Snail Mucin Has a Multitude of Skin-Care Benefits
If you’ve spent any time on SkinTok or K-BeautyTok recently, we’re sure you’ve heard about snail mucin. Yes, you read that right — snail mucin, also known as snail slime, is getting quite a bit of buzz for its multitude of skin-care benefits, from hydration to boosting collagen production. But snail mucin isn’t a new skin-care ingredient by any means.
According to board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, it became a commercial skin-care trend as early as the 1980s, as snail farmers, working day in and day out for years touching the secretion, had unusually hydrated, supple, and more youthful-looking hands compared to their dermal profile. Snail mucin is said to date back to ancient Greece, where they used the mucus for its ability to decrease inflammation and lessen the signs of ageing.
Ahead, two board-certified dermatologists explain everything you need to know about snail mucin: what it is, how it works, its benefits for the skin, and how to incorporate it into your skin-care routine.
What Is Snail Mucin, and Where Does It Come From?
“Snail mucin is a natural and very potent super secretion or by-product from the mollusks that are composed of proteins, peptides, and proteoglycans,” Dr. Shamban tells POPSUGAR. For those who want a visual, it is the clear, shiny, mucus-like trail snails leave behind, which is used to protect themselves. “Its enzymes can act as a natural exfoliant and brightening agent. It also triggers keratinocytes to help protect the skin from UV damage, maintain adequate skin hydration, and increase our antimicrobial function,” adds Dr. Shamban.
While there are different types of snail mucin, the most common variety used for skin care comes from a specific species, Cryptomphalus aspersa. This type has regenerative properties for wound healing and cell proliferation of fibroblasts for elasticity and antiageing, Dr. Shamban explains.
Snail Mucin Benefits For Skin
There are a multitude of benefits from snail mucin when applied topically to the skin. “It can be effective when used on wrinkles, burns, stretch marks, and overall skin moisture,” says board-certified dermatologist Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, APRN, FNP-C. “This is due to its ability to promote collagen production, as it’s packed with antioxidants.” Additionally, she explains that snail mucin has been touted to hydrate the skin, strengthening its moisture barrier. Snail mucin may also be effective as an antiageing treatment, lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
And if that’s not enough to convince you to add it to your routine, snail mucin has antibacterial, anti-tumor, and wound-healing properties. “Its anti-tumor properties might protect the skin against skin cancer, particularly melanoma,” says Dr. LoGerfo, referring to a 2018 study published by Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, which found the substance may have therapeutic potential against the deadline skin cancer. Dr. LoGerfo adds, “The wound-healing properties are probably due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory attributes.” However, more research is needed to further support these claims, and its full potential remains to be seen.
How to Use Snail Mucin
When scanning beauty labels, you may see the ingredient listed as “snail secretion filtrate,” or the initials “SSF” for short. “It can be very minimal in some products or in high concentrations in others,” Dr. Shamban says. It’s noncomedogenic, and with its multifunctionality, it can be used in a variety of ways, from a cleanser to an essence or serum, in a liquid or ampoule format. It can also be found as an ingredient in a fluid lotion or a heavier lipid cream or mask.
Because snail mucin is gentle, it should slot easily into your routine, pairing well with active ingredients like retinoids, salicylic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, and BHAs, according to Dr. Shamban.
Both derms agree that snail mucin seems to be suited for all skin types and should be generally well-tolerated without issue. However, Dr. LoGerfo says that it would probably benefit dry skin the most. If you are on Accutane, you should discuss it with your dermatology provider before trying it, and similarly, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should check with your primary care physician. “For all patients, patch testing or seeing your board-certified dermatologist is always recommended when trying a new ingredient, brand, or product,” says Dr. Shamban.