From bird-poop facials to human-placenta hair serums, the astonishing lengths people will go to thwart the aging process knows no bounds. The latest miracle ingredient being touted? Snail slime. And we’re not talking about scarfing down the occasional escargot. Slathered on in cream or gel form, mollusk mucus is said to cure a variety of ills, including acne, scars and burns, and of course, wrinkles.
Photo by Matt Baume
In South Korea, where snail extract is flying off the shelves, gastropods subsist on red ginseng to heighten the potency of their issue. Goo-lovers have plenty of options Stateside, as well: Alfa, Andes Nature, Biocutis Elicina, Labcconte U.S.A. all have products infused with snail slime (also known as helix aspersa müller glycoconjugates) as the active ingredient.
Kept alive, the snails are subjected to “safe mechanical stress” to extract the coveted goo.
Kept alive, the snails are subjected to “safe mechanical stress” to extract the coveted goo, according to a spokesman for Andes Nature, which hawks a popular snail gel in South America. The mucin is then filtered several times before the pure, final product is packaged for sale.
But although studies have demonstrated some of snail slime’s anecdotal claims, including collagen stimulation and increased wound repair, whether this translates into cosmetic efficacy is still up in the air.
A smoother face is certainly a draw, but the slime’s synthetic-free attributes are also a bonus. Not that everyone’s a fan. “Lots of species, including humans, secrete mucus rich in hyaluronic acids, but that doesn’t mean you’d put phlegm on your face,” dermatologist Bobby Buka tells MSNBC. “I generally don’t dissuade patients who swear by snail-derivative products, but it’s definitely not my first choice if you’ve got $20 to spend on your skin.”
Update: July 15, 2013
If you thought slapping on some snail goop from a jar was gross enough, wait till you see the escargot-powered facial-massages that are all the rage in Japan. Offered at the Clinical Salon, the treatment involves placing snails on your forehead and cheeks and allowing them to “move around as they please,” according to the Daily Mail. Cost? £161 or $243 in American dollars.