Have you ever imagined that those mollusks served with herb butter and chardonnay would help you turn back the aging clock? Well, it’s not exactly the creatures themselves – it’s the slime they secrete that truly matters. Snail slime beauty products are all the rage now. Before you turn away in disgust, it’s important that you know more about why they’re so craved:
1. Snail slime (or its cosmetic name, snail filtrate) is packed with nutrients such as hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein, proteoglycans, and antimicrobial and copper peptides, all of which are commonly used in beauty products and proven to be beneficial for the skin. These elements help to protect the snail’s skin from damage, infection, dryness and UV rays.
2. Snail slime contains 91-98% water. The slime is filtered multiple times to increase its concentration and ensure its purity. Some snail slime products claim to contain as much as 97% snail secretion filtrate. However, the consistency and quality of the snail mucus should also be taken into account when looking for a good product.
3. Cosmetic snail slime is normally harvested from lab-grown common garden snails or Cornu Aspersum (previously Helix Aspersa), which is considered an agricultural pest.
4. Snail mucin is best known for its anti-aging properties. It helps to stimulate the formation of collagen and elastin, protect skin from free radicals, soothe skin, repair damaged tissues and restore hydration. It can be used to treat dry skin, wrinkles and stretch marks, acne and rosacea, age spots, burns, scars, razor bumps and even flat warts.
5. Snail secretion filtrate is widely used in Korean beauty products such as serums, facial masks, moisturizers and fading creams. Most products are actually not as oozy and gooey as you may think. Most of them have a neutral look, smell and texture.
6. Snail spas are quite popular in Thailand, and have reached major beauty-conscious Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. During the spa session, living snails are put on the client’s face and left to slither around.
Image: Yoshikazu Tsuno/ AFP/ Getty Images
7. DIY snail spas or snail slime products are not encouraged. Remember, snails used at a responsible spa center or in beauty products are professionally grown and the snail slime is professionally purified, while those in your backyard garden are not.
8. This video in French shows how snail slime is harvested in a snail farm in Chile:
9. The use of snail slime for beauty dates back to ancient Greece, where famous physician Hippocrates reportedly prescribed crushed snails and sour milk to cure inflammation. The use of snail creams started recently when Chilean farmers who handled snails for the French market noticed their skin was visibly smoother.
10. It is recommended that you begin with a small amount of snail slime product on a specific area of the skin to check for allergies. Snail slime is, after all, something that your skin may not have encountered. You’re also advised to continue using the product for at least two weeks to realize its full benefits.
If you’re a fan of Japanese and Korean skincare and beauty products then you have likely come across serums and essences containing ‘snail mucin’, but what is snail mucin? And, more to the point, what are the benefits of snail mucin in skincare?
Table of Contents
- What Is Snail Mucin?
- The History of Snail Mucin
- What Are The Benefits Of Snail Mucin In Skin Care?
- The Benefits of Snail Mucin In Theory
- The Benefits of Snail Mucin In Practice
- How Snail Mucin is Extracted
- A Quick Summary Of The Benefits Of Snail Mucin
- Snail Mucin Products In Order Of Snail Secretion Filtrate Concentration
- I Put Snail Mucus On My Face & Here’s Why You Need To Put It On Yours, Too — PHOTOS
- So, what makes Snail mucin such an amazing part of K-beauty cosmetics?
- What the benefits of applying cosmetics that contain Snail mucin?
- Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream
- Seoul Ceuticals Multi-Function All-In-One Snail Repair Cream
- TONYMOLY Timeless Ferment Snail Cream
- Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream
- Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream
- I Smeared Snail Slime on My Skin for 1 Month. Here’s What Happened
- What My Skin Was Like Before Snail Mucin
- Me and Snail Mucin: Our First Meeting
- Me and Snail Mucin: A Match That Doesn’t Get Boring
- Me and Snail Mucin: How Serious Is Serious?
- The 10 Best Snail Slime Products for Your Face
- The Secrets of Snail Skin Care
- How Is Snail Mucin Harvested? Is It Cruelty Free?
- What Are The Benefits Of Snail Mucin To Skin?
- What Are The Best Korean Snail Mucin Products?
- Fact or Myth? Snail Essence Is Good for the Skin
- RéVive Intensite Line Erasing Serum, $600
- Immunocologie Super 7 Elixir, $300
- Dr. Jart Time Returning Serum, $54
- Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Fast-Acting Serum, $120
- TonyMoly Intense Care Snail Cream, $49.99
- Mizon Black Snail All in One Cream, $54
- Townhouse Spa’s Ultra Lift Facial (39 West 56th St., 212.245.8006), $275 for 75 minutes
- Snail Facial at Graceful Services (1095 Second Ave.; 212.593.9904), $80
What Is Snail Mucin?
Snail mucin is another name for snail secretion filtrate, or ‘snail slime’ and is an animal-derived growth factor. Growth factors are high molecular weight peptides that encourage wound healing and tissue repair . The growth factors in snail mucin are highly beneficial to the snail and enable it to self-heal after injuries .
These regenerative effects are due to the complex chemical composition of snail mucin. A chemical analysis revealed that snail mucin contained various different substances, including allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and natural antibacterials .
You probably recognize most of these substances as key ingredients in various anti-aging and moisturizing skin care products – which is one of the reasons snail mucin has become such a popular skin care ingredient.
These snails have eight different types of secreting glands that secrete four different types of mucus; protein, calcium, pigments, and lipids. The mucus secreted depends on the way the snail is stimulated. For example, with normal stimulation, the mucin secreted provides lubrication (this type of mucus can be seen in a ‘snail trail’). In contrast, when the snail is disturbed or feels threatened, it releases a foamy secretion. It is the latter of these mucins that is used in skincare and contains the beneficial substances mentioned above .
The secretion from the Cryptomphalus aspersa mollusk is a mixture of glandular secretions from the mucinous, albuminous, and salivary glands, with each secretion responsible for different therapeutic effects. The secretion from the mucinous gland has a restorative effect, the secretion from the albuminous gland provides antibiotic effects, and the secretion of the salivary gland has a digestive and penetrative effect that can help exfoliate and deep-clean the skin .
The History of Snail Mucin
The medicinal use of snail mucin dates back to Ancient Greece where Hippocrates (the ‘father of medicine’) recommended the use of crushed snails to treat inflammatory skin conditions.
Fast forward a millennium, and a few thousand miles away from Ancient Greece, Chilean snail farmers were experiencing soft and smooth hands after regularly handling snails for the French food market. Not only were their hands smoother and softer, but any wounds or grazes appeared to heal faster with no scarring . This led to the first snail mucin-based skincare brand.
A further healing observation was made by a Spanish oncologist, Dr. Rafael Abad, who was treating snails with radiation therapy and noticed that they were producing a different type of secretion under this stress that helped their wounds to heal. When this secretion was applied to the radiation burns of human subjects, a similar would healing response was observed .
In fact, snail mucin has been successfully used for over 15 years to treat radiation dermatitis . Dr. Abad also recommended, in his 1996 patent, that snail mucin could be successfully used to treat radiation dermatitis, all types of burns (including radiation, chemical, and thermal burns), slow healing wounds and ulcers, and to prevent UV radiation-induced skin cancer . He also suggests that snail mucin would be beneficial in the treatment of wrinkles and stretch marks.
It is no surprise then that snail mucin can be found in a number of cosmetic products nowadays and offers a wide variety of skin benefits. So what are the benefits of snail mucin in skin care? Let’s have a look at what scientific studies are available to answer this question.
What Are The Benefits Of Snail Mucin In Skin Care?
As previously mentioned, snail mucin is an animal-derived growth factor and high-molecular-weight peptide . It also contains a number of ingredients that are known to be beneficial to the skin, such as allantoin, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid .
As there aren’t a huge number of research studies that specifically investigate the skin benefits of snail mucin outside of its medical applications, let’s first look at why snail mucin should provide skin benefits in theory.
Snail Mucin As A Growth Factor/ HMW Peptide
Growth factors are peptides that act as chemical messengers to regulate various cell processes, including proliferation and formation of the extracellular matrix. This means they are essential in wound healing and tissue repair processes. Topically applied growth factors have demonstrated effectiveness at enhancing wound healing and stimulating the production of collagen .
However, growth factors have a large molecular weight which makes it difficult for them to penetrate the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the skin) barrier. It is hypothesized that topical growth factors enter the dermis by penetrating the hair follicles rather than the stratum corneum. Once they have entered the dermis they can then signal the production of endogenous growth factors .
As mentioned earlier, snail mucin is made up of different secretions. The secretion from the salivary gland has an exfoliating and penetrative effect. This may mean that the growth factors found in snail mucin are more readily absorbed due to this penetration enhancement.
Benefits of Snail Mucin and Its Complex Chemical Composition
Snail mucin contains a number of complex chemicals that are widely known to be beneficial in skin care products. Out of the ingredients with the most cited benefits appear to be allantoin, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid. In addition, snail mucin contains natural antibacterials which provide a wide range of benefits for the skin.
Allantoin is used in cosmetics as a skin conditioning agent and is approved for use as a skin protectant by the FDA . It is reported to have keratolytic, hydrating, epithelializing, and anti-irritant activities and has been used for more than 60 years to treat, prevent, and reduce scars and keloids with a number of scientific studies to back up allantoins scar reducing ability .
