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Hyaluronic acid, retinol, squalene — there’s no end of go-to ingredients that, when added to skin care products, can have major benefits. Beyond the go-tos, a trendy ingredient pops up every once in a while that everyone can’t stop buzzing about. That’s where snail mucin comes in. Yup, you read that right. Search TikTok and you’ll find that videos featuring beauty products containing snail mucin have over 1.1 billion views, with many influencers saying it plumps skin and addresses fine lines.
But does snail slime help your skin? We turned to board-certified dermatologists with that very question. Below, they explain what snail mucin is and go over the purported benefits — plus, we rounded up top-rated products containing this ingredient.
What is snail mucin?
Does snail mucin come from the shelled gastropods? It does. “Snail mucin, also known as snail gel, is primarily harvested from the common garden snail (the cryptomphalus aspersa species) without harming the snails,” says Dr. Yoram Harth, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne. “The collection process involves agitating live snails to produce the mucin, which is then collected in skin care products.”
This slime is made up of a few skin-friendly components. “It has gained popularity in skin care due to its composition of proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, and hyaluronic acid — all of which are beneficial for the skin,” says Harth. Proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid are hydrating, while glycosaminoglycans support the skin’s protein structures. You should know, however, that though many tout that snail mucin is hydrating and can address fine lines, the science is inconclusive, says Harth. “Laboratory studies have shown it can benefit cell cultures, possibly enhancing collagen and elastin production,” he says. “A placebo-controlled study funded by a product manufacturer indicated that snail mucin could reduce wrinkles over three months with no adverse effects. However, broader and more impartial clinical studies are needed to confirm these effects in humans.”
How we picked the best snail mucin skin care products
When shopping for skin care products that contain snail mucin, our experts recommend keeping the following in mind:
- Ingredients: Snail mucin is the main active ingredient in all products below. Experts also suggest looking for products that pair it with ingredients that have similar benefits to maximize its hydrating and plumping abilities — such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
- Formula: Snail mucin can be slightly sticky in texture, which may bother some people. With this in mind, we selected various types of products. For example, if a sticky texture isn’t ideal, a snail mucin cleanser that gets washed away may be a good option. A serum that is worn at night could also be a good idea. Below, we’ve included all types of formulas and products.
- Ratings: All selected products have an average rating of 4.0 or above from at least 1,000 reviews.
The best snail mucin skin care products of 2024
Below is a compiled list of top-rated products containing snail mucin and expert and NBC Select staff favorites.
This moisturizer utilizes snail mucin to hydrate skin and the weightless formula sinks right into the skin, says Dr. Karan Lal, a double board-certified adult and pediatric dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. According to the brand, the non-comedogenic formula is oil-free, making it particularly good for acne-prone skin. The brand also has a toner, a face mask and a serum with snail mucin as the main active ingredient.
In addition to the snail mucin, this essence has hyaluronic acid for hydration. According to the brand, it has allantoin and panthenol to calm redness and irritation. This product is intended to be used in the morning after washing your face but before putting on moisturizer. It has a 4.6-star average rating from over 70,000 reviews on Amazon.
Along with snail mucin, this face wash has vegetable extracts to moisturize and soothe irritation, according to the brand. The cleanser has a sticky feeling thanks to the snail mucin, which helps pick up dirt and grime from your skin and wash it away when you rinse it off, according to the brand. It has a 4.4-star average from over 1,600 reviews on Amazon.
These sheet masks are made in Korea and contain several popular ingredients used in Korean skin care. Along with hydrating snail mucin, the masks have ginseng to address inflammation, cucumber to soothe, anise to rejuvenate and allantoin to address fine lines, according to the brand. These masks have a 4.6-star average from over 3,500 reviews on Amazon and you get 10 sheet masks in a set.
This moisturizer contains a high concentration of snail mucin — 97.5% to be exact. Along with hydration, this cream is anti-inflammatory thanks to vitamin E and the ability to smