If you're looking for the next big thing in skincare, odd's are you've heard of snail mucin. While some might be hesitant to try this unusual ingredient, its popularity in skincare grows due to its powerful skin healing properties. So what is the situation with snail mucin, and could this be your next holy grail ingredient?
On The Skin Report podcast, Dr. Simran Sethi, an Internal Medicine doctor and Founder of RenewMD medical spas and Skin by Dr. Sethi, addresses the most pressing skincare questions! She also breaks down the latest skincare trends, products, and treatments.
Read on to hear Dr. Sethi's thoughts on the latest Korean skincare ingredient to take the beauty world by storm – snail mucin!
What is Snail Mucin?
Korea is known in the beauty world for its powerful skincare products and cutting-edge formulations. But when snails started making their way into the skincare equation, some U.S. buyers took pause.
After all, snails aren't usually considered in relation to skincare, beauty, and cleanliness. That said, it makes sense why the combination of snails and skincare might give someone the ick.
So why do beauty and skincare brands swear by using snail excretion in their products? Well, facts show that snail mucin has highly beneficial effects on the skin, which might change skeptics' minds about this extraordinary ingredient.
Where Does Snail Mucin Come From?
First, let's get to the nitty gritty of the snail mucin topic: the source of this skincare substance.
Snail mucin was recently popularized in Korean beauty brands and is now making its way onto shelves in the U.S. But it has been applied in skincare long before this, as scientific research shows that even the ancient Greeks used it for its skin healing properties.
As for the ingredient itself, snail mucin is derived from – you guessed it – snails. If you have ever seen a snail move, you may have noticed a trail of mucus-like substance left in its path. This secretion consists of multiple functional mucuses. Snails produce and excrete these mucuses from their foot for adhesion and lubrication, enabling them to stick to surfaces as they move. They also produce mucus from their back for microbial defense and tissue hydration. Snails can also excrete mucin when "stressed" to protect their bodies from injury.
Cosmetics companies source snail mucin from their raw material suppliers for use in their product formulations.
The raw material suppliers are the ones that actually collect the snail mucin from the critters. This is only possible by creating an environment ideal for containing the snails and optimal for their mucin production.
Of course, different suppliers can use different methods of harvesting the mucin. In the case of K-beauty brand CosRX this can involve placing snails over a mesh net to roam freely and then collecting the mucin left behind.
Only edible snails (think escargot) are used in skin care products to ensure their mucin is safe for humans to apply topically. For example, the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, is an edible species commonly used by snail mucin manufacturers and has been tested for safety in topical use.
After the mucin is collected, it is processed and stabilized to make it into an ingredient that is suitable for cosmetic use.
How Snail Mucin Works in Skincare
The mucins collected from snails are incorporated within skincare formulations for things like rejuvenation, hydration, and wound healing.
When used in skincare, these snail mucins are proteins that signal collagen production. In addition, snail mucin contains antioxidants like vitamins A and E and minerals like zinc and manganese, all proven collagen enhancers.
The snail's mucin is secreted as a reaction to stress. This mucin accelerates its new skin-building response. This is similar to how procedures like laser resurfacing are performed to create a controlled injury and 'stress' the skin to trigger accelerated collagen production. By using snail mucin in skincare, we are using their substance and applying it to expedite the skin-building response within our own skin.
Snail mucin can also be applied within skin care for wound recovery and rejuvenation, as the mucin can facilitate healing. As for anti-aging, a study on the safety and efficacy of a topical product containing secretions of the snail Cryptomphalus aspersa (SCA) showed that the mucins proved effective and well tolerated, and treated subjects noted a significant degree of improvement in fine lines at the 8-week time point.
In addition to its collagen-building, wound healing, and anti-aging abilities, snail mucin hydrates the skin and has moisturizing agents to repair and fortify the skin barrier. Dr. Sethi believes snail mucin can promote healthy and hydrated skin and explains that it can be used in any skin type. Still, she advises listeners to find a product free of dyes, parabens, or added fragrances when shopping for these products.
The Ethics of Snail Mucin and Other Alternatives
Snails are not necessarily harmed to make them secrete snail mucin. Still, they are kept in captivity throughout the process of collecting the excretions, which can cause stress. That said, snail mucin is not vegan-friendly.
However, if you are vegan or are still not quite ready to jump on the snail mucin skincare trend, numerous alternatives on the market deliver the same benefits as snail mucin products. For example, Dr. Sethi's skincare line includes options like the Ultra Glow Moisturizer or the Hyaluronic Plump and Protect to deliver similar benefits – no snails involved.
Snail mucin is one of many skincare trends Dr. Sethi sheds light on in her informative episodes. Check out Season 2, Episode 10 of The Skin Report podcast to learn about more commonly questioned skincare topics!