In one study, a gel containing allantoin was applied to injured skin within 3 weeks of the injury taking place. After 2-3 months of treatment with allantoin gel, scars showed statistically significant improvements with less redness, more pliability, less pain, and reduced height and width . This study had a particularly large sample size but was purely observational and had no control group, so it is hard to determine whether the scars may have improved significantly within this time frame without the application of allantoin gel.
However, other randomized controlled studies have found improved wound healing and reduced scarring with the application of gels containing allantoin compared to control gels .
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane that acts as a chemical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and loosen the top layer of skin .
One of the most widely reported beneficial effects of glycolic acid for skin is its ability to reduce premature aging. This is largely due to its ability to increase collagen, improve the quality of elastic fibers, and shrink pores for a smoother complexion .
Furthermore, topical glycolic acid can increase epidermal thickness and epidermal and dermal hyaluronic acid levels. Thus glycolic acid can improve skin appearance, texture, and function by increasing skin hydration .
Other studies have demonstrated that the skin benefits of glycolic acid go beyond its ability to reduce premature aging. For example, 10% topical glycolic acid can significantly improve the appearance of acne after 45 days of use .
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan that can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water . This means that the hyaluronic acid content of the epidermis and dermis helps to regulate skin hydration levels and the stratum corneum barrier function .
When applied to the skin, hyaluronic acid forms a film that can reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and protects the stratum corneum. It also acts as a humectant to draw water into the skin and increase the water content of the epidermis .
Hyaluronic acid can instantly improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin hydration after only 15 minutes of application and after 8 weeks of use, these improvements become more significant and long-lasting .
According to some research, hyaluronic acid also plays a part in the wound healing process by creating an early provisional matrix or ‘scaffold’, along with fibrin, to allow the migration of cells to the wound site. This allows for the creation of a more stable and permanent matrix that is mainly composed of collagen .
An antibacterial is basically anything that can destroy or prevent the growth or multiplication of bacteria. One skin condition that particularly benefits from topical antibacterials is acne. This is due to the fact that one of the main causes of acne is an overgrowth of the p-acnes bacteria.
In addition, antibacterials can aid in the wound healing process by preventing infection.
The Benefits of Snail Mucin In Theory
The fact that snail mucin is a growth factor that contains allantoin, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and antibacterial agents means that it may possess a number of skin benefits in theory.
Based on this research, some of the ways in which snail mucin may benefit the skin include:
- Improving wound healing
- Preventing scarring
- Reducing existing scarring
- Reducing premature aging due to UV exposure (photoaging)
- Improving collagen production
- Improving skin hydration
- Increasing skin cell turnover
- Reducing pigmentation
- Preventing the growth of bacteria
- Improving skin texture
This means that snail mucin may be an effective treatment for
- Poorly healing wounds
- Unsightly scars
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Dehydrated and dry skin
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma
- Post-inflammatory erythema
- Enlarged pores
However, the actual research regarding snail mucin is a lot more limited. In fact, one recent study even suggests that the levels of allantoin and glycolic acid found in snail mucin are a lot lower than previously thought .
The Benefits of Snail Mucin In Practice
The majority of scientific studies that support the skin benefits of snail mucin focus on its wound healing ability. This is unsurprising as pharmaceutical products require much more rigorous evidence than cosmetic products.
The Medical & Wound-Healing Benefits of Snail Mucin
In a study investigating the effects of snail mucin on partial-thickness facial burns, twice daily application of a cream containing 80% snail mucin for 14 days demonstrated accelerated healing. Specifically, the snail mucin cream accelerated the removal of debris and dead skin as well as increased the rate of wound epithelialization .
In his patent application, Dr. Abad describes a number of experimental studies using both animals and humans. The below are examples of research findings presented as supporting evidence in his patent application:
- A snail mucin formulation healed radiodermatitis in 98% of rats after 8 weeks of daily use.
- In humans, the application of a snail mucin formulation helped prevent radiodermatitis by increasing the skins tolerability of radiation exposure by 10-25%.
- In humans, a snail mucin formula increased the rate of healing of radiation burns and radiodermatitis at various different bodily sites, except for areas where there had been previous infection.
- One application of a snail mucin anti-wrinkle formulation reduced the appearance of wrinkles, with effects lasting for approximately one week after each application.
Of course, with this, we have to take into consideration the fact that this research was presented in order to support the patent application of a snail mucin formulation created by Dr. Abad, so positive effects may be emphasized and negative effects downplayed. In addition, this research may not have been published or peer-reviewed and there are limited details about the studies so it is hard to rule out bias or evaluate the experimental techniques used .
Note: Radiodermatitis or radiation dermatitis is a skin condition experienced after exposure to radiation (e.g. after radiotherapy for cancer treatment) that is characterized by skin redness, dryness, peeling, and irritation.
In vitro studies have demonstrated that the healing benefits of snail mucin may be down to its ability to promote fibroblast proliferation, protect cells from apoptosis (programmed cell death), and promote cell migration and wound repair . Basically meaning that it increases new skin cell production, prevents skin cells from dying, and helps enable the movement of cells to the wound site.
Another in vitro study highlighted the potential role of snail mucin as a treatment for melanoma skin cancers by reducing melanin production in three melanoma cell lines. It is thought that this effect is due to the inhibition of tyrosinase, a key enzyme for melanin production. This means that snail mucin could be a beneficial treatment for irregular pigmentation as well as melanoma . In fact, one study in vivo found that snail mucin could decrease irregular pigmentation by 40% .
The Cosmetic & Anti-Aging Benefits of Snail Mucin
One study recruited 15 women who were required to apply an 8% snail mucin formulation every morning and a 40% snail mucin formulation every night for 3 months. In addition to the significant 40% reduction in pigmentation, the depth of wrinkles was reduced by up to 30%. All participants experienced smoother and more hydrated skin, with the majority also experiencing improved skin elasticity .
In another study investigating the cosmetic applications of snail mucin, 12 subjects applied a facial cream containing snail mucin and donkey milk serum every day for 40 days. Evaluations were performed 2 hours after the first application as well as at the end of the 40-day period. The results demonstrated that skin elasticity, skin hydration, and wrinkle height were significantly improved both in the short-term (2hrs) and long-term (40days) .
While both of these studies suggest that snail mucin has anti-aging benefits, they are limited by their small sample size which means that they may not be particularly representative of how snail mucin would work for most people.
However, another study recruited 40 participants into a 12-week study of a snail mucin formulation on various signs of aging. In this study, skin elasticity was improved by 39%, skin roughness was improved by 53%, skin brightness was improved by 26%, and irregular pigmentation was reduced by 12% .
In another study, 120 women applied various formulations of snail mucin (depending on their skin type – either serum or cream) with added peptides and antioxidants twice daily for 12 weeks. Skin evaluations took place at 45 and 90 days and assessed skin hydration, softness, firmness, elasticity, lining, expression lines, nasolabial grooves, and fine lines. All parameters assessed were significantly improved after 40 days, with progressive improvement after 90 days. Of note is the improvement in skin hydration by 91% after the 90-day treatment .
The addition of other peptides and antioxidants into the formulations in this study make it hard to identify whether the cause of the skin improvements was from snail mucin, peptides, antioxidants, or the combination of all three. Although, research suggests that snail mucin itself has antioxidant effects .
However, in a 14-week study, where 25 patients with moderate to severe facial photodamage applied an emulsion containing 8% snail mucin and a liquid serum containing 40% snail mucin to one side of their face and a control cream to the other, there was a significant improvement in crow’s feet wrinkles and skin texture. In addition, the patients reported a significant visual improvement in their fine lines after 8-weeks of use .
How Snail Mucin is Extracted
A common concern regarding snail mucin is how it is extracted. Frequently asked questions include “how is snail slime harvested?” and “is snail secretion filtrate cruelty-free?”. It is clear that a number of people worry about whether their cosmetics are ethically sourced, which is a very legitimate and important concern.
First of all, no snails have to die in order for snail mucin to be extracted – unlike in Ancient Greece where they were crushed and applied to the skin. However, just because they are not killed for their mucin does not mean snail mucin is ‘cruelty-free’.
Most of the research refers to the ‘stimulation’ of snails in order to extract their mucin. Considering that the mucin of interest is that which is secreted when the snail experiences a threat or stress, the stimulation has to create a threatening or stressful experience for the snail.
So, no matter how ‘gentle’ the stimulation is, it still has to create some level of perceived threat for the snail.
For example, in one recent study, snail mucin was extracted by “regular poking of the animal with a small stick” . Other methods noted include placing the snail in a centrifuge (spinning the snails to extract mucin by centrifugal force), or subjecting the snail to sound vibrations, oxygen-less conditions, or temperature extremes (e.g. ‘snail spa’) .
One patented extraction method even recommends that snails are fasted for 1 to 5 days before stimulation in order to eliminate the risk of toxins within the extracted mucin .
Whether the extraction of snail secretion filtrate is cruelty-free or not is probably more of a philosophical question and dependent on individual morals and beliefs. For example, somebody who considers snails to be sentient creatures capable of feeling pain and fear will likely consider these extraction methods cruel.
A Quick Summary Of The Benefits Of Snail Mucin
Snail mucin has been used since ancient times for its skin healing benefits. A number of research studies have demonstrated that snail mucin can significantly increase the rate of wound healing.
This healing effect appears to be due to the complex chemical composition of snail mucin and its ability to increase the production of new skin cells, prevent the death of existing skin cells, and enable the movement of skin cells to the wound site.
