A common side effect of pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, is swelling. There are a number of best practices to mitigate this including staying hydrated, staying out of the heat, not standing or sitting for too long and exercising. A practice that’s not often mentioned, however, but is very effective is dry brushing. In short, this ancient Ayurveda medicine practice involves – as the name indicates – brushing your dry skin with a firm-bristled brush and it has multiple benefits.
“It’s exfoliating, so it stimulates collagen production, which will help to thicken the skin and lessen the appearance of fat cells,” says Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist, founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care and author of “Glow From Within”. “It helps stimulate the lymphatic system to take away toxins and bring in healthy nutrients. It also stimulates circulation, which helps oxygenate the skin. It’s great for cellulite, collagen, reducing puffiness and making the skin glow all over. It’s old fashioned, but it works!”
To dry brush, Vargas recommends starting at the tops of the feet and brushing upwards towards the heart. This direction is said to promote the blood circulation that will help with swelling. “You want the strokes to be long and sweeping – circles don’t work. Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant, like the inner thigh, and don’t forget to include the backs of the arms and the back. Dry brush daily before your morning shower; it takes two minutes and you will see a difference in your skin quality and cellulite in days.” It’s recommended to dry brush before showering because the strokes work to exfoliate the skin meaning you might find flakes of dead skin that you’ll want to wash off.
See below for a helpful guide on the directions of those sweeping brush strokes. Note that if you’re pregnant, avoid dry brushing your stomach. Focus instead on your arms, legs, hands and feet.