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Polishing Your Summer Bod

Getting into your spring routine for the summer swimsuit parade?  Along with other getting in shape routines, one of your secret weapons will be the Dry Brush.

Dry brushing is the use of a dry natural fibre brush to stimulate the surface of the body in a specific pattern.  Because it is excitatory to the circulation, it is best done in the morning.  Dry brushing in the evening may hinder sleep.

Effects :

Dry brushing reflexively stimulates the organs and increases lymphatic flow, thereby encouraging immune activity.  It sloughs off dead skin cells, toning and softening the skin.  Circulation is improved overall.  If you are dieting and your system feels sluggish with the reduction in calories and sugars, this will help enliven it.

4 Basic Uses :

natural bristle dry brushes

1. Elimination

About a third of all body impurities are eliminated through the skin.  This is said to be more than a pound of waste per day.  The skin ‘breathes’ as well as the lungs, with oxygen absorbing and carbon dioxide releasing through the pores.  Increasing circulation in the skin, therefore, helps to relieve us of general toxins and acidity.

2. Detoxification

Detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain more lymph than blood.  The lymph nodes filter and remove invading organisms, abnormal cells and cellular debris from the lymphatic fluid and process them so they can be eliminated.

3. Circulation

Brushing is a good toner for rough, dry skin by helping raise circulation to the skin.  Use before a sauna or a run to help skin sweat more easily.  Follow with a contrast shower (hot alternating with cold, if you’re brave enough!) to enhance flushing.

4. Best of all, cellulite!

Cellulite is a non-scientific term defined as deposits of subcutaneous fat material and fibrous tissue that are not easily eliminated.  These cause a dimpling or orange peel effect on the overlying skin. Most commonly occurring on the thighs and hips, these deposits can affect any body weight or size.  There is some thought that these deposits are encouraged by estrogens.  These days, with xeno-estrogens (foreign/artificial estrogens) popping up in our plastics and leeching into our foods, even men are getting cellulite.

Cellulite lies in the superficial fascia right under the skin layers. Small fatty deposits get stuck in the weave of fascia, which is a structural material. When the tissue is rehydrated, both from drinking water and from hydration rising through these layers as a result of brushing or exercise, it can help to release the small fatty deposits.

Select your brush

Though often called a bath brush, you will not be using this in the bath (or getting it wet).  Select a long handled, natural bristle brush (usually wood) with a brush pad roughly the size of your hand.  These can usually be found at pharmacies, health food stores and salons and run from $10 to $15.  Brush the

Lymphatic system, showing major lymph nodes and collection areas.

whole body from the extremities towards the centre in brisk circles or long strokes.  Include the soles and palms, groin and armpits.  Brush towards the heart, not much pressure is needed.  Brush gently around the breasts, avoiding the nipples.  The stomach and back are said not to have a specific direction, but imagine brushing towards the centre, between the thymus and liver in the picture above.  This is where the main cisterns are that gather lymph and direct filtration.  Gently brush the neck, but not the face.

Moisturizing

Of course, skin is more radiant when it does not appear dry.  Moisturizers can be tricky, though, with myriad additives and preservatives, most prevalently parabens.  If you want to avoid these, try oil.  Pick a good pure oil and spread it sparingly over the skin while you are still damp from a shower.  Favourites are coconut oil and pure olive oil (from the pantry).  Olive oil sinks quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy film, while coconut is usually a little heavier and can be good for older skin and really dry areas.  See your favourite aesthetician for specifics.

Runway Models

Most of all, try not to worry about whether you look impossibly beautiful.  You know all those models are heavily made up and then airbrushed well before you see them in their skin, right?  There’s the Dove commercial showing the post-production changes to a model who is actually very cute before makeup and photo-shopping.    Don’t be fooled by manipulated images of women.  We’re real.  The pictures are not.

A healthy body is always beautiful, almost regardless of shape, age or size.  Remember Bo Gilbert, who posed for Vogue’s 100 year celebrations.  She is also 100, with no modeling experience.  But her poise and grace are stunning under the cameras.

So stand and walk like royalty.  Allow yourself to shine!

This post was first published to LinkedIn on June 19, 2016.  It has been refreshed and updated for its home turf.

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