More recent research has highlighted the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antitumoral effects of snail mucin which suggests that it has a broader range of benefits for the skin.
Considering that a number of anti-aging treatments, such as laser treatments and microneedling, exert their anti-aging effects by creating a wound healing response, it is highly likely that snail mucin can have anti-aging benefits. However, there is less research regarding the cosmetic benefits of snail mucin and the majority of studies are weakened by their small sample sizes and the addition of other known anti-aging ingredients in their experimental formulations.
However, based on the chemical composition of snail mucin and the existing research, snail mucin may provide a wide-range of cosmetic skin benefits, including:
- Reducing fine lines and wrinkles
- Reducing pigmentation
- Reducing post inflammatory erythema
- Increasing skin hydration and stratum corneum barrier function
- Reducing enlarged pores
In addition, the antimicrobial properties and anti-redness effects highlight snail mucin as a potential acne treatment.
There are, however, some ethical and animal-welfare concerns regarding the extraction techniques used to collect snail mucin for skincare products.
Overall, snail mucin is highly likely to have a beneficial cosmetic effect, although this benefit may be no more significant than other skin care ingredients that have more scientific backing and less ethical concerns.
Related Reading: The 5 Best Snail Slime Serums.
Snail Mucin Products In Order Of Snail Secretion Filtrate Concentration
Here’s a list of some of the more common snail mucin products in order of the amount of snail secretion filtrate they contain:
- Seoul Ceuticals Snail Repair Cream – 97.5%
- COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence – 96.3%
- COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream – 92%
- 2B Beautiful Snail Repair Cream – 92%
- Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream – 92%
- Mizon Black Snail All In One Cream – 90%
- Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence – 90%
- Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule – 80%
- LadyKin Affinitic Snail Cream – 80%
- Elensilia Escargot Original Repair Cream With Snail Extracts – 80%
- TONYMOLY Timeless Ferment Snail Cream – 70%
- MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream – 70%
- Nature Republic Snail Solution Essence – 68%
- MISSHA Super Aqua Cell Renew Sleeping Mask – 15%
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I Put Snail Mucus On My Face & Here’s Why You Need To Put It On Yours, Too — PHOTOS
I’m willing to try pretty much anything for the sake of beauty. I’ve styled my eyebrows with soap, washed my face with olive oil, and took my boyfriend to Sephora to show him why I need makeup. But when I heard about “snail slime” skin care, I’ll admit I was a little grossed out. OK, I was a lot grossed out. Considering I don’t even like to look at the slippery little creatures, the question of putting their juices on my face was answered with a firm and swift “hell, no.”
But then, I started reading more about it, (what can I say? I like to Google gross stuff. When I die, please delete my search history) and found myself feeling more and more intrigued by the seemingly zillions of benefits that come along with putting snail mucus on your face. “Much in the way that their mucin protects their delicate little snail feet from environmental hazards such as rough surfaces, bacteria and UV-rays and keeps them moist in dry conditions, many of the nutrients in snail mucin can also be absorbed by our skin to similar effects,” says the team at MISSHA, a beauty and skin care company based in Korea. “Regular use of snail mucin has been shown to fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation, moisturize and firm skin, clear complexion, and minimize pores.”
First of all, “delicate little snail feet” is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard, and second of all, those benefits all sounded like the best things ever. Consideing that it’s the middle of winter and my skin needs a major hydration boost, I decided it might be worth a try.
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Skin Treatment, $33, Target
The first thing I did when I received my snail routine from Misshawas sniff every one of the products. I was pleased (and also thrilled) to discover that snail slime does not smell nearly as disgusting as you’d expect it would. In fact, it doesn’t really smell like anything at all.
I started with the Super Aqua Cell Renewal Snail Hydro-Gel Mask, which was one of the more confusing sheet masks I’ve ever put on. It came in two pieces — a top for over the eyes and nose and a bottom part for the cheeks and lips — and had panels that needed to be peeled off from each side, which made me feel like it was really clean (I always get nervous about sheet masks after all the packaging issues that came up last year).
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Hydro-Gel Mask, $6, Urban Outfitters
I left the mask on for a half an hour (the directions suggested 20-40 minutes) and when I took it off, I could tell that the “mucus” had penetrated my skin because the sheet was almost totally dried out. My skin felt smooth and moist, which is a feat in itself when it’s 17 degrees outside.
Next came the Super Aqua Cell Renewal Snail Cream, which was the most intimidating product of the bunch. It looked like jelly, which was a little icky, but smelled really delicious and floral. I applied it generously to my face and neck, and could feel a difference within minutes. My skin didn’t only feel moisturized, but it somehow felt softer and smoother than ever.
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renewal Snail Cream, $28, Amazon
Finally, it was time for the Super Aqua Cell Renewal Snail Sleeping Mask. It was more of a cream than a gel (thankfully), and had the same texture as a gel primer. I put it on before bed, and it felt a bit sticky at first. But when I woke up, I was literally glowing. My skin was smooth and dewey, and felt even smoother than it had the night before.
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask, $23, Target
I guess you could say I’m a snail mucus convert, seeing as I went from “totally grossed out” by it to a die-hard devotee. When I asked the Missha team what they would say to anyone who was, like me, uncomfortable with putting snail slime on their face, they had a pretty interesting (and fear inducing) answer:
“Is snail slime any grosser than, say, whale vomit, sheep grease, crushed beetles, fish scales, placenta, or infant foreskin? When it comes to beauty, I think the gross factor has always been there, but people don’t seem to mind ‘ambergris’ ‘lanolin,’ ‘carmine’ and ‘guanine’ in their products, as the ingredients have been rebranded.”
So, apparently we’ve been putting all of that stuff on our faces for years and had no idea.
“I guess you could say K-Beauty offers a little more transparency. Trendy ingredients usually make it right onto the packaging, whether it’s honey or snail mucin,” says MISSHA.
As uncomfortable as I was with snail mucus before I tried it, I am now pretty much obsessed, and committed to adding it into my regular daily routine. Like I said, I really will do anything for beauty, though I may actually draw the line at foreskin.
Images: Courtesy of Author; Courtesy of Brand
When you hear ‘Snail’ cream, and think about putting it on your face, your first thought might be “it’s icky!” and “why would anyone put slimy creatures on their face!” Though it might seem like people are putting anything and everything on their faces, Snail mucin is one of the most beneficial ingredients you can put on your face. And, the most important point to note is there is no slimy Snail mucin in any of the K-beauty products! It only contains the ‘essence’ of Snail mucus.
So, what makes Snail mucin such an amazing part of K-beauty cosmetics?
Snail mucus is full of so many skincare ingredients, including elastin, hyaluronic acid, proteins, glycolic acid, antioxidants, and many more! And the interesting part is that all these ingredients that can work wonders on your skin are packed in one component.
What the benefits of applying cosmetics that contain Snail mucin?
Just like the vast variety of ingredients, the benefits also span multiple areas. It can reduce dark spots, make skin tone even, make skin firmer and plumper, and it also hydrates the skin. Because of its multitasking ability, Snail mucin has become K-beauty’s favourite ingredient in recent years. For many K-beauty products focussing on anti-aging effects, snail mucin is the star ingredient!
We’ve listed out the best Snail creams in the market that you can easily get your hands on!
Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream
This cream contains 60% snail mucus filtrate along with yam mucin. It is a heavy cream that works wonders in protecting and healing skin from wrinkles and fine lines. It also hydrates and brightens your skin tone! With all these benefits, it is also a hypoallergenic cream that contains no parabens, artificial colouring, or fragrance.
Seoul Ceuticals Multi-Function All-In-One Snail Repair Cream
Here is a cream that is 97.5% rich in snail mucin extract. It is, in a way, the purest form of snail slime you can apply on your face without having a real snail crawling on your face. This cream can brighten your skin tone and even out your complexion. With the star ingredient, it also contains shea butter for moisturization, jojoba oil for balancing, aloe vera for smoothening, and vitamin E for protecting against free radicals.
TONYMOLY Timeless Ferment Snail Cream
A pricey, but cult favourite option. This cream is enriched with 70% gold fermented snail mucin. It contains glycolic acid for exfoliation, elastin for skin flexibility, and when combined, a natural barrier that holds in moisture. It is formulated as an ampoule gel with anti-aging properties with restorative and nourishing features.
Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream
A cream that is not only rich in snail mucin, but it also contains bee venom extract. The combination together boosts collagen production in the skin which can cause skin tightening. This steam cream contains no water and it has snail secretion filtrate in its place. It is a soothing cream for sensitive and inflamed skin that can even take care of acne.
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream
This is a snail extract rich cream that reduces skin damage and strengthens skin. It also has some unique ingredients like a baobab tree, botanical stem cell extract, and deep seawater. This cream works best in improving the firmness of the skin by deep hydration that gives you all-day-long moisture.
I Smeared Snail Slime on My Skin for 1 Month. Here’s What Happened
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When I think of snails, the first things that come to mind are garlic herb butter, baguettes, and Chardonnay, and the next is the slime. You know, the stuff the snails leave a trail of in their wake. The same stuff that’s been a K-beauty skin-care staple for several years and has now even made its way to the big-box stores. I’ll put escargots in my face any chance I get, so as a woman of the world, why on earth haven’t I smeared their slime on my face yet?
