Why Is There Snail Slime In My Skincare Products?

by Gio
skincare benefits of snail slime

Say what?! There’s snail slime in my skincare products?!

Eww! *throws them all away*

Ok, not really. That was my first instinct. Because snail slime = gross. Who the heck wants to use it?

Koreans. Of course. They’ve heard the Chilean farmers who grow snails for food have super smooth hands. Their cuts heal faster too.

Next thing you know, snail slime is the new IT ingredient in skincare. But does it really work or is better to leave snail slime to… you know, snails?

What the heck is snail slime?

Have you ever wondered how snails can crawl on the ground amid twigs and rocks without getting hurt?

They can’t. They do get hurt. All those little sharp edges cut their soft, squishy bodies like butter. But don’t feel too sorry for them.

Snails are smart. They’ve come up with a trick to heal fast: slime. This thick fluid is made up of proteins, glycolic acid and elastin that speed up the healing process.

Now, it’s in your skincare products, too. Fans call it snail mucin but you’ll find it on the label as Snail Secretion Filtrate. And nope, once it’s blended with other ingredients, there’s nothing gross or slimy about it. For real.

snail slime skincare 02

What does snail slime in cosmetics do?

Ask the Koreans and they’ll swear snail slime can do everything: it moisturises skin, fights acne, prevent wrinkles, heal wounds quickly… the list goes on.

But we all care about what science has to say here. Unfortunately, that’s not much. Snail mucin is such a new ingredient, there are only a handful of studies about it.

A couple found snail mucin can indeed stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin firm and elastic. If this is true, snail mucin can indeed prevent wrinkles. The catch? The study was done in vitro. That means on a Petri dish, not real skin. Will it work the same on your skin? We don’t know yet.

I did find one study where snail slime was tested on real skin. Researchers asked 25 patients with “moderate to severe facial photodamage” to use an emulsion with 8% snail slime and a serum with 40% snail slime on one side of their faces for 12 weeks. On the other, they used a placebo cream.

The results? Patients noticed “a significant degree of improvement in fines lines at the 8-week time point on the SCA-treated side but did not report a significant difference in the quality of their skin.”

There’s more. The scientists think snail slime works because it increases the skin’s ability to hold water, keeping it moisturised for longer. So do plenty of other ingredients. If snail slime grosses you out, you don’t have to use it to moisturise your skin.

What about the other claims, like acne busting? There’s only anecdotal evidence so far. No study has proven it.

Is snail slime cruelty-free?

Here’s the really gross part. Snails can’t keep up with demand. They produce the snail slime THEY, NOT US, need. To make them produce more, manufacturer use several tricks (warning: this isn’t pretty).

According to The Beauty Brains, one Chilean doctor has patented a procedure that requires “agitating snails in warm water and then filtering the mucin”.

A Spanish Oncologist, instead, has patented a method that “involves stressing the snails mechanically to induce the production of their mucin.”

Poor snails!

The Bottom Line

Snail slime looks promising but given the stressful way in which it’s produced and the lack of studies supporting most of its claims, it won’t become a must-have in my skincare routine anytime soon.

What are your thoughts on snail slime? Share them below:

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30 comments

Marianthi February 10, 2014 - 6:53 pm

I certainly did not know half of that!
Thank you for all the information.

Reply
Gio February 10, 2014 - 8:38 pm

Marianthi, it’s weird to have snail smile in your skincare, isn’t it?

You’re welcome. 🙂

Reply
Annabella February 14, 2014 - 2:42 am

I’m all for innovative skincare but I think this is a step too far. Agitating the snails to produce more slime so we can slap it on our face is just sad in my honest opinion.

Reply
Gio February 14, 2014 - 4:50 pm

Annabella, my sentiments exactly!

Reply
BBo May 28, 2018 - 9:55 pm

Agreed. Can’t we synthesize what is in it?

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Gio June 2, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Bbo, lots of ingredients are made in a lab so I guess one day they may do the same with this.

Reply
Gaby June 7, 2016 - 3:39 pm

I have not tried nor will I try any beauty products containing snail secretion. I think it is cruel to the snails and as you said, there are a lot of other products that can do the same thing that snail slime claims to do. I was already aware of how the beauty industry stresses snails to produce secretion but your article was very informative in explaining that there truly are alternative products.

Reply
Gio June 10, 2016 - 12:36 pm

Gaby, my pleasure. I agree, it’s really cruel to this to the snails. Their secretion is very good, but we should find alternative ways to get it or switch to something else.

Reply
Gabrielle July 17, 2016 - 8:17 pm

I almost bought some the other day and held off. So glad I did! i played with snails as a kid (I know, weird) and they always seemed so friendly. I would hate to know that they were hurt just to (maybe) make my skin look nicer. Thanks for the great info!

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Gio July 23, 2016 - 10:41 pm

Gabrielle, my pleasure. Snail slime is very moisturizing but I agree, the way they obtain is just wrong. Poor snails!

