The Best Dry Brushes for Glowing Skin of 2023

best dry brushes

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Dry brushes are more than just another TikTok-viral wellness tool—they can actually help improve the look and feel of your skin. These bristle-studded instruments can scrub off dry, dead skin cells and leave you with an all-over glow. And dry brushing has been around much longer than any social media platform. It has roots in Ayurveda, a holistic medicine system that originated in India thousands of years ago icon-trusted-source Johns Hopkins Medicine “Ayurveda” View Source

Just how well this practice works on your skin can depend on the dry brush you use. After researching about 50 dry brushes and testing six of them firsthand, I found that the EcoTools dry brush is the best option out there. Its stretchy strap kept it firmly attached to my hand as I vigorously swept it over my body and its firm, crinkly bristles polished my skin. It’s also five times less expensive than the next best dry brush, the Dr. Barbara Sturm Soft Body Brush.

Here’s how the top dry brushes stacked up against one another, along with tips for incorporating dry brushing into your skincare and wellness routine.

The best dry brushes, ranked:

  1. EcoTools Dry Brush
  2. Dr. Barbara Sturm Soft Body Brush
  3. Goop G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush
  4. Pursoma Detox Beauty Dry Brush
  5. Esker Dry Brush
  6. Elemis Detox Skin Brush

The Best Dry Brush

Our Top Pick

EcoTools Dry Brush

  • Round handheld dry brush made with “cruelty-free” bristles
$5.98 at Amazon
Product Image
Pros
  • Offers gentle yet effective exfoliation
  • Very affordable
  • Stretchy hand strap
Cons
  • Unclear what the bristles are made of
  • Difficult to use on hard-to-reach areas

The old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true for a lot of things. Just not dry brushes, it turns out. Case in point: the EcoTools Dry Brush. Usually priced at under $6, it was the cheapest option I tested, but it blew the competition out of the water in more ways than just price. This medium-size dry brush offers gentle yet effective exfoliation, and its stretchy strap kept it firmly in place on my hand as I used it.

Like most dry brushes, this one comes ready to use right out of the packaging. The brush features a blonde-wood base with a tan strap on the back. There’s a piece of pink plastic affixed to the opposite side of the base, holding all the bristles in place. The cream-colored bristles are flexible and have a crinkly texture that reminds me of what my hair looks like after it’s been in a couple of braids all day. All in all, it boasts an upscale vibe that wouldn’t look out of place in the gift shop of a fancy spa.

Using this brush felt breezy. I slipped my hand beneath the elastic strap and was impressed with how well it stayed in place as I stroked it on my arms and legs. At four inches in diameter, the head felt like just the right size. It was petite enough to get into small nooks of my body, like my inner ankles, but also large enough to tackle big areas quickly and effectively. 

The clouds of skin dust this brush kicked up from my body left me with little doubt that it was working. I also really enjoyed how this brush felt on my body. It offered a mild exfoliation that reminded me of body scrub treatments I’ve received at spas. After I rinsed off in the shower, my skin actually looked smoother and more radiant. I felt like a goddess. 

This brush is near perfect, but it does have a couple of downsides. Its biggest flaw is its lack of handle. Unless you have super flexible shoulders, you probably won’t be able to reach your entire back with this handheld brush. This didn’t make much of a difference to me, since I don’t usually feel the need to exfoliate my back, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking to dry brush your entire body.

I also didn’t love the lack of transparency about the bristles themselves. EcoTools says the product is made from “cruelty-free bristles,” but nothing on the packaging, Amazon listing, or product page on the brand’s website indicates exactly what they’re made from. My best guess is that they’re made from nylon. On the upside, the bristles and brush itself seem durable. I didn’t see a single bristle shed during testing. This brush will likely hold up for many months or even a year or two of regular use.

I love that the EcoTools dry brush comes at a price that almost anyone can afford. But frankly, even if it cost three times as much, it would still be my favorite dry brush. It’s durable, easy to use, and it gave me a spa-worthy glow. Other customers agree, too. The brush has earned an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars in nearly 7,000 Amazon reviews—an impressive feat for any product. You won’t regret adding this tool to your skincare and wellness routine.

