Fad or Fixture: ESCARGOT, for your face?

Snail based skincare products can be found in abundance in many Asian countries.  Elishacoy Premium Skin Repairing Snail Eye Balm and the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence from COSRX are some our personal favorites. Even the American beauty industry is starting to take notice. Last year Marie Claire listed it as one of the 9 Asian Skincare Ingredients That Are Basically Magic.

Photo by Ko01/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Ko01/iStock / Getty Images

What is snail mucin?

Snails excrete mucus in order to protect and heal their soft fleshy underbelly from abrasive rock surfaces. “As a snail protects itself, the slime that is excreted from its body is packed with nutrients like hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, antimicrobial and copper peptides, and proteoglycans. All of these nutrients are already commonly added to beauty products and are thought to provide many benefits to skin.”[i]

Is it the fountain of youth?

There have been a few studies on the benefits of snail mucus but the benefits of it’s cosmetic use is still inconclusive. Nevertheless, it is believed that snail mucin can stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, fade dark spots and scars, fight acne, plump creases, and prevent fine lines.

Historical Use

Although it is now known as a major Korean skincare ingredient, the use of snails for skin care did not begin in Korea. The ancient Greeks were the first to use snails to treat the skin. Hippocrates prescribed crushed snails and sour milk as a way to rid the skin of inflammation. In the modern era, Chilean snail farmers noticed that they had smoother younger looking hands and snail mucin was added to South American skin creams. Then the Korean beauty market took notice and many brands began developing snail-based skincare lines. The first snail-based skincare lines and spa facials hit the U.S. market about five years ago.

Is it sustainable?

Snail mucin is harvested from live snails by laboratory scientist. Many of these snails are from Brittany South Africa, Korean Green Zone, and Chile. Several of the brands making snail-based products claim that the snails are humanely treated and kept alive. Some Korean companies feed the snails ginseng to increase mucus production or green tea. The one question we do not see anyone asking is what is the environmental impact of harvesting snails en masse?

We are curious to hear your thoughts below. What do you think is this a fad or skincare industry fixture? Personally we love how it keeps our skin supple and fades dark spots. It has become a skincare staple!


[i] The Dermatology Review. Snail Cream. 2016. http://www.thedermreview.com/snail-cream/