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What Is a Sisal Brush?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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A sisal brush is a stiff-bristled brush made from fibers from the sisal plant. It may also be referred to as a Japanese-style sisal brush. Typically, this type of brush has a long wooden handle with a string at one end for hanging, and the brush portion at the other end. It is used to scrub and massage places on the body that are difficult to reach, such as the back.

A sisal brush may also be designed with a long, flat brush portion in the middle, along with two rope handles at each end. This design allows it to be scrubbed across the body in a see-sawing motion. Either brush design can be effective. This type of natural fiber brush is used for deep exfoliation and massage of the skin, and it is frequently used dry. This type of rough exfoliation may take some getting used to, but it is a good way to slough off dead skin and reveal fresher, softer skin underneath.

A sisal brush may also be used wet, in the shower, for slightly more gentle exfoliation. Whether the brush is used wet or dry, it is best to begin with a gentle scrubbing until the skin becomes more used to the exfoliation of the sisal bristles, and then more pressure can be applied for a deeper exfoliating massage. The brush does not only need to be used on the back; it may be used on other rough places, such as the knees or feet, or even all over the body for a full-body exfoliating treatment. It should not be used on more sensitive areas like the face.

Because the sisal brush may also be able to improve circulation, some recommend always brushing in a circular motion, toward the heart. One may use this type of brush every day, once a week, or as needed; any use can provide skin benefits. These brushes may be purchased in varying textures, and it may be a good idea to start with a softer textured brush, and slowly move up to a medium or hard bristled brush over time.

These brushes may be found online or in the bath section of most stores. For more gentle, daily use for cleansing, one may choose a back brush with a loofah or sponge attached, rather than a sisal brush. Another option is to visit a salon that offers massaging treatments with this type of brush. A massage therapist will be able to effectively exfoliate areas that are difficult to reach, while allowing the client to relax and enjoy the massage.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Aug 07, 2012

@burcidi-- I agree with @ankara. I'm sure everyone's skin reacts differently to different exfoliating brushes. But I have a sisal loofah face brush and I use it every morning and evening. I have not had any irritation or pain from it. It's really gentle.

Regardless of whether you are using a sisal brush or a loofah, make sure that you are using it for the right body part. A sisal body brush can be too harsh for the face and a sisal face brush would not exfoliate the body enough. Both of these are made of sisal fibers but they are processed and shaped differently depending on what it's supposed to be used for.

By bluedolphin — On Aug 06, 2012

@burcidi-- I wonder if you're confusing a brush with cactus bristles with a sisal brush. Because sisal brushes are actually known for being gentle. And as far as I know, they all have the same firmness. It's also possible that you might have picked up a dry skin brush (meant to be used on dry skin) instead of a regular bath brush. Usually those are much firmer and harsher on skin.

I've been using a sisal bath brush for a very long time. I find it pretty gentle. I have a skin condition called keratosis pilaris, a.k.a., chicken skin. So I need to exfoliate my skin regularly to prevent the bumps from forming.

Sisal brush has been doing a good job keeping this condition under control for me. It's not so gentle that it doesn't exfoliate and it's not so firm that it irritates my skin.

By burcidi — On Aug 06, 2012

I bought a sisal body brush because I get acne on my back. I think the acne is caused by my hair conditioner getting on my back in the shower. Since I can't reach back there normally, it's not possible to clean my back properly.

The sisal brush is good in that regard because the handle is really long. I can reach my back with ease and clean it. But the problem is that the brush itself is too harsh on my skin. I don't have sensitive skin, in fact, I can tolerate most exfoliaters very well. But when I use the sisal brush, I feel like I'm using a rake on my back. It hurts! So I only use it once or twice a week.

I wish it was more gentle so I could use it every day.

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