What To Know About Dry Brushing

best dry brushes | dry brushes hanging in bathroom
Svitlana / Unsplash

What is dry brushing?

The practice of dry brushing involves stroking your entire body when your skin is dry with a stiff-bristled brush. The bristles are typically made from natural materials (like plants or animal hair) or synthetic fibers. Exactly which type you choose comes down to personal preference and values—vegans, for example, will likely want to avoid animal products. The bristles should be firm, but not abrasive. Some dry brushes come with a long handle, which can help you exfoliate hard-to-reach body parts, while others strap directly onto your hand with a piece of fabric.

Is dry brushing healthy?

Based on our research and review, dry brushing seems to be a helpful practice for many people when performed properly. With that said, the practice comes with a lot of purported benefits—everything from improving digestion and circulation to removing cellulite to “detoxifying” the skin (whatever that means)—that aren’t backed up by science. 

Let’s start with the main thing dry brushing does: exfoliate skin. The top layer of our skin (the epidermis) sheds around 40,000 old skin cells icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “Skin” View Source to make room for new ones every day. As we age, this process tends to slow down, leading to a buildup of dead skin icon-trusted-source PubMed Central “Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare” View Source . This can make skin look and feel rough and dry. Exfoliating this dead skin, whether you use a dry brush, physical scrub, or a chemical product (like lactic acid), helps remove this buildup and stimulate the turnover of skin cells. This almost immediately leads to more polished, smooth, radiant skin. Plus, it can become part of your self-care routine, and having dedicated self-care practices in your life can help ease feelings of stress and anxiety icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “How To Start a Self-Care Routine” View Source

Unfortunately, research on other supposed benefits is lacking. Dry brushing is decidedly not a miracle cure for cellulite icon-trusted-source Mayo Clinic “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Can anything help cellulite?” View Source . And we couldn’t find studies supporting the idea that it can ease digestion, improve circulation, or promote lymphatic drainage. For what it’s worth, we couldn’t find research proving that dry brushing doesn’t offer those health benefits, either.

Despite its proven benefits for the appearance and texture of skin, dry brushing isn’t for everyone. The American Academy of Dermatology Association says that dry brushing and other forms of mechanical exfoliation can be irritating for people with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin. You also shouldn’t use a dry brush icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “The Truth About Dry Brushing and What It Does for You” View Source if you have cuts, scrapes, sores, burns, or other broken skin, as this could put you at risk of an infection or pain. If you have a skin condition, like eczema or psoriasis, it’s a good idea to chat with a dermatologist before dry brushing to get advice on whether it’s safe for you. Everyone should avoid using a dry brush designed for your body on your face icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “The Truth About Dry Brushing and What It Does for You” View Source , as that skin tends to be more sensitive. 

Benefits of Dry Brushing (And Its Drawbacks)

Dry brushes can help scrub away dead skin cells. They’re absolutely worth it if you want a radiant, polished complexion, as long as dry brushing doesn’t aggravate your skin.A dry brush can be a useful tool for your beauty and wellness routine if you’re looking to exfoliate dead skin and want to practice a bit of self-care. Research shows that exfoliation can give you more radiant, healthy-looking skin.

Dry brushing isn’t right for everyone, though. Consider more gentle forms of exfoliation if you have particularly sensitive or very dry skin (a washcloth might be all you need!). If you have very sensitive skin, check in with a dermatologist about whether you should use a dry brush.

Which Features Matter Most in a Dry Brush? 

  • Bristle stiffness: The bristles should be firm enough to slough off dead skin cells, but not so stiff that they cause abrasions or discomfort. Look for a medium-firm brush.
  • Bristle source: Dry brush bristles can be made from synthetic or natural fibers, which can come from plants or animals. If you hold values against using animal products, avoid dry brushes made from boar hair or similar materials. As you’re shopping, you may come across dry brushes made with copper bristles. These might be too harsh for people new to dry brushing, though. 
  • Handle: If you want to remove dry skin from your back and other hard-to-reach areas, it can be helpful to find a dry brush with a long handle. 
  • Brush head size: The brush should be big enough to tackle large areas of the body reasonably quickly. However, its size shouldn’t make it difficult to brush smaller areas of the body with some degree of precision. I found that a dry brush that’s slightly larger than the size of my palm worked perfectly. 

The Dry Brush User Manual

best dry brushes | dry brush sitting on white surface
Sun Studio Creative

How to dry brush

There’s no single agreed-upon dry brush technique, but it’s generally recommended to start from your feet and work your way up, following the natural flow of the lymphatic system. You can try using long, upward strokes toward your heart, or short, brisk sweeps on your body—this video provides a good starting point. Another dry brushing method involves circular motions all over the body. Try experimenting with different pressures and techniques to see which feels best for you. 

The recommended frequency of exfoliation can vary from person to person as well. Some people may find it useful to dry brush before taking a shower every day, while others may only be able to tolerate it once a week or less. Keep an eye on how your skin reacts and adjust accordingly until you find a dry brushing schedule that works for you.

Dry brushing and other forms of physical exfoliation can cause water loss in the skin icon-trusted-source PubMed Central “Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare” View Source . Consider following the practice with moisturizer to prevent dryness.

How often should I dry brush?

There’s no exact science to determine how frequently you should dry brush. Some people make it part of their daily routine, while others dry brush once or twice a week, or simply as needed. Experiment until you find a schedule that works with your skin. 

What is the best time to dry brush?

If you’re wondering whether to dry brush before or after showering, definitely dry brush before your shower, not after. Both your skin and your brush need to be dry so that the friction of the brush can exfoliate the dead cells. Plus, the water from your shower can wash away any skin flakes that have been loosened up by the brush. 

Can you dry brush your face?

You can dry brush your face, as long as you do so carefully, gently, and with the right tool. Not all skin is the same, and the skin on your face is thinner and more delicate than it is on your body, according to the American Acne Association. That means a more sensitive approach is in order when you want to exfoliate there. Look for a dry brush designed specifically for the face, which will usually have a small, round head and super soft bristles. Try different brushing techniques, like using gentle downward strokes or small circular motions, to see which feels and works best for you. And if your face starts to feel tight, irritated, or uncomfortable, stop dry brushing and consider switching to a more gentle exfoliation method instead.

How We Got Here

Best dry brushes | dry brush and self-care items on counter
Diana Light

Meet Your Guinea Pig

I’m Joni Sweet. I’ve been covering health and wellness as a writer and editor for major publications for more than 10 years. My work is in SELF, Health, Prevention, Forbes, Healthline, mindbodygreen, Greatist, and dozens of other publications. I battle dry skin every winter and I’m always looking for easy ways to exfoliate the dead flakes and get a radiant glow.

Our Testing Process

I started this testing process by reading product reviews in eight other mainstream publications, expecting to find 4-5 dry brushes that regularly ranked highly. Instead, a whopping 50 dry brushes earned positive reviews, so I plotted them on a spreadsheet to see which ones earned the most frequent mentions in other articles. 

Nine dry brushes emerged as testing contenders. I eliminated two for being too similar to more popular options. Another finalist, the Gilded Body Brush, wasn’t easily available in the U.S. at the time of testing, so I removed it from our list. That left me with the six dry brushes reviewed in this story. The Nessie then ordered them for me for testing.

To try each brush, I removed it from its packaging and assessed how it looked and felt as I held it. I ran my hand over the brush head to see how stiff the bristles felt and see whether there was any shedding. Then, I tested it on my body by using long, sweeping motions toward my heart. I primarily focused on my arms and legs, where dead skin tends to build up on my body. But I also tried to use each brush on my back to see whether it was doable. This process typically took about 10 minutes per brush. I gave my body 3-4 days between dry brushing sessions to avoid aggravating my skin.

