Say this three times fast: Helix aspersa muller glycoconjugates.
Now say the translation: snail slime.
Did it make you cringe?
One of the newest face cream fixes to hit the U.S. cosmetic industry is an array of products made with snail slime.
That’s right, the tacky, gooey residue that snails leave in their wake.
And as icky and exotic as snail mucus sounds, consider the fact that we routinely put all manner of animal, vegetable, and mineral concoctions on our faces, bodies, and hair.
Supposedly, caffeine diminishes puffy eyes, bird droppings soothe and refresh the skin, stem cells from roses erase wrinkles and sun spots, and fish scales lighten the skin.
Now, consumers in the United States can purchase the snail slime products at major retail outlets as well as online.
Snail slime throughout history
How did the lowly snail get a status makeover?
It’s actually been waiting in the wings for a long time.
Hippocrates reportedly prescribed crushed snail and sour milk to clear up skin inflammation.
For centuries in small rural communities in southern Italy, snail mucus has been used to alleviate warts, calluses, and acne.
Then, snail slime stepped out of the shadows in the 1980s.
French chefs who turned the humble gastropod into buttery, garlicky appetizers called escargot were doing a brisk business with a Chilean family who raised and exported snails.
The Chilean workers often cut their hands and arms on the metal cages, and they noticed that the snail slime seemed to heal the wounds and soften their skin.
Always on the lookout for cutting edge cosmetic products, the South Korean skin care industry latched onto snail slime and dedicated serious research and development funds to the fledgling treatment.
South Korean scientists said their tests verified that snail secretion filtrate hydrates the skin, increases suppleness, improves hyperpigmentation, and contains antimicrobial properties that can help keep acne and some types of rosacea at bay.
“Studies have shown they help stimulate formation of collagen and elastin, as well as restore hydration,” said Charlotte Cho, author of “The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin,” a certified esthetician, and the co-founder of the Korean beauty and lifestyle shop Soko Glam.
Snail on the shelves
When the concoction hit the Asian market, it quickly developed an almost cult-like following.
International export of snail slime products was the next step, and the trade pathways were already open because of the aggressive reach of the $7 billion South Korean cosmetic industry.
According to the South Korean government, their cosmetic industry is the eighth largest in the world.
With that kind of clout, it’s no wonder that snail slime products were destined for U.S. drug stores, cosmetic counters, and online outlets.
In addition, a wealth of online reviews indicate Americans in search of the ultimate fountain of youth are lathering up with snail goo.
“The Mizon Black Snail All-In-One Cream contains a robust 90 percent black snail mucous filtrate, which contains all black snail mucus, plus 20 different plant extracts not featured in Mizon’s classic All-In-One cream,” reported Charlotte’s Book, an online directory of physicians and practitioners dedicated to all things beautiful.
“The Black Snail Cream’s soft texture makes it easily spreadable; a small amount will suffice,” the website adds. “It does a heavy-duty job of keeping the skin hydrated all day, but has an extremely lightweight texture. This is perfect for people who need to be using a heavier cream but don’t want to deal with the usual oily texture of a super-hydrating moisturizer. After just several days of use, we found our skin more hydrated and plumped.”
What dermatologists think
The U.S. government does not test or regulate cosmetics, but dermatologists in the United States are weighing in with studies of their own.
Some say snail slime is an untested fad and consumers should be wary. Others vouch for the products.
“Snail slime has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years to treat a variety of skin conditions ranging from wounds to acne,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told Healthline.
“More recently it has been incorporated into cosmetic skin care regimens,” he added. “Rich in the humectant hyaluronic acid, snail slime has skin hydrating properties. It also contains high levels of antioxidants which calm inflammation in the skin and promote healthy collagen production.”
If you’re not grossed out by the idea of putting snail mucus on your skin, dermatologists recommend you start by using a small amount on a specific area to check for allergies or skin reactions.
Since your body has probably never been intimately connected to snail slime, you could have adverse reactions.
If you have sensitive skin, proceed carefully with this treatment. Manufacturers say you will see positive results in two to four weeks.