The snail holds a skin care secret. Yes, we are talking about that slimy creature famous for its spiral shell. Before we answer questions like "why is snail cream good for skin?", "is snail cream cruelty free?", and "how is snail cream made?", let me talk a little about the history of snails. These slimy creatures are more lovable than you might think.
The snail has a long history of living near and being eaten by humans. Snail shells have been found in prehistoric caves, and near Roman and Egyptian houses. By the middle ages, the practice of raising and eating snails, or heliciculture had spread from the Mediterranean to the British Isles. While they were never as popular up north as they were in the Mediterranean regions, snails were eaten during Lent all over Europe, as they had the doctrinal benefit of being neither meat nor fish.
For as long as humans have raised snails, snail farmers must have recognized the healing properties of snail slime. They would have realized, just as snail farmers in Chile did in the 1990s, that cuts on their hands and arms heal more quickly after they handled snails. They would have realized, as doctors did in the modern age, that snail cream helps heal sunburn, rashes, and wrinkles.
It took until the 2000s, as Korean skincare routines and K-beauty companies took a closer look at this niche ingredient for what I call some skin-spiration. We are always finding ingredients from nature that are more magical than we can imagine. More and more beauty experts and dermatologists looked at snail cream to see why and how it was so effective, that they found that snail slime helps to protect the skin, hydrate cells, fight acne, and help mitigate other skin care concerns.
Koreans do not eat as much snails as the French (escargot) and the Italians (Sicilians are especially fond of their babbalucci), but moon snails (a type of sea snail or golbaengi) are a favorite bar food, and land snails are often sold in health drinks and traditional medicines. This receptiveness to snails in Korean culture helped more people to try using snail cream. The immediate benefits became obvious to many. Women with wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks saw their skin return to a more healthy, hydrated condition. Women with acne found that snail cream is an effective moisturizer that does not cause outbreaks. These results pave the way for snail secretion filtrate to become one of the most loved ingredients by Korean women in their skincare routines.
In the American beauty scene, however; there are some common concerns among consumers about the use of snail slime in skincare.
The first complaint is that snails are gross. As a gardener’s assistant, I too appreciate the fact that snails are, to many people, simply a pest. A gross and slimy pest at that. Moreover, there is no real way to market the phrase "Snail Slime", is there? Nope. Why would something that sounds so gross work on your skin? Shut it down, folks, nothing to see here.
The other side of the "snail spectrum" are people who have snail pets and care about their well being. Are snails killed to produce snail cream? Is snail slime a cruelty free product?
Finally, there are people who are overall more skeptical about snail cream. Why does it work? What does it work on?
The Adelline answer to the first concern is that snails are rather, in fact, cute. As a species, snails are extremely diverse. Their signature shell can be quite majestic. Their two eyes on stalks can be quite charming, especially on rainy days. They are hermaphrodites (both male and female), and because they are so slow, they often have to self-fertilize if they can’t find another member of its species. Isn't that, in a special, melancholy way, very cute?
In order to answer the second and third concerns --regarding the ethics and safety of using snail products on your skin-- I will tell you a little bit more about what snail slime is, why it is good for your skin, how it is collected, and the way the gel is processed to solve your skin troubles. But this post is getting a little too long, so I am going to continue in the next blog post.
So stay tuned for more!