The ancient Greeks used snail mucus to reduce inflammation, while the French have used it as an excuse to eat mountains of garlic. Other outdated uses for slug snot include soothing coughs and healing ulcers. Now K-beauty is bringing it back. So the question begs, is this just another garden-variety snake-oil ingredient, or is there really something to it?
Recent popularization can be credited to Chilean farmers for discovering its scar-free healing powers in the 90s. If you’re a millennial plant mom or have a green thumb, adding a snail or two can help mitigate any trimming/pruning mishaps. The first snail cream patent was granted in ‘93 officially marking their triumphant return.
Ingredient: Slug Slime
What it is:
The bodily secretions produced by land snails and slugs. Snails use it to lubricate rough surfaces and make gliding easier (protecting them from cuts, bacteria, and UV rays).
What it does:
The antioxidant properties of snail mucus help mitigate the effect of photoaging (premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation). Snail mucus also speeds up the rate of new cell creation and slows down cell death. The mucus can exist as a combination of elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid.
Where to find it:
In your grandma's backyard, K-beauty products
Two disclaimers here.
1. Snail mucus products aren’t completely cruelty-free. Some manufacturers harvest mucus by stressing out the snails. We imagine it’s worse than your boss dumping a last minute project on you before happy hour.
2. The actual science behind these products is still somewhat inconclusive. Lab cell cultures had positive findings for burn patients who used snail mucin, but there have been no serious controlled clinical trials or long-term studies, so doctors are skeptical.