habit shift: brushing my face.

April 2, 2019
wooden face brush | reading my tea leaves

I’ve been brushing my face. I thought you should know.

I’ve been brushing it dry, using gentle upward strokes. Brushing my neck, too. And what other women might refer to as their décolletage, but what is for me, all skin and sternum.

When I pull the brush across my forehead, my skin ripples even under the light pressure. It’s as disconcerting as it is mesmerizing—a reminder that my skin’s growing a bit looser and my cheeks a little less round. There are fine smile lines around my eyes, even when I’m not smiling. Not complaints, just observations.

A few days ago, Faye looked at my face and announced, unprompted: “You don’t have wrinkles now, but you will when you’re a hundred.”

If I’m lucky, I thought. And so, perspective is thing I try to bear in mind.

wooden face brush | reading my tea leaves

Back to the face brush: I’m not claiming it works miracles, but it’s sure formed a habit. It feels less perfunctory and more sacred than other small practices of personal hygiene, and so at the risk of waxing poetic on the topic of sloughing off dead skin cells, I’ll say that I find it rather restorative.

More than that, there seems to be a physiological benefit. My skin feels less dry after brushing and I don’t think I’ve totally deluded myself into thinking that after brushing my skin is better able to absorb my latest favorite face oil; that somehow, against all odds, I’ve managed to maintain a bit of the glow that’s normally dampened this time of year.

All this to say, that if you’re looking to form a new habit, I wouldn’t tell you not to brush your face. Or your neck. Or whatever kind of chest you have. As Faye would say, “I’m really into it.”

wooden face brush | reading my tea leaves

What about you guys? Any face brushing enthusiasts out there? Other miracle workers (or close-enough) that I should know about?

For the curious:

+ I found my Iris Hantverk wooden face brush locally, at Regular Visitors.

+ This old post needs an update, but here’s more on favorite face oils from a few years ago. Most recently, I’ve been really enjoying the Noto Botanicals Deep Serum.

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Sarah April 2, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    I bought a Muji face brush the last time you posted about this habit. I like it, and am disconcerted-but-pleased with how much dust (ahem, dead skin) I can see in the air when I use it. Still working on actually making it habitual.

    Any tips for cleaning it? I assume dish soap, rinse thoroughly and air dry would work fine?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Ah! Six years ago! Yes to your method for cleaning! When I was using a face brush regularly before, I actually used it in the shower and stored it there too. My brush became cracked and moldy after a year or so, so if you’re using it wet, I’d definitely recommend keeping your brush in a spot where it can dry out completely!

      • Reply Sarah April 3, 2019 at 7:54 pm

        Oh, fair warning! I use it dry (I saw other articles around the same time about dry-brushing skin in general), so it’s still intact 🙂

  • Reply Emily April 2, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I came across a face brush at Muji a few years ago and it’s still a regular part of my routine, so much so that when I came across a dry brush for my body I picked that up too. And yes, maybe 50% of the thrill is that I feel dry and then I *have* to take care of myself and moisturize from head to toe. Glowy skin + spending more time in contact with your own skin = a lot to love.

  • Reply Anna April 2, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I have the same Iris Hantverk brush (purchased here in Europe)! Haven’t tried this myself, but I heard the owner of a natural brush shop recommend spraying the brush with alcohol, with a few drops of essential oil added to the spray bottle (tea trea or another with disinfectant properties). That might be a way of cleaning the brush without drenching it with water…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      Oh, awesome! Will have to investigate!

  • Reply Judith A Ross April 2, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Any idea how often face brushing is recommended for those of us who already (ahem) have a few wrinkles and thinner, aging skin? Also, I’d love to know the source for that top you are wearing in the IG post — the color is fabulous.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      I do it just a few times a week! The shirt I have on today is from the Elizabeth Suzann x Alabama Chanin collection!

  • Reply Mims April 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    I’m 58, and I dont really have alot wrinkles per se, but my fair irish skin is full of blotches and fine broken capillaries and other sun induced damage. I have spent my whole life loving outdoor activities: swimming, skiing, hiking, gardening, sunbathing. I did not really start protecting my skin with hats/sunblock, etc. till about ten years ago. When I was younger I was afraid of wrinkles but no one really tells you about the other things that happen to age you….like your facial bones changing shape and distribution of fat and of course the sagging and loss of elasticity. I am not really vain, and dont even wear make up, but try to embrace my changing face. I am not sure I love or hate I am resembling my paternal grandmother more and more….and I certainly woudl not have given up all that fun I had in the sun.

