beauty

What you need to know about snail slime in your beauty products.

The other week a couple of friends and I were discussing some of our favourite beauty discoveries of late.

On the recommendation of a work colleague, I’d tried the IT Cosmetics CC Cream Illumination SPF 50+ and immediately fallen in love with it. It was sun smart, gave a dewy glow and a higher-than-average coverage for a foundation alternative. Winner.

As I was waxing lyrical about it to my friend, I happened to pause and look at the ingredients on the back of the tube. The second on the list? ‘Snail secretion filtrate’. I immediately recoiled at the thought.

Snail slime? Why on earth would I want to put that on my face?

Image: Supplied

Strange ingredients.

From bee venom to donkey milk, strange beauty ingredients are nothing new, but snail slime is one gaining (or should we say regaining) serious traction in the beauty world.

The first use reportedly dates back to ancient Greece, where crushed snails and sour milk were prescribed to treat inflammation.

Fast forward a few thousand years and Chilean farmers who were handling snails to feed the French clocked onto the fact that their skin appeared "visibly smoother"... and it quickly gained popularity in 'skincare mecca' South Korea, before trickling outwards to Western countries.

Fortunately, now it's all about secreted slime rather than poor, squashed snails.

Listen: A woman contracted herpes by trying on lipstick in a store. Is the store at fault, or did she have it coming? Post continues after audio. 

What it does.

The technical name for the slime is Helix Aspersa Müller Glycoconjugates (try saying that fast three times!) and usually labelled "snail secretion filtrate", snail mucin is described as a 'thick fluid gathered by stimulating live snails'.

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Claimed benefits include offering anti-ageing properties and in particular, hydration.

Several studies including a 2013 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology have looked at the effect of snail slime on cell cultures and noted significant changes, including that it stimulated collagen and elastin fibres.

While it's still relatively early days, the research looks promising.

Image: iStock/Wikicommons/The Glow

"There are a few studies that indicate snail extract improves skin condition by increasing the dermis’ natural ability to take up and hold water," concluded cosmetic scientist and host of The Beauty Brains podcast Randy Schueller.

"There’s enough legitimate science here to make me think that snail extract may be a beneficial ingredient."

Does it work?

Well, it's popping up in a whole range of beauty products.

"Snail mucin is found in products such as moisturisers, serums and spot treatments," esthetician and founder of Soko Glam Charlotte Cho told The Coveteur.

"It's not the oozy, gooey slime that you may think it is. When it is formulated into a serum, it smells and feels like any other moisturiser." (Post continues after gallery.)

Mamamia staffer Harnsle Joo is a sworn advocate, favouring Korean Brand It's Skin after her friend brought some back from South Korea.

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"Their ginseng snail cream  is AMAZING. It definitely feels much lighter than other moisturisers I’ve used, but at the same time my skin feels much softer and more moisturised. I have really sensitive skin and I find the snail products (especially the ginseng one) helps to soothe it and calms my skin down. My skin is so sensitive to the point that I tend to just use sorbolene on my face because my skin doesn’t like anything else," she says.

"Also, I’m wearing just the BB cream today and I swear the coverage is SO MUCH better than my MAC concealer and foundation combo, without feeling heavy or me worrying about my face melting in this humidity."

Harnsle wearing the BB cream. We want in. Image: Supplied.

And while she's a convert now, at first Joo was a little reluctant to give the obscure-sounding ingredient a go.

"I refused to use it at first because I hate snails, period. They freak me out. But I got some small samples of the moisturiser and decided to give it a go, and it was amazing," she says.

As with anything, if you do have sensitive skin it's best to patch-test any snail slime product first. Hopefully it's not an ingredient you've had too much contact with post-childhood, so it's sensible to double check how your skin responds before you slather it all over.

The verdict.

While your immediate reaction to the thought of putting snail slime on your face may be "ick", it seems like it may actually be worth braving.

From skincare to makeup, snail secretion filtrate is seriously buzz-worthy and set to appear in more and more mainstream products. Thankfully, it's far from the grassy garden waste of your childhood.