Is Snail Mucin The Slimy Skin Saviour We’ve Been Waiting For?

By Olivia Emily

5 months ago

It's not as gross as it sounds...


What lengths will people go to preserve – and improve – their skin? Snail mucin is TikTok’s new favourite skin saviour – yes, you read that right. But what are the skin benefits of our slimy shelled friends? And, most importantly, how on earth is snail slime farmed?

Is Snail Mucin Good For Your Skin?

@bambidoesbeauty Snail slime in skincare?! We’re trying it! 🐌 Using the viral COSRX snail mucin range. Advanced snail mucin 96 power essence + Advanced snail 92 all in one cream. Available at @bootsuk AD #COSRX #kbeauty #koreanskincare #snailmucin #snailmucinessence #snailmucinpoweressense #snailslimeskincare #cosrxsnailessence #skintok #skincaretrends #COSRXUK #BootsUK ♬ original sound – Bambi Does Beauty

What Is Snail Mucin?

Snail mucin is the trail of mucus left behind when snails slide across the ground. Also known as ‘snail slime’, the substance helps snails (and slugs, for that matter) stick to the ground and travel more smoothly when they crawl along, as well as preventing inflammation and infection, and protecting and hydrating their famously slimy skin. But, containing a mix of proteins and organic chemicals, snail mucin is also thought to have anti-aging, hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits when applied to human skin.

While it’s hitting the big time on TikTok – where it’s also referred to as ‘snail serum’ – this slimy ingredient is another skin care saviour that has long been popular in South Korea, just like rice water. Way before that, though, snail mucin was used by the ancient Greeks to treat dry skin, fight inflammation and prevent signs of ageing, according to Health.com.

What Does It Contain?

Snail mucin contains the following naturally occurring ingredients:

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Glycolic acid, a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
  • Copper peptides
  • Allantoin
  • Panthenol

What Are The Benefits?

  • Hydration, thanks to the hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin from the inside out by encouraging water retention
  • Protection of the skin barrier, shielding it from drying external toxins
  • Anti-aging, because it contains glycolic acid and copper peptides, which stimulate collagen production and the production of new cells
  • Antibacterial, preventing skin infections from worsening
  • Soothing and anti-inflammatory, because it contains allantoin
  • Early studies suggest snail mucin can kill off skin cancer cells, preventing them from metastasizing
@dzunglewis Testing the Viral Snail Serum for Glass Skin! #tiktokmademebuyit #amazonfinds ♬ original sound – Honeysuckle

Where To Find It

Before you go rooting through the garden weeds to pluck out a wriggling snail, you should know that snail mucin is an ingredient, and should not be gathered (a) off the street, or (b) from a captured snail. Instead, look for snail mucin in the ingredients list – it may also be called ‘snail secretion filtrate (SSF)’. For the best results, find products that contain the snail slime alongside other active ingredients, especially anti-aging and antioxidant ingredients like retinoids and vitamin C.

How To Use It

Damp Skin

‘Always make sure you’re applying it on damp skin,’ says @Dermguru, a dermatologist on TikTok. ‘If it’s not working for you, you’re probably not applying it on damp skin.’

Pat It In

‘Whenever you’re applying it, make sure you’re patting it in,’ says @Dermguru. ‘And you’re not aggressively rubbing it in.’

Follow With Moisturiser

‘You need to be applying moisturiser after you use it,’ adds @Dermguru. ‘That’s really going to lock in those benefits from the snail mucin and [leave your skin] super super hydrated.’

@dermguru Exactly how to apply snail mucin according to a dermatologist #snailmucin #snailmucinessence #snailmucinskincare #howtousesnailmucin #dermtok #dermguru #skintok ♬ original sound – Dermguru

Does It Work?

Very little research actually proves the benefits of snail mucin, though early studies indicate it helps with skin hydration, wound repair, cell turnover, the prevention of infections, and even skin cancer.

Some skincare brands swear by it, incorporating the ingredient into serums, moisturisers and masks. Plus, TikTok users are raving about the benefits, boasting smooth, plump and glowing skin, and the reduced appearance of acne scars.

@caressmd this combo 🫶🏼 @COSRX Official advanced snail 96 mucin power essence & vitamin c 23 serum ad #cosrx #snailessence #acnesolution #vitadermserum ♬ OUT NOW Enzo Smooth Operator – Enzo is Burning

What Are The Risks?

Because of the little research into snail mucin, the possible negative side effects are not well documented. That said, avoid using it if you are allergic to snails, shellfish, molluscs or, according to TikTok users, dust mites. If you’re not sure, only use a small amount on your hand first use to test your reaction.

@sarahpalmyra why you may need to ditch your snail mucin! Thankfully there are other product alternetives if the cosrx snail mucin is breaking you out—let me know if you want a part 2! #snailmucinessence #snailmucin #cosrxsnailessence #breakouts #koreanskincare #howtousesnailmucin #kbeauty #skincarefail #fungalacne ♬ original sound – Sarah Palmyra✨

Are Snails Killed For Their Mucin?

While snails are not killed for their mucin, they can produce it when they are stressed or agitated. Some methods for collecting slime include probing snails with a stick or dehydrating them with salt, though some beauty companies report cruelty-free methods of slime collection.

Is Snail Mucin Cruelty Free?

While it is true that there are cruelty methods of collecting snail slime, most snail mucin is cruelty free thanks to the taboo that is animal cruelty in Korea; in fact, animal testing is illegal there. In 2018, popular Korean beauty brand Cosrx told The Klog that it uses the company  CoSeedBioPharm Co to source its snail mucin. CoSeedBioPharm Co farms giant African snails and, according to The Klog, they are ‘placed over a mesh net in a dark and quiet room. As nocturnal creatures, the snails prefer this environment. For about 30 minutes, the snails are left alone to freely roam the net, leaving mucin in their trails.

‘Throughout the process, there is no external stress applied to the snails or the mesh net to force mucin production,’ The Klog continues. ‘This is due to two reasons. First, animal testing is illegal in Korea, and animal abuse is a huge topic that has sparked many controversies. Second, optimal mucin production occurs when snails are well-rested and comfortable in their habitat, which is why Cosrx’s manufacturer tries their best to make sure that the snails are healthy and comfortable.

A snail on the ground

‘After 30 minutes, the snails are transferred back to their homes to rest and regain energy while the mucin is collected and processed for cosmetic use,’ reads The Klog. ‘The collected mucin is then processed to properly stabilize the product and make it suitable for cosmetic use before being sent over to Cosrx.’

Meanwhile, SMD cosmetics keeps its snails under the care of farmers in Chile who ‘help the snails move at a slow rate to stimulate healthy and safe levels of secretion’.

Is Snail Mucin Vegan?

As an animal product, snail mucin is not vegan.