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Snail Slime and Mucin in Skincare Products

Écrit par : Dr. Leslie Baumann

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Temps de lecture 10 min

As a dermatologist, patients often ask me about the latest skincare trends and whether they live up to the hype. One ingredient that has become quite popular recently is snail slime serum, also known as snail mucin or snail secretion filtrate. Here’s what you need to know about this unique ingredient and if it is worth the expensive price.

Serum with Snail Mucin

snail mucin products

Snail serum has become a popular ingredient for antiaging.  But is it right for you?


Find the best products for your skin by taking the quiz I use in my medical practice to prescribe custom skin care routines for my patients.  It will diagnose your Baumann Skin Type and help you build a skin care routine from over 70 medical grade skincare brands.


Best Creams and Serums with Snail Mucin

Snail creams provide hydration by drawing moisture into the skin and preventing water loss. The mucus forms a protective barrier while delivering nutrients into the deeper layers. These snail mucin creams can be used as moisturizers over other antiaging serums.

Snail Serums and Gels

Lightweight gels and serums containing snail mucus can be applied to the skin to boost hydration, fade scars, and speed healing. The mucin is rapidly absorbed, making it suitable for application under creams or makeup.

Snail Mucin Eye Creams

While snail mucin has many benefits, I don't typically recommend it for the delicate eye area unless you have dry skin around the eyes and no puffiness.

The humectant properties that help snail mucin hydrate the skin can actually cause puffiness and swelling around the eyes in those susceptible to eye bags. The mucus pulls moisture into the thin skin around the eyes, leading to fluid accumulation and swollen eyelids. People who already suffer from puffy eyes or undereye bags should avoid snail mucin eye creams. The water-binding effect can exacerbate puffiness. 

However, snail mucin is helpful for addressing fine lines and dryness around the eyes. Using it in the morning routine is probably the best way to use snail mucin eye creams, because eyes get puffier at night with less effects from gravity and movement.

Snail Mucin Masks

Snail mucus masks deeply hydrate while brightening and smoothing the skin. The mucus is able to penetrate efficiently thanks to the occlusive mask format that "slugs" ingredients into your skin. These masks may contain sheet masks soaked in snail secretion filtrate or wash-off masks with concentrated mucin.

I could not find any good masks- you can use a snail mucin cream and cover it with an occlusive moisturizer to help increase penetration into the skin.

what is snail mucin?

What is Snail Slime?

Snail slime refers to the mucus that snails secrete to moisturize and protect their skin. This mucus, also called snail mucin, contains nutrients, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, glycoproteins, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, and antimicrobial peptides that are beneficial for the skin when applied topically. The snail mucus is composed of components that help hydrate, heal, and protect snail skin, which also translate to benefits for human skin.

Humectant Abilities

Snail mucin acts as a humectant when applied topically to the skin. Humectants are hydrophilic substances that attract and bind moisture. The glycoproteins and hydrating components in snail slime essentially act as water magnets to pull hydration into the deeper layers of the skin. This increased moisture in the dermis then plumps up the skin, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The humectant properties of mucin allow it to provide continuous hydration that keeps skin looking smooth, supple, and radiant and jello-like.

Antioxidant Abilities

Snail mucus contains antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals on the skin. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and accelerate aging when they accumulate. Things like UV exposure, pollution, and stress create reactive oxygen species that lead to more free radical formation. The antioxidants in snail secretion filtrate, like glutathione, can prevent and repair some of this free radical damage to slow signs of aging. By counteracting oxidative stress, the mucin preserves youthful skin.

benefits of snail mucin

Skin Benefits of Snail Mucus

Research has shown that snail mucus can provide several benefits when applied topically as a skincare ingredient:

 

  • Improves hydration and moisture retention
  • Promotes wound healing and skin regeneration
  • Reduces signs of photoaging and wrinkles
  • Fades hyperpigmentation and acne scars
  • Soothes irritated, inflamed skin
  • Provides antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties


Snail mucin has been found to improve hydration and moisture retention in the skin. The hydrating properties help the skin maintain suppleness and elasticity. Studies show the mucus is able to enhance the skin's barrier function, preventing moisture loss while drawing hydration into the deeper layers.

In addition, snail mucin promotes wound healing and tissue regeneration. Components like allantoin and glycoproteins enable skin cell turnover and repair. This allows the snail mucus to help treat scars and speed healing after procedures.

Snail slime has also been shown to reduce signs of photoaging and wrinkles. Antioxidants in the mucus neutralize free radicals from UV exposure that damage skin and cause aging. This helps minimize wrinkles and skin laxity over time.

Furthermore, the mucus helps fade hyperpigmentation and acne scars by evening skin tone and inhibiting excess melanin production. The antimicrobial peptides also reduce acne-causing bacteria.

