Hyaluronic acid, propolis and honey, cica, AHAs and BHAs, aloe vera, green tea, tea tree oil, licorice root extract, and SNAIL MUCIN – these are just some of the special ingredients that I think really define Korean skincare products. So many Korean skincare products contain one or possibly even more than one of these ingredients.
Snail mucin is definitely one of the most popular ingredients in the world of Korean skincare. You’ll find that most people will include at least one product containing snail mucin in their routine!
This is because of the huge range of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin, including: treating acne, fading hyperpigmentation and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.
What Is Snail Mucin?
Snail mucin (aka snail secretion filtrate) has become a popular ingredient in Korean skincare due to its versatility in treating many skin concerns and its suitability for all skin types.
But what actually is snail mucin?
Snail mucin isn’t comprised of the actual snail itself – it’s the slime that a snail produces (think of the sparkly tracks snails leave on the ground). Finding this out did make me a little less squeamish about trying it on my skin and I was glad to know that innocent snails weren’t killed for these popular skincare products (read more below about how snail mucin is harvested).
How Is Snail Mucin Harvested? Is It Cruelty Free?
You’re probably thinking now – but how snail mucin is actually harvested from snails and are snails hurt or killed in the process?
The answer is thankfully that snails ARE NOT killed or harmed during the process of collecting snail slime. Although in the past, snail goo was extracted by stimulating the poor snails using vinegar and salt, nowadays methods are a lot less cruel and although snails are lab-grown, they live in optimal and very comfortable environments to allow them to have adequate rest (to optimise their secretion filtrate production).
The exact process of collecting the mucin varies amongst manufacturers, but COSRX has revealed how they collect snail secretion filtrate for their products without harming the snails in the process:
Snails are nocturnal creatures, so COSRX’s method involves placing the snails over a mesh net in a dark and quiet room (the mesh is not electrified at all). The snails are left for about half an hour to roam the nets and do their thing, leaving mucin behind for collection. The mucin is then processed to stabilise it and to make it suitable for cosmetic use. No stress is applied to the snails in this process as optimal mucin production occurs when the snails are well relaxed.
What Are The Benefits Of Snail Mucin To Skin?
So why exactly is snail mucin so popular in Korean skincare? Who one day watched a snail slither past them and thought “that would be great to put on my skin”?
It’s not known who exactly thought of this – or if it even happened this way, but it is known that snails were used as a topical treatment in Ancient Greece for their healing properties. Snails have also been used in French skincare since the 18th Century. There are also claims that the benefits of snail slime was discovered in Chile, as workers on a mountain farm noticed that snail secretion filtrate healed the cuts and grazes on their hands.
Regardless of who thought of using snail secretion filtrate as a skincare treatment first – the next question is – what benefits does snail mucin actually have for your skin?
It turns out there are A LOT of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin. This is because snail mucin contains many beneficial ingredients (such as glycolic acid, glycoprotein enzymes and copper peptides).
These ingredients make snail mucin excellent at repairing skin damage, evening skin tone, fading hyperpigmentation (including acne scars), as well as firming and tightening the skin, and boosting collagen and elastin production. Snail mucin is also great for hydrating the skin as it contains hyaluronic acid (a humectant ingredient that pulls water into the outer layers of the skin).
As if that wasn’t enough, snail mucin also has antimicrobial properties, which makes it great for fighting off acne-causing bacteria. I know what you’re thinking now: “I NEED, I NEED!”
Snail Mucin Is Good For Treating Acne
Yes, snail mucin is a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine if you suffer from acne breakouts. As I just mentioned, snail mucin naturally has antimicrobial properties, which helps to keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. However, the glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps to prevent breakouts by exfoliating the skin (and thereby removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores).
Snail mucin can also help to repaire the skin’s moisture barrier – which in turn will minimise breakouts. This is due to the ingredient hyaluronic acid, which as I explained above, is a humectant, which means it attracts water molecules to your outer skin layer, keeping your skin hydrated. This makes sense, as snails require a lot of moisture to stop them from drying out.
Snail Mucin Is Good For Fading Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Snail mucin has another great property- it is great at fading hyperpigmentation. However, from all the research I’ve done for this article, although snail mucin is great for healing acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), reducing redness and at evening your general skin tone, it doesn’t appear to be very effective at fading other types of hyperpigmentation (such as sunspots or melasma).
If you are looking to fade sun spots and/or melasma, then you may need to look at including some other products in your routine (I’ve written an article on how to fade hyperpigmentation here).
Before I move on to the next topic, I do just want to explain why snail mucin is so good at healing acne and acne scarring. The reason is because snail secretion filtrate contains many ingredients (including proteins, peptides and elastin), which help to heal acne scars. This again makes sense when we think of snails in nature – they have very soft bodies that need to be able to heal quickly as they often travel over rough surfaces – and their slime helps them to do this.
Of course, as already mentioned, the glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps to gently exfoliate the skin, which removes dead skin cells and reveals newer and non-pigmented cells.
Anti-Wrinkle Benefits of Snail Mucin
Since I started using snail mucin in my very simple skincare routine (that you can read about here), I’ve noticed that the fine lines next to my eyes and on my forehead aren’t as visible.
And it’s true, clinical studies have shown that snail mucin does have anti-aging properties!
This is because the hyaluronic acid present in snail mucin works to keep your skin super hydrated and plump – which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The hyaluronic acid in snail mucin also increases collagen and elastin production in the outer layers of your skin, which makes the skin look firmer and more youthful.
As the hydrating effects of hyaluronic acid are short term only, this is why the anti-aging and skin-hydrating benefits of snail mucin appear to be short term only. People who use snail mucin regularly, do notice their skin not looking as hydrated and firm only days after not including it in their routine.
What Are The Best Korean Snail Mucin Products?
When it comes to snail mucin, the best products with no doubt are the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Power Essence (available from Jolse and Yesstyle) and the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream (available from Jolse and Yesstyle). As their names suggest, they contain a whopping 96 and 92 percent of snail mucin, respectively.
I love the simplicity of the COSRX snail formulations. I love that the concentration of snail secretion filtrate is so high, and I also love that these products don’t contain much else (apart from a preservative and other non-irritating moisturizing ingredients). So unlike some other snail products on the market, there are no actives, botanical extracts or perfumes added (which make them great products for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin).
I am currently using the all in one cream in my evening routine (I use it as a moisturizer) and I love how smooth and hydrated it makes my skin look and feel. I actually keep it in the fridge and it feels so cool and soothing on my skin. It does have a kind of slimy consistency (well it is 92% snail slime), however it’s not sticky at all and gets absorbed into my skin really well. I even really lather it on underneath my eyes as a sort of eye cream as it doesn’t contain any fragrance and keeps my skin feeling smooth and hydrated the entire next day. I also have oily and acne-prone skin, so it’s difficult for me to find a good moisturizer that doesn’t break me out or make my skin look like a greasy frying pan!
If you haven’t added snail mucin to your routine yet, then I highly recommend you give it a go – there are so many benefits for your skin. I think the COSRX line of snail mucin products (that I mentioned above) are excellent choices for any skin type, but keep checking back here as I plan on putting together a guide on Korean snail mucin creams very soon.