What Is Snail Mucin?

Would you rub snail slime on yourself if you thought it could improve your skin? In a sense, some people do. That’s because certain beauty products have snail mucin -- also known as snail mucus or slime -- as an ingredient.

Some product makers claim that their mucin-containing cosmetics can help smooth wrinkles, heal damaged skin faster, and reduce acne scars. But we need more research to find out if the promised benefits are real. Here’s what you need to know.

Products With Snail Mucin

South Korean cosmetics manufacturers have helped boost slow, slimy garden snails to the front of a popular skin care trend. Snail mucus is added to skin care products like:

  • Face creams
  • Moisturizers
  • Gel masks
  • Skin repair serums

A product’s manufacturer might jazz up the name garden snail by calling it a “black snail” or a “Chilean earth snail" on the label. Product makers collect the slime from live snails. Then they filter it and combine it with other ingredients. If you’re wondering why snails are so slimy to begin with, it’s because their mucus helps them move, gives them protection, and keeps them from drying out.

What the Science Says

Some researchers think that snail mucus shows promise at hydrating skin, improving fine lines, and helping wounds and scratches heal faster. Others say that more research is needed. That means the jury’s still out as to whether skin care products that have snail slime in them can deliver benefits.

Talk to your dermatologist first if you’re thinking about using one of these products, especially if you have allergies or sensitive skin. They may tell you to put a tiny amount of the product on your arm first to see if it sets off any symptoms. Stop using it if you have a reaction.

A Storied and Slimy History

Long before their slime became a popular ingredient in skin care, snails were thought to have other health benefits. The famous doctor Hippocrates reportedly wrote about snail mucus back in ancient Greece. And by the 19th century, snails were being touted as a way to get smooth skin and as a remedy for problems ranging from hernias to chest diseases to tuberculosis.

Snails’ proven health benefits come from eating them. Cooked snail meat has nutrients like protein, selenium, copper, vitamin E, potassium, and zinc. Whether you eat them fresh, canned, or frozen, you need to cook them thoroughly.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 02, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Natural History Museum Los Angeles County: “Land Snails: The Key to Beauty?”

Illinois.gov: “Snails & Slugs.”

Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pathology: “Dosage of Bioactive Molecules in the Nutricosmeceutical Helix aspersa Muller Mucus and Formulation of New Cosmetic Cream with Moisturizing Effect.”

Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: “The Effects of Filtrate of the Secretion of the Cryptomphalus Aspersa on Photoaged Skin.”

International Journal of Pharma Medicine and Biological Sciences: “The Effectiveness of Snail Slime and Chitosan in Wound Healing.”

Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: “Bioactive ingredients in Korean cosmeceuticals: Trends and research evidence.”

Scientific Reports: “HelixComplex snail mucus exhibits pro-survival, proliferative and pro-migration effects on mammalian fibroblasts.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Learn the language of skin care labels.”

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Helix and Drugs: “Snails for Western Health Care From Antiquity to the Present.”

USDA: “Snails, cooked, NS as to cooking method.”

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