by Gaynor Farmer-Katics
Dry body brushing is a versatile service that may be implemented in several different ways in the spa environment. Most frequently, it is the first step in body wrap treatments, preparing the skin prior to salt or sugar exfoliation.
Used as an add-on, dry brushing can be offered all year or seasonally, or even for free as a promotional addition to other body services. After all, it is extremely cost effective to perform.
For example, you can create a seasonal summer package of two simple, hydrating, pre- and post-vacation body treatments, with dry body brushing added on for free. This offers great retailing opportunities too.
Dry brushing is a wonderful add-on to massages, as well, especially if essential oils or other therapeutic botanicals are involved. By removing the outermost layer of keratinocytes, you make the skin more receptive and able to absorb subsequent products. Similarly, it can be used prior to sunless tanning to slough off dull surface skin cells.
Dry Brushing Prep
Body brushing is best performed on dry skin to ensure the sloughing of dead cells. A light pressure is ideal for lymphatic stimulation, and medium pressure works best for exfoliation. If the skin turns red, it’s a sign that too much pressure is being applied; this can potentially damage the epidermis and pre-sensitize the skin.
Even well-versed spa regulars may not have experienced dry brushing before, so it will be useful to explain beforehand that you’ll be including dry brushing in the service. Demonstrate the process on the client’s forearm before you begin the treatment to put them at ease and remove the element of surprise.
In addition, there are many types of body brushes available. Some have long handles, short handles and even no handles at all. For professional treatments, short or no handles are best for giving the therapist control. Long handles work better for home use, so clients can access harder to reach areas.
Brushes also vary greatly in bristle firmness—soft, medium and firm. If the bristles are too soft, you won’t achieve much exfoliation; if they are too firm, they can feel scratchy and uncomfortable. Medium firmness is the way to go, allowing practitioners to vary pressure when working on clients with different sensitivity levels, as well as on different parts of the body where skin thickness varies.
When deciding how much to charge, keep in mind that there is no cost of product, as it will be added to an existing service. That also means no additional costs related to laundry or room turnaround time need to be added. Calculate your general cost for a 60-minute treatment and divide it by 4; charge that for 15-minute dry brushing add-ons. For a 30-minute protocol, you would simply double that number.
Here are 3 protocols for dry body brushings you can use as add ons:
LYMPHATIC FLOW PROTOCOL (15 MIN.)
This method uses alternating hand and brush strokes in a one-way direction, performed slowly and directed toward the nearest lymph nodes. The free hand performs a light, superficial full hand effleurage stroke followed by long, gentle strokes of the brush. Repeat each area 9-18 times. Start at the feet and progressively work up the entire back of the body, then continue in the same manner on the front of the body.
1. Have the client lie supine and expose one leg at a time. Start on the foot, from toes to heel, and move up to the calf and lower leg. Stroke from the ankles to back of knees.
2. Finish on the thigh with alternating hand/brush strokes from behind the knee toward the hips. (If including the buttocks in the service, include this area when covering the legs.)
3. Use fan-like movements from the inner to outer area. Repeat on the other leg.
4. Have client turn over. Reveal the back to stroke from the spine outward and upward toward the axilla on one side of the back and then the other.
5. Uncover one leg and hand/brush from the top of the foot up to the knee, covering all sides of the lower leg.
6. Continue onto the thigh, brushing and stroking toward the groin. Repeat on other leg.
7. Continue onto the arms, using the same long strokes.
8. Move to the top of the treatment bed to work the upper chest. The skin here is thinner, so use very light pressure as you work from the center of the chest to the axilla. (If the breasts are included, use the same medial to lateral movements toward the axilla above and below, avoiding the nipples.)
9. Brush from the center of the body, above the waist and across the ribs, outward and upward toward the axilla several times.
10. From below the waist, brush inward and downward toward the inguinal area on both sides.
BODY EXFOLIATION PROTOCOL (15 MIN.)
This technique should use light to medium pressure, and the style of movements will work to buff and polish the skin, leaving it feeling softer and looking brighter. It also increases microcirculation, which nourishes the area with oxygen and nutrients for healthier tissues and the removal of waste products.
Remember that the epidermis is a delicate biological structure, only as thick as a piece of paper; although very durable, it is packed with billions of nerve endings highly receptive to touch. Very little elbow grease is required—we’re not scouring dirty pans.
1. Use clockwise and counterclockwise motions with the brush, while your free hand intermittently strokes the area or gently braces with a supportive touch.
2. Repeat the circular movements up and down each area 6-18 times, depending on the size of the area and thickness of the skin. (Areas such as the soles of the feet, elbows and knees have a thicker texture and may require more attention, so feel free to spend more time on them.)
3. Follow the same method of working on each body part in turn.
LYMPHATIC FLOW + BODY EXFOLIATION PROTOCOL (30 min.)
This method combines both the lymphatic and exfoliation protocols. Begin with the long, slow, alternating hand and brush strokes on the right foot, moving up to the calf, thigh and buttock. Return to the foot using the clockwise and counterclockwise circular movements, working up and down each area. Continue to methodically treat each area of the body as outlined in the Lymphatic Flow Protocol.
Here’s a timing guideline for how long to spend on each body part:
1. Back of legs and feet: 4 minutes each, 8 minutes total
2. Back: 5 minutes
3. Front of legs and feet: 4 minutes each, 8 minutes total
4. Arms and hands: 3 minutes each, 6 minutes total
5. Chest: 1 minute
6. Abdomen: 2 minutes
Author: Gaynor Farmer-Katics is passionate about teaching estheticians how to refine their touch. With almost 40 years of industry experience as an esthetician, massage therapist and educator, her business: Enhanced Touch, offers both online and in person training.