – but what do you dry brush with? Is it a special device or something we all probably have around the house?

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Elizabeth Walling says:
7/7/2010

Oooh, thanks for the tips. I'll go try them out right now! :)

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Anonymous says:
7/7/2010

Wow I've been totally doing this wrong. Thanks for the post. (fyi many times when i view your site the POST COMMENT button is grayed out and 'un-clickable')

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Melissa says:
8/28/2010

Two months later, I think I finally fixed the comment problem. Thanks for reporting it. I hope you like the new site!

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radcrow –For dry skin brushing, all you need is a natural bristle body brush. They cost a few bucks and are usually sold near the loofahs. The one I'm using now is made from Japanese palm fibers (looks like this ). Dr. Berkowsky says you can also use a coarse towel or loofah, but those options aren't as effective or as versatile.

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herama says:
7/8/2010

Could you post a diagram or something to illustrate the technique you mention on the butt area? I can't figure out what you mean by " start brushing from the center, go up and around the hip, and then down towards the groin."
Thanks!

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haha! I was trying to be tactful! Let's see if I can explain it better without the tact. If you're starting with the right side, start just to the side of the butt crack and brush out to the right over the top of the glute. Then curve slightly upwards around the hip on the side of the leg. Then curve down on the front of the leg towards the groin. There is a diagram in the book on page 34, but I haven't been able to find it online. If it's still not clear, I'll try to draw something up this weekend (I'm traveling for work the next few days). Thanks for your question, herama!

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cassiopeia says:
7/8/2010

Argh…sorry, Melissa…still confused about the butt thing! ;) Any diagram would be greatly appreciated!

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HA! You guys are so funny! You know you're forcing me to spend my weekend trying to create butt diagrams on powerpoint! Crazy thing is, I'm so into our little investigation that I'm actually looking forward to it :)

I'll see what I can come up with and try to post something next week.

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Abbie at For Cellulite says:
1/22/2011

Hi Melissa, great post! I haven’t tried dry brushing so it’s good to read about how it works for someone else. Thanks for explaining how this works with the lymph nodes and everything, and also why the direction is important. It seems like this might hurt at first or does your skin get used to it?

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It definitely shouldn’t hurt, but it does become more pleasant as your skin grows accustomed to being brushed. Eventually it starts to feel as enjoyable as a good back scratch. Thanks for your comment, Abbie!

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Colleen says:
3/17/2011

I love this website! So informative on so many levels. Thank you for spending the time to inform the rest of us!

How long do you dry brush? How many minutes?

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I’m glad you like the site, Colleen! Dry brushing doesn’t have to take long. 5-10 minutes is great. They say to shoot for 7 strokes over each spot. I hope to put together a quick guide to dry brushing in the near future. Seems to be a lot of interest in this topic (for good reason!). Thanks for your question.

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harbour house says:
4/4/2011

Hi – I’m living in France where there are a ton of Thai massage salons everywhere. I’ve been trying to explain to them that I’d like a massage along the lines of a manual lymphatic drainage massage, but I have a question about the abdominal/intestinal area. should I ask them to massage up toward the heart (as per the rest of the body) or rather from the stomach down toward to the groin (to encourage digestion/intestinal flow!)? I once had a really good MLD massage in the south of France where I had to run to the bathroom afterwards, and the masseuse said that was good because it was a sign that the massage was working.

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That is a tough one. Lymphatic massage was pretty much invented in the south of France. It takes a lot of training to be skilled at it. I don’t think it’s something you would be able to explain to someone who is accustomed to the traditional “muscle” massages. But any type of massage is probably good for the lymphatic system (as long as it’s gentle enough and doesn’t cause bruising, etc).

A lot of lymphatic vessels are located in the abdomen. Besides its purpose as a “sewage drainage system” for our cells, the lymphatic system is also how the body absorbs fat from the digestive system. From what I recall from my lymph drainage session, my therapist did mostly move in the direction of the heart when she was working on my abdomen. She had studied LMD For decades and was able to feel the flow of lymph and encourage circulation (I believe the technique is called lymph mapping). If you can find a skilled lymph drainage therapist, you would probably get the effect you are looking for. In his book about dry skin brushing, Dr. Bruce Berkowsy recommends brushing the abdomen in a clockwise pattern.

