And yet, upon seeing Nourish by The Now Copper Dry Brush ($42), I wanted to know more. The brush has copper bristles, which purportedly generate negative ions—invisible molecules with more electrons than protons—to "counter the effects of digital technology." For some people, I'm sure technology brings with it happiness and overall satisfaction with life; however, for me, it's an always-on factory that churns out bad feelings. So naturally, I'm open to anything that will make me feel better about the hours I spend parked in front of my laptop.
There's some research that suggests negative ions might actually be able to do that. Back in the '90s, a Columbia University study found a correlation between negative-ion exposure and feeling less depressed; a recent literature review suggested that, while more research is needed to explore other claims around negative ions, there's real evidence that they could be mood boosting.
So for a week, I dutifully used the copper brush before each nighttime shower, as if to counteract the toxicity of Twitter and breaking news alerts. Using circular motions, I brushed towards the heart—you know the drill—and I found that as it turns out, it's not exactly soothing to brush one's skin with thin metal bristles. While the experience wasn't relaxing in the moment, my skin certainly felt tingly and invigorated afterward. As a bonus, the brush sloughed away my scaly winter skin to reveal the softer layer underneath.
Brushing was only half of the plan to eradicate bad vibes. I'd been a CBD virgin, mostly because '80s anti-drug education scared me into thinking that anything derived from the cannabis plant would unleash reefer madness. But I'm an adult now! Bring on the cannabis! After brushing and showering, I massaged in The Now CBD balm into my shoulder, which had been tight enough to require prescription muscle relaxers. The balm slowly reduced my muscle tension, and after a few nights, I was able to ditch the pills. (A visiting family member, after using the balm on his sore back, bought his own container the next day.) This brush-balm-bed routine—crucially done after putting all devices away for the evening—became a healthy transition from day to night, giving my brain and body a rest from hyperstimulation.
Despite my initial skepticism, the copper dry brush and CBD combination certainly helped me feel less stressed and achy. Were negative ions to thank? Not sure. I suspect the real benefit was creating a ritual to divide my screen-heavy days and book-filled nights. Coincidentally, my screen time went down 25 percent in the first week of brush-and-balming—and if that's not an accomplishment worth crowing about, I don't know what is.
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