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SNAIL MUCIN: SKIN BENEFITS, SIDE EFFECTS, HOW TO USE, FAQS

Dr. Rosmy Barrios 22 Feb 2024
SNAIL MUCIN: SKIN BENEFITS, SIDE EFFECTS, HOW TO USE, FAQS

In recent years, snail mucin (snail slime) has garnered considerable attention for its purported benefits in skincare routines. Derived from the secretion of snails, this seemingly unconventional ingredient has captivated the beauty world with its promise of hydration, repair, and rejuvenation. Despite the mystery, it has established itself in the realm of K-beauty (Korean beauty), where it holds a prominent position.

However, the use of snail slime has sparked some controversy primarily due to ethical and sustainability concerns, as well as potential allergic reactions. In this article, we take a closer look at all aspects of snail mucin use in skin care products.

What is Snail Mucin?

Snail mucin, a natural secretion produced by snails to protect and repair their skin, is composed of a complex mixture of glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. This mucin serves various functions for snails, including moisture retention, wound healing, and defense against environmental stressors.

Here's a brief overview of the skin-beneficial components of snail mucin:

Snail mucin contains a variety of beneficial components for skincare, including hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and copper peptides.

  • Hyaluronic acid aids skin moisture retention, promoting hydration and suppleness
  • Glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant, which helps in disposing of dead skin cells and reducing hyperpigmentation
  • Copper peptides support collagen production, enhancing skin strength and elasticity.

Additionally, snail mucin contains allantoin, an organic compound with a moisturizing effect that also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and promotes wound healing.

Types of Snail Mucin

Two types of snail mucin are used in skincare. These are Filtered and Fermented snail mucin.

Filtered snail mucin undergoes a purification process to remove impurities and ensure high quality. It retains its natural benefits, including hydration, wound healing, and skin repair.

Fermented snail mucin goes through a fermentation process that enhances its efficacy and absorption into the skin. This fermentation can lead to increased levels of antioxidants, amino acids, and other beneficial compounds, potentially boosting its anti-aging and skin-rejuvenating properties.

Historical Uses of Snail Mucin

Skincare is not the first historical application of snail mucin. The substance has been used in traditional medicine for various issues. It was employed topically to treat wounds, burns, and skin conditions due to its purported healing properties. There is also evidence of its use as a remedy for gastrointestinal issues, respiratory ailments, and arthritis.

Is the use of snail mucin cruelty-free?

Yes, snail mucin used in skin care products is harvested from live snails in a cruelty-free manner, typically through gentle stimulation that encourages them to release the mucin.

Potential Skincare Benefits of Snail Mucin

The use of snail mucin in skin care products has several potential benefits. These include:

  • Hydration

Helps lock in moisture for hydrated, supple skin.

  • Wound Healing

Supports skin repair and regeneration, aiding in the healing of wounds and scars.

Stimulates collagen production, enhancing skin elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Skin Brightening

Contains glycolic acid, which functions as an exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells and improve skin tone.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, soothing irritated skin and reducing redness (including sun damage recovery).

  • Antioxidant

Contains antioxidants that can provide skin protection from environmental damage and premature aging.

  • Texture Improvement

Helps to smoothen and soften the skin, improving overall texture and appearance.

Side Effects of Snail Mucin

Potential side effects of snail mucin use may include allergic reactions or sensitivities in individuals with specific allergies. Quality concerns may also arise regarding the sourcing and processing of snail mucin. Therefore, it is vital to choose judiciously.

Sustainability is another issue due to the over-harvesting of snails for mucin extraction. Additionally, limited research on long-term effects and interactions with other skincare ingredients calls for caution when incorporating snail mucin into skincare routines.

Using Snail Mucin in Skincare

Different forms of snail mucin are found as active ingredients in various skin care products, including serums, moisturizers, masks, and eye creams. These products offer unique benefits:

Typically, serums are concentrated formulas for targeted benefits like hydration or anti-aging.

Moisturizers provide deep hydration and nourishment for all skin types.

Masks are the go-to option for intense hydration and overall skin texture improvement.

Eye creams may help reduce dark circles and puffiness.

How to incorporate snail mucin into your skincare routine?

Your skin type will determine how best to include snail mucin in your skincare routine:

For dry skin, it is best to use a moisturizer or serum with snail mucin to hydrate and soothe. On the other hand, users with oily or acne-prone skin can opt for lightweight formulas like serums or gel-based moisturizers to avoid excess oiliness. To maximize anti-aging benefits, look for serums or creams with higher concentrations of snail mucin to promote collagen production and improve skin elasticity.

Snail mucin generally does not react negatively with other skincare ingredients. However, it is recommended to patch test and monitor your skin's reaction when introducing any new products into your routine.