After all, incorporating snails in skin care is nothing new. Back around 400 B.C. in ancient Greece, Hippocrates reportedly prescribed crushed snail shells in an ointment to treat inflammation, notes a paper published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The idea was reborn in the ’80s, the Associated Press reported, when workers on a Chilean snail farm began observing their hands were softer and plumper hands after handling the gooey creatures. As with the eureka moment described by Chatelaine in 2016 regarding red grapes and anti-aging at French vineyards, the seeds of a beauty trend were planted.
“Historically many societies, especially ancient ones and more recently France, have used live snails as anti-aging ‘devices,” says Gregory Bays Brown, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York City and the founder of the RéVive skin-care line.
Today’s skin-care companies are hot on the trail. In the early 2000s snail mucin, also known as snail oil, snail serum, snail filtrate, snail slime, or just “the slime,” began popping up in Korean beauty products, and as that market began to expand globally, it started picking up a following in the West. For the uninitiated: Yes, snail mucin is the actual mucus snails secrete to protect themselves from cuts and scrapes as they slither through the world. Apparently, the gross factor hasn’t kept beauty lovers at bay.
K-beauty brands like Cosrx, Missha, and Mizon sell wildly popular sheet masks, creams, and bottles of straight-up slime that tout miraculous benefits, from smoothing fine lines and wrinkles to reducing the appearance of acne scarring and hyperpigmentation to giving you that supple, dewy glow that has become the bar for skin-care influencers, coveted by every beauty fan with a pulse.
Snail farming in Italy has increased 325 percent in the last two decades, largely due to cosmetic demands, the Guardian reported in February 2017. What’s the mix in snail trails that makes it a veritable fountain of youth? “Snail mucin is packed with nutrients such as hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, antimicrobial and copper peptides, and proteoglycans,” says the New York City–based aesthetician Charlotte Cho, the cofounder of the K-beauty blog Soko Glam. “The hyaluronic acid helps in the anti-aging process as it hydrates the skin, and antimicrobial peptides have been known to help reduce acne and treat hyperpigmentation,” says Cho, whose New York City brick-and-mortar pop up, Soko House, opened recently to legions of snail slime devotees lining up around the block to snag the stuff in real life.
RELATED: 10 Things Your Skin Is Trying to Tell You — and How to Respond
Many K-beauty lovers and millennials are doing the same, and why wouldn’t they? The slime itself and the top slime-containing products are fairly cheap (The Super Aqua Cell Renew Hydro-Gel Mask will set you back $9, and Mizon’s All-In-One Snail Repair Cream is about $19).
But even though the wonder goo is accessible to the masses, the Park Avenue elite hasn’t turned up its nose at it. For example, the New York City plastic surgeon Matthew Schulman, MD, has created a buzz and snagged press attention with his $375 “EscarGlow Facial,” which injects snail mucin directly into your pores via microneedling.
And while high-end brands with steep price tags don’t seem to count the slime as a core ingredient, and understandably so, because it’s readily available on the cheap, they haven’t discounted the mollusk altogether. Instead, they’ve opted for a pricier bit of snail juice, cone snail venom, which is a toxin so potent that it disables fishes swimming near it and rivals the anti-aging effects of Botox, according to an article published in November 2018 in StatPearls. (And if you’ve got around $600 to spend on a single product, you can find it in the coveted Intensité Line Erasing Serum by RéVive.)
Plus, because mucin is an animal growth factor that just needs a touch of pasteurization to be application-ready, per a study published in in February 2019 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, it’s clean, sustainable, and supposedly a miracle worker.
Refinery29, a beloved source for millennials looking to stave off wrinkles, hails snail mucin as a cure for acne scarring. While that seems like a stretch, I’d for sure blow $20 on a bottle of slime on the possibility before shelling out a couple grand on lasers, especially with no downtime or side effects to consider. Drew Barrymore and Katie Holmes are fans, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
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And because I’m not a vegan, I really have no excuse to be a couple of years late to this trend. My mucus of choice was, of course, what K-beauty lovers consider the holy grail: the Corsx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which is 96 percent pure mucin. Because it was sold out on Soko Glam (which happens often due to demand), the lovely Cathy in the company’s NYC office sent me over a bottle she had stashed, and I got to work. (For those of you who must have it pronto, you can find it from third-party sellers online.) Here’s how things went down.
What My Skin Was Like Before Snail Mucin
What appealed to me most about the idea of slapping snail mucus all over my face and neck — aside from staying true to my inner beauty warrior, and the fact that I’m getting paid to — was the hydration potential.
Even though I’m a product junkie, I really can’t use too many or my skin freaks out. I have sensitive, temperamental skin that likes to punish me for every misstep.
Eat a pint of ice cream? It’s not my waistline that’s unforgiving. it’s my face (hello, cystic acne breakout). Too lazy to exfoliate? Here come the comedones (small, flesh-colored bumps on the forehead or chin).
In the height of summer, my face can look primed for a skillet, and when I try to balance the sebum with even a slightly alkaline product, it will start flaking and cracking by the next day. (FYI: Sebum is an oil that when overproduced contributes to acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.)
My skin doesn’t let me get away with much, and because of that, I shamefully admit that I don’t double-cleanse or let any oil touch my face. Even oil-free moisturizer in the summer can be too greasy, but without something, my face is dehydrated yet also greasy.
A light hyaluronic acid serum is usually my best bet. But the good ones can be pricey and a crapshoot, too, because heftier HA molecules are often too large to penetrate the skin.
Cho says the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in the slime has a small molecular weight, making it absorbable, and along with the other smorgasbord of good-for-your-skin stuff, it’s supposed to make your skin feel soft and supple, sealing in moisture safely and being suitable for all skin types, including acne-prone skin that congests easily. I’m sold.
RELATED: What Is Skin pH? If Yours Is Healthy, Why It Matters, and How to Tell
Me and Snail Mucin: Our First Meeting
Cho, who enjoys mini-celebrity from her K-beauty expertise, says you should apply mucin wherever you would use an essence, a type of product common in K-beauty and increasingly popular in the West, as fans of the Japanese skin-care line SK-II will attest.
So after cleansing and toning and applying my vitamin C serum, I was armed and ready. Inside the bottle, the snail mucin looks like a slightly goopy, clear serum and seems that way when you first pump a nickel-size portion into your hand. But as soon as you dab your fingers in to apply, there’s no mistaking it: This is an animal’s mucus, folks.
The consistency is liquid enough to drip off my fingers but viscous enough to take its time landing. Think thinned-out egg whites or chia seed sludge. There’s nothing luxurious going on here, which was a bit of a setback for me.
I imagined it would harden on my face or leave some sort of chalky film, but after working it in for a few seconds longer than your average serum, to my surprise the slime soaked in quite nicely. Not that I’d have time to do this moving forward, but the first time, I waited around a bit before the next step in my routine, which would be moisturizer, and behold: Ten minutes later, my face felt so soft, that I skipped the moisturizer altogether and went right to sunscreen instead. Things were off to a great start.
RELATED: 7 Sunscreen Mistakes That Hurt Your Skin
Me and Snail Mucin: A Match That Doesn’t Get Boring
I’m not going to lie, in the next week or so, I felt like I’d struck liquid gold. With no side effects whatsoever besides instant softness, I was slathering the stuff all over my hands, chest, and neck. And I started skipping my moisturizer a lot more regularly and feeling okay about it.
That said, because I have oily, sensitive skin that doesn’t like being over- or under-handled, I typically skip moisturizer a lot in the summer, especially under makeup. All those layers in the heat seem to hasten the formation of an oil slick on my face. But skipping moisturizer can also add up to dehydrated yet shiny skin, and that’s even worse.
The slime was serving double duty for me, and what’s better than a skin-care multitasker? I also started using it at night after my Retin-A Micro, which I amp up to a .06 percent in summer months for rapid-fire sloughing, while carefully treading the line between overly sebaceous and parched and cracking. (The things we do for cell turnover.)
But I started noticing fewer side effects, less dryness and flaking, less tautness below the corners of my mouth, allowing me to handle the Retin-A Micro every night instead of every other, as recommended by dermatologists. I considered buying stock in an Italian snail farm. Was this my cheap and cheerful secret to dewy skin?
RELATED: 5 Nighttime Skin-Care Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Beauty Goals
Me and Snail Mucin: How Serious Is Serious?
The author before (left) and after one month of snail slime Photo Courtesy of Tiarra Mukherjee
I was coming up on a month of sheer bliss — waking up to softer, smoother skin, fewer breakouts, less summer sebum production, a streamlined morning routine (aka more sleep), and a ton of savings on considerably pricier moisturizer — and things seemed too good to be true. I mean, seriously. There has to be a catch, I thought. I did some digging to make sure no snails were harmed in the process, and all accounts seemed to confirm that.
PETA disapproves of using snail mucin on the grounds that keeping the snails in captivity is cruel. Yet most reports, such as one from Reuters, say these snails are fed only delicious, organic food and pampered as if they’re at a five-star resort — because stress-free snails produce higher-quality mucus.
I decided it was time for a deeper background check and looked for the research. But studies are limited. According to a small study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 25 women who used a serum containing 40 percent snail mucin for 12 weeks noticed fewer fine lines and wrinkles, even two weeks after they stopped using the product. But according to a March 2018 article in The Ringer, that study was funded by a French pharmaceutical company called Biopelle, which also happens to sell slime-laden products. Back to the drawing board.
According Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City — who has lectured on this topic before at the American Academy of Dermatology — there’s no downside, but we need more data before we know whether the ingredient is better than a good ol’ jar of Olay. “Snail slime has been shown to have antioxidant properties, as well as the ability to stimulate collagen production and enhance wound healing,” says Dr. Zeichner.
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There are some caveats, though: The consistency is far from cosmetically appealing, but with all the benefits, I could get past that.
Then I had a rude awakening.
I went away for a week, and the first thing I packed was my slime, of course. Several days later, I started breaking out, and that wasn’t all — my skin was looking greasier and muddier.
Was it the change of water, altitude, hormones? I racked my brain until it hit me. I was too attached to my snail mucin to leave it at home, but what I had forgotten was my Retin-A Micro. Exfoliation is the skeleton key to great skin, after all.
Plus, as a skin-care lover in the United States, it’s hard not to know that if there’s one thing doctors and most aestheticians agree on, it’s that topical retinoids and retinols are the closest thing to a skin-care miracle worker out there, from keeping acne at bay to reversing fine lines to building collagen and truly transforming skin.
Was it the slime making my skin gorgeous this last month? Or was the secret to my glow part and parcel of my unfaltering commitment to the slime, which increased regular hydration and in turn allowed me to increase my Retin-A usage for maximum benefits?
The jury is still out, but either way, I’m not breaking up with my snail mucin just yet. At least not until something better comes along.
The 10 Best Snail Slime Products for Your Face
🐌 Of all the weird ingredients we put on our skin to make it glowy, plump and smooth, snail slime is one of the grossest. At best, it sounds fake, and at worst like something an actress might resort to as a pre-Oscars Hail Mary. But if you spend any time perusing that now-ubiquitous Korean export — the sheet mask — you will see ‘snail slime’ printed on packets as casually as if it said ‘rose water,’ and a growing number of serums, moisturizers, eye masks and in-office facial treatments now use the slippery secretion as an ingredient.
Speaking to Glamour on the benefits of snail slime in facial products, the team at Missha, a Korean beauty and skin care company, said, “Much in the way that their mucin protects their delicate little snail feet from environmental hazards such as rough surfaces, bacteria and UV-rays and keeps them moist in dry conditions, many of the nutrients in snail mucin can also be absorbed by our skin to similar effects. Regular use of snail mucin has been shown to fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation, moisturize and firm skin, clear complexion, and minimize pores.”
Adorable, and gross. If you that combination weirdly appeals to you as much as it does to me, the below options for getting your regular dose of snail slime are below (in lieu of letting live snails glide across your face):
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask, $23
🐌 Missha has a range of snail slime infused products, including an essence and a moisturizer, but you can never go wrong with a sleeping mask.
Benton Snail Bee Sheet Mask (set of 10), $16
🐌 The masks are a cult-favorite and promise skin brightening and wrinkle smoothing. cult-favorite masks aid in skin brightening and wrinkle improvement.
Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $14
🐌 Made with 96% snail secretion (slime), this essence keeps skin smooth and elastic. PAPER social media editor Peyton Dix is a fan, and told us this essence is “Highly recommended for those with dark spots and for anyone with skin that turns into the desert during the winter.”
Gold & Snail Hydrogel Eye Patch (60 pcs), $10
🐌 These gold and snail slime under eye patches penetrate delicate skin to firm and tighten for a more awake look.
MIZON All In One Snail Repair Cream, $14
🐌 This gold standard cream is truly an all-in-one one stop repair shop. It provides solutions for anti-aging, acne scars, blemishes, hyperpigmentation and more.
Dermal Korea Snail Collagen Essence Full Face Sheet Mask, (ten sheets), $7
🐌 Straight from the motherland, these sheet masks deliver collagen-enhancing snail slime to your skin in minutes and at ten sheets for $7, the price is definitely right.
TonyMoly Timeless Ferment Snail Eye Mask, $5
🐌 Snail slime’s richness makes it perfect for the delicate eye area especially, and these TonyMoly eye masks help retain moisture and smooth out fine lines.
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, $18
🐌 Benton comes through again with a high content snail mucin essence, which K-beauty nerds should know is used after toner and before serums and lotions to help the skin better absorb product and stay moist. This product also contains bee venom, known for its natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties.
Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Fast Acting Serum, $120
🐌 Perfect for the snail-squeamish, this potent serum uses synthetic snail secretions along with neuropeptides and diamond dust to relax facial lines and smooth out wrinkles.
EscarGlow® Facial, $375 per treatment
Image via Getty
For the truly committed, this is an in-house snail secretion facial treatment you can get that brings the benefits of the snail slime to deeper layers of skin than an at-home product. Created by NYC Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman, the EscarGlow® Facial combines collagen-stimulating microneedling and purified snail slime to achieve the results of other snail secretion products, but on a whole other level. (Microneedling uses very small needles that vibrate and make microscopic holes in the skin, causing it to quickly regenerate. There are more intense in-office versions as well as plenty of at home treatments on the market).
“The key is the combination of this extract with the microneedling,” Dr. Schulman says. “The microneedling device allows the snail extract to reach the deeper layers of the skin where the growth factors and peptides can have the most benefit. Simply putting the snail extract on the skin will have much less of a result.”
The snails for this treatment are also, apparently, of a higher quality than your average snail, as the slime is harvest from a specialized farm in Spain. “The snails are meticulously cared for and receive daily ‘showers’ with fresh water and a feast of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Schulman explained. Cute!
He added that while the treatment is typically performed as a facial, it can also be used anywhere else on the body, including your chest, hands, back or butt. Each treatment takes about 45 minutes, and the only side effect may be a slight redness for 24-48 hours. If you’re looking for a serious snail investment, an in-office snail slime treatment is definitely your best bet.
The Secrets of Snail Skin Care
In these divided times, one truth seldom disputed is that animal secretions are gross. No matter how lovely the pup, dog slobber is plainly nasty. The yellow fluid that seeps from scared ladybug legs has befouled too many picnics to count. Bird shit is a windshield’s scourge. As a general statement of fact, people do not usually relish or seek out the presence of animal goop on or in their bodies.
There are exceptions, of course. Squid ink is a culinary delicacy. Elite perfumeries covet the ambergris secreted by sperm whales, which is treasured for its irreproducible musk. Everyone loves honey, which is basically bee vomit. Over the past decade, another special case has risen from a cult cosmetic treatment to a standard component of skin care routines, first gaining popularity in South Korea in the 2000s and then moving into the rest of the world. Snail slime, the mucus oozing from a gland on a snail’s foot, is now a commonplace ingredient for facial ointments, masks, and treatments. “Cover Your Face In Snail Slime,” cosmetics website Into the Gloss implored readers in 2014. Both CNN and Bloomberg called it a “craze” in 2017. Drew Barrymore and Katie Holmes are reportedly fans.
I am another willing slime devotee. Every morning, two dabs of an inexpensive Korean snail “essence” go on my cheeks and forehead. Once a week, I sit on my couch looking like a serial killer with a slimy snail extract mask draped on my face. As with all of my vanity-soothing rituals, I’ve never been sure how well these products work, only that they make me feel like I’m taking a proactive step toward better skin. The companies that sell these products often make sweeping claims about their efficacy — snail slime helps regenerate cells! It’s anti-acne and anti-aging! — but marketing claims and actual research-backed evidence are frequently two very different things.
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research for Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology, says that mollusk goo is more than empty hype. “Snail slime has been shown to have antioxidant properties, as well as the ability to stimulate collagen production and enhance wound healing. It is also rich in hyaluronic acid, which is a humectant ingredient that pulls in hydration to the outer skin layer,” Zeichner told me by email. “In fact, there is data showing that creams containing snail slime actually help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and the sun damage.”
But Zeichner cautioned against throwing lots of money at anything with the word “snail” on it. “Many snail slime products or snail slime facials may be very pricey,” Zeichner said. “While there is little downside , we need more data to prove whether it is any more effective than traditional moisturizing or anti-aging products.”
Cosmetic scientist Colin Sanders expressed similar ambivalence. “It works okay,” he told me over email. “I wouldn’t particularly recommend it, as I think there are better options out there.” Sanders has colorfully described the limits of snail slime on his cosmetic science blog, Colin’s Beauty Pages, where he explains that the slime is composed of proteins and polysaccharides, which dissolve in water. “If you then dry them, they shrink back again,” he wrote, explaining that the ingredients tighten the skin as they dry, and may occasionally help reduce fine lines caused by dryness. “If there were some reason to believe that snail slime was more effective than other polymers at giving the kind of tightening of the skin that people want, it might make a lot of sense. But to be honest, there isn’t really. You could make just as good a case for wallpaper paste.” (He then issued a warning that wallpaper paste is unsafe to apply to skin.)
The cosmetics world is underregulated, and snail slime, like many “miracle” ingredients, does not have a sizable trail of peer-reviewed evidence. A small 2013 study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology did find that a serum containing 40 percent snail mucin did improve fine lines and wrinkles on a test group of 25 people over a 12-week period, but it was funded by pharmaceutical company Biopelle, which just so happens to sell snail serum. There are few larger-scale studies. Even its origin story is difficult to pin down. Bruno Bonnemain, who works as a scientific adviser for the French pharmaceutical company Guerbet, wrote a history of the substance in 2005, citing ancient figures like Hippocrates and Pliny as advocates of the healing properties of land snails. According to Bonnemain, the 18th-century French medical reference book Universal Pharmacopoeia featured a passage on crushing up snails into a concoction used for “skin redness,” and that another French medical reference book, Dorvault, discussed therapeutic snail-based ointments as recently as 1945. (It should be noted that Bonnemain published this work in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an academic journal that has been disavowed by one of its cofounders as “useless rubbish.”) Chilean snail slime purveyors, meanwhile, claim that the ointment was discovered 30 years ago, on a mountain farm, an accidental eureka after workers noticed their hands growing smoother as they handled the mollusks.
