The Compression Closet is excited to partner with Vanessa Hemingway this week as our guest blogger! Vanessa will share the benefits of dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow with us. She is a holistic occupational therapist and lymphatic specialist, owner and CEO of her company Vital Lymph. Her passion is guiding people on their healing journey out of inflammation and into a life of flow, whether their stories involve critical illness and recovery, adrenal fatigue, or grief. Vanessa has a private practice in California but also works with patients online, offering different healing programs and consultations. I hope you enjoy this week’s special guest blog post and that you gain inspiration and knowledge from this beautiful lady.


Sacred GarmentOur amazing skin!! It is the largest eliminatory organ of our body, the pathway for removing 10-15% of our daily waste accumulation. It receives a third of all the blood circulating within us and is the home of our superficial lymphatic system. The skin detoxifies and metabolizes, playing a critical role in immune health. There is nothing superficial about our outermost layer!

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Indians all used the healing art of dry brushing in some form. The Russians, Turks, Japanese, Scandinavians, and Native Americans. This self-care ritual for daily grounding and energizing crosses cultures and time. When we connect with ourselves in this way, we connect with our ancestors and tap into an ancient source of healing wisdom.

Over 5,000 years ago, India used silk gloves or gharshana. The ancient Greeks and Romans employed a curved bronze blade similar to a spoon called a strigil; this ritual was intimate, and influential individuals were typically buried with their exfoliating strigils. The Chinese used loofahs (the gourd fruit, silk squash), Native Americans, and dried corn cobs. Egyptians included exfoliating honey, wine, and milk in their ritual.

Little scientific research has been done to prove the efficacy of this treatment and these varied tools, but anecdotal evidence, as well as a generalized understanding of our physiology, strongly supports the benefits. The experience of this ancient art in your body will verify whether this potentially loving and healing practice is for you.

THE WHY:Dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow

  • Exfoliate: Sloughing off dead skin cells stimulates new healthy cell proliferation to replace old dead cells.
  • Boost circulation: A mild localized inflammatory response provokes increased blood flow in the skin.
  • Promote flow: The superficial lymphatic vessels live beneath the skin’s surface in the dermis (the dual layer of skin beneath the most superficial epidermis). By brushing along the lymph pathways, we are directing and accelerating lymph flow and drainage.
  • Invigorate: The dry brush awakens the nerve endings in the dermis with the lymphatics, leaving you feeling invigorated and energized.

From a traditional Ayurvedic perspective, dry brushing detoxifies the body by promoting the healthy flow of tissue fluids (known in Sanskrit as rasa dhatu), particularly lymph. Rasa dhatu refers to our “inner ocean,” the blood plasma, lymph, and interstitial fluids that bathe and nourish us from within. When our inner ocean and all its tributaries and rivulets flow easily and in balance, the whole body experiences well-being.

People with sensitive skin should take care when dry brushing. If a dry brush causes any irritation, try silk gloves (garshana). If even the gloves are irritating, dry brushing may not be a good option. 

Avoid dry brushing skin affected by eczema, psoriasis, acne, infection, sunburn, cancer, moles, warts, or open wounds. Brush gently around varicosities, and do not brush areas where you have papillomas (lymph fluid-filled blisters that can be fragile and easily ruptured).

dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow minTHE BROAD STROKES:

  • Dry brush 2-5x/wk–use your skin response as a guide to what’s uniquely right for you!
  • The ritual should take 3-5 minutes
  • Never dry brush on broken skin
  • Generally, dry brush, then shower, then moisturize
  • Short strokes; a general rule is gentle on softer areas, firmer on denser, harder areas
  • Chest, breasts, and stomach tend to be sensitive: be mindful, gentle, loving
  • More vigorous in the morning to start the day, gentler in the evening to send you to sleep
  • Clean brush weekly with warm water and soap and hang to dry (*see more detailed instructions below); replace annually


Lymphatic Clearing:

