This Slimy Ingredient Has Taken Over Beauty TikTok: What You Need To Know
We'll get straight to the point: People are slathering snail mucin on their skin. In fact, they've been doing it for centuries—but like other age-old ingredients, a social media resurgence has catapulted it back into the zeitgeist.
Specifically, many people have been taking to TikTok to chat about slimy snail products, claiming this ingredient helps care for their moisture barrier, clear breakouts, and give them an overall dewy look (and who doesn't want all of that?). We're here to explain what snail mucin is, who it's good for, and where to find it, so you can take part in the hype, too.
What is snail mucin?
As you might expect, snail mucin is the gel-like liquid secreted from a snail. In ancient medicine, this mucin was used topically to treat skin disorders and heal wounds. So no, this is not a "new" ingredient—it's just becoming more common in market products. And let it be known: Not all snails create the same mucin, and further, different kinds of mucin carry different skin benefits. "Most skin care products containing snail secretions contain those of the Helix aspersa snail, whose secretions contain hyaluronic acid and allantoin and are great for hydrating dry skin1," board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D., founder of Maei MD, tells mbg.
But if you're looking for healthy aging benefits, that's a different story. "For aging concerns or to repair injured or otherwise compromised skin, snail mucin derived from the Cryptomphalus aspersa snail is an excellent choice, as these secretions contain growth factors and antioxidants in addition to hyaluronic acid and have been shown to protect, heal, and repair the skin2," Marcus says.
Now, you may be wondering how the snail mucin gets harvested (a fair question to ask, we might add). And here's the thing: You can't say for sure that every single company harvests snail mucin in the same way. Responsible beauty is very much top of mind here, so we recommend looking for snail mucin products harvested in a humane fashion. (Don't worry; we'll recommend some of our top choices later on.)
What are the benefits?
While the research we have is limited, we can't ignore snail mucin's long history of use in a variety of cultures. "From the evidence we do have, and also anecdotally, snail mucin has shown itself to have healing properties whose exact mechanism seems to stem from induction of cell proliferation and migration," Marcus explains. "The hydrating properties of hyaluronic acid and allantoin also contribute to the restoration of the skin barrier, while other ingredients found in snail mucin, including antioxidants, glycosaminoglycans, and growth factors are all beneficial ingredients in skin care."
Though hydration is the shining star of snail mucin's benefits, it doesn't stop there. "It is especially effective in treating breakouts and scarring. The extract is renowned for its regenerative properties, and it facilitates the restoration of tissue and replenishes moisture in skin," board-certified dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, M.D., Ph.D., founder of Macrene Actives, tells mbg.
When it comes to zits, it's important to remember that everyone's skin is different, and pimples have many different causes. It is worth noting that some people may experience breakouts because of a damaged (and inflamed) skin barrier; in that case, boosting hydration can likely make a big difference when it comes to breakouts.
Who should use it?
Snail mucin is generally safe for all skin types, which isn't necessarily common when it comes to other powerful actives. Does this mean everyone needs to use snail mucin? Of course not. However, you might find significant benefits if you're looking for intense hydration, which comes from the mucin's hyaluronic acid and allantoin. So for those looking to heal a compromised skin barrier or have overall dry skin, this ingredient may actually be a game-changer.
Where to find snail mucin.
Perhaps the most popular snail mucin product as of late is this one from COSRX. This product is best for those looking to add extra hydration to their routine. Many people on TikTok have included this item as a staple in their barrier repair journey. Bonus: It's under $30!
If you're looking for something more geared toward healthy aging, Biopelle's Tensage Daily Serum may be better for you. This formula uses the Cryptomphalus aspersa snail secretions, which are preferable for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, along with supporting adequate skin hydration.
It's worth noting that both of these companies use cruelty-free methods to harvest their snail secretions. Again, we recommend doing your research before buying snail mucin products to ensure the ingredients are ethically sourced.
Typically, here's where we list out products or steps you should avoid mixing with a certain ingredient. Not this time! Snail mucin is a simple, hydrating ingredient that plays nice with all products and is beneficial for all skin types. "It is primarily a hydrating ingredient, and unless you are allergic, it should be well tolerated by most, if not all, skin types," Tiffany Libby, M.D., resident dermatologist of Reserveage, explains. Of course, it's always best to patch test on the inside of your arm before applying any new ingredient to your face, just in case.
Although it may sound a little strange at first, snail mucin is a powerful ingredient that's A+ for skin hydration. Just make sure you use the correct type of snail mucin for the benefit you're after and invest in brands that secrete the mucin in a harm-free manner. If this slimy ingredient isn't for you, not to worry; you can totally stick to your trusty hyaluronic acid serum instead.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.