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.
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.”
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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