  • Engage the diaphragm muscle and jumpstart the lymphatic engine with 5-10 belly breaths.deep breathing
  • Manage the mother drains in each lymphatic region of the body first.
  • The termini, where the lymph enters the bloodstream, are located at the base of your neck, right above your collarbones. Gently pull your hands from the base of your ears at the sides of the neck. Continue to the hollows above your collarbones ten times in a down and inward motion.
  • Clear the axillary nodes in the armpit. Begin by placing your hand where you would put deodorant or shave and slowly pump up and into the armpit, moving the lymph fluid along a deep pathway toward the neck. Repeat ten times on both sides.
  • The inguinal lymph nodes, located in the groin crease at the top of the thigh, are the last of the nodes to stimulate before dry brushing. Place the full hand at each groin crease and stroke up and toward the belly button ten times.

Begin To Dry Brush:dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow

  •  Begin at the midline of the chest and brush gently toward the armpit. Start below the collar bones and line from the sternum to the armpit in short strokes. Return to the sternum and work in lines toward the armpit, moving each line toward the belly button, brushing one side of the chest to the armpit and the other side of the chest to the armpit. ** On radiated skin and some scar tissue, use only silk gloves or avoid dry brushing completely. Consult your physician and lymphatic therapist before addressing these areas with any exfoliating practice.
  • Then brush the back body from the spine to the sides and up toward the armpit. This area can be tough to reach. Be kind to yourself. Employ a long-handled brush if this helps.
  • Thirdly, brush each arm in upward strokes, starting from the back of the hand to the wrist, towards the inside of the elbow, and moving from the elbow towards the underarms. Direct the lymph to drain through the armpit. Don’t forget to repeat this on your opposite arm!
  • Follow with brushing your lower abdomen below the belly button toward the groin on each side and your buttocks and low back on each side from the midline/spine to the groin in front.
  • Next, brush from the tops of the feet past the ankles towards the knees in an upward & gentle motion; repeat in the same manner on the sides and from behind the ankle, up towards the back of the knee, brushing the whole calf and foot. Use the same technique on your opposite leg.
  • Then brush in upward strokes from above the knee towards the groin. Repeat on the back and sides of the thigh. Use the same technique on your opposite leg.

Finishing The Process:winter skin care

  • Finally, post dry brushing, enjoy a shower. This will help remove the dead skin cells you just brushed loose. Then rehydrate and nourish the skin, applying your lotion of choice (I recommend Lymphology Skincare Body Cream, coconut, or almond oil). Your pores are open; this is the best time to apply clean skin food to complete your immune-boosting ritual. 
  • Brush care: Place a few drops of castile soap, tea tree, and lavender essential oils into a shallow bowl. Tap brush over trash or sink to remove excess dead cells, and place in water only to the depth of bristles. Finally, shake off and leave bristles to dry in a well-ventilated location.


And after going through this healing ritual of dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow–-if you have questions or concerns about your vital flow you’d like support with, please schedule a  Vital Lymph Solutions Call with me.

The Vital Lymph Solutions Call: In this 30-minute call, we will assess your biggest healing challenge together and lay out a plan for you to shift and solve that issue together. You will leave this call with at least one strategy you can implement immediately to feel better. If it’s fit to do more work together, I will let you know what that would look like. And if there’s someone else I can recommend that would be a better fit, I will get you that referral.

It IS possible to unblock your vital flow, no matter your experience or diagnosis,

and live the life you love.  


Did you enjoy this post about dry brushing to improve lymphatic flow by Vanessa Hemingway?! I certainly hope so! I also wanted to let you know that Vanessa now offers a 5-day “Awaken Your Vital Flow” wellness challenge. This program will start on September 5 and go through the 9th through her Facebook Group. 

To join her on this journey, email her at [email protected]. Subject line: “Count me in!” embed your name and email address in the email, and she will send you an invite. 

To learn more about Vanessa, along with the work she does, you can go to her website. In addition, you can also find Vanessa on Facebook and Instagram.

Support your Well Being

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

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