I hope this helps! Let us know how it goes!

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Kristen says:
8/10/2011

Fabulous site and I loved your diagrams! You are THE BEST!!! Can’t wait to share this with my girlfriends!

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Thanks, Kristen! It’s always appreciated when my fellow cellulite investigators help spread the word!

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Carrie says:
9/22/2011

I had the first appearance of cellulite since I was 15. Now I noticed that the locations where I have cellulite (i.e. thigh, butt, and lower outer waist) are usually colder than my other parts of the body — even after exercise. Apparently there’s some circulation problem there. I am all new to dry brushing and I hope it will help.

Yes, it will be so much appreciated if you could put together a quick guide of how to dry brush the whole body. Meanwhile, can you please tell me how I dry brush my back, thigh, breast (or around the breast), and neck?

Big thanks! Your blog is amazing!

Carrie

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Thanks, Carrie!! Yes, dry brushing should definitely help with that. For the upper, back, start at the edge of the spine and brush outward. It’s hard to reach, so just do the best you can. For the lower back, start at the base and brush up. For the breast, I brush above the breast, starting near the edge of the armpit and brushing in. After a few strokes there, I’ll brush under the breast–again starting at the edge of the armpit and brushing in. For the neck, brush down toward the heart. I can literally see the lymph pathways here when I’ve had too much fluoride because I’ll have trails of breakouts down my neck.

For the all-important thigh area, start at the groin and brush in semicircles. Then brush the thigh in upward sweeping motions.

I definitely need to write this in a quick guide pronto! Thanks for the encouragement, Carrie!

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Carrie says:
10/1/2011

Thanks Melissa!! This is very helpful!

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You’re welcome, Carrie. I’m glad you find it useful!

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Faye says:
5/16/2012

Melissa,

Since we have to brush our body towards the heart/lymph nodes, at the breast area, are we not supposed to brush from above breast out towards the armpit since the nodes are concentrated there?
And at the groin, brushing in semicircles mean brushing towards the inner thigh?

Appreciate your enlightenment :)

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elaine says:
12/9/2011

I am new to your site and learning so much already ! Was thinking the same as I was reading on the dry brushing that a body diagram with arrows showing direction of brushing would be most helpful..is there one on the site somewhere ? ( I noticed in the comments someone thanking you for the diagram but I haven’t found any ) Thanks and much appreciate your informative site on a subject that you are giving hope to so many through !

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Sorry to get back to you so late on this one, Elaine. I was out of town this past weekend for the holidays. I believe the diagram in reference is this one: The Much-Anticipated Butt Diagram. I was having a hard time describing how you’re supposed to dry brush your backside so I put it in picture format (using a drawing, of course). My next project is to create a short guide to dry brushing, something you could download and have on hand as a quick reference guide for body brushing beginners. Judging from the length of time it took me to put my last e-book together, it might take a few months before it’s ready. But I’ll get to work on it soon!

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Jennifer says:
1/29/2012

Hi,
Love your site. I am starting a personal 30 day challenge this week (sports, eating) and will start dry brushing as well. I have been on and off for years, like a day here and there. But will do daily. Is that ok? And is it best to do morning before shower? Once a day right?

Thanks!!!!
jen

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I love a good 30 day challenge, Jennifer! Good luck! Yes, dry brushing is very gentle and you can do it every day. They do suggest taking a day off here and there just to give your skin a rest, so don’t be afraid to skip a few days if you feel like it. Brushing once a day in the morning before a shower is perfect. Please let us know how it goes!

PS- I just installed a discussion forum on the site. Feel free to start a thread about your dry brushing challenge. Maybe others will join you!

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leila mendez says:
5/28/2012

I just love your site! Thank you so much! I would like to know where to go for the information on the 30 day challenge.

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Hi, Leila. Thanks for your comment! The 30 day challenge was something Jennifer instigated for herself as part of her personal anti cellulite strategy. I love the idea of launching one that we could all do together, though. What kind of activities do you think we should include in something like that? Dry brushing would definitely be at the top of the list. What else???

