Skincare, Moisturizers, Serums, Skin school

What Does Snail Mucin Do, and Is It Worth the Hype?

Snails' glistening trails make my skincare routine super-effective

snail mucin benefits for the skin

written by Diana Brown

updated on

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Propolis and honey, Centella Asiatica, Green tea, Licorice root extract, and snail mucin are unique ingredients that define Korean skincare products. So many Korean skincare products contain one or possibly more of these ingredients.

Snail mucin is one of the most popular and intriguing ingredients in the Korean skincare scene. You’ll find that most people will include at least one product containing snail mucin in their routine! This is because of the massive range of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin, including treating acne, fading hyperpigmentation, and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.

What Is Snail Mucin?

Also known as snail slime, secretion filtrate, or snail essence, is the slimy substance snails produce when they move. In the skincare ingredients list, you can find it as “snail secretion filtrate.”

It may sound gross, but trust me, it’s fantastic for your skin.

Snail mucin has become a popular ingredient in Korean skincare due to its versatility in treating many skin concerns and its suitability for all skin types.

Snail mucin isn’t comprised of the snail itself – it’s the slime that a snail produces. Think of the sparkly tracks snails leave on the ground. Finding this out did make me a little less squeamish about trying it on my skin, and I was glad to know that innocent snails weren’t killed for these popular skincare products.

How Is Snail Mucin Collected? Is It Cruelty-Free?

You’re probably thinking now – but how is snail mucin collected from snails, and are snails hurt or killed in the process?

Thankfully, the answer is that snails are not killed or harmed while collecting snail slime. Although in the past, snail goo was extracted by stimulating the poor snails using vinegar and salt, nowadays, methods are a lot less cruel. Although snails are lab-grown, they live in optimal and very comfortable environments to allow them to have adequate rest to optimize their production.

The exact process of collecting the mucin varies amongst manufacturers, but COSRX has revealed how they collect snail secretion filtrate for their products without harming the snails in the process:

Snails are nocturnal creatures, so COSRX’s method involves placing the snails over a mesh net in a dark and quiet room. The mesh is not electrified. The snails are left for about half an hour to roam the nets and do their thing, leaving mucin behind for collection. The mucin is then processed to stabilize it and to make it suitable for cosmetic use. No stress is applied to the snails in this process, as optimal mucin production occurs when the snails are well relaxed.

Snail Mucin Benefits for the Skin

So why exactly is snail mucin so popular in Korean skincare? Who one day watched a snail slither past them and thought, “That would be great to put on my skin”?

confident women from ancient greece
Ancient Greek women admire how great their skin looks after incorporating snail goo into their skincare routines 
by Diana Brown for Garden of Muses.

It’s unknown who thought of this or if it even happened this way, but it is known that snails were used as a topical treatment in Ancient Greece for their healing properties. Snails have also been used in French skincare since the 18th Century. There are also claims that the benefits of snail slime were discovered in Chile, as workers on a mountain farm noticed that snail secretion filtrate healed the cuts and grazes on their hands.

Regardless of who first thought of using snail secretion filtrate as a skincare treatment, what benefits does snail mucin have for your skin? It turns out there are a lot of benefits that snail mucin has for your skin. Snail mucin contains many beneficial ingredients, such as glycolic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, and copper peptides.

These ingredients make snail mucin excellent at repairing skin damage, evening skin tone, fading hyperpigmentation (including acne scars), firming and tightening the skin, and boosting collagen and elastin production. Snail mucin is also great for hydrating the skin as it contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant ingredient that pulls water into the outer layers of the skin.

As if that wasn’t enough, snail mucin also has antimicrobial properties, which makes it great for fighting off acne-causing bacteria. I know what you’re thinking now: “I need, I need!”

Does Snail Mucin Help with Acne?

Snail mucin is a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine if you suffer from acne breakouts. Snail mucin is good for acne, helping you in different ways:

  • Snail mucin naturally has antimicrobial properties, which helps keep acne-causing bacteria at bay.
  • The glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps prevent breakouts by exfoliating the skin, thereby removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores.
  • Snail mucin can help repair the skin’s moisture barrier, minimizing breakouts. This is due to the ingredient hyaluronic acid, which, as I explained above, is a humectant, which means it attracts water molecules to your outer skin layer, keeping your skin hydrated. This makes sense, as snails require a lot of moisture to stop them from drying out.

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Snail Mucin Is Good for Fading Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Snail mucin has another great property: it is fabulous at fading hyperpigmentation. However, from all the research I’ve done for this article, although snail mucin is excellent for healing acne scars, aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), reducing redness, and evening your general skin tone, it doesn’t appear to be very effective at fading other types of hyperpigmentation such as sunspots or melasma.

