Years into the snail mucin hype, its slimy origins have done little to put people off, despite its shock value.
This non-vegan, gloopy skincare ingredient took over hyaluronic acid almost overnight, for promising hours of hydration. The internet credited the mucin for transforming their skin for the better, from lightening acne scars to improving texture. As an unshakable premise of Korean beauty, hydration has slowly become synonymous with snail mucin.
What does snail mucin do for the skin?
From ancient Greece to medieval medicine, snail mucus has been considered a cure-all of sorts. It's collected from snails, or, rather, from the secretion that these wandering gastropods leave behind. Known as 'snail secretion filtrate (SSF)' in the world of skincare, the viral K-beauty ingredient predates its TikTok fame.
"When snails crawl and slide, they use this mucus to stick to surfaces, even when moving upside down. It's essential for their routine mobility," explained Dr Aashim Singh Kukreja, a specialist dermatologist with Medcare Medical Centre in Dubai. "Snail handlers eventually observed that their hands were softer and that's what initiated its use in skincare."
Some pick it up for acne and scarring, while others add it to their 'glass skin' routine to boost hydration - snail mucin is multipurpose. This is because it naturally contains a host of powerful skincare ingredients.
Dr Kukreja said: "It's mainly hydrating for containing hyaluronic acid, which makes the skin plumper, but it also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits, along with zinc, iron, copper peptides, proteoglycans (stimulate collagen) and a very low concentration of glycolic acid that helps in anti-ageing."
How should we use snail mucin?
When Cosrx's famous snail mucin line took off, it created a ripple of confusion among skincare enthusiasts. One of the most searched terms under the hashtag on TikTok is 'How to use snail mucin correctly'.
Dr Kukreja advises users to examine the texture of their snail mucin product. In skincare, a good rule of thumb is to apply a thin, fast-absorbing formula first and a thicker formulation last, much like when we apply serums before a moisturiser.
"Snail mucin forms a thin coating on the skin, so I'd recommend slathering it over an active at night to lock it in. You could apply an anti-acne product and then snail mucin on top. Since it's more of a humectant, it's enough for hydration, but note that it's not enough for anti-ageing on its own," she said.
Snail mucin can feature in different formulations, from eye creams to moisturisers, so slotting the ingredient into your skincare routine depends on the texture and the type of product. Curious first-timers can start with a snail mucin-based serum.
"For beginners, I'd recommend a serum since it would suit all skin types, but don't forget to conduct a patch test. You can use the serum after all your important actives (like vitamin C) and acids (like glycolic acid), but before creams unless it's retinol. If your skin is too dry, then use a cream product," explained Dr Kukreja.
Finally, consider the texture of pure snail secretion filtrate, and how you might prefer a creamier product over its signature slime consistency. Dr Kukreja, for instance, says that she didn't like "the feeling" of applying the Cosrx snail mucin essence, even though it dries up fine.
Don't worry - we've picked out skincare products below that contain snail mucin in varying consistencies. Add them to your skincare routine in the AM to protect the skin and in the PM to slug your actives. Shop with an Amazon Prime member for same-day delivery.
1. Best Kit: Cosrx All About Snail Kit
A comprehensive kit to end your search - trial the snail mucin in a cleanser, essence, eye cream and moisturiser by Cosrx. All four products come in travel-friendly sizing and cover basic skincare steps. You'll start with the Snail Mucin Gel Cleanser, which gently removes impurities and protects the skin barrier. While the skin is still damp, go in with the popular Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, a highly concentrated 96 per cent snail secretion filtrate for locking in moisture, and follow it up with the Snail Peptide Eye Cream that contains 72 per cent SSF, five types of peptides and niacinamide to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Your routine concludes with Snail 92 All In One Cream, a rich gel-type moisturiser infused with 92 per cent SSF that adds a long-lasting glow. Reviewers have used this set to purchase bigger bottles of their favourite products after seeing positive results, from no more dull complexion to tighter skin.
2. Best Cleanser: Elishacoy Skin Refining Snail Cleanser
For oily skin types suffering from excess sebum, try the Elishacoy snail cleanser. Despite lathering into a dense and creamy foam, the face wash deeply cleanses pores and removes oil using kaolin clay. Its star ingredient, 10,000ppm snail filtrate, helps with regenerating and tightening the skin, and adding hydration. It also includes skin-soothing botanicals like Centella asiatica, witch hazel, aloe vera and several bark extracts. The addition of natural coconut surfactants brightens the skin, too. Reviewers compare the foamy lather to that of a soap bar and highly recommend it for oily skin that still needs deep hydration.
3. Best Toner: Coxir Black Snail Collagen Toner
To prep your skin for the rest of the routine, a toner is just the product for setting the stage. Coxir's Black Snail Collagen Toner is almost watery in consistency, and uses three main ingredients to deliver nutrients to the skin: snail mucin for elasticity, collagen for reducing fine lines and black rice for clearing up blemishes. Pat it into the skin in the morning and evening to revive your complexion with noticeable firmness and hydration. Both dry and oily skin types in the reviews report no issues, but it's worth noting that the toner is slightly scented.
4. Best Essence: Jumiso Snail EX Ultimate Barrier Facial Snail Essence
TikTok's latest obsession is this snail mucin essence by Jumiso. The Korean skincare brand's own formulation of the mucus is meant to be less sticky than the norm, making it suitable for oily skin types as well. The Snail EX Ultimate Boost Facial Essence contains 90 per cent SSF in a light, yet hydrating formulation for daily use. While the mucin plumps up the skin, the bio-organic compound adenosine strengthens the skin barrier and sodium hyaluronate holds water for the skin like a sponge. According to reviews, it gets absorbed quickly and smells like nothing, so it's great for sensitive skin.
5. Best Serum: Beauty of Joseon Revive Serum, Ginseng + Snail Mucin
Serums usually contain actives and are thicker than essences. If you're incorporating acne and anti-ageing products down the line, you could sit out a serum. And while you can have both in your routine, picking either a serum or an essence can help cut down redundant steps. Look to Beauty of Joseon's ginseng and snail mucin serum for anti-ageing benefits. It targets skin that has low elasticity and hyperpigmentation, harnessing the effects of 3 per cent SSF and 63 per cent ginseng root water to carry out the job. It leaves no greasy residue behind and visibly improves brightness after a few weeks of use.
6. Best Moisturiser: Mizon All-In-One Snail Repair Cream
A snail mucin moisturiser is probably the easiest way to introduce the ingredient into your routine. Mizon's All In One Snail Repair Cream has a fluffy, silky formula that absorbs quickly without a sticky or oily layer. It contains 40,000ppm of SSF, together with 12 soothing plant extracts, like Centella asiatica, mugwort extract and madecassic acid. This multipurpose cream aids in wound healing, skin cell regeneration and diminishing scars by protecting the skin barrier. It's best suited for those who prefer lightweight moisturisers, say reviews. Even acne-prone skin types vouch for clog-free pores.
7. Best Sheet Masks: Cosrx Advanced Snail Mucin Power Sheet Mask, 10 Sheets
Not quite ready for the commitment? Cosrx has sheet masks that can be applied for 20 minutes whenever you want. This concentrated dose of 35,000ppm snail mucin comes to the rescue if your skin needs a pick-me-up after a long day or before a big event. Reviewers love how each sheet mask is thoroughly saturated in the mucin serum with enough amount leftover for patting in after. It's fragrance-free, and excellent for winter hydration and prepping for make-up.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.