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jo says:
5/8/2012

Great site! Looking forward to the brushing guide! I have been doing this all wrong! Feet upwards and doing circular motions on the body! A guide would be amazing!!

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Thanks for the feedback, jo! It helps me realize I really need to make this dry brushing guide a priority. I’ll try my best to get on that one soon!

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Jennifer says:
5/8/2012

Hi,
So what are your thoughts about detoxing from this? I got sick about 5 days after I started. When I get lymph massage this happens as well. How can I avoid this? It is not like full on cold but similar.
Thanks,
Jen

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Interesting observation, Jen. It could be that the brushing kicks up some congestion in your lymphatic system. You could try coupling the dry brushing with a detox bath afterward to see if that helps relieve the symptoms. What happens if you continue the dry brushing after the symptoms start? If it’s detox, they should go away fairly easily and not return.

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Jessika says:
5/11/2012

Just came across this site and am LOVING it! im only 20 and suffer from cellulite on my thighs and bum…and i eat very healthy most of the time and workout a lot..i definitely can amp up the workouts but for my life style you think i’d have no cellulite…its so frusterating :(

gunna try body brushing! how fast/hard do you do it, and in what directions? straight lines? up the leg? i think maybe a video would be great to demonstrate! its hard trying to make sense of it all just reading it! :)

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Hi, Jessika! Glad you found us!

Great idea about the dry brushing video. I’m generally too shy to make a video of myself and post it on the Internet :), but I’m sure I could figure something out. You’re right, a video would be excellent.

I know a lot of us completely identify with you about how frustrating it is to have cellulite when you are young and otherwise fit. Since launching the investigation, I discovered that my body is particularly sensitive to fluoride because of early fluoride poisoning I experienced as a child. My body was being slowly poisoned, in a sense, for all these years and I had no idea. So don’t be hard on yourself! You’re only 20 and you are already taking responsibility for your own health. That is fantastic!

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Jessika says:
5/14/2012

Ya :) I think it would be very helpful cause I don’t think I’m doing it right,
I understand the shyness part, lol, but i think here on this site we’re all very supportive :) What have you done to detox flouride out of your system?

Thanks!

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You’re right, Jessika. Everyone has been so kind on the site, in general. I’ll think about building up to something like that. My first step is to get this radio show off the ground. There are so many people I would like to interview for the investigation. Just have to get over my insecurities first!

Oh dear, the fluoride detox question is a loaded one. It’s something I’ve been working on for the last 2 years or so since I learned I have fluoroderma. Right not I’m using an infrared sauna along with foods rich in boron and other minerals. I’ve tried iodine in the past, too. I really need to be careful with certain nutrients because I’ll get a strong detox reaction. I’ve written a ton of posts about all this–way more than any normal human would want to read, I’m sure. You can browse through most of them here.

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Jessika says:
5/14/2012

Just had an interesting discovery!
Went to the gym to do a leg workout then went in the sauna for about 10 min
when i came out of the sauna i had red blotches ONLY on areas where i have cellulite
(thighs, a tiny spot on my arms)
this has got to mean something?! any suggestions or input?
i eat very healthy and clean and exercise, so i think my cellulite is either circulation or toxin related

help!?!?

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Don’t worry, that’s totally normal! I noticed the same thing with cupping therapy. My legs become very blotchy in the areas where circulation is impaired. It happens in the sauna, too. Not so much a blotchiness, but it almost looked like I had goosebumps on certain parts of my legs even though I was in a 120-degree sauna. My legs are the last part of my body to start sweating. In the sauna book I read, he says it can take several sessions for skin to become active again when you first start using a sauna.

I suspect both circulation and toxins are to blame, since one affects the other. Keep up the good investigative work, Jessika!

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Mel 2 says:
5/16/2012

Hi Melissa,
thanks for all your effort in sharing. But like many other here, I am pretty clueless as in: the correct directions, do we target legs and butts only or must we start with an overall body brush, how many days a week?
Jessika suggested a video, I know you are shy, so would I be. May I suggest you dry brush a live sized-body cardbord cut-out dummy or better still a manequein…but I think we are all happy even if you just do it on a cardboard dummmy.

Hope to seee that soon!

