It’s no secret that some of the ingredients behind beauty products seem—in a word—iffy, especially since researchers, bloggers, and merciless reviewers have taken to the internet and put the info on blast. So if you’ve noticed makeup or skin care products boasting about snail extract and wondered if it’s all hype, we understand your skepticism. “Miracle ingredients” seem to pop up in the cosmetic world like clockwork, and it’s hard to tell what’s worth it and what’s not. Check out our breakdown of snail extract, so you’ll feel a little more confident in adding some slime to your daily routine.
Let’s start with the basics: what purpose does snail extract serve in beauty and skin care? Perhaps most famously, it’s used for anti-aging—its regenerative properties give skin a softer, more youthful look. But the goo also heals, reducing inflammation and replenishing moisture in the skin.
The reason the formula manages to touch upon so many issues is that its main extract, snail mucin, was originally meant to soothe a snail’s foot (which it uses to move). When the snail’s squishy foot is cut or roughened by its terrain, it naturally produces mucin to smooth and heal it. With an organic blend of proteins (like elastin, which helps tissue restore its natural shape) and glycolic acids (which weaken the bonds of dead cells in order to gently exfoliate), the same essential formula that heals a snail’s foot is now being used on human faces. This formula, however, is repeatedly filtered before it is deemed fit for use in cosmetics or skin care—unless you shell out the money for a live snail facial (yes, really).
Putting the gooey components aside, snail slime’s best asset may be history. Medicinal use of the slime in skin care can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece. Its modern reintroduction to the industry was at the hands of one group of Chilean snail farmers—literally. The farmers realized that handling the snails was actually softening and repairing their roughened skin, and following some publicized research of the snails’ secretions, the trend took off again. The use of snail slime in skin care spans centuries—and within the often unpredictable cosmetic industry, that’s no small feat.
Now, snail extract is booming in all corners of the Eastern market, from It’s Skin to Mizon to Missha. As its popularity begins to spread to the Western market as well, it’s important that newbies have a base understanding of our crawly friends before splurging on a new product or two. Got any questions or comments on the industry’s go-to goo? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.