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Here's Everything You Need to Know About Snail Mucin in Skincare

Our beauty pros tried this trending skincare ingredient, and the before and afters speak volumes.

the cosrx advanced snail 96 mucin power essence pictured against a cream background
Jacqueline Saguin

Hear us out – snail mucin (a.k.a. snail slime) may not sound super pleasing to put on your face, but this buzzy ingredient is the latest skincare trend, promising to hydrate and repair skincare barriers slime after slime.

Snail mucin sheet masks, moisturizers and skincare products like the COSRX snail mucin essence are making the rounds on social media, becoming a viral sensation on "SkinTok," so, we did some digging into snail mucin benefits and tapped our Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab experts and Y. Claire Chang, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, to see if this stomach-churning trend is actually worth the hype.

What is snail mucin?

Snail mucin refers to the excretions produced by snails: They can serve as lubrication, adhesion and protection for the snail, according to Good Housekeeping Institute Executive Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral. So, how does it play a role in skincare? Beauty products tagged with snail mucin ingredients actually tend to use snail secretion filtrate, a processed and sanitized version of snail mucin that's more suitable for cosmetics, says Aral.

The application of snail and slug slime dates as far back to ancient Greece, where "they used the mucus to help reduce inflammation and prevent skin aging," says Dr. Chang. "It is suggested to have hydrating, antioxidant, antimicrobial, wound healing and anti-aging properties." Its use has increased globally, especially with the growing popularity of Korean beauty products, of which snail mucin has been a popular ingredient for over the past decade.

How is snail mucin harvested?

Snail mucin is usually harvested from species at snail farms, which also sell snails to be eaten as food, a delicacy in certain cuisines. According to Aral, there are several methods of extracting the mucin out of snails, which may or may not be harming them in the process: One thing we can say for sure is that it’s non-vegan.

What does snail mucin do for skin?

Touted for boosting skin hydration and reducing skin inflammation, snail mucin seems best for remedying skin barrier damage. It's said to contain various skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, allantoin (a soothing ingredient often found in toners for sensitive skin) and glycolic acid (a common exfoliant), notes Dr. Chang.

But you should know that clinical trials showing the anti-aging benefits of this ingredient over time are still limited. However, one brand, Biopelle, tested snail secretion in a liquid serum and a lotion base and reported that the formula helped smooth skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in testers after eight weeks. After using the product for 12 weeks — and even two weeks after stopping the use of the product — testers were still reaping the benefits and seeing fine line improvement at the 14-week mark.

a before and after sidebyside photo of using the cosrx snail mucin essence after one to two weeks
Before and after using COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
Jacqueline Saguin

What are the side effects of snail mucin?

Thanks to its gentle properties, snail mucin is usually well tolerated by most skin types, says Dr. Chang. Like any active skin ingredient, allergies are possible, so try a patch test before applying all over. No worries about tweaking your usual skincare regimen: Snail mucin products can be used alongside other active ingredients, including topical antioxidants, retinols and peptides.

How do you use snail mucin in skincare?

Dr. Chang typically recommends once or twice a day use of any snail mucin skincare. If you're using a snail mucin essence, use it right after cleansing and toning and apply to the full face, then top it off with moisturizer and sunscreen afterward.

What are the best snail mucin skincare products?

Dr. Chang recommends COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence: It's formulated with snail secretion filtrate along with sodium hyaluronate, panthenol and allantoin – all to say, that the formula offers a boost of hydration and helps repair the skin, says Dr. Chang. Our GH beauty pros tried it and say it's a lightweight, clear gel that dries smooth on skin with no noticeable fragrance from the snail mucin essence. They love that it hydrates well and noticed it quells acne breakouts in days.

Dr. Chang also likes the lightweight MISSHA snail moisturizer with a hydrating blend of snail mucin, glycerin and arbutin. To rejuvenate eyelids, she recommends moisturizing with the antioxidant-filled Mizon snail eye cream. Benton Snail Bee Ultimate Serum is formulated with snail secretion filtrate, niacinamide, tea tree leaf water and aloe – a calming combination that the brand claims will clear acne scars and treat hyperpigmentation while the bee venom targets breakouts. Dr. Chang says it's also great for enrichment and nourishment. Biopelle’s intensive serum is clinically tested, proven to rejuvenate aging skin.

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