Snail mucin has demonstrated soothing effects on irritated skin by calming inflammation. The glycopeptides and elastin in the slime provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Overall, the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of snail mucus make it helpful for various dermatologic conditions while keeping skin healthy and youthful.

mucin for specific concerns

What Skin Concerns Can Snail Slime Treat?

Acne and Pimple Scabs

Snail mucus shows promise for improving acne and helping pimples and pimple scabs heal more quickly. The antimicrobial peptides found in snail slime help fight C. acnes bacteria that contribute to acne breakouts. This helps prevent new pimples from forming. For existing breakouts, the glycolic acid in mucin acts as a chemical exfoliant to unclog pores by dissolving dead skin cell buildup. The allantoin and proteoglycans also promote skin regeneration to help acne scabs heal faster. The anti-inflammatory activity calms the redness and swelling of inflammatory acne. Overall, the components in snail secretion filtrate combat acne while facilitating rapid wound healing to clear up pimples and prevent scarring. 

Stretch Marks

The glycoproteins in snail slime may minimize the appearance of stretch marks by promoting collagen production. The antimicrobial peptides in the mucus also support healing of these skin lesions. However, it is doubtful that snail slime will do much to help stretch marks so don't waste your money on it for stretch marks.  Choose a retinoid instead.

Wrinkles

Snail mucin is able to temporarily plump out fine lines and wrinkles by increasing moisture levels in the skin. This hydrating effect causes the skin to swell slightly, smoothing out wrinkles. However, this wrinkle reduction is temporary and lasts only as long as the skin remains hydrated. The antioxidants found in snail secretion also protect against UV damage from the sun that causes wrinkling over time. While the hydrating properties provide a temporary tightening effect, snail mucin does not permanently get rid of wrinkles or dramatically rebuild collagen. But the moisturizing and protective benefits may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and prevent new wrinkles from forming with consistent use.

How is Snail Mucin Extracted?

Snails are collected humanely and placed over mesh nets in a controlled environment. As the snails move around, their mucus is deposited onto the nets. This mucus is then carefully collected and processed into skincare products. The snails are unharmed in this process and can continue producing more mucin.

research on snail mucin

Research Studies on Snail Mucin

There are not a lot of evidence based studies on snail mucin, but some studies have demonstrated benefits.

 

In 2008, a group of researchers (3,12) found that secretions from the Cryptomphalus aspersa mollusk displayed antioxidant and skin regenerative activity in lab tests. Specifically, the snail secretion was found to contain compounds that stimulate fibroblast growth and extracellular matrix production. It also regulated enzymes involved in wound healing. Overall, the researchers concluded the snail mucus supports skin repair.

 

Another study in 2012 showed that Cryptomphalus aspersa secretions increased cell proliferation and migration in human skin cells in vitro. The snail mucus was found to activate pathways involved in cell survival and regeneration. This provided evidence that snail slime could help heal wounds. (3, 10,12)

 

A 2009 clinical trial treated 27 patients with partial-thickness facial burns using a cream containing Helix aspersa snail mucus. Researchers found the snail mucin cream was a safe, natural option that accelerated healing and epithelialization compared to standard burn treatments. (3,17)

 

In another study in 2009, 15 patients with photodamaged skin were treated with Cryptomphalus aspersa mucus for 3 months. Significant improvements were observed in clinical markers of photoaging like wrinkles and skin texture. (3,18)

 

Finally, a 12-week double-blind trial in 2013 showed that a cream with Cryptomphalus aspersa mucus visibly reduced wrinkles and improved skin texture when applied topically.(3,14)

 

Overall, these studies demonstrate the regenerative, antioxidant, and anti-aging effects of snail mucin observed in cells, animals, and human subjects. More research is underway on the mechanisms and applications of this secretion.

While more research is still needed, the initial studies on snail mucus are promising. Formulated properly at effective concentrations, snail slime will provide real benefits for hydrating, healing, and rejuvenating the skin. But here is the most important point- its really a humectant and there are much cheaper options like glycerin. 


mucin in your routine

Where to Use Snail Mucin in your Skincare Routine

It depends on your Baumann Skin Type, but snail mucin is usually step 2 or 3 of you morning skin care routine.

Learn more about skin care routine steps here.

Let me help you build the best skincare routine for your skin type.  Take the skin care quiz to see if snail mucin is right for you.


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How snail mucin is harvested or collected?

Snail mucin is humanely harvested by placing live snails over mesh nets in controlled environments and collecting the mucus secreted as they move around.

Is snail mucin cruelty free?