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julina July 20, 2016 - 1:19 am

yes i bought a korean cream called skin barista from ebay and whn i got it i saw on the packet that it has snail slime on ingredients list, thats why i searched and found this article.

Reply
Gio July 23, 2016 - 10:33 pm

Julina, hope you enjoyed this article. Snail slime is a very common ingredient in Korean creams because it is so moisturizing. How do you like your cream?

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julina July 23, 2016 - 10:50 pm

Hi Gio, the cream Skin Barista is very deeply moisterising and I was surprised because it seemed to be a white-tinted cream that has the effect of making skin appear a very powdery pale. So despite the finishing being quite matt, it is still deeply moisturising product. I wasn’t sure what the snail slime was actually for so I found your enlightening article. I do like the effect but I don’t feel I will buy snail slime product again as I now imagine helpless snails being agitated. Now I wonder, do bee’s also have to be agitated to get their venom?

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Gio July 31, 2016 - 5:43 pm

Julina, snail slime can be quite addictive if you have dry skin because it’s so moisturizing. But I agree. Once you know how it’s collected, you feel so guilty using it.

That’s a good question. I will do some digging and let you know what I find out.

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luna August 26, 2016 - 8:25 am

I know this is an old post, but I thought I’d add: I spent some time in Santa Cruz a few years back…while hiking, we came across a famous banana slug. we brought the little fella back to the cabin for everyone to see (and released him right back where we found him!) and he crawled around on my arms quite a bit. it was a really unique feeling, and took forever to wash off, but I recall the skin on my arms feeling lovely and smooth afterwards! plus, he was soooo cute!

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Gio August 28, 2016 - 12:17 am

Luna, thank you for sharing your story. Aww he must have been so cute! And yeah these little fellas can do wonders for the skin too.

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H October 27, 2016 - 6:10 am

I heard that it’s supposed to be the natural occurring copper peptides in the slime that has to do with a lot of the benefits it has for the skin. I guess that you can get copper peptides other ways too,though. I’m curious to try a product with snail in it. I have heard that snail slime can help with acne and discoloration.

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Gio November 15, 2016 - 12:57 pm

H, I have heard it helps with acne and discolouration too but I couldn’t find any studies supporting those claims. As for copper peptides, yes you can get them from other sources. But most skincare products with them are quite expensive.

Reply
Islandbirdw January 2, 2017 - 6:40 pm

Funny I live in the Northwest greater Seattle area. We are the home of the gigantic banana slug. I too played with them as a kid and find them very interesting. That said many people poison them so they don’t ruin their yard or garden plants. I think they will make more
slime than their cousin the snail. I bought “It” brand color correcting (CC) foundation after reading the accolades about it. The second listed ingredient ( and one if many) was snail secretion filtrate. It was at that point I looked it up and found this post. If you could produce a bunch of banana slugs and just fed them some lettuce I’ll bet they would produce plenty slime with no agitation required. And yes I live the It CC+ it has SPF 50 and alittle of other skin care ingredients.

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Gio January 3, 2017 - 11:52 am

Islandbirdw, thanks for your comment. You make a very good point, I’m sure the banana slugs slime could be just as beneficial. Maybe that’ll be the next big thing in beauty, who knows?

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fyNl March 20, 2017 - 1:22 am

Very informative and thank you for this post.
This is another ingredient to search for (and avoid) on the ingredients list of cosmetics I suppose.

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Gio March 20, 2017 - 7:49 pm

Fynl, it’s a shame they stress out snails so much to get their slime because this stuff is soooo moisturizing. For dry skin, it works very well. But I’d rather stick to shea butter. No snails harmed that way.

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fyNl March 21, 2017 - 2:56 am

Lecithin (from sunflower seeds) is a superior humectant anyway though my rough experimenting. lol.

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Gio April 5, 2017 - 8:49 pm

Much better to stick to that, I agree!

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Pauline November 14, 2017 - 12:07 am

I much prefer using natural products on my skin, and having a healthy diet, is the only way of keeping the skin looking and feeling great. If there is any advantage to the skin using something like snail slime, I can only imagine the effect will not be a lasting one.

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Gio November 26, 2017 - 12:41 pm

Pauline, I’ve tried snail slime and I can tell you it’s super moisturising. But none of its other benefits are scientifically proven yet.

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Kim March 15, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Thank you for this informative article. I now feel horrible for purchasing and using two products containing snail secretions. I will never purchase any product, skin care or otherwise, without researching first. I’m sorry little snails. ?

Reply
Gio March 18, 2018 - 9:17 am

Kim, don’t feel bad, you didn’t know. 🙁 It’s skincare manufacturers that should be more responsible and don’t use ingredients derived from stressing innocent animals.

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Veronica May 9, 2018 - 6:31 pm

Oh my… I love snails products and they did improved my wrinkles, but if its like this it’s made it’s not worth! =/ I’ll finish then and will change the line. No animal deserves that.

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Gio May 18, 2018 - 2:40 pm

Veronica, I feel the same. I love how moisturising snail extract is but after researching this article, I’m not comfortable buying products with it anymore.

Reply

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