With every hyped-up, viral beauty product that gains a cult following due to celebrity endorsements or a trending video, it’s *easy* to fall down the consumer mania rabbit hole. The result? You spend hella $$ on a whole bunch of “TikTok made me buy it” purchases that either (a) fail to have “incredible, instant, life-changing results” or (b) irritate your skin/hair/health. So today, we’re talking about the best dry brushes: What exactly they are, if they’re safe, and if “smooth skin,” “reduced cellulite,” and “improved circulation” can all be yours thanks to a firm, bristled brush and a few minutes of some serious scrubbing.
Fun fact: Dry brushing is a centuries-old beauty ritual originating from India—YUP, the whole practice has been around for well over 5,000 years. This means that dry brushes have a ~tad~ more validity than other buzzy trending products like, say, pore vacuums do, thanks to the fact that the practice has legit endured the test of time. But as with everything, it’s not as simple as yes, it works, or no, it doesn’t—especially considering that science has seriously advanced in the last few thousand years—so, let’s use that to our advantage and consult science:
Meet the experts:
- Mamina Turegano, MD: Turegano is a triple board-certified dermatologist, internist, dermatopathologist at Old Metairie Dermatology in New Orleans, and not to mention, the creator of a viral dry brushing TikTok video. Turegano also has a special interest in anti-aging and holistic and integrative medicine.
- Lily Talakoub, MD: Talakoub is a board-certified dermatologist, a clinical director for dermatology residents at Washington Hospital Center, the assistant professor of medical education at University of Virginia, founder and CEO of Derm to Door, and owner of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center in Virginia—oh, and you guessed it, another one of my favorite TikTok docs.
What is dry brushing?
In addition to our how to use a dry brush explainer, I thought we needed a bona fide list of the best dry brushes on the market, and of course a quick TL;DR of our guide: “Dry brushing is the act of taking a bristled brush and literally brushing your skin in an upwards motion towards the direction of the heart,” says Dr. Turegano. Dry brushing is also a form of mechanical exfoliation, Dr. Talakoub has told Cosmo. Mechanical exfoliators work to remove dead skin cells from your skin physically with either a granular substance or a tool.
Dry brushing is done on all four limbs and the trunk of the body on dry skin. This means using absolutely no lotions, oils, or water, hence the name, explains Dr. Turegano. The friction between the brush and the dry skin created through the motion of scrubbing is what ultimately dislodges dead skin cells. If you add a liquid to the mix, the friction will be reduced, and therefore it’s no longer dry brushing, Dr. Talakoub explained to Cosmo.
Do dry brushes actually work?
The main benefit of this beauty ritual is exfoliation, however, many routine practicers claim that it also improves circulation and reduces cellulite. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but both Dr. Talakoub and Dr. Turegano agree that there are no true scientific studies that can back this up. Dry brushing could slightly improve your lymphatic flow and therefore break up collagen bundles, the stuff that’s linked to cellulite, Dr. Talakoub explained. However, that’s about it.
“My take on it is that if it feels good and you feel like it’s a part of a regular skincare ritual for you, I think that is part of self-care, which is beneficial,” says Dr. Turegano. Basically, if it makes you feel good, you use it how you’re supposed to (i.e., you don’t have sensitive skin, stick to a few times per week, and use gentle pressure), there is no harm in the practice.
Our picks for the best dry brushes in 2022:
- Best on Amazon: Popchose Dry Brushing Body Brush
- Best drugstore: EcoTools Dry Brush
- Best with a handle: Elemis Body Detox Skin Brush
- Best vegan: Goop G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush
- Best for sensitive skin: Dr. Barbara Sturm The Body Brush
- Best for face: Amanda Harrington The Face Buffer Brush
Now that you’ve had a sneak peek of the list ahead, here’s what you all came here for: The 13 best dry brushes on the market for smooth, glowing skin, below:
If you’re a newbie to the whole dry brushing world, get yourself a brush that (1) won’t break the bank and (2) is vetted by thousands of people. And by thousands, I mean 13,000 glowing reviews like this one on Amazon. One reviewer says they have “noticed less ingrown hairs and softer skin!” For 10 bucks, hey, I’ll take it.