While its exact backstory is still unknown, the surge in interest in snail slime, and accompanying surge in the industry surrounding it, is apparent. As Korean cosmetics companies like Skin Food and Missha have expanded into Western markets, snail slime products have been some of the most popular exports. (The BBC called snail slime one of the South Korean skin care industry’s “key ingredients” in 2016.) A spa in Tokyo debuted a treatment in which living snails were strategically placed on customers’ faces in 2013. In Thailand, Chiang Mai’s Snail Spa opened in 2015. In Italy, the boom in demand for snail products has resulted in a 325 percent increase in snail farming over the past two decades. A plastic surgeon in Manhattan, Dr. Matthew Schulman, now offers an “EscarGlow” facial, charging $375 to apply snail slime after creating tiny abrasions in the face with microneedles. “Our snail extract is gathered from a specialized snail farm in Spain. No snails are harmed during this process. In fact, the snails are meticulously cared for and receive daily ‘showers’ with fresh water and a feast of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Schulman told me by email.
People in the snail slime business are quick to point out that modern slime collecting does not require the killing or injuring of snails. While snail farmers originally extracted the goo by stimulating the creatures with vinegar or salt, which killed them, new methods of raising the mollusks are far less cruel. Italy’s International Heliciculture Association patented a slime-extracting device designed to cause snails minimal discomfort, known as the Muller One. “It is essentially a spa for snails,” Simone Sampo, the organization’s president, told The Telegraph in 2017. “We raise them naturally, feed them only vegetable matter and then extract the slime with water that contains ozone, which kills all the bacteria. The snails are not harmed.” (PETA still disapproves of snail slime products.)
While snail slime products are often marketed to display their active ingredients, packaged slickly as luxury items, there’s a charm to repurposing a natural byproduct, an unexpected hippie appeal, a whiff of a thrifty and intuitive approach to beauty. Using the debris from snail trails as a fancy moisturizer seems like the Goop version of eating the whole animal. As wellness trends continue to tilt toward an idealized version of “clean” living, it is no surprise that dabbing a tincture collected from what is left behind by small creatures has secured a vogue.
So far, though, there are no organic farm-to-vanity snail outfits driving home the product’s earthy allure for Americans. Snail farming remains a fringe activity in the United States. Long Island–based Peconic Escargot is the first USDA-certified snail farm in the country, but it focuses on raising snails for eating, not beautifying. “We don’t gather the slime for cosmetics. There’s a very expensive machine that’s required to extract the snails slime without killing them — we don’t have it,” head snail wrangler Taylor Knapp told me, noting that the farmers at Peconic do not put snails on their faces. As for the Chilean lore about workers noticing their hands looking nicer, it hasn’t repeated itself stateside. “We handle the snails with our bare hands daily, and haven’t noticed any difference.”
“It seems like a passing fad, to be honest. If it didn’t, we would totally invest in that really expensive machine,” Knapp said. “I’m guessing the world will be moving on to another strange ingredient in a couple of years, if not sooner.”
Hyaluronic acid, propolis and honey, cica, AHAs and BHAs, aloe vera, green tea, tea tree oil, licorice root extract, and SNAIL MUCIN – these are just some of the special ingredients that I think really define Korean skincare products. So many Korean skincare products contain one or possibly even more than one of these ingredients.
Snail mucin is definitely one of the most popular ingredients in the world of Korean skincare. You’ll find that most people will include at least one product containing snail mucin in their routine!
This is because of the huge range of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin, including: treating acne, fading hyperpigmentation and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.
Don’t have time to read this whole article, and you’d like to know what the best Korean skincare products with snail mucin are? Below are my favorites:
Snail mucin (aka snail secretion filtrate) has become a popular ingredient in Korean skincare due to its versatility in treating many skin concerns and its suitability for all skin types.
But what actually is snail mucin?
Snail mucin isn’t comprised of the actual snail itself – it’s the slime that a snail produces (think of the sparkly tracks snails leave on the ground). Finding this out did make me a little less squeamish about trying it on my skin and I was glad to know that innocent snails weren’t killed for these popular skincare products (read more below about how snail mucin is harvested).
How Is Snail Mucin Harvested? Is It Cruelty Free?
You’re probably thinking now – but how snail mucin is actually harvested from snails and are snails hurt or killed in the process?
How does one turn snail slime into this amazing cream that I cannot live without?
The answer is thankfully that snails ARE NOT killed or harmed during the process of collecting snail slime. Although in the past, snail goo was extracted by stimulating the poor snails using vinegar and salt, nowadays methods are a lot less cruel and although snails are lab-grown, they live in optimal and very comfortable environments to allow them to have adequate rest (to optimise their secretion filtrate production).
The exact process of collecting the mucin varies amongst manufacturers, but COSRX has revealed how they collect snail secretion filtrate for their products without harming the snails in the process:
Snails are nocturnal creatures, so COSRX’s method involves placing the snails over a mesh net in a dark and quiet room (the mesh is not electrified at all). The snails are left for about half an hour to roam the nets and do their thing, leaving mucin behind for collection. The mucin is then processed to stabilise it and to make it suitable for cosmetic use. No stress is applied to the snails in this process as optimal mucin production occurs when the snails are well relaxed.
What Are The Benefits Of Snail Mucin To Skin?
So why exactly is snail mucin so popular in Korean skincare? Who one day watched a snail slither past them and thought “that would be great to put on my skin”?
It’s not known who exactly thought of this – or if it even happened this way, but it is known that snails were used as a topical treatment in Ancient Greece for their healing properties. Snails have also been used in French skincare since the 18th Century. There are also claims that the benefits of snail slime was discovered in Chile, as workers on a mountain farm noticed that snail secretion filtrate healed the cuts and grazes on their hands.
Ancient Greek women admiring how great their skin looks after incorporating snail goo into their skincare routines.
Regardless of who thought of using snail secretion filtrate as a skincare treatment first – the next question is – what benefits does snail mucin actually have for your skin?
It turns out there are A LOT of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin. This is because snail mucin contains many beneficial ingredients (such as glycolic acid, glycoprotein enzymes and copper peptides).
So many skin benefits in one jar! This will forever be a staple in my skincare routine.
These ingredients make snail mucin excellent at repairing skin damage, evening skin tone, fading hyperpigmentation (including acne scars), as well as firming and tightening the skin, and boosting collagen and elastin production. Snail mucin is also great for hydrating the skin as it contains hyaluronic acid (a humectant ingredient that pulls water into the outer layers of the skin).
As if that wasn’t enough, snail mucin also has antimicrobial properties, which makes it great for fighting off acne-causing bacteria. I know what you’re thinking now: “I NEED, I NEED!”
Snail Mucin Is Good For Treating Acne
Yes, snail mucin is a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine if you suffer from acne breakouts. As I just mentioned, snail mucin naturally has antimicrobial properties, which helps to keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. However, the glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps to prevent breakouts by exfoliating the skin (and thereby removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores).
Snail mucin can also help to repaire the skin’s moisture barrier – which in turn will minimise breakouts. This is due to the ingredient hyaluronic acid, which as I explained above, is a humectant, which means it attracts water molecules to your outer skin layer, keeping your skin hydrated. This makes sense, as snails require a lot of moisture to stop them from drying out.
Snail Mucin Is Good For Fading Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Snail mucin has another great property- it is great at fading hyperpigmentation. However, from all the research I’ve done for this article, although snail mucin is great for healing acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), reducing redness and at evening your general skin tone, it doesn’t appear to be very effective at fading other types of hyperpigmentation (such as sunspots or melasma).
If you are looking to fade sun spots and/or melasma, then you may need to look at including some other products in your routine (I’ve written an article on how to fade hyperpigmentation here).
Before I move on to the next topic, I do just want to explain why snail mucin is so good at healing acne and acne scarring. The reason is because snail secretion filtrate contains many ingredients (including proteins, peptides and elastin), which help to heal acne scars. This again makes sense when we think of snails in nature – they have very soft bodies that need to be able to heal quickly as they often travel over rough surfaces – and their slime helps them to do this.
Of course, as already mentioned, the glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps to gently exfoliate the skin, which removes dead skin cells and reveals newer and non-pigmented cells.
Anti-Wrinkle Benefits of Snail Mucin
Since I started using snail mucin in my very simple skincare routine (that you can read about here), I’ve noticed that the fine lines next to my eyes and on my forehead aren’t as visible.
And it’s true, clinical studies have shown that snail mucin does have anti-aging properties!
This is because the hyaluronic acid present in snail mucin works to keep your skin super hydrated and plump – which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The hyaluronic acid in snail mucin also increases collagen and elastin production in the outer layers of your skin, which makes the skin look firmer and more youthful.
As the hydrating effects of hyaluronic acid are short term only, this is why the anti-aging and skin-hydrating benefits of snail mucin appear to be short term only. People who use snail mucin regularly, do notice their skin not looking as hydrated and firm only days after not including it in their routine.