How to use snail mucin?

Here's how to use snail mucin as a part of a regular daily skincare routine:

  • Apply a pea-sized amount onto clean and dry skin
  • Use it once or twice daily
  • Use it for at least a few weeks to see the results
  • Can be used day or night, depending on personal preference
  • Choose brands that prioritize transparent sourcing and high-quality processing practices
  • Look for products without added fragrances or potential irritants.
  • Patch test on a small area of skin before full application to check for allergic reactions

It is recommended that those with sensitive skin or underlying skin conditions consult a dermatologist before using snail mucin. With consistent use, noticeable improvements can usually be seen within a few weeks. Although, the results may vary between individuals.

Components to look for when buying a snail mucin product

When selecting a snail mucin product, look for key components such as hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and antioxidants for enhanced hydration, exfoliation, and protection against free radicals and environmental stressors. Snail mucin products can be used with most other skincare ingredients, but avoid combining them with harsh exfoliants or acids to prevent potential irritation.

Other Uses

Other potential uses of snail mucin include:

  • Hair care - Some believe snail mucin may help nourish and strengthen hair, promoting scalp health and hair growth.
  • Eye drops - Snail mucin has been explored for its potential benefits in eye drops to treat dry eye syndrome.
  • Treating ulcers - Snail mucin has been investigated for its potential to aid in wound healing, including the treatment of ulcers.

FAQs

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about snail mucin:

  1. Is snail mucin good for acne and oily skin?

Snail mucin helps to moisturize the skin without clogging pores. It can also help in reducing redness and inflammation due to acne.

  1. Is snail mucin safe during pregnancy?

Snail mucin is considered generally safe for topical use. However, it is best to consult a doctor before using it during pregnancy.

  1. What are the best alternatives?

Hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and peptides are the best alternatives to snail mucin for skin care.

  1. Can I use snail mucin while managing a skin condition?

In general, the answer is yes. But, it is best to consult a dermatologist.

  1. Is it suitable for all skin types?

Snail mucin is generally suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, but patch testing is recommended, especially for individuals with allergies or sensitivities.

  1. Can it replace other skincare products?

Regardless of its benefits, it is not the purpose of snail mucin to replace some other skincare products, such as moisturizers, sunscreen, or cleansers.

  1. Does it clog pores?

Snail mucin does not clog pores (it is non-comedogenic).

  1. Is snail mucin effective in treating skin cancer?

Although snail mucin has many skin benefits, it is not a recognized treatment for skin cancer.

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About the Author:
Dr. Rosmy Barrios is an aesthetic medicine specialist with international work experience. She earned her physician diploma at the Universidad Del Norte’s School of Medicine in Barranquilla, Colombia, and her specialty at John F. Kennedy University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dr. Barrios is a member of Pan-American Aesthetic Medicine Association (PASAM) and the Union Internationale de Medecine Esthetique (UIME). She is an expert health writer with keen interests in aesthetic medicine, regenerative aesthetics, anti-aging, fitness, and nutrition. Currently, Dr. Barrios heads the Regenerative Aesthetics department at a renowned Internal Medicine clinic based in Belgrade, Serbia.

References:

  • McDermott M, Cerullo AR, Parziale J, et al. Advancing Discovery of Snail Mucins Function and Application. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021;9:734023. Published 2021 Oct 11. doi:10.3389/fbioe.2021.734023
  • Ibrahim AM, Morad MY, El-Khadragy MF, Hammam OA. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Eremina desertorum snail mucin on experimentally induced intestinal inflammation and testicular damage. Biosci Rep. 2022;42(10):BSR20221020. doi:10.1042/BSR20221020
  • Zhu K, Zhang Z, Li G, et al. Extraction, structure, pharmacological activities and applications of polysaccharides and proteins isolated from snail mucus. Int J Biol Macromol. 2024;258(Pt 1):128878. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2023.128878
  • Yongeun K, Woo-Jin S, Jeong-seok L, Tae-Gyu L. Snail mucin is a functional food ingredient for skin. Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 92. 2022. 105053. ISSN 1756-4646. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2022.105053.
  • McDermott M, Cerullo AR, Parziale J, Achrak E, Sultana S, Ferd J, Samad S, Deng W, Braunschweig AB, Holford M. Advancing Discovery of Snail Mucins Function and Application. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021 Oct 11;9:734023. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.734023. PMID: 34708024; PMCID: PMC8542881.
  • Mencucci R, Strazzabosco G, Cristofori V, et al. GlicoPro, Novel Standardized and Sterile Snail Mucus Extract for Multi-Modulative Ocular Formulations: New Perspective in Dry Eye Disease Management. Pharmaceutics. 2021;13(12):2139. Published 2021 Dec 13. doi:10.3390/pharmaceutics13122139

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