In the world of skincare, there are a few hero ingredients that brands and consumers keep coming back to. These include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, and retinol. Each one of these ingredients is highly effective when formulated correctly and offers a multitude of benefits. There's one more, though, and it's trending in a major way. For some people, it's overtaking other hero ingredients due to its hydrating, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, it strengthens and supports the skin's natural barrier so well that dryness and irritation become a thing of the past.
We're talking about snail mucin—you know, the gel-like mucus secreted by actual snails. It might sound shocking to the uninitiated, but it's been used for decades (if not longer) in Korea. Before that, we can trace its origin in skincare back to Ancient Greece. Ahead, learn everything you need to know about this skincare ingredient.
What is snail mucin?
Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, is a nurse practitioner specializing in dermatology. She says snails produce mucin proteins in their mucous for a variety of biological functions, including microbial protection, traction, and lubrication. "Mucins are glycosylated proteins that are secreted by animals for adhesion, hydration, and lubrication, among other functions," she explains.
As we mentioned before, it's essentially the gel-like mucus secreted by a snail. You know, the stuff that makes them look and feel all slick and shiny. We know this might not sound like something you want to put on your face, but the benefits are no joke, and people have been using it for millennia. "The interest in the mucus slime trails left by snails and slugs dates back to Ancient Greece, where they used the mucus for its potential to decrease inflammation and the signs of aging," LoGerfo says.
What are the benefits of snail mucin?
Brendan Camp, MD, is a double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York. He says snail mucin offers myriad benefits to the skin, although the most foundational one is hydration. "Snail mucin is a hydrating skincare ingredient because of its high content of hyaluronic acid," he says. "Hyaluronic acid is an effective hydrating agent because it is able to attract and retain water in the skin. Snail mucin also possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties."
LoGerfo agrees, adding that it has wound-healing and anti-tumor properties, which are "probably due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory attributes." Still, though, we don't know the extent to which snail mucin can benefit the skin. LoGerfo says it hasn't been studied much up to this point. "Its full potential remains to be seen," she adds.
For now, we know it offers hydration, antioxidants, and an anti-inflammatory effect. As Camp puts it, "Snail mucin can improve the appearance of skin by increasing the ability of the skin to retain moisture. Improved moisture reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves the 'bounce' of skin, and provides a healthy, youthful appearance." There you have it.
What skin type is best suited for snail mucin?
Snail mucin is suitable for all skin types, but LoGerfo says it would probably benefit dry skin the most. Camp agrees. "Snail mucin can be used by all skin types, though it may benefit dehydrated skin most," he says. "It pairs well with skincare ingredients that can potentially cause skin dryness, such as retinoids and alpha and beta hydroxy acids."
Both experts say it can be used every day, but as with any new skincare ingredient or product, it's a good idea to patch-test it first. "Snail mucin products can be used once or twice a day," Camp says. "It is best to reference the directions included on each individual product. While most snail mucin products are well tolerated, it is a good idea to do a test spot, especially if you have a history of sensitive skin."
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