My Experience Trying Snail Mucin

While I have never been one to shy away from trying new skincare trends, I must admit when I first heard of snail mucin, my first thought was, “Oh, wow…gross. I ain’t using THAT!”

Then, a few months later, I received a sample of snail mucin cream in one of my orders of Korean beauty products. At first, I avoided the sample like the plague. The thought of smearing snail excretions (or perhaps excrement) on my face made me feel a bit nauseous. So I shoved the sample in a bin under my bathroom sink and forgot about it.

Until one fateful day when I found myself without any of my usual elixirs. Not a drop of moisturizer in sight, apart from Vaseline. However, this was summertime, and using Vaseline would exacerbate my problems, not help them. When I was sure I had no other lightweight moisture options, I finally conceded and tried my sample.

How did my eczema react to the snail mucin?

Much to my surprise, I did not die immediately after application from “the grossness.” In fact, my skin even seemed to like it! Having been forced to be open-minded and use the snail mucin, I felt now was as good a time as any to get some answers to my questions about it.

What is snail mucin?

My first and biggest question: What exactly is snail mucin? Is it just essentially collecting a snail trail? Is it like the snail's poop?

It didn’t take me long to find a pretty comprehensive answer to that question. (And good news: it’s not the latter!) In a 2019 study, researchers describe snail mucin as “a highly glycosylated protein family that is secreted by animals for adhesion, hydration, lubrication, and other functions."1

While all animals produce mucins and mucous, not all of those secretions are helpful or have the claimed reparative benefits that snail mucin does. I mean, you don’t see us going and rubbing our snot on our skin. Snails produce special types of mucous that have unique benefits that help keep the snail alive and healthy. For example, the snail's foot produces mucins that act as lubricants and adhesives, helping to move or stick the snail as the occasion calls for it. The mucous produced by the snail's back and the shell is used for microbial defense and tissue hydration.1

Are snails harmed for this cosmetic product?

While all that information on what snail mucin is made sense to me, I still had some questions and concerns about snail mucin. My questions were mainly centered around how mucin is collected for use in medicine and skincare on a large scale. My concerns were largely around the potential for animal cruelty in extraction for cosmetic use.

While there isn’t much scientific literature available that discusses snail mucin extraction for cosmetic topical applications (what we’re using it for), there is available information on extraction from the companies that are using snail mucin in their products. There seemed to be a consensus among those companies that I will simplify for you: happy snails make good products, and sad snails don’t. While the specific exact extraction method seemed to differ between each company, the result was the same. Each ensured that no snails were harmed in the process of extracting their mucin.2,3

This was great news! Getting past ickiness because of mucus is one thing – getting past animal cruelty is another much less doable thing.

Are there benefits to using snail mucin?

It does seem that snail mucin has some actual documented benefits and there is exploration for uses in the medical field. However, I'm still not sure that I’m going to make snail mucin products a part of my regular routine.4,5

While I’m glad that the mucin isn’t snail excrement and it doesn’t hurt the snails to extract it, I still can’t get the image out of my mind that I am putting snail boogers on my face!

What are your thoughts on snail mucin? Have you tried it? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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