  • Reply Lauren April 2, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    For the past several years, I’ve brushed my body before my shower a few times a week. I’m not sure if it has made a visible difference, but it wakes me up in the best way and has made me love my body more. Funny to think I have never considered brushing my face! I’m going to try this immediately.

  • Reply Summer April 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve been jade rolling my face in the morning. I keep it in the fridge and roll my puffy sleep deprived eyes awake while my babies eat their breakfasts. It’s a little strange, but it feels so indulgent!!!

  • Reply Nadia April 2, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    I never use a face oil before. Do you use a cleanser before? At 36, I still have no clue about the right way to clean/moist my face.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      I usually just wash my face with water!

      • Reply Dana Leigh Lyons April 3, 2019 at 10:25 pm

        Me too! I’m 44 and find less is more with products. Water and oil do wonders.

  • Reply BRI April 2, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Hi Erin, I’m a bit nervous about the idea of brushing my face with brush bristles. Have you spoken with or investigated what dermatologists generally recommend and what the long term result might be on the skin tissues?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      The bristles on a face brush are exceedingly soft! Careful use a few times a week should be just fine, but certainly be in touch with your doctor if you’re nervous!

  • Reply Yelena April 2, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    I will need to look into getting one of these brushes =) I love anything exfoliating… i’m curious as to how really soft are the bristles.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 2, 2019 at 10:07 pm

      Very soft!

  • Reply Kim April 3, 2019 at 12:14 am

    I’ve been dry brushing my body daily before showering for a few years now—it’s a wonderful wake up—and my face maybe once a week, if I remember. Erin, would you please share where you found the lovely soft-looking face cloth pictured with the brush? I recently purchased a muslin face cloth, but it is very abrasive. I very much enjoy your posts—only wish there had been something similar when my two children were young!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 3, 2019 at 7:56 am

      Yes! Washcloth is from Willaby! I love them so much—small but might!

  • Reply Madeleine April 3, 2019 at 12:54 am

    I can not recommend this facial oil highly enough : https://holdgeneral.ca/collections/bath/products/face-oil-2
    I love the smell and the way it makes my skin feel. I’m a big proponent of splashing water on my face most of the time but a little oil self-care a couple times a week provides small but wonderful opportunities for pause. Am curious about facial brushing and will give it a try!

  • Reply ana goldseker April 3, 2019 at 6:28 am

    I definitely have been brushing my body and face for years (Totally off and on! I am not perfect by any stretch!!) I do find it meditative. I now actually like it. If nothing else, it brings circulation to the skin.

  • Reply Jessica April 3, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I’ve tried dry brushing and the konjac sponge and I enjoy both. But lately, I’ve taken the deep dive into dermaplaning (aka, I shave my face 1/month) and the results are amazing.

    • Reply Rita April 4, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      This is nightmare material for me 🙂 don’t the facial hairs grow stronger?

    • Reply Sophie April 9, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Had to look up dermaplaning and now I’m fascinated! Do you do this yourself at home?

  • Reply Laura April 4, 2019 at 6:51 am

    Hi, Erin! I’ve found this blog so helpful throughout the years. I started reading around the time my daughter was born four (almost five) years ago. The values and lifestyle you write about resonate with me.

    Right now, I’m struggling with work/life balance. That term is a little cringy to me because I’m not sure you can ever find a true balance, but I’m not sure how else to describe this dilemma. Could you update us on how you schedule your work week? Have you prioritized work differently after having a second child?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 4, 2019 at 9:28 am

      First of all, thanks for your support and such kind words. I’m so glad to have you here. Second of all, yes! Will try to pull together some thoughts on this soon!

  • Reply Beverly Fisher April 4, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    I love using a dry brush on my body, definitely a great way to wake up in the morning, I am a makeup minimalist but I love using face oil with a tiny dollop of bronzer.

  • Reply Mihela August 1, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    I use a dry brush on my body, especially in winter. I add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil.. what bliss. 🙂

  • Reply Sonia August 6, 2021 at 2:51 am

    Hi Erin, have been following you for a couple of years now, absolutely love your beautiful blog! I also own and have gifted your book a couple of times, too. Just wondering if you still use this Iris Hantverk brush for dry brushing ? I’m looking to purchase one (hard to find here in Australia) but I’ve finally found a shop that stocks it.
    Thanks xx

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 6, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      I do!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.