Over the years, snails have gone from garden dwellers to French appetizers to a skin-care ingredient. The mucin, or slime, from the snail has become the foundation for a recent trend of serums, masks, and creams. The Strategist staff has tried many of these products and loved them. According to The Strategist, “Snail mucin was a gateway into K-beauty for our beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton, whose first Google doc included Cosrx snail-mucin essence and Benton Snailbee sheet mask.”
Korean brands may have launched the snail mucin trend; however, the Chileans were the first to incorporate snails into a skin-care ingredient. In the 1980s, Chilean snail breeders were surprised at the softness of their hands from handling the snails. This led to the Chilean snail cream Elicina. What does the snail mucin actually do on a scientific level? The Strategist contacted dermatologists to find the answer.
The Science of Snail Mucin Skin Care
Most of the snail mucin that is used in skin-care products involves the Cryptomphalus aspersa species, or the common garden snail. The mucin contains glycoproteins, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid. All of these ingredients have been documented as having benefits for the skin. However, snail mucin has not been the subject of many studies.
Nevertheless, there are many enthusiasts of mucin throughout the skin-expert community. For those who have tried snail-mucin products and noticed the skin was extra supple and glowed, it is not due to the imagination.
Anna Guanche is a cosmetic dermatologist, who stock piles snail products in her office at the Bella Skin Institute. She says that snail mucin seals in the moisture and allows the active ingredients to penetrate the skin effectively. “It prevents dryness and makes the skin look dewy, with fewer allergenic ingredients that our current anti-aging armamentarium. I actually recommend it over actives such as glycolic acid or retinoids.”
The chemist duo behind Chemist Confessions, Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu are in agreement that the main benefit for skin is the hydrating ingredient of snail mucin. Chemist Confessions is a website that explains the science of skin care.
Matthew Schulman, a New York plastic surgeon, stated that snail mucin has the ability to “improve skin texture and quality.” He offers an Escarglow facial which involves a combination of snail mucin and microneedling for $375.
Snail mucin heals and seals in moisture. New research shows that snail mucin may also have anti-aging properties. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, has lectured on the anti-aging properties of snail mucin before the American Academy of Dermatology. He noted that the mucous is rich in hyaluronic acid, and it has been shown to exhibit antioxidant activities, stimulate the production of collagen, and enhance the healing of wounds.
Clinical studies have shown that skin-care products containing snail mucin gave statistical improvements in facial lines and wrinkles.
According to Fu and Lu, these studies should be taken with a grain of salt, because the sample sizes for these studies were small.
Extracting Snail Mucin
People should not be held back from trying the snail-mucin products out of concern for snail welfare. The Strategist spoke AmorePacific, the parent company for snail skin-care producing brands like Etude House. The spokesperson revealed that harvesting the slime involves having the snails crawl over a mesh net in a darkened room for 30 minutes at a time. Then, the snails are transferred to their natural habitat to rest. None of the snails are harmed during the procedure.
Cosrx uses a similar process, as well as Mizon, which heats the mesh nets to increase the humidity for a terrarium effect. It is supposed to increase the mucin secretion. The moisturizing slime is collected and pasteurized in preparation for the bottle.
Some Mucin Products and Where to Find Them:
- Tony Moly Intense Care Snail Gel Mask for skin hydration, contains 10,000 parts per million of snail mucin – $4 on Amazon
- Benton Snailbee High Content Sheet Mask hydrates and treats spots – $3 at Soko Glam
- SMD Cosmetics Saromae Hydrating Snail Secretion Cream smells great and is not slimy. Apply nightly to clean face or over other active ingredients – $70 on Amazon
- Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence is a less expensive alternative to SK-II – $21 on Amazon and at Revolve Clothing
- Mizon Snail Recovery Cream is a simple product that soothes the skin and speeds the healing of breakouts, good for irritating skin – $15 for 2 on Amazon
- Petitfée Gold & Snail Hydrogel Eye Patches has regenerative properties that work wonders on blemish scars, helps with hyperpigmentation, and dark circles under the eyes, also super beneficial for dryness and wrinkles – $11 on Amazon
- Mizon All-in-One Repair Snail Cream has 92 percent snail mucin, has a slightly gluey but not unpleasant texture, moisturizes without making the skin oily, good for acne-prone skin – $18 on Amazon, $38 at Target
- Mizon Black Snail All-in-One Cream is sourced from the African snail, which has more potent mucin since it survives in harsh environments – $15 on Amazon
- Biopelle Tensage Intensive Cream is the only snail product recommended by Zeichner because it uses snail mucin that has been clinically proven to improve fine lines and wrinkles – $125 at Dermastore
By Jeanette Smith
The Strategist: What Does Snail Slime Actually Do for Your Skin?
Image Courtesy of Elaine with Grey Cats’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License