What Is Snail Slime and Why Is It Used in Cosmetics?
Snail slime is a kind of mucus, an external bodily secretion which is produced by snails, gastropod mollusks. Land snails and slugs produce mucus, but so does every other kind of gastropod, from marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats. The reproductive system of gastropodsalso produces mucus internally from special glands.
Externally, one kind of mucus is produced by the foot of the gastropod and is usually used for crawling on. The other kind of external mucus has evolved to coat the external parts of the gastropod’s body; in land species this coating helps prevent desiccation of the exposed soft tissues. The foot mucus of a gastropod has some of the qualities of glue and some of the qualities of a lubricant, allowing land snails to crawl up vertical surfaces without falling off.
A trip to any department store will reveal the wide variety of products that claim to enhance your appearance in some way. Whether it’s hiding wrinkles, clearing up acne, or enhancing beauty through makeup and other cosmetics, there’s seemingly no end to the number of products vying for your money in return for promises of a more beautiful, youthful appearance.
Some of these products contain ingredients that might make you think twice about using them. For example, have you ever thought about putting snail slime on your face?
There are a growing number of products on the market today that boast about their quantity and quality of snail slime as a primary ingredient. Using snails to help with healing skin problems goes all the way back to Hippocrates and the ancient Greeks. More recently, skin care companies in South Korea made using snail slime in skin products popular after snail farmers in Chile who harvested snails for the French escargot market reported that their hands looked younger and smoother after handling snails so often.
Products featuring snail slime (also known as snail mucus, snail cream, or — technically — Helix aspersa muller glycoconjugates) have now made their way to the United States and are growing in popularity. But do they work?
Proponents of snail slime claim it contains a variety of beneficial substances, including hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, glycolic acid, antimicrobial and copper peptides, proteoglycans, and elastins. They claim these compounds benefit the skin by moisturizing, reducing inflammation, hiding dark spots and acne scars, boosting elastin and collagen production, and minimizing wrinkles. Some dermatologists and many customers are firm believers.
However, other dermatologists are not so sure, noting that there really isn’t any solid, high-quality research to back these claims. Moreover, they note that many of these same compounds can be found in products already on the market that don’t contain snail slime. In the U.S., the government doesn’t regulate cosmetics, so there’s little in the way of official studies to support the efficacy of snail slime. Some proponents are quick to point out, though, that snail slime has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries.
Whether it’s a miracle product or not, you’re likely to see more and more snail slime appearing in moisturizers, cleansers, anti-wrinkle creams, acne treatments, eye creams, and all sorts of cosmetics in the coming years. Snail slime varies in appearance and quality according to the environmental conditions, season, and food sources used by the snails. These factors supposedly determine the quality of the slime and therefore the properties of a product made with it.
Snail slime extraction is the process which has advanced with technology in recent years. In the past, snails were forced to secrete slime by submerging them in water that contained salt or vinegar. This often resulted in the death of the snails. A new cruelty-free method has recently been developed in Italy. A new machine called the Muller One extracts snail slime by treating the snails to a spa-like steam bath. Snails are fed a healthy vegetable diet and can produce slime repeatedly without being harmed.