We’re more than willing to try all sorts of potions, serums and hacks to reverse the effects of aging. And so in an effort to discover the latest fountain of youth, we started hearing buzz about the ‘sluggish’ trend of late: slathering snail slime (AKA snail mucin) on your face in an attempt to look younger. Sounds wacky, right? We thought so too, but here’s what we uncovered about the gooey stuff: It’s study proven to heal skin wounds, promote skin-firming collagen production and hydrate skin.
And while this may seem like a newer trend, the use of snail slime actually dates back to Ancient Greece, when they utilized it to reduce inflammation and fight the signs of aging. In the 18th century, it was widely used for everything from skin issues to tuberculosis. It was officially studied in the 1960s when a Spanish radiation oncologist tried to pinpoint ways to help Chernobyl victims with radiation burns and discovered that the mucin could be used to treat radiation dermatitis.
The always-trending Korean beauty market brought the ingredient to the mainstream masses in 2011, and it took off from there. Since then, it has exploded in popularity and conversation online.
How snail slime benefits skin
Snail slime is a type of mucus secreted by snails as a means of protection. It may sound gross, but its benefits have been scientifically studied.
“Snail mucin has also been studied for its regenerative properties and ability to support collagen production and protect skin from free radicals. It also has moisturizing properties and contains growth factors, so it’s heavily used in skincare to help with wound healing, collagen production and hydration,” explains Dallas-based dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D.
“It’s a hot skincare ingredient because it naturally contains glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and peptides, all potent anti-aging ingredients,” attests Rachel Lee Lozina, a licensed aesthetician and founder of Blue Water Spa in Oyster Bay, New York. “Because the snail needs this slime to stay hydrated and to move around, it cannot dry out, making it a desirable ingredient in skincare.”
One recent study showed a dramatic decrease in wrinkles and fine lines in 25 subjects who used a mucin serum for 12 weeks.
Experts say anyone with aging skin can reap its slimy benefits. “Mature skin tends to be drier and, therefore, can benefit from snail mucin’s healing and hydrating properties. In addition, as we lose collagen over time, snail mucin’s collagen-stimulating properties may appeal to those with mature skin,” says Dr. Marcus.
How to use snail slime
Snail mucin can be used in the morning or evening and in almost any step of your skincare routine, and can even be used up to twice a day.
To really reap skin-hydrating, wound-healing and wrinkle-smoothing benefits of snail mucin, it’s best to leave these products on the skin for a period of time to let them do their work, advises California-based aesthetician Cassandra Bankson. “This means that products, such as toners, serums and moisturizers, will provide the most benefits.”
Check out this video to see how Instagram Influencer Shiya integrates snail slime into her skincare routine:
The best snail slime skincare products
Here are some snail slime products we’ve sourced that you could try incorporating into your skincare routine. If you’re unsure, discuss it with your dermatologist or aesthetician first.
Snail-slim infused serum
Considered the forefather of the snail mucin movement, Korean brand COSRX went viral for its Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence (Buy from Ulta, $25) which contains 96% snail mucin to absorb into the skin quickly and give you maximum snail power.
Snail slime-infused moisturizer
K-brand Seoulceuticals Anti-Aging Repair Cream (Buy from Amazon, $20) comes packed with plenty of mucin concentrate and other hydrating, all-natural ingredients like shea butter and Vitamin E. Using as a night cream before going to bed allows you to soak in the full benefits of its star ingredient.
Snail slime-infused mask
While it may not be as effective as the other products because it doesn’t stay on the skin as long, the Peach Slices Snail Rescue Exfoliating Jelly Mask (Buy From Ulta, 16.99) can target blemishes and dullness up to 2 to 3 times a week.
Snail slime-infused cleanser
Mizon’s Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser (Buy from Amazon, $10.70) is mild and moisturizing in a creamy formulation that foams up when you add water for a deep clean. Plus, the wallet-friendly price can’t be beat.
Why some experts say *not* to use snails slime
While the feedback has been largely positive, Bankson isn’t entirely sold. “It can be helpful, but I feel it is over-hyped. Other less expensive and more potent ingredients can have the same benefits. There is limited research on snail mucin, and more research needs to be done.”
Also, while the product is largely touted to battle breakouts, it can spark them in some people. “It can be irritating, especially for sensitive skin, and even clog pores and cause pimples, especially for people with fungal acne,” Bankson warns.
See Bankson’s explanation in the TikTok below:
Plus: “Some slime-infused products may contain supporting ingredients that can cause irritation, allergic reactions and sensitivity in the skin. Furthermore, the mucin itself can potentially trigger an allergic reaction,” says Paris Sabo, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon practicing in Newport Beach, California. “Therefore, it is highly advised to perform a skin patch test before trying any new product or ingredient in skincare.”
Another reason to potentially stay away from snail-based skincare? While snails are typically not killed in harvesting their mucin, they are forced into a stress response to secrete the essential slime. Bankson even traveled to Korea to investigate exactly how these snail mucin-based products are made. “It’s not fully cruelty-free, in my opinion, since many companies are unclear and unwilling to share how their snail mucus is extracted and whether or not it harms the snails,” shares Bankson.
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