This body brush is a two-for-one kind of deal. You can use it as a dry brush, but it can also be used as a regular ol’ body brush in the shower whenever you feel like it. Although this brush has medium bristles, it’s perfect for sensitive and oily skin alike.
This synthetic fiber drugstore dry brush from EcoTools is legit less than $5. If that didn’t sell you already, one reviewer says, “Do not walk, run to buy this product,” claiming that this brush has been superior to the many others they’ve tried. It’s important to note the bristles on this dry brush are extra-long and may be rougher for those with sensitive skin.
If you’re someone who shamelessly buys the most ~luxe~ and fancy-schmancy beauty products that look good as hell on a vanity, this here is your bb. This totally gorge dry brush has a marble base and bristles made with natural fibers. This would also be an excellent present for that friend of yours that is a serious dry brush stan.
If you’re the type of person that likes a longer handle to hold on to when exfoliating your skin, get yourself this dry brush by Elemis with natural cactus bristles. Not only does it have a great handle, but it also has a strap for when you want to securely hold the base. My personal pro tip: Stick a tanning mitt on the base for when you’re applying self-tanner on your back.
Poppin’ in here with another incredible celebrity beauty brand, Keys Soul Care, brought to you by Alicia Keys. This brush has the most incredible texture to it and will feel like you paid a whole lot more for it than you actually did. One reviewer says, “Despite its exterior appearing rough, you’ll be surprised to know it is extremely gentle when brushing the skin, yet tough enough to exfoliate.”
"If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, there are many options out there," says Dr. Turegano. "I like the kind that is made from sisal fibers from the agave plant like the Goop G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush.” Not only does this brush have a medium-sized handle for optimal grip, but it also has a slightly angled base so it’s easier to brush those hard-to-reach areas.
If you have super dry skin that’s not sensitive and can handle a bit of a stronger exfoliant, consider this dry brush by Pursoma. Because the bristles are so tightly packed together, the exfoliation is harsher. That being said, it is made with soft bristles, so it will not irritate the skin if used on normal to dry skin types. The dual-sided brush makes for a super easy-to-use experience.
On the other hand, if your skin can’t handle much or you’re a newbie to the whole dry brushing practice, get yourself a brush that is made with sensitive skin folks in mind, like this one from Dr. Barbara Sturm. You can choose between a soft or medium natural-bristle brush for the ultimate personal experience. (Hint hint, if you are a sensitive person, choose soft.)
Soooo we’ve established that in order for dry brushing to work, you have to do it, well, dry. BUT did you know that after brushing and then showering, you should follow up with a hydrating body oil or body lotion? Well, this set by Osea takes the guesswork out for you with this body brush and body oil duo. After using, you will be glooooowing, trust.
This wood and sisal bristle dry brush not only will exfoliate your skin ahhhmazingly, but it also reminds you to “take care,” thanks to the cute lil message imprinted on the wood. If you are someone who appreciates a good self-care moment and want to add dry brushing to your feel-good ritual, this is the brush for you.
If you like a little more “grip” on your dry brush, get yourself one that has a nice fancy-schmancy handle, like the Aura Sweeper from Wildling. Each brush is handmade in Germany, and the bristles are sourced from agave plants, making this a luxe option without a superrr hefty price tag.
So, no, do not use ANY of the other products on this list on your face. In fact, that’s a major no-no in the dry brushing ritual, as they are much too coarse and rough for the delicate skin on your face. Although I much prefer a chemical exfoliant for the face, if you want to dry-brush it instead, use this gentle face buffer brush with synthetic bristles that can be used to apply makeup as well.