What Are The Best Korean Snail Mucin Products?
When it comes to snail mucin, the best products with no doubt are the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Power Essence (available at Amazon) and the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream (available at Amazon). As their names suggest, they contain a whopping 96 and 92 percent of snail mucin, respectively.
I love the simplicity of the COSRX snail formulations. I love that the concentration of snail secretion filtrate is so high, and I also love that these products don’t contain much else (apart from a preservative and other non-irritating moisturizing ingredients). So unlike some other snail products on the market, there are no actives, botanical extracts or perfumes added (which make them great products for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin).
I am currently using the all in one cream in my evening routine (I use it as a moisturizer) and I love how smooth and hydrated it makes my skin look and feel. I actually keep it in the fridge and it feels so cool and soothing on my skin. It does have a kind of slimy consistency (well it is 92% snail slime), however it’s not sticky at all and gets absorbed into my skin really well. I even really lather it on underneath my eyes as a sort of eye cream as it doesn’t contain any fragrance and keeps my skin feeling smooth and hydrated the entire next day. I also have oily and acne-prone skin, so it’s difficult for me to find a good moisturizer that doesn’t break me out or make my skin look like a greasy frying pan!
Can you see the gooeyness? My beloved COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream.
If you haven’t added snail mucin to your routine yet, then I highly recommend you give it a go – there are so many benefits for your skin. I think the COSRX line of snail mucin products (that I mentioned above) are excellent choices for any skin type, but keep checking back here as I plan on putting together a guide on Korean snail mucin creams very soon.
Fact or Myth? Snail Essence Is Good for the Skin
There’s been an interesting trend in the world of face masks. There’s your average charcoal or Vitamin C masks, or fruit and flower scents galore. But now these are emerging in the market:
“Snail essence” has been a key ingredient in face masks and although that may be unconventional, it is actually a trending way to keep your skin hydrated. Snail essence was used for skin treatment in ancient Greece and has recently made a comeback in Korean-based beauty products.
Dermatologist Tabasum Mir told Huffington Post: “When snails are agitated, they excrete a thick fluid as a means to protect themselves. When concentrated, this slimy snail mucin is said to aid human skin by hydrating, preventing aging, and improving wrinkles and scars.” Sure snail slime has hyaulronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, and peptides, but Mir assures that those are ingredients that can be found in many other types of skin products: they are not unique to the snail slime. The most effective thing snail essence can do is to hydrate the skin, as Bustle’s Zoe Weiner documents in her article.
Would you be interested in trying a snail mask? Or has it already been added to your nightly routine? Let us know!
You probably never look at a trail of glittery snail slime on a sidewalk and have the urge to rub it on your skin. That may soon change however, when you learn a little more about this fascinating substance.
Snail oil or snail slime–or more technically known as snail mucin, snail serum or snail filtrate–is one of my favorite ingredients in skincare products. It may sound icky but hold that thought until you learn more.
After a trip to Seoul, South Korea where I was able to try oodles and oodles of snail filtrate products, I was hooked. Coming back to the States, I got strange looks from friends and colleagues when I urged them to try “snail slime” on their face, even though the trend has been in the U.S. for a few years already.
Worldwide, snail secretion has been touted as an anti-aging holy grail, helping everything from younger, firmer skin to acne, so I took a deeper dive into the literature to see exactly where the science stands on snail slime and face care.
A short history lesson
Reportedly, snail slime has been used as far back as Ancient Greece times, for helping ailments inside the body, like indigestion or cough, as well as outside the body for skin inflammation. (Note–I could not find a reliable source documenting the historic use of medicinal and cosmetic snail slime, though it is referenced quite frequently in other articles).
New York Magazine says that “snails were first prescribed in ancient Greece as a topical treatment to reduce inflammation, and they began to crawl their way into creams and elixirs in South America when farmers handling escargot en route to France noticed their hands looked younger and smoother.”
Today, South Korea has paved the way for snail products, which have since taken hold in the US and Europe. These include snail serums, lotions, creams and more. Some places in Thailand, Asia and Europe even offer live snail facials where critters make their way across customers’ faces–one step I don’t think I could take!
What’s the science of snail slime?
What exactly is the function of snail slime? Technically this slime is mucus, produced by the snail as it crawls along to coat their bodies and prevent the drying out of their tissue. Snails’ mucus is both sticky–to help them adhere to surfaces–and lubricating–to help the little guys protect against abrasions, bacteria and other infections as they make their way across different environments.
Snails typically have two main types of mucus: one that covers the surface that they move along (leaving behind that glittery silver trail on concrete and sidewalks) and one that coats their bodies for protection.
The slimy gel-like trail mucus is incredibly multi-functional, helping a snail to have a smooth scootch along a rough surface, distract predators, recognize other snails for reproduction and find its way home. A thicker more elastic version of this slime helps them adhere to surfaces–and thus crawl up walls or your favorite potted plant, for example. Finally, another version of snail slime exudes from the body of the snail itself as a type of protectant and increases when the snail is under distress. It is this last version that is most typically used in cosmetics.
Cosmetic benefits of snail slime: a list
The claimed benefits of snail extract range from fixing sunspots to smoothing out creases and wrinkles and even halting acne, supposedly due to the mucus’ ability in promoting the production of elastin and collagen in users’ skin. And some folks are shelling out hundreds of dollars for novel snail-based cosmetics.
But let’s break this down and see what’s what.
In terms of cosmetic interests, their secretion is made up of a conglomeration of ingredients, many of which are suggested to aid skin health, including:
- hyaluronic acid
- glycol acid
Many claim the snails’ secretions on a skin stimulate the skin to produce collagen, elastin and other components thought to result in clearer skin while fighting signs of aging and sun damage. One peer-reviewed study by a San Diego dermatology lab showed that snail mucin did indeed counter minor effects of sun damage after 12 weeks, particularly reducing fine wrinkles caused by UV damage (reference), though it did not study which of the particular ingredients in snail slime prompted this result.
Snail filtrate also contains a chemical called allantoin, which has been shown by some peer-reviewed studies to assist in the wound-healing process and stimulate cell growth, both of which are helpful to fight skin damage. (Allantoin is present in lots of cosmetics, including anti-acne medicine.)
One cosmetic scientist surmises that snail slime’s trick is its high concentration of proteins and other water-soluble polymers, which are molecules that shrink when they dry, pulling the skin back. Aside from snail white, egg whites also have this effect, which is one reason they have been used for ages as an anti-wrinkle cream, even as far back as Roman times.
So these proteins presumably can improve skin smoothness and health, but it’s important to keep in mind that active components can differ depending upon the source. Ultimately, no one knows which of the active ingredients in snail slime contribute to the beneficial effect on human skin. It could be a “total is greater than the sum of its parts” effect – where, much like chicken soup for a cold, the mixture of beneficial ingredients in snail slime results in its soothing effect.
How do you get the snail slime?
For commercial use, snail slime is usually obtained from the common garden snail species Helix aspersa. Most of snail filtrate comes from Italy, where snail farmers are actually seeing a 400 percent increase in demand over the last two decades. There are over 4,000 producers in Italy raising this common European snail to-date.
Traditionally, snails were dunked in salt or vinegar water to extract the valuable secretion, but you’ll be relieved to hear that several Italian breeders today use “cruelty-free” techniques to prompt the snails to release filtrate. According to The Telegraph, Italy’s International Heliciculture Association recently patented a machine called the Muller One, which prompts snail slime extract via a “snail spa,” where the critters are immersed in a gentle steam bath to kill bacteria.
So, are snail masks, creams, lotions, serums and scrubs good for your skin?
Like so much in the cosmetics world, there’s not a huge body of extensive or rigorous objective scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals that one can point to to prove that a product or ingredient conclusively works. When it comes to snail extract, there is no be-all, end-all study showing positive effects, though the studies referenced above are promising.
Nevertheless, snail extract is hugely popular and we can take a cue from our skin-obsessed neighbors in South Korea, where snail slime has been trending for years. Anecdotally, I personally found that products with high levels of snail filtrate absolutely left my skin feeling pleasantly and noticeably softer the day after.
Words of caution
The active compounds in any snail mucus can differ depending on the snails and the mucus, so there is not a whole lot of consistency. Environmental conditions will affect snail slime quality, as well as what the snails eat and the extraction methods, so potency levels are unclear.
Furthermore, many products will advertise themselves as snail-based but always take a look at the ingredients in the back! Ideally the packaging will list what percentage or PPM (part per million) snail filtrate is in the product. As far as I’ve found, at least 2,000 PPM seems to be a good amount to aim for, with some products offering as high as 10,000 PPM. If the product doesn’t list PPM, and if snail filtrate is not listed as one of the first few ingredients, the concentration of actual mucus is likely quite low and you may not see an effect.
While there are no clearly documented risks of using snail slime, I would caution do not try a “do-it-yourself” version of snail moisturizing! Without proper control and sanitary conditions, you may get more than you bargain for (e.g., bacterial infection). So don’t go grabbing critters from you garden and let them slide their way around your face. And of course, with any new cosmetic product, test a small amount of the product first to see how your skin reacts.
Conclusion: Is snail-based cosmetics worth all the hype?
As with many products in cosmetics, there are no strong scientific, peer-reviewed findings showing a miracle ingredient or holy grail of skincare that can reverse signs of aging. However, snail slime seems worth a try as much as any other high protein-based moisturizers (e.g., eggs), just make sure you get a high-quality product and aren’t shelling out too much money just for the hype.