Snail mucin can be considered cruelty free when harvested through ethical methods. Reputable skincare companies collect snail mucus humanely without harming the snails. The snails are placed over mesh nets and allowed to freely crawl around. This causes them to secrete mucus that is collected from the nets. The snails are uninjured in this process and can continue to produce more mucus. As long as the snails are housed in proper conditions and not stressed or endangered by the mucus extraction process, snail mucin harvesting can be cruelty free. However, some questionable companies may use less ethical methods that could distress the snails, so it's important to look for transparency and ethical harvesting practices when choosing skincare products containing snail mucin.

What does snail mucin do?

Snail mucin hydrates skin, speeds wound and pimple scab healing, and promotes skin cell regeneration.

What is snail mucin made of?

Snail mucin contains a high percentage of water along with a complex mixture of proteins, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, glycoproteins, enzymes, antimicrobial peptides, copper peptides, elastin, and glycolic acid. The combination of these nourishing compounds provides the hydrating, healing, and anti-aging benefits of snail secretion.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Snail Mucin

  1. Baumann L. Antiaging Ingredients in Ch. 37 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/223415/aesthetic-dermatology/snail-mucus-skin-care
  4. McDermott, M., Cerullo, A. R., Parziale, J., Achrak, E., Sultana, S., Ferd, J., ... & Holford, M. (2021). Advancing discovery of snail mucins function and application. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 9, 734023.
  5. Dhiman, V., & Pant, D. (2021). Human health and snails. Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry, 42(3), 211-235.
  6. Nguyen, J. K., Masub, N., & Jagdeo, J. (2020). Bioactive ingredients in Korean cosmeceuticals: Trends and research evidence. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 19(7), 1555-1569.
  7. Liegertová, M., & Malý, J. (2023). Gastropod Mucus: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biological Activities, Applications, and Strategic Priorities. ACS
  8.  Liu L, Sood A, Steinweg S. Snails and Skin Care – An Uncovered Combination. JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Jul 1;153(7):650
  9. Nguyen JK, Masub N, Jagdeo J. Bioactive ingredients in Korean cosmeceuticals: Trends and research evidence. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020;00:1–15.
  10. Juhász ML, Levin MK, Marmur ES. The use of natural ingredients in innovative Korean cosmeceuticals. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(3):305–312.
  11. Pitt SJ, Graham MA, Dedi CG, Taylor-Harris PM, Gunn A. Antimicrobial properties of mucus from the brown garden snail Helix aspersa. Br J Biomed Sci. 2015;72(4):174–181.
  12. Brieva A, Philips N, Tejedor R, et al. Molecular basis for the regenerative properties of a secretion of the mollusk Cryptomphalus aspersa. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(1):15–22.
  13. Cruz MC, Sanz-Rodríguez F, Zamarrón A, et al. A secretion of the mollusc Cryptomphalus aspersa promotes proliferation, migration and survival of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts in vitro. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012 Apr;34(2):183-9.
  14. Fabi SG, Cohen JL, Peterson JD, Kiripolsky MG, Goldman MP. The effects of filtrate of the secretion of the Cryptomphalus aspersa on photoaged skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(4):453–457.
  15. Ledo E, Heras ME, Ledo A. Treatment for acute radiodermatitis with Cryptomphalus aspersa secretion. Radioproteccion. 1999;23(7):34–38.
  16. Oh M-J, Park S-M, Kim H-T. The effects of snail secretion filtrate on damaged skin barrier’s recovery of atopic dermatitis. J Korean Med Ophthalmol Otolaryngol Dermatology. 2010;23(3):138–153.
  17. Tsoutsos D, Kakagia D, Tamparopoulos K. The efficacy of Helix aspersa Müller extract in the healing of partial thickness burns: A novel treatment for open burn management protocols. J Dermatolog Treat. 2009;20(4):219–222.
  18. Tribo-Boixareu MJ, Parrado-Romero C, Rais B, Reyes E, VitaleVillarejo MA, Gonzalez S. Clinical and histological efficacy of a secretion of the mollusk Cryptomphalus aspersa in the treatment of cutaneous photoaging. Cosmet Dermatology. 2009;22(5):247–252.
  19. Ellijimi C, Ben Hammouda M, Othman H, et al. Helix aspersa maxima mucus exhibits antimelanogenic and antitumoral effects against melanoma cells. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017;2018(101):871–880.
  20. Espada J, Matabuena M, Salazar N, et al. Cryptomphalus aspersa mollusc eggs extract promotes migration and prevents cutaneous ageing in keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts in vitro. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2015 Feb;37(1):41-55.
  21. Quay ER, Chang YC, Graber E. Evidence for Anti-Aging South Korean Cosmeceuticals. J Drugs Dermatol. 2017 Apr 1;16(4):358-363. Biomaterials Science & Engineering.