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Thanks for your questions, Mel 2! Love that username. :) I also like that you’re being creative with the video idea. I’m working on a big surprise project behind the scene here at CI right now, but as soon as it’s done I’m going to tackle this dry brushing guide. It’s not going to be a video of me brushing my butt(!!), but I’ll see if I can come up with something clever that gets the point across. Thanks for all the feedback/suggestions. Please keep them coming!

Oh, and about your other questions. Since the lymphatic system runs throughout the body, it’s best to dry brush the whole body and not just the cellulite-y parts. You can dry brush every day, but don’t worry about skipping a day here and there. I think 6 days a week is ideal.

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Faye says:
5/28/2012

Melissa,
Quoted your reply to Carrie on 22 September 2011,
Since we have to brush our body towards the heart/lymph nodes, at the breast area, are we not supposed to brush from above breast out towards the armpit since the nodes are concentrated there? Instead you brush from near the edge of the armpit and brushing in?
And at the groin, brushing in semicircles mean brushing towards the inner thigh? Appreciate your enlightenment :D

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There is a cluster of lymph nodes around the armpits, but they are draining lymph from the arms into the main lymphatic ducts behind the collarbones. That’s why you’re supposed to brush inward. Does that make sense?

For the legs, I start with half circle stroke around the groin area. As long as you are generally moving upward in that area, you should get a good effect. This would be so much easier with a diagram, now wouldn’t it!

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Stephanie says:
6/9/2012

I just looked through a ton of videos and I finally found the best one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZfMhXsjXeQ&feature=related

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Yes, this is one of the the better videos out there. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

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leila mendez says:
6/10/2012

Thank you so much for sharing. I really liked the video!

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Mel 2 says:
6/11/2012

Hi Stephanie,

“Stephanie June 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I just looked through a ton of videos and I finally found the best one!”

Thanks for your recommendation, it is very useful!

Mel 2

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Faye says:
6/13/2012

Cool video!
Just a random (maybe stupid) question: what is watershed?

1) Is watershed connected to the heart so it drains the lymph to the heart?

2) Are we supposed to dry brush the watershed line/areas?

3) The difference between watersheds and lymphatic duct? So should we dry brush the skin towards watershed area or lymph node clusters?

Arrggghhh… so confuse! :P

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Great question, Faye! Here’s how the Upledger Institute explains watershed:

the “drainage divide,” the area which separates/divides two drainage basins (or two lymphatic regions).

I’m afraid I don’t have the answers to your other questions. I think we are due for another interview with our go-to lymphatic expert.

PS–don’t let the confusion get to you! I’m sure you are dry brushing just fine!! It is interesting to learn the finer nuances though…

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Brittany says:
6/30/2012

Hi!
I’m new to your site. I have been skin brushing for 3 days now and this morning while doing it, I do it in the mirror so I can see I am doing it right, I seen that kind of next to my armpit towards my back I had a cluster of red pimple looking bumps. I have never had this before, ever. I get random break outs on my my chin but never near my armpits. Is this sort of a detox thing from the skin brushing? Does it mean I am not brushing it correctly to my armpit? Any advice is very much appreciated=) Besides the bumps, I am loving the skin brushing!

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Hi, Brittany. Yes, the small bumps are a normal detox reaction. The arm pit area is especially sensitive (lots of lymph nodes there) so it’s not surprising you would see a reaction in that spot. They typically go away in a few days. Are you still enjoying the dry brushing? Any other results to report??? :)

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Faye says:
7/23/2012

I’m in the 2nd month to dry brushing! so far reduction of cellulite is not significant, yet. i hope there will be visible results as i continue with this exercise :) however i’m pleased to report that now the pimples on my back have disappeared! and also the pimples around my elbow area are almost gone too :D
And i noticed that now my constipation problem is improving. I’m wondering is it due to my dry brushing routine? are they related? is dry-brushing somehow help with digestive system?

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Yes, they are certainly related! Dry brushing kick starts the lymphatic system and can have a direct effect on digestion (particularly elimination). Glad to hear you it seems to be working for you! In my experience, it’s not going to cure cellulite completely but it’s a great place to start.

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claire says:
6/26/2014

i’ve been dry brushing and now i have cysts popping up along my lymphatic system. could this be linked? anyone else have this issue?

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