Women Are Raving Over ‘Snail Mucin’ Skincare. Is This A Wonder Serum Or Just A Passing Fad?


Health Matters

‘Snail mucin’ is the latest social media craze, with girls browsing every makeup app and online platform to buy the bottle and achieve glass-like skin.

As the name suggests, it’s a sticky mucous or slime extracted from snails. This sticky slime is a natural excretion produced by snails to protect themselves. The product available on online platforms like Nykaa, Amazon and Myntra promises to soothe damaged skin, repair dark spots, hydrate, provide antioxidant benefits, enhance glow, improve skin texture, and prevent premature ageing — everything girls could wish for! And to top it off, it is moderately priced between Rs 600 and Rs 1500.

As I began browsing this product and reading its reviews, I found quite a contrast in opinions. On one hand, many women were talking about its magical effects on their skin, praising its glow, softness, and acne-fighting abilities. On the other hand, some women were writing that the product caused acne breakouts, worsened their skin condition, or had no effect at all, feeling that they wasted their money.

So what’s the buzz about and who should use or should not use the mucin?

Garden snails, the species most extensively studied for extracting mucous, produce a slime that is claimed to be rich in vitamins A and E, antioxidants, and capable of stimulating new collagen production, and reducing signs of ageing.

Interest in the mucus trails left by snails dates back to ancient Greece and find its mention in Greek literature as well. Then, it was used for its anti-inflammatory properties and to reduce the signs of ageing. In that era, it was utilised for its anti-inflammatory properties to prevent or treat skin infections. However, in the early 2000s, Korean skincare companies were the first to incorporate mucin in their product formulations. Now, North America is surging as its biggest market.

The global popularity of this product has gained momentum where the value of snail beauty products stood at $555.9 million in 2022 which is expected to double to $1232.7 million by 2030 – showcasing a CAGR of over 10.47 per cent, according to the data by Coherent Market Insights.

The data shows that among product types, the anti-ageing cream segment generated the highest revenue in the global snail beauty products market in 2022. “Increasing demand for snail creams from the middle-aged population is the prime driver,” the research firm said in its findings. The reason is the claim that snail mucus stimulates the formation of collagen that repairs damaged skin, and restores skin hydration.

Is this a wonder skincare remedy or just a passing fad?

Early research, published in the Journal of Integrative Dermatology, suggests the substantial glycolic acid content in snail secretions shows promising benefits on skin appearance. Glycolic acid, which is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), serves as an exfoliant that removes dead skin cells and reverses signs of ageing.

Also, snail mucus extract has been shown to form a protective barrier between the skin and air pollution. A study – which used a three-dimensional skin model exposed to ozone – showed that the unprotected skin became inflamed and exhibited signs of ageing due to oxidative stress, leading to wrinkles and uneven skin tone. Conversely, the “skin” protected by the mucus extract showed reduced inflammation.

Research also shows that snail mucus may also possess anti-cancer properties (in laboratory experiments) where garden snail mucus effectively hindered the growth of skin cancer cells.

What do experts suggest?

According to experts, the claims about the product are fascinating but there is not strong enough scientific evidence. We need more evidence based on large human clinical trials.

“Snail mucin products are being marketed very aggressively nowadays. It has become famous in the cosmetic industry because of its reported hydrating, anti-acne, anti-scarring and anti-hyperpigmentation properties,” Dr Navjot Arora, dermatologist at Dermaheal in New Delhi.

“But there is a catch”, he said while adding that “most of these reported benefits are based on small sample studies and most of them didn’t even have a comparison arm to compare it with existing effective products. Also, many studies are sponsored by the companies showing the conflict of interest.”

Similarly, Bengaluru-based Dr Divya Sharma said that as a new molecule in the world of cosmetology and skin health, ‘snail mucin’ does look promising but as of now, there aren’t many large sample size studies or randomised clinical trials to corroborate the claims.

She explained that snail mucus is known to consist of very high amounts of allantoin and glycolic acid. “Allantoin is used in anti-scar creams as it stimulates tissue regeneration whereas high glycolic acid is known for its exfoliation action which reduces photodamage and premature ageing.”

Also, the mucin of garden snails, which are generally used for making these products, contains high anti-oxidation activities and it also has anti-microbial properties.

Due to these potential benefits, Sharma said this mucin is becoming the “blue-eyed boy” of cosmetology. “However, this is all theoretical because the process of mucin extraction is complicated. It is not easy to extract the beneficial mucin from the slime-like mucous of the snails. Hence, it’s difficult to assess if the quality of cosmetics is fine and if it delivers what it promises to,” she added.

Experts say that even though there’s a lot of online buzz, it’s best to stick with established skin care products like retinoic acids, moisturizers, and hyaluronic acids. Just make sure to consult a professional before using them.

“It’s a new fad but it doesn’t work that fantastically. I would suggest don’t buy very expensive products at first if you want to give it a try,” said Dr Deepali Bhardwaj, a well-known dermatologist based in South Delhi.

Dr Bhardwaj, who is also an anti-allergy specialist and laser surgeon, told me that she hasn’t seen great results from the use of this product to support the hype.

“While the mucin is known for causing irritation, overall it is quite safe. However, it doesn’t work as efficiently as I have seen for hydraulic acid, retinoic acids, a good moisturiser with skin exfoliation properties and other established products.”

In snapshot, people allergic to shellfish or dust mites might also react to allergens found in snail mucin. Experts advise that individuals with sensitive skin or acne-prone prone should be careful, as snail mucin could aggravate their skin condition instead of improving it.

Dear women, we must wait and watch until long-term unbiased studies are available which will give an idea about the incidence of side effects as well. Till then, there are hundreds of other beauty products on online platforms to browse, scroll, wishlist, and order.


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