The skin care world can be weird.
If you tell people something will shave years off their face and rid them of their blemishes, chances are they’re going to slather themselves in the stuff.
I mean, Kim K had her face doused in her own blood for the sake of beauty, and Cate Blanchett swears by the “penis facial” her mate Sandra Bullock introduced her to (it uses stem cells from baby foreskins, if you’re wondering).
For that reason, when I heard that using snail slime, or mucin (the gunk that oozes out of the glands of snails to protect their bodies) had become a hugely popular trend…well, I wasn’t exactly shocked.
There have been claims made that snail goop will not only hydrate your skin but that it promotes healing, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and minimises acne scarring. All very excellent things we all want from our skincare products.
Now, some of those declarations have attracted criticism, with experts saying the evidence is minimal, but across the board, it seems the consensus is that this stuff will definitely leave your face looking and feeling smoother.
As skin therapist and nutritional medicine practitioner Fiona Tuck explained to me, the craze has stemmed from some impressive results… they just might not be as life-changing as the rumours suggest:
“Snail facials, snail slime and snail mucin in face masks has become a ‘thing’ in recent years although there is little evidence to support the therapeutic claims being made,” she said.
Tuck went on to share that while the slime does contain “skin-loving” elements like “hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes and peptides, which help hydrate and regenerate the skin” these elements are also found in other skincare products.
“The ingredients can aid skin hydration and cellular regeneration, thereby plumping up the skin which may minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
She stressed, however, that when it comes to pigmentation or scars, it’s important to identify the cause before you can properly treat the condition:
“Antioxidants, tyrosinase inhibitors and skin brightening or lightening treatments in conjunction with professional treatments such as lasers are usually required to target stubborn pigmentation,” she said.
In short: it works, but it’s certainly no miracle elixir.
Armed with a decent idea of what snail goo could do for my face, I bravely decided to go where many people had gone before me and give the product a try.
Sure, I felt a little strange about the idea of covering my face in snail slime… but, I mean, I’ve eaten escargot before and that was bloody lovely. How bad could it be?
I decided to use a face mask by K-Beauty brand Tony Moly: their Intense Care Snail Hydro-Gel Mask, to be specific. I went with this option because the brand is popular (so, nobody’s face has fallen off) and because they refer to snail mucus as a “gel”, which sounds way less gross.
I washed my face, then tore open the packet of slimy snail goodness. The mask looked and smelt like every other sheet mask I’ve tried (huge relief) and I was somewhat surprised to discover the product (or snail discharge as my housemate keeps calling it) wasn’t all that sticky. It had the same consistency as most face serums.
Once I had peeled off the 700 layers of protective plastic, I awkwardly propped the two halves of the sheet mask onto my face (I looked like a gooey bionic woman) and relaxed for the suggested 30 minutes.
I laid back, Googled snail mucin a bunch of times, gagged a little and proceeded to scroll through Instagram while the little snail enzymes worked their magic.
After the 30 minutes were up I removed the noticeably drier sheets and checked out my mug. Here’s what I found:
My skin looked like it had been revived from the brink of death. My face looked dewy, bright and plump… kind of like it had been slapped with an Instagram filter.
When it came to pigmentation (my biggest problem area) I didn’t really see a change. My scars didn’t miraculously fade away, but they bothered me less because the rest of my face looked so healthy.
Hell, I even walked out to the shops without a lick of concealer (this is not a thing I do, ever).
So, would I recommend it? Sure!
The results for me were really good - much like other great sheet masks I’ve tried.
In saying that, if mollusc mucus isn’t your thing, there are tonnes of other less, er, unusual options that will surely get you similar results.
And if you’re not grossed out by the idea and you’re keen to try something new, go wild! At least it’s not made from penis stem cells.
What's your favourite mask? Tell us in the comments.