My cat, a Siberian forest cat, is one of the most beautiful creatures in existence. He looks resplendently Siamese, with giant blue eyes and long, luxurious hair that somehow - impossibly but truly - does not cause allergies, a characteristic of the breed. Despite his extreme beauty, he was never terribly friendly. He hated and hastily scrambled to escape from even simply the gaze of almost all people, except for my children. They had named him, pretentiously but unavoidably, Fyodor (as in Dostoyevsky, in keeping with the Russian theme), adding to his snobbish air of untouchability.
When I arrived at goop almost five years ago, I was already on the bandwagon regarding many things - clean beauty, personal care, and cleaning products made without the toxins common in conventional products; organic food; yoga; energy work; therapy of many ilks - but there was one goop-staffer obsession that I just could not get with: Dry brushing.
Everyone on staff swore by it, and How to Dry Brush was (and remains) one of our all-time most-popular stories on goop. The dry-brushing raves centred around detoxification, exfoliation, and circulation, with a sometimes-side of a perhaps-effect on cellulite. It was this last that put me off the idea completely. Anything even vaguely rumoured to veil/smooth/counteract/improve/obliterate cellulite provokes a scorn commensurate with the cat on my part: there’s something especially misogynist about proposing a flaw in people’s bodies, then selling said people a lie promising to 'fix' it.
In the meanwhile, a cat brush that I’d bought when we got the cat years ago mysteriously emerged from the woodwork. “Why don’t you brush the poor cat?” asked my boyfriend. This was generous of him, since the cat singled him (and all other grown men) out for particular, pointed avoidance and at times, abject rudeness. I shrugged, and brushed the cat.
When I tell you it took hours, not days for the cat to completely transform into a loving, affectionate, and wildly social- even with men! - version of himself, I am not exaggerating. His lifetime of standoffishness and social distancing evaporated into a permanent, cuddly appreciation of all humans lucky enough to cross his path.
If a daily body brushing can do that for a cat, I reasoned, what might it do for me? I broke down and ordered a brush (a person one). I do it in the mornings, before a shower: The technique is to brush firmly, but not painfully, in the direction of your heart. I start at my feet, work up, and work down. It feels absolutely fantastic, like nerves I didn’t know I had are being awakened and microscopically massaged and refreshed ahead of the day.
The smooth wooden handle is curved to fit your hand, and the sisal brush fibers are briskly Scandinavian- just looking at the brush makes me feel as if I’ve already simplified my life in some important, fundamental sense.
It’s not a full-on exfoliation unless you really brush hard (which I don’t recommend), but it wakes up your spirit like nothing else, along with seemingly every cell in your body. It somehow gets me in touch with my body, too, in a way that makes me appreciative rather than critical. A good body day is an improvement even on a good hair day, or a good skin day, I am here to tell you; start dry-brushing in the seconds before your shower heats up, and you, like me, will feel (and when you feel, you look) more beautiful all day long, not to mention energised. I will in no way ever approach the lush beauty of the cat, and any cellulite, real or imagined, has of course remained unaffected, but what I love about that brush is not just how it feels, or how it makes me feel, but all the secret god-knows-what good effects it’s having on me. Am I happier, healthier? I think I am.