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What is snail mucin? Why the slimy skincare ingredient is earning rave TikTok reviews

TikTokers are raving about how snail mucin — aka slimy snail secretions — is leaving their face hydrated, glowing, and wrinkle-free — but the unusual skincare ingredient is dividing experts.
TikTokers are raving about how snail mucin -- aka slimy snail secretions -- is leaving their face hydrated, glowing, and wrinkle-free -- but the unusual skincare ingredient is dividing experts.

Snail’d it!

TikTokers are raving about how snail mucin — aka slimy snail secretions — is leaving their face hydrated, glowing, and wrinkle-free — but the unusual skincare ingredient is dividing experts.

Snail mucin “has gained popularity in skin care due to its composition of proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid — all of which are beneficial for the skin,” Dr. Yoram Harth, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne, told NBC News this week.

Indeed, videos about snail mucin have generated 1.3 billion collective views on TikTok. One product in particular, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence serum, has some users feelin’ good as shell.

“Lightweight gel texture (tad slimy),” one TikToker wrote in December on a review clip. “Absorbs really well, leaves dewy finish, great for skin hydration.”

TikTokers are raving about how snail mucin — aka slimy snail secretions — is leaving their face hydrated, glowing and wrinkle-free — but the unusual skincare ingredient is dividing experts. New Africa – stock.adobe.com
TikTokers are raving about how snail mucin — aka slimy snail secretions — is leaving their face hydrated, glowing and wrinkle-free — but the unusual skincare ingredient is dividing experts. New Africa – stock.adobe.com
One product in particular, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence serum, has enraptured social media. CosRX
One product in particular, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence serum, has enraptured social media. CosRX

COSRX, a Korean beauty brand, promises “intense hydration” with the serum, courtesy of the 96.3% snail secretion filtrate and sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid.

“Thanks to the hyaluronic acid in the mucin, it has moisturizing properties that support the skin barrier and help lock in moisture,” COSRX’s UK representative, Julia Marinkovich, told the Sun this week.

“The glycolic acid helps to stimulate collagen production that not only helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles, but it also helps to give your complexion a radiant, youthful glow,” she added.

The product ($25 for 3.38 fluid ounces) is meant to be applied to your face with your fingertips after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing.

Though TikTok has helped popularize it, harnessing the slimy goodness from snails is not newone study noted that the mucus was used in ancient Greece to reduce inflammation and the effects of aging.

Snail mucus was used in ancient Greece to reduce inflammation and the effects of aging. Sophia – stock.adobe.com
Snail mucus was used in ancient Greece to reduce inflammation and the effects of aging. Sophia – stock.adobe.com

Snails produce mucus for a variety of reasons, including to lubricate, so they can move across surfaces, protect their eggs and defend themselves against stressors, to name a few.

Among the different species of snails, the humble garden snail has emerged as the face of skincare — snail mucus has also shown promise in skin cancer treatment and wound healing.

One small study found that people who applied a snail mucin product every day for eight weeks saw improvement in their fine lines and facial texture compared with people who used a placebo.

A more recent study, involving women 45 to 65 years old, determined that daily use of a snail secretion product led to significant improvements in the patients’ skin roughness, firmness and elasticity and their fine lines and wrinkles.

One medical aesthetician raised concerns on TikTok about how the mucin is obtained. AFP via Getty Images
One medical aesthetician raised concerns on TikTok about how the mucin is obtained. AFP via Getty Images

But the regimen might not be for everyone — especially if someone has a snail allergy, which is rare.

Some users have reported acne breakouts on TikTok, with one medical aesthetician warning that snail slime serums can irritate blemish-prone skin.

The regimen might not be for everyone, with some users reporting acne breakouts. metamorworks – stock.adobe.com
The regimen might not be for everyone, with some users reporting acne breakouts. metamorworks – stock.adobe.com

“Not to mention, not all snails are harvested or created equally,” skincare expert Cassandra Bankson said in a TikTok last year.

“If you think about snails, you know, they could have different growing conditions, they could be eating different things,” she continued. “So what comes out of one batch of slime might not be consistent to the next, and there may be impurities or even things that the snails are naturally producing that may be interacting with our skin.”