Dry brushing is one of those wellness practices in which once you start, you can’t stop. I currently have one hanging in my bathroom (thanks, Joanna Vargas!), and over the last year it’s become a permanent staple in my wellness routine. But recently, a dermatologist filled me in on the one place that I should never, ever be using one of my favorite tools: On my back.
Why? “You will set off an itch scratch cycle that can lead to thickened dark skin in the middle of your back,” says board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD. This, she explains, is called macular amyloidosis, and studies have confirmed that it can be caused by “prolonged friction from a rough nylon towel or brush.” So in addition to cooling it with your back scratching and scrubbing, it’s probably best not to aggressively rub your skin with your towel post-shower, either.
My mind was completely blown upon making this discovery, so I checked in with board-certified dermatologist Caroline Robinson, MD, to see if there was anything else worth knowing a la safe practices. She confirmed that dry brushing can potentially cause hyperpigmentation because of the constant, chronic friction against the skin. “The skin’s natural response to this type of chronic friction is to release melanin from the skin cells into the tissue created visibly darkened areas of skin,” Dr. Robinson explains, cautioning that it can happen on any area of skin—not just the back. She adds that using a brush when wet may help minimize this type of friction, but it’s maybe not the best idea to do that, either.
While we’re on the subject of things not to do in the shower, a dermatologist recently told me that you should never, ever, ever, scrub your face with a loofah because, a) it’s wayyyy too exfoliating, and, b) it’s basically a cesspool for bacteria that you don’t want anywhere near your face. So I guess we can all agree to use our shower tools where they belong? The more you know.
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