After each dry brushing session, I immediately took a shower, evaluated my skin afterward, and applied moisturizer or body oil to lock in hydration. I liked brushes that left me with a noticeably smoother, more radiant complexion. Some brushes left me with negative effects, like red skin and scratches, that lasted for several hours after use. Those lost points in my review.

For more on how we found the best dry brushes, read the test notes.

Other Dry Brushes to Consider

Dr. Barbara Sturm Soft Body Brush

  • Handheld dry brush made from soft boar bristles
  • Comes in soft and medium variations
$40 at Amazon $40 at Dr. Barbara Sturm
Product Image
Pros
  • Dense, soft bristles
  • Includes detailed instructions
  • Offers comfortable exfoliation
Cons
  • Most expensive option I tested
  • Strap doesn’t tighten to your hand

The dry brush from Dr. Barbara Sturm was a top pick from reviewers in almost every other publication I read. The brush offers comfortable, effective exfoliation and has a high-end feel. But between its shoddy hand strap and its ultra-high price point, it fell significantly short of our top pick from EcoTools.

I really liked the way this brush looked and felt right off the bat. It has a medium-dark wood base that’s been sanded completely smooth. The five-inch-long oval-shaped brush head is filled with stubby tan boar bristles that feel like a hairbrush. It also comes with a handy instruction booklet that has a diagram covering how to use the brush on every part of the body. 

Using the brush felt great. It removed quite a lot of dead skin, and the soft bristles gave me a pleasant tingly sensation. My skin felt smooth all over and looked more even.

Still, I can’t quite stomach the idea of dropping $40 on a dry brush when the results weren’t any better than what I got from the EcoTools option at a fraction of the cost. And pricing wasn’t the only problem with this brush: Its strap was pointless. It’s made from a large, stiff piece of fabric that doesn’t have any stretch whatsoever, so it doesn’t stay snug to your hand. I found that I needed to curl my fingers around the edge of the brush to use it confidently, ultimately leading to a less comfortable experience. It seems like such an oversight on this otherwise nice dry brush.

It’s clear there are some improvements to be made for this dry brush to justify its high price. It has also only earned an average 3.5 out of 5 stars in reviews on Sephora, where customers tend to be relatively comfortable with spending big on products like these. It did perform better than many other brushes we tried, though, and it could be worth trying if you’re the type of shopper who gravitates toward prestigious brands. But Dr. Sturm really needs to fix this brush’s strap to earn our seal of approval. 

Goop G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush

  • Dry brush with a long handle and plant-based bristles
$25 at Amazon
Product Image
Pros
  • Long handle
  • Effective exfoliation
  • Decent size brush head
Cons
  • Somewhat abrasive
  • Retains a lot of dead skin
  • Stiff, rough bristles

Given the price and prestige of Goop products, I have high expectations of anything from this brand. So naturally, seeing a dent smack dab on the back of the brand’s dry brush right when I pulled it out of the box was disappointing. That turned out to be one of several flaws with the product. However, it does have a long handle that proved helpful at reaching my mid-back and gave decent exfoliation overall, so this brush isn’t one to write off completely.

The bristles on this brush are made from sisal, a type of agave plant, which is great for folks who want to avoid animal products. They are a bit stiffer and hardier than the boar’s hair in the Dr. Barbara Sturm dry brush, and proved effective at getting rid of lots of dry skin on my body. I also loved that this brush had a handle. It fit perfectly in my hand and allowed me to brush parts of my body I can’t normally reach, like between my shoulder blades. 

Despite its strengths, this brush had some key issues. When I pulled it out of the box, I noticed signs of wear on the base of the handle, as well as a dent in the wood behind the brush head. It shed several bristles when I rubbed my hand over it and as I used it on my body. It also left my skin very red for a couple of hours. 

With an average of 4.1 stars on Amazon, the Goop G.Tox Ultimate Dry Brush has left many customers satisfied. I can see the product working well for someone with non-sensitive skin who wants a dry brush that can exfoliate their back. But keep in mind that this brush doesn’t seem very durable, so you may need to budget for a replacement a few months down the line.

