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What Is a Body Brush?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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A body brush is a beauty tool with bristles used for cleaning and exfoliating the skin. Manufacturers produce them from either synthetic or natural materials, and the brushes are available inexpensively from most beauty or cosmetic departments. A body brush may be used dry or wet according to a person's preference. Benefits of use include improvement of skin tone and circulation as well as the ability to reach more of the body, while a disadvantage is skin irritation.

Two basic designs exist for body brushes. The first is the scrub brush design, which means the brush has no handle. Brushes with this design feature a flexible strap over the back of the handle to make the brush easier to grip and hold. The second is the extension design, which removes the flexible strap in favor of a long handle. This design is better for reaching areas such as the middle of the back.

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Manufacturers sometimes opt to construct a body brush out of synthetic materials such as plastic, but they also make body brushes from natural materials such as wood, loofah sponge and cactus. Synthetic materials have an advantage in that they are cheaper to produce and tend to last longer, as inorganic materials can be harder and less prone to harboring molds and bacteria compared to organics. Organically-based body brushes, however, are better for the environment given that the materials are all biodegradable and can be replenished over time. People may select a body brush based on these factors in addition to the general performance of the brush.

An individual may use a body brush for exfoliating. This is a process that removes some of the dead cells from the surface of the skin, letting healthier, younger cells come to the surface. Dermatologists and physicians recommend that a person exfoliate in the direction of the heart. If preferred, the user can "dry brush" during this process, using no water, cleanser or lubricant, but this is too harsh for some people.

It also is acceptable to use a body brush for general body cleansing and wet exfoliating. When a person uses a body brush in this way, they usually add some body gel or shower cream to the bristles of the brush. The cleanser removes excess oil on the body while also moisturizing and providing a thin barrier against the abrasiveness of the bristles.

Doctors and dermatologists believe that use of a body brush stimulates circulation. This is connected to the ability of the body to better eliminate toxins, as well as mild stimulation of the nervous system. Some experts also argue that brushing also eliminates problems such as cellulite based on these measurable factors, but more research is necessary to truly show effectiveness in this area.

Even during wet use, a body brush can be physically abrasive to the skin. If a person is too aggressive with the brush or uses one that has ultra-hard bristles, skin irritation might result. Similarly, irritation also happens if a person exfoliates too often, as the excess exfoliation removes too many cells and leaves the skin sensitive. It's best to use a soft bristle brush for these reasons.

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