We know snails as a menace in the garden and a delicacy in French cuisine, but increasingly the mollusks, or rather their secretions, are receiving attention for another reason altogether: as an ingredient in skincare products.
Snail mucin - the slime they secrete as they move along - has become a key to a range of skincare products that claim this ingredient in them will keep your skin aglow with youthfulness.
But what exactly does the slime do for the skin? Lets break it down below.
Snail mucin components and benefits for the skin
Snail slime, known as snail secretion filtrate (SSF) in the cosmetics industry, is known to have moisturizing and anti-aging properties.
Most of the snail mucin used in skincare comes from the common garden species, scientifically named Cryptomphalus aspersa. Their mucin contains elastin, proteins, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid.
These components have been proven to have various beneficial effects on the skin.
Allantoin - the magic bullet in snail secretion
One of the main components of snail mucin is allantoin. Of all the nutritious ingredients in snail secretion, allantoin alone confers countless benefits to the skin.
According to The Derm Review, allantoin is one of the most versatile components that are good for the skin. It is thought to have moisturizing effects as well as properties that help create smooth, healthy skin. It is often included in skincare products that treat acne scars.
Because of its strong moisturizing and non-allergenic properties, allantoin is widely used in cosmetics. For instance, it is a common ingredient in lotions for dry skin, acne or allergy, after-sun preparations, deodorants, shampoos, bubble baths as well as local dermatological drugs.
Thanks to the allantoin, proliferation of epithelial cells also occurs, which speeds up the recovery of the skin, helping the skin retain more water more easily.
The fact that allantoin is non-allergenic makes it a favorite component in countless cosmetic and skincare products. Pharmacists include this ingredient for those of us who have sensitive skins that are prone to rashes, redness, and swelling.
Keeps the skin looking youthful
The skin loses its restorative properties with age. Daily exposure to elements like sunlight and pollution exacerbates the skin’s deterioration. Aged skin has typically lost elasticity, is dry and presents with deep or fine lines.
So, the search for safe, noninvasive treatments to reverse the aging process and its correlating physiological changes goes on unabated. As unlikely as it sounds, your common garden snail may carry along with it a secret ingredient that might help to preserve the youthfulness of skin.
The findings of a study that appeared in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, supports the claim that SSF can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This was a multi-center, double-blind, randomized, 14-week study in which 25 patients with moderate to severe facial photo damage were treated with an emulsion that contained 8% snail secretion and a liquid serum that contained 40% snail secretion on one side of the face and placebo on the other side for 12 weeks.
The scientists found the wrinkles that were treated with the active ingredient showed significant improvement after 12 weeks. The treatment group showed a greater improvement in skin texture compared to placebo at 8 and 12 weeks. Even 2 weeks after discontinuing the product, the difference was still noticeable.
Hydrates the skin
Snail mucus is known for its ability to rehydrate skin. The slime being between 91% and 99% water, this is not surprising. It is outstanding for dry skin which tends to form wrinkles and fine lines due to lack of moisture.
We have conducted a study on the hydration benefits of snail mucin. The study included men and women of varied ages. After treatment, skin moisture for both men and women increased 30-40% and skin elasticity increased by 17%.
Contains hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a foundational ingredient in skincare products. The reason for this is its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. To put it more graphically: one gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water.
That’s not all.
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. In other words, it attracts moisture and holds on to it. The effect is to preserve moisture.
Youthful skin is hydrated because it contains large amounts of hyaluronic acid in the dermis. However, as we get older, the amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin decreases. By the time we become adults, we have only five percent left.
As we age, our bodies produce less hyaluronic acid so the signs of aging emerge revealing lined skin that’s no longer plump.
The hyaluronic acid in snail mucin helps to plump skin up again and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.
Contains glycolic acid
Glycolic acid has been shown to have an excellent ability to penetrate the skin and to increase collagen synthesis. Studies have shown that glycolic acid treatment is able to reverse the photoaging process by increasing collagen synthesis in the skin.
Proteoglycans also add to snail slime’s moisturizing and “plumbing out” abilities. Proteoglycans are compounds present in connective tissue.
They are found in the space between our cells, a physiological feature called the Extracellular Matrix. This matrix keeps our cells together and moving together as a unit.
The 3D structure of proteoglycans is like a sponge in the sense that they take up lots of space but are not dense and can absorb lots of water.
Proteoglycans support the hydration of normal skin, providing resilience, elasticity, and a cushioned environment conducive to cellular function and development.
In cosmetics, proteoglycans are great at moisturizing dehydrated skin.
Proteoglycans also stimulate the synthesis of collagen thereby improving the firmness of the skin.
Has great antibacterial properties
Snail mucus has the ability to facilitate wound healing and to prevent its infections thanks to its many bioactive compounds.
In its cosmetic application, this means that skincare products containing snail slime have the ability to clear up the skin, protecting it against potentially harmful microbes, fighting skin conditions like acne effectively.
Helps scars and stretch marks to fade
Stretch marks are scars that formed due to damage to the collagen in the skin. Collagen that has been damaged can’t be regenerated, but stretch marks can be prevented from forming in the first place.
Skin products that contain snail mucin have been shown to fade the appearance of stretch marks and acne within a few weeks. This is due to the active ingredients in the snail slime.
Scientific research has shown that snail mucin contains various potent components that have been proven to be beneficial for skin health, including elastin, allantoin, anti-microbials, copper peptides, hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid.
All this research into snail slime and its various components confirms what the cosmetics industry has known for a long time: it is excellent for the skin!