Dry Brushes You Can Skip

Pursoma Detox Beauty Dry Brush

  • Handheld dry brush with a doughnut shape
  • Plant-based bristles
$24.99 at Amazon
Product Image
Pros
  • Soft bristles feel nice on the body
Cons
  • Doesn’t remove much dead skin
  • Hard to hold

If you’re looking for a dry brush that can remove every last flake of dry skin, skip this option and go for any other product on this list instead. Even though the jute bristles on this Pursoma Detox Beauty Dry Brush are pleasantly soft, reminding me of an antique teddy bear, they failed to provide the exfoliation I was looking for. They also shedded a bit when I used it.

Another problem with this dry brush: It’s tricky to hold! The attached stubby wooden peg is presumably supposed to serve as the handle, but it was so small, I could barely grip it between my thumb and index finger. I ended up gripping the entire doughnut-shaped brush with my hand, which made for a clunky exfoliation experience and messed up its shape. There’s no way I’d be able to reach parts of my back with this brush.

This brush was the softest one I tested, so it could be a compelling option for someone with highly sensitive skin. I think you’d need to use it every single day to see any noticeable results on your complexion, though.

Esker Dry Brush

  • Small dry brush with hemp-wrapped handle
$18 at Amazon
Product Image
Pros
  • Soft bristles feel safe for sensitive skin
Cons
  • Too small
  • Didn’t exfoliate as well as other brushes
  • Sheds bristles

This dry brush from Esker didn’t offer much to love. It started shedding its natural bristles right out of the packaging. Its small head (just 3 inches in diameter) took forever to dry brush my body. I also had to go over my skin several times to see any difference in my complexion. 

It wasn’t all bad, though. The brush did ultimately leave me with slightly smoother skin. I appreciated that the brush was attached to a handle wrapped in hemp string, which made it easier to grip, although I wish the handle itself was twice as long.

The Esker dry brush didn’t do it for me. But if you’re looking for a dupe for the Dr. Barbara Sturm dry brush, try this one. It’s less than half the price and its bristles felt almost identical to the more expensive option, although given the shedding, it’s unlikely to hold up over the long run. 

Elemis Detox Skin Brush

  • Dry brush made with cactus bristles
  • Comes with separate handle
$32.85 at Amazon $45 at Elemis
Product Image
Pros
  • Versatile design
Cons
  • Stiff, harsh bristles
  • Scratched my skin

The Elemis Detox Skin Brush intimidated me the moment I rubbed my hand across its harsh bristles. Just one uncomfortable sweep over my leg, and lots of white scratch marks appeared. It felt like exfoliating with a Brillo pad—effective, but overkill.

The brush has a great design concept, though. It comes with a 14-inch wooden handle that slides into a groove on the back of the brush head, so you can use it on your back. The brush head can also be used sans the handle, in theory. But like the dry brush from Dr. Barbara Sturm, the strap on the back of the brush head was not stretchy at all, so the brush ended up flopping around my hand as I used it. 

Because the design isn’t polished and the bristles are so abrasive, this is a dry brush to skip.

Sources

  1. It has roots in Ayurveda, a holistic medicine system that originated in India thousands of years ago: “AyurvedaJohns Hopkins Medicine.
  2. The top layer of our skin (the epidermis) sheds around 40,000 old skin cells to make room for new ones every day: “Skin.” Cleveland Clinic (October 2021).
  3. As we age, this process tends to slow down, leading to a buildup of dead skin: “Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open (December 2016).
  4. Plus, it can become part of your self-care routine, and having dedicated self-care practices in your life can help ease feelings of stress and anxiety: “How To Start a Self-Care Routine.” Cleveland Clinic (February 2022).
  5. Dry brushing is decidedly not a miracle cure for cellulite: “Mayo Clinic Q and A: Can anything help cellulite?Mayo Clinic (February 2018).
  6. Everyone should avoid using a dry brush designed for your body on your face , as that skin tends to be more sensitive: “The Truth About Dry Brushing and What It Does for You.” Cleveland Clinic (November 2021).

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This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

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