Snail mucin is wildly popular in Korean skin-care products and trending on TikTok. Regardless, it’s still largely under the radar in the mainstream skin care we use stateside. However, brands like COSRX, Peach Slices and Mizon are raising awareness about the ingredient’s multiple benefits, and it’s catching on. Here’s what we know about the ingredient for skin, according to experts.
What Is Snail Mucin?
“Snail mucin, also known as snail secretion filtrate or snail slime, is a popular skin-care ingredient derived from the secretions of certain species of snails, specifically the common garden snail,” says cosmetic chemist David Petrillo. The snails themselves are not harmed in order to collect the mucin. If you’ve ever seen a snail move around, you’ve seen the trail of mucin it leaves behind. This can be collected, purified and filtrated to use in skin-care products.
Santiago Larraín Allendes, CEO of Caracol Natural Skincare, which specializes in snail mucin products, says the use of the ingredient in cosmetics can be traced back to ancient Greece. “Hippocrates reportedly prescribed crushed snails for skin inflammation,” he explains. “In the 20th century, snail farmers in Chile noticed that their hands became softer and smoother after handling snails, which led to the development of snail-based creams for hand care.” In skin care specifically, Allendes says the use of snail mucin gained popularity in the 1990s when a group of Chilean farmers developed a snail cream that then became a best-seller in Korea. “Since then, snail secretion has been incorporated into a wide range of products, including creams, serums, masks, and lotions.”
Another interesting aspect of the trending ingredient, Allendes notes, is that it is a natural ingredient that is sustainably sourced. “Snail farming is a relatively low-impact agricultural practice that doesn’t require large amounts of water or land, making it an environmentally friendly option.”
The Skin-Care Benefits of Snail Mucin
“Snail mucin contains a combination of various components, including glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, enzymes, and peptides,” Petrillo says. “These components are believed to offer several potential skin-care benefits.” Snail mucin is generally considered safe for most skin types. However, if you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin, patch-testing is recommended. (This is usually the case when introducing any new product into your routine).
“While the use of snail mucin in skin care has been met with some controversy and skepticism, there is scientific evidence to support its benefits,” adds Allendes. These are four of the biggest benefits snail mucin has to offer when it comes to rejuvenating the skin.
“Snail mucin contains hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and allantoin, which help to hydrate and moisturize the skin,” says Allendes. “This can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and leave the skin looking plump and supple.”
“I like snail mucin for anyone needing extra hydration,” says Plymouth Meeting, PA dermatologist Nazanin Saedi, MD. “Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in snail mucin. It draws moisture into the skin, hydrating and plumping the skin.”
Skin Repair and Regeneration
According to Petrillo, snail mucin contains growth factors, peptides and enzymes that may promote skin repair and regeneration. “These components can potentially accelerate the healing of wounds, reduce the appearance of scars and improve overall skin texture.” Allendes also points to another repairing compound found in snail mucin: allantoin. “Allantoin has been shown to have wound-healing properties and can help reduce inflammation.
“Some users report that snail mucin can help improve skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation,” says Petrillo. “This is possibly due to the presence of glycolic acid and other exfoliating compounds.”
Soothing and Calming
“Snail mucin has anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe irritated or sensitive skin,” Petrillo says. “This makes many products containing the ingredient suitable for individuals with conditions like acne or rosacea.”
Which Ingredients Does It Work Best With?
“Snail mucin can be a versatile and beneficial ingredient in skin care, and it works well with a variety of other ingredients,” says Petrillo. “These include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, peptides, ceramides, retinol, antioxidants, alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), and betahydroxy acids (BHAs). When used carefully alongside snail mucin, AHAs and BHAs can enhance the exfoliation and brightening effects of the mucin.”
“Snail mucin products pair well with other skin care,” adds Dr. Saedi. “I would give it a try as part of an anti-aging routine to help boost collagen production, smooth fine lines and improve skin tone.”
Skin-Care Products That Contain Snail Mucin
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($25)
This fast-absorbing essence is one of the most popular snail mucin products in the world. Not only does it help keep skin moisturized all day long, but it also gives skin a really pretty glow.
Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream ($19)
Safe for sensitive skin, this K-beauty favorite moisturizes and soothes as it helps smooth out the appearance of wrinkles. Some reviewers also praise it for helping reduce the appearance of scars.
Peach Slices Snail Rescue Blemish Busting Toner ($14)
Free of alcohol and fragrance, this toner is a crowd pleaser for anyone prone to breakouts. Two beloved K-beauty ingredients, snail mucin and cica, offer pore-clearing, redness-reducing, zit-zapping benefits.
Caracol Natural Skincare The Texture Reform Cream ($21)
A hero product from the Chilean brand, this multitasking, lightweight cream helps restore skin’s natural radiance. A little goes a long way, and it doesn’t leave a sticky or oily residue behind.
Biopelle Tensage Intensive Serum 40 Ampoules ($136)
A NewBeauty Award Winner for “Best Post-Procedure Repair Serum,” Dr. Saedi says this formula features the brand’s unique, clinically proven SCA Biorepair Technology. “It’s a snail secretion containing growth factors, glycoproteins and antioxidants. This can help hydrate the skin, improve signs of aging and defend against free-radical damage.”
Tonymoly Intense Care Gold 24K Snail Eye Serum ($30)
Struggle with under-eye puffiness? This rollerball serum infused with snail mucin, cica, niacinamide and ceramides is a soothing treat.