Oh, the things we do for the sake of beauty.
Moisturizers and other skincare products derived from snail mucus have been on the market for over five years now, starting in Korea when beauty brand Missha marketed the snail goo as an intense moisturizer and aid for reducing inflammation. The story goes that farmers in Chile who handle snails for French markets were found to have remarkably soft hands, much like the urban legend that SK-II Pitera essence was discovered through the tender hands of sake handlers at Japanese breweries (more on that here). Anyways, the story that I found about the discovery of snail goo was based more in science. Dr. Iglesias was a radiation oncologist looking for a way to treat skin irritation in cancer patients after radiation treatment. He found that mollusks secrete a mixture of chemical compounds when exposed to radiation that actually trigger skin regeneration and healing. This led me to two questions: One, why the heck was he radiating mollusks to begin with, and two, why not use that quality for photo-damaged human skin? (Caveat: I can’t find the actual paper Dr. Iglesias published, only papers that reference to it. Frustrating I know.)
But before I happily went ahead with smearing snail gunk on my face, I took to the scientific literature itself for proof. I found one article published in a dermatology journal (chuckle to self: I love my field) that had 25 women use snail cream on one side of the face and an inactive cream on the other side, twice a day, for 12 weeks. The researchers found significant lessening in wrinkles around the eyes and mouth after 8 weeks of faithful application.
That was enough to at least intrigue me. My friends had brought me back a few snail sheet masks for me to try, and I finally gave in this past week. After washing my face, applying toner and essence, I opened my snail mask. It was thin, not slimy like I expected, and actually smelled okay. I was expecting much worse. I put the mask on for 25 minutes and then rubbed in the remaining essence on every part of my face. Half an hour after using it, my face had already lost most of the moisture. I haven’t used it for 8-12 weeks obviously, but I felt like my other sheet masks and creams locked in moisture much better. Granted, they don’t contain magical snail mucus, but I personally prefer products that have been rigorously tested in scientific studies that have been proven to work for skin regeneration, like retinoic acid. (More on retinol to come, I promise!)
If you are curious in checking out some more snail-related beauty products, see below.