If you want to fade sun spots or melasma, you may need to include other products in your routine.

Diana has written an extensive guide on how to fade hyperpigmentation.

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It’s fantastic for healing acne scarring because it has many ingredients, such as proteins, peptides, and elastin, that help repair the skin. This, again, makes sense when we think of snails in nature. They have very soft bodies that can get hurt easily by rough surfaces, so their slime helps them heal faster.

Of course, as already mentioned, the glycolic acid in snail mucin also helps gently exfoliate the skin, which removes dead skin cells and reveals newer and non-pigmented cells.

Antiaging Benefits of Snail Mucin

Since using snail mucin in my simple skincare routine, I’ve noticed that the fine lines next to my eyes and forehead aren’t as visible.

Clinical studies have shown that snail mucin does have anti-aging properties.

This is because the hyaluronic acid in snail mucin keeps your skin super hydrated and plump, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The hyaluronic acid in snail mucin also increases collagen and elastin production in the outer layers of your skin, which makes the skin look firmer and more youthful.

The hydrating effects of hyaluronic acid are short-term only. Snail mucin’s anti-aging and skin-hydrating benefits also appear to be short-term only. If you stop using it, you’ll quickly see the difference. Your skin will lose moisture and elasticity, and you’ll miss it from your routine.

The Best Korean Snail Mucin Products

1. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence by Diana Brown for Garden of Muses.

The best snail product by far is the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Power Essence. As its name suggests, it contains a whopping 96 percent of snail mucin.

I love the simplicity of the COSRX snail formulations. I love that the concentration of snail secretion filtrate is so high. I also love that these products contain nothing besides a preservative and other non-irritating moisturizing ingredients. So, unlike other snail products, no actives, botanical extracts, or perfumes are added, making them great for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Price: $13-$15

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Ingredients List (last checked 2024)

Snail Secretion Filtrate, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Arginine, Allantoin, Ethyl Hexanediol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol

2. Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence

Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence 2023 formulation
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence by Diana Brown for Garden of Muses.

There are many Korean skincare products containing snail mucin. However, another favorite is the Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence. It’s very hydrating and makes my skin feel smooth and plump. It is even more hydrating than the COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence*, although it contains slightly less snail mucin.

Although the Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence doesn’t feel sticky or greasy, I have to be careful and not slather on too much, or my face will produce more oil. And let me tell you, it’s difficult to refrain from putting a very thick layer on my face because it feels so lovely! You can read Diana’s Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence full review here.

Price: $18-$21

Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence Ingredients List (last checked 2024)

Snail Secretion Filtrate, Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, 1,2- Hexanediol, Pentylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Copper Tripeptide-1, Hexapeptide-11, Hexapeptide-9, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Tripeptide-1, Panthenol, Betaine, Allantoin, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Plantago Asiatica Extract, Ulmus Campestris (Elm) Bark Extract, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Althaea Rosea Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Beta-Glucan, Arginine, Xanthan Gum, Adenosine, Caprylyl Glycol, Bee Venom.

Active Humectant/Moisturizing Herb

3. COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream

COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All-In-One Cream
COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream by Diana Brown for Garden of Muses.

The best snail mucin moisturizer is the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All-In-One Cream. As its name suggests, it contains 92 percent of snail mucin.

I am currently using the All in One cream in my evening routine as a moisturizer, and I love how smooth and hydrated it makes my skin look and feel. I keep it in the fridge, and it feels so cool and soothing on my skin. It does have a kind of slimy consistency. Well, it is 92% snail slime. However, it’s not sticky and gets absorbed into my skin well. I even lather it on underneath my eyes as a sort of eye cream, as it doesn’t contain any fragrance and keeps my skin feeling smooth and hydrated the next day. I also have oily and acne-prone skin, so finding a good moisturizer that doesn’t break me out or make my skin look like a greasy frying pan is challenging!

Price: $15-$26

COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream Ingredients List (last checked 2024)

Snail Secretion Filtrate (92%), Betaine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Arginine, Dimethicone, Sodium Polyacrylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Stearic acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol, Adenosine.

Ingredients referred from the COSRX’s official website.

Active Herbs Humectant/Moisturizing

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t added snail mucin to your routine yet, I highly recommend you try it. There are so many benefits for your skin.

Snail mucin is a natural ingredient that has excellent benefits for your skin. It can hydrate, heal, brighten, and anti-age your skin with minimal irritation or side effects.

If you’re looking for a versatile and effective ingredient to upgrade your skincare game, the COSRX snail mucin products are excellent choices for any skin type.

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