When I first moved to Korea approximately two million years ago (Ok, slight exaggeration, but it has been nearly a decade), I became obsessed with K-Beauty. I tried any and everything I could get my hands on. Skinfood was my first foray into Asian beauty, followed by Etude House, Missha, and The Face Shop. There were so many new ingredients that I had no idea were so beneficial for the skin—snake venom, acai berries, fermented rice—but there have been none as influential in my life (and tbh, everyone’s lives) than the humble snail.
Let’s play a little game here. When you think of the word snail, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’ll go first:
- Ooooh, so slimy and cute
- I love their little antennae
- Can I just rub snail mucin all over my face forever?
I know for most people, snails are pretty gross, and their little snail trails are even more gag-inducing. But I’m here to tell you, these little guys and their mucus are one of the best skincare ingredients around. How so? Well, keep scrolling and allow me to explain.
What is snail mucin?
So, let’s start from the basics. Snail mucin/filtrate/extract is the slimy stuff that the snail creates when it’s stressed out (more on this in a moment). If you’re looking at an ingredient label, it’s typically listed as “snail secretion filtrate”. Snails use this gooey goodness to protect themselves from their harsh environments, bacteria, the weather, and other various things that they don’t want to deal with. It contains a whole variety of good-for-your-skin ingredients like glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and unique glycoproteins, which are essential to your skin’s NMF, or natural moisture factor, the building blocks to healthy, glowing skin.
What does snail mucin do for your skin?
Snail mucin is that girl because she can truly do it all. First up, we have collagen production. When the snails are under stress, they release their signature slime. Since this slime is created under stress, it’s uniquely designed to protect and repair our skin. It contains growth factors which encourage collagen production, as well as glycolic acid, which also contributes to glowy, smooth skin. Snail mucin also moisturizes the skin, thanks to those glycoproteins I mentioned earlier. These unique proteins are very similar to another K-beauty fave, hyaluronic acid, as they can hold up to 1000 times their weight in water, giving you firm, supple skin.
Oh, and my fave? Snail mucin can also decrease inflammation, especially for those with sensitive, acne prone skin. Back when my skin was losing its mind a couple of years ago, I swore by snail products to help reduce redness and heal my acne.
How can I incorporate snail mucin into my routine?
Well, the good thing about snail mucin is that it’s a huge marketing bonus—skincare brands are going to make it very well known that snails are a main ingredient in their product. And thanks to the huge K-beauty explosion, you can pretty much find snail extract in any sort of product you want. There are brands like Benton that have made snails the foundation and backbone of their product line, or Cosrx that also has an entire line of snail products. There are cleansers, masks, serums, moisturizers, eye creams—you name it.
My Favorite Snail products
Did you really think I would write all of this and not tell you about my favorite snail products? You’re gonna want to add all of these to your cart. Trust me.
Annie’s Way Snail Repairing Jelly Mask
I’m going to admit that I did not have high hopes for this mask. In general, I’m not the biggest fan of wash off masks. I rarely ever see any benefits, and the mess outweighs the results. But this mask? BUT THIS MASK!!!!!! I decided to use it on a whim after a workout one day, when my skin was particularly dry. I came up with the great idea to bring it with me in the shower (less clean up) and apply and wear it while I showered. I left it on for about 15 minutes and when I rinsed it off, I audibly gasped. My skin felt SO smooth, hydrated, and silky. When I got out of the shower, I applied the rest of my skincare routine and could not believe how great my skin felt. Now, I use this mask at least twice a week, or whenever my skin needs a little pick me up.
In addition to snail filtrate, this mask also has a dose of licorice extract for a brightening boost and hyaluronic acid for even more hydration.
CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
If there is one skincare product that literally every single person alive needs in their arsenal, it’s this Cosrx snail essence. I’ve been using it since it first came out, and recently reintroduced it back into my routine. I’m not sure why I ever stopped, but now that it’s back in my life, I have no plans of ever taking it out. It’s made with a whopping 96.3% snail extract filtrate and has that signature, slimy snail texture. But don’t worry, it doesn’t feel weird at all when you apply it and sinks into the skin almost immediately. Winter has been doing a doozy on my skin this year, and thanks to this, my dry, tight skin is gone. I like to apply it day and night, before my serums, but after my cleanser and hydrating toner. My skin looks healthy, glowing, and incredibly dewy since I’ve reintroduced this back into my routine.
CosRX Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream
I’m not an eye cream girl, but this one changed my mind. As I enter my mid-30s, I’ve noticed that my under eyes are dry and crepey—before using this eye cream, my concealer would sit on my skin and exaggerate my new-to-me fine lines. But now that I’ve put this cream into rotation, my under eyes have been blessed with suppleness and hydration. The star ingredient of this eye cream is 72% snail secretion filtrate, plus niacinamide and a 5-Peptide complex that increases collagen production and provides intense hydration for your under eye area. I’ve been using this day and night as well, as the last step of my routine before I apply either my sunscreen in the AM, or my sleeping pack at night. It has an incredibly lightweight texture and melts into the skin instantly. And the best part is you seriously need only about half a pump for each application, so one bottle should last quite some time.
Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Sheet Mask
Long story short, this is an excellent sheet mask. I’m a mask multi-tasker—I like a mask that doesn’t have too many drippies and can stay put while I’m doing the dishes, folding a load of laundry, or just scrolling on Tik Tok. This one has a thick texture that stays put and a serum filled with good-for-your-skin ingredients like Snow Fungus Extract that repairs, firms, and hydrates the skin, oat extract to soothe, cucumber extract that is chock full of vitamin C, and of course, our BFF snail extract. My skin is always noticeably softer, more hydrated, and plump after using this mask.