Thanks to technology, there's no shortage of weird things you can put on your face in the quest for clearer, brighter, plumper, blemish-free skin. There's Nightingale bird poop (Tom Cruise enjoys a facial full of it), bee venom (the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan of this cream by beautician Deborah Mitchell), mud (see: every blemish-clearing mask), and now, there's snail slime. Call it the slow beauty movement: Snail slime is being touted as a miracle face-fixer.
Snail creams have been around for years–they're very popular in Korea, where beauty brand Missha first introduced a snail cream, snail serum, and sleeping mask–and Dr. Jart, who's claim to fame is introducing BB creams to the US market, just launched a skincare line made with snail mucin.
I became intrigued when I noticed how popular slime-based creams were on a recent trip to the Côte d'Ivoire. There, snail creams are found amongst face wash and shampoo in all the local supermarkets, and the snails are as large as Chanel 2.55's-maybe even bigger (see picture above). Snail mucin is believed to reduce pigmentation and scarring, but does it really do anything? We decided to investigate.
Using snail slime as skincare is nothing new (even if it was news to us).
The ancient Greeks apparently used the goo, and it was recently rediscovered a few years when Chilean snail farmers who handled the snails (to ship 'em to France where they would be come escargot) noticed that their hands looked younger and smoother, and that small cuts and scrapes healed faster. (So it's sort of similar to the story of SK-II, in which Japanese sake workers noticed that their hands looked younger than their faces–and that sake by-product went on to become SK-II's secret ingredient.) Snail mucin started popping up in beauty products in Korea, and has now been turning up in products here in the US.
The slime that a snail produces is used to heal its soft, squishy foot when it gets cuts from the rocks, twigs, and other rough surfaces that it moves over–think of it as sort of a built-in pedicure. So does it make sense that the substance would have the same effect on something other than the poor snail's beat up foot?
"Snail mucin extract is a complex blend of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin. It has been recognized for many years-as far back as Ancient Greece-as an ingredient that reduces inflammation," dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D. told us. "The extract is renowned for its regenerative properties, and facilitates the restoration of damaged tissue and replenishes moisture in skin. It is also effective in treating acne and scarring." (Which still doesn't explain how the first person thought to put this goop on his face. Anyway.)
Some derms are still on the fence about the power of the snail. "There is some speculation that the mucin in these slime creams can be anti-inflammatory and calming; however, there are no respected scientific studies to prove that it actually works," Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, the co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC, told us. "For now, I remain skeptical."
Still dying to try it? You know you are.
While snail slime creams have been popular in Korea, Greece, and Africa for years, brands such as Missha, Dr. Jart+ and Labcconte are starting to bring them stateside. Dr. Jart+'s Premium Time Returning Serum and Cream, which just launched this month, has 77% snail mucin extract. That's the next best thing to actually rubbing the snail all over your face, right? And no pesky shell!
Here are three you can try:
Labcconte Nourishing Cream for Ladies, Labcconteusa, $64.99
Dr. Jart+ Premium Time Returning Serum, Sephora, $54
Missha Super Acqua Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask, Misshaus, $22.99
Photo Credit: Fashionista