Cellulite is a body hangup for loads of people.
It doesn’t matter how thin or fit you are (Kate Moss has it), that orange peel skin still seems to develop.
But there may finally be a solution – and it’s one that’s been around for hundreds of years.
Body brushing is the ancient Chinese practice that’s back in vogue as a natural way to shift kilos.
All you need apparently is a jade comb which you brush against your “troublesome” areas to improve cellulite, water retentions, dryness and bumps.
And it’s also supposed to be quite handy for shifting those extra few inches of body fat too.
It’s all to do with lymphatic drainage – removing toxins from the body.
Katie Brindle is the founder of wellbeing company, The Hayo’u Method. She’s been credited with bringing the Chinese technique to the UK, as part of “gua sha” – a type of self-massage where you “press stroke” the skin with a cool, flat-edged tool.
“Body combing is a form of gua sha, a therapeutic healing technique, widely practised in China for thousands of years to rebalance and heal the body,” she told The Sun.
Chinese medicine believes that disease and health issues start at an energetic level, with a disruption of energy flow around the body.
“This stagnation can be caused by both physical or emotional upset, for example, stress. The overall purpose of massage is to release stagnation, improving qi and blood circulation to restore balance and uninterrupted energy flow,” Brindle explains.
In Chinese medicine, it’s believed that energy channels travel up the front of the body and down the back.
The comb works to unblock energy channels and release stagnation of energy – which you can do by stimulating blood flow or moving your lymphatic fluid.
It works on the same principle as acupuncture
But Brindle says that the massage technique also works on a deeper level.
“It draws blood up to the surface of the skin by 400 per cent. Toxins are cleared using the normal excretory function of the skin,” she says.
“You can see the results in smooth, svelte-looking limbs.”
Normally done on the face, that movement can help to give you an anti-ageing glow (both Beyonce and Meghan Markle are fans).
Body brushing for weight loss
Brindle says that she first came across body brushing 18 months ago while in Shanghai, where a therapist used a jade comb all over her body – focusing on her belly and thighs.
Leaving feeling lighter and more energetic, she then found that body combing was becoming increasingly popular in spas across Asia for its toning and weight-loss benefits.
She claims that body combing with jade twice a day has zapped an inch of fat and cellulite from each thigh.
The added benefit to combing, she says, is that unlike regular cellulite massage which pushes toxins inwards, it draws toxins out.
And she says it can work for us too.
“Often, being overweight is not because you ate too much or haven’t exercised enough, it’s because of a weak or imbalanced digestive system,” Brindle says.
“Body combing, particularly around the abdomen, stimulates the qi, which supports the digestive system and rebalances the internal organs.
“There is a meridian here called the ‘Dai meridian’. According to Chinese medicine, fat accumulation in these areas is often due to the blockages in this channel.
“Cellulite occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin. In Chinese medicine, cellulite is connected to water metabolism. When our Qi is stagnant, proper fluid management is impeded, which causes cellulite.”
How to shift fat with body combing in 5 easy steps
Brindle says that technique isn’t actually important – it’s just the fact that you’re doing it that matters.
1. Start at the hairline of the forehead and press the comb down over the crown line to the nape of the neck.
2. Repeat from the temples to the neck on either side. The meridians all have connections with the head and scalp – so it treats the whole body, rather like reflexology.
3. Then work from the centre of the chest towards the armpit, eight times on each side.
4. Then comb from the lower spine around to the ribs and then down the front of the tummy from ribs to hips , around 20-30 times.
5. Finally, follow the meridian lines which run down the outside of the legs and up the inside, and the opposite for the arms. You can just do extra combing to target any specific areas.
How to choose a jade comb
Jade has been the “crystal of choice” for thousands of years in Chinese medicine, Brindle says.
It’s known for its restorative and cooling properties.
Some tools are expensive and some cheap, but Brindle says it’s worth spending a bit.
“Cheaper tools are likely to be made from inferior jade, resin, composites or plastic and therefore provide little or no healing benefit,” she says.
“100 per cent jade is much rarer than composite. You can tell it’s real because it is really smooth, it will differ slightly in colour as it is natural, cold to touch and doesn’t break easily.
“There’s an easy rule to follow – if it’s cheap, it’s probably not real jade.
“Many of the cheaper versions on the market are actually made from glass and infused with dye to match the colour of the jade stone.”
So it depends on what you’re after and what your priorities are.
So, does it work?
Well, lymphatic drainage and massage may help a bit with weight loss but it’s largely down to stress reduction.
A 2014 study found that concrete results were quite limited but did find that while cellulite wasn’t reduced, there was a small reduction in the hip circumference of women who got a massage every week for 14 weeks.
And scientists concluded that it was probably down to the high increase in those women’s quality of life – due to stress reduction.
Having a proper self-care regime in place is going to help you take better care of yourself overall – whether that’s via diet, movement, sleep or skincare.
So think of it more as an aid to your healthy habits.
The effect of stress on weight management is well documented; lack of sleep, over-exercising, mental stress can all see us piling on the kilos.
Get rid of the stress and you could see your body change dramatically – so long as you’re already leading a healthy lifestyle.