See below for some of my tried and tested (and affordable) favorite snail products. Please note these are just based on my own experience, and your skin might find a different snail product to be more beneficial.
My absolute favorite snail sheet mask so far is by the Korean company Nature Republic – check it out here. You can also read a quick infographic on snail slime I put together at and tips on how to use face masks if you have not encountered them before.
Finally, I’ve also put together a quick comparison guide of the most popular (and affordable) snail filtrate products for the face, including sheet masks and night creams. Check it out here!
In the quest for transformational super ingredients that give skin youthful qualities and a celestial glow, researchers seem to have no bounds. Trekking to alpine regions for apples encased in immortal peel, diving to watery depths where seemingly magical algae sleep, extracting venom from poisonous reptiles, culturing lethal toxins, and collecting avian poop are all de rigueur in the name of beauty. Being asked to test out products containing the current wonder essence, snail slime, didn’t make me blink or cringe.
The slime or mucus secreted by these little mollusks that helps protect their exposed bottoms against cuts, bacteria, and UV rays contains a potent combination of elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid — all known beauty enhancers. Snail mucin is said to do everything from fading dark spots and scars to plumping creases and battling acne. The venom found in ocean-cone snails (as opposed to the garden variety) paralyzes its prey and is thought to relax muscle fibers that play a role in creating wrinkles.
Snails were first prescribed in ancient Greece as a topical treatment to reduce inflammation, and they began to crawl their way into creams and elixirs in South America when farmers handling escargot en route to France noticed their hands looked younger and smoother. Soon the beauty-forward Korean market picked up the trend, and it arrived in the U.S. market about five years ago. Now more mainstream high-end companies like RéVive and Peter Thomas Roth are releasing new products containing the holy snail, and both spas and doctors’ offices are featuring facials that employ it.
Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman has introduced the Escarglow Facial, a $300 treatment that combines extracts of the slime with micro-needling to increase the product’s penetration. “People originally used live snails in facials, but you can imagine how some people didn’t like that,’’ says Dr. Schulman. “There is anecdotal evidence that proteins in snail slime have anti-aging benefits, and clinical trials have looked at that, as well as reversal of sun damage, and shown improvement. Snail slime is not going to help deep folds, but it will improve skin texture and quality.’’ The actual science behind these products is still somewhat inconclusive. Lab cell cultures had positive findings, and a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment showed an improvement in burn patients who used snail mucin, but there have been no serious controlled clinical trials or long-term studies, so doctors are divided.
Dermatologist Francesca Fusco is a believer. “The hyaluronic acid and peptides in snail mucin have been demonstrated on cell cultures to stimulate the production of elastin and collagen,’’ she says. Another New York dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel is more skeptical. “I’m not sure if the active ingredients are in high enough concentration or get absorbed deeply enough to have a positive effect on the skin,’’ he remarks.
Plastic surgeon Joel Studin feels that, while snail slime is intriguing, there needs to be better testing. “From a marketing standpoint, the ingredients sound compelling; however, there are no good studies that show it really works for anti-aging,’’ he maintains.
Despite the medical debate, cosmetic companies are embracing the critters. Sharon Garment, a product-development consultant specializing in emerging brands and a former executive at Estée Lauder and Revlon, notes that the efficacy of snail-based products also depends on additional ingredients. “Snail extracts are heavily trending now, and many companies are requesting it in their new formulas,’’ she observes. “While it’s shown to have beneficial properties, its effectiveness is supported by other proven ingredients that contribute to ultimate performance and ability of these products to make the claims they make.’’
Also at issue is the consistency of snail extract. According to Russ Grandis, chemist and chief scientific officer of cosmetics consulting company Architectural Beauty, it’s hard to control potency levels because the creatures themselves vary.
“There’s been a lot of hype about snail filtrate, which contains allantoin, proteins to improve smoothness, acids, and enzymatic properties, but the active components can differ depending upon the source,’’ he says.
Snails come in many varieties: Products boast gastropods that hail from Brittany, regions of Africa, and Korea’s Green Zone. The methods of handling them also vary; in some cases, the venom is simply cultivated in a chemist’s lab. Resulting cosmetics range in price from as low as $25 to a steep $600, and facials run from $80 to $300. We decided to do the face work for you before you enter the world of slime, selecting six products and two facials. In the interest of time, they were judged on immediate, rather than long-term, effects.
RéVive Intensite Line Erasing Serum, $600
What It Claims: Instant firming and tightening, improvement of density, more defined facial contours, increased elastin and collagen production, and radiance and wrinkle correction. RéVive founder and plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Bays Brown says, “Within the dermis, there are wisps of muscle fiber that will relax wrinkles; that was what excited me.’’ Key Ingredients: Lab-synthesized freshwater cone-snail venom, a blend of line-smoothing peptides, and the company’s proprietary plant growth-factor formula. My Experience: The lightweight serum has a mild, pleasant fragrance and feels fresh on the skin. It absorbs easily and is not sticky. There was an immediate tensing, which produced a lifting effect, as well as gentle line-smoothing. I also saw an increased luminosity, which is partly due to the rapid cell turnover one can expect from RéVive products containing the line’s growth-factor formula.
Photo: ASHER WILENS
Immunocologie Super 7 Elixir, $300
What It Claims: Natural tightening, increased radiance, and diminished fine lines. Key Ingredients: “Beautiful creatures living freely on the coast of Brittany’’ that “breathe the sea breeze and capture the negative ions from the sea’’ are not harmed in the slime-collecting process twice a year as they slide on a special apparatus. Those negative ions are meant to help keep the skin in balance. Proteins from hibiscus esculentus and peptides from mammea americana also contribute to the skin’s tightening. My Experience: A little sticky but still absorbent, this light lotion had a nice heady botanical aroma. There was a tingling upon application and a definite tightening effect. Fine lines appeared instantly filled in and my skin looked smoother, though not particularly radiant or hydrated. The scent lingered to the point that a friend later asked me what fragrance I was wearing.
Dr. Jart Time Returning Serum, $54
What It Claims: Restores damaged tissue and replenishes moisture, maximizes elasticity, and minimizes wrinkles. Key Ingredients: 77 percent snail mucin, allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, and ceramides. My Experience: Fragranced with natural extracts and oils, the serum was a bit slimy upon application, but it absorbed without residue or film. After about 30 minutes, my face was noticeably firmed, light wrinkles around the eyes were softened, and there was an increased radiance. It only fell short in terms of hydration.
Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Fast-Acting Serum, $120
What It Claims: Relaxes and smooths wrinkles. Key Ingredients: Synthetically reproduced snail venom, neuropeptides, and diamond dust. My Experience: The thicker gel emulsion had no detectable scent, had a noticeable tightening effect, and granted a gradual smoothing of wrinkles. There was also an increased radiance, partly due to the diamond powder.
TonyMoly Intense Care Snail Cream, $49.99
What It Claims: The Korean company is so dedicated to snail slime that it has a complete line of products featuring it. The Intense Cream promises increased hydration and elasticity and help in repairing skin damage Key Ingredients: 70 percent mucin from Chungnam snails in the Korean Green Zone, plant-derived extracts to increase elasticity, and centella asiatica to improve damaged skin My Experience: The richest and most luxurious of the creams, this was the most hydrating product. It left skin soft and smooth, with a hint of radiance, but didn’t have a tightening or lifting effect.
Mizon Black Snail All in One Cream, $54
What It Claims: Evens skin tone, decreases wrinkles, whitens complexion, clears blemishes, and hydrates. Key Ingredients: 90 percent mucus from African snails, which are known to survive particularly harsh environments (ipso facto, their protective ooze should be particularly potent), and extracts from more than 20 “black plants’’ including cocoa, shiitake mushrooms, pepper, and stone seaweed. My Experience: The lightweight and scentless cream has a somewhat sticky consistency and isn’t very easily absorbed. While there was no immediate lifting, skin looked a little firmer after half an hour, and my skin had a matte finish instead of a glow.
Photo: Courtesy of Townhouse Spa
Townhouse Spa’s Ultra Lift Facial (39 West 56th St., 212.245.8006), $275 for 75 minutes
What It Claims: Lifting, reduction of wrinkles, smoothing of skin, and soothing of any inflammation. According to the spa’s owner, Jamie Ahn, “It’s gotten very popular because the results are very visible and instantaneous. It helps after peels or lasers to calm skin, and also with acne and rosacea because it is anti-inflammatory.’’ Process: After cleansing and massage, a snail mask by the Korean company Soo Ae is applied and a micro current is run over the face to stimulate muscles and help the mask’s ingredients penetrate. Finally, LED lights are focused on the face to tone and calm any redness. My Experience: Skin was lifted and glowing after the treatment, and it looked like someone had ironed out the wrinkles.
Photo: Franck Robichon/Corbis
Snail Facial at Graceful Services (1095 Second Ave.; 212.593.9904), $80
What It Claims: Hydrating and brightening. Process: A traditional steam and deep-cleansing treatment is taken to another level with the final application of a snail mask from C & F Cosmetics. Note that, unlike the picture shown, you do not have live snails placed on your face. My Experience: Apart from being an obvious bargain, the cleansing was very thorough and the mask gave my face additional hydration and luminosity. With so many encouraging results, we’d say it’s worth making your way to a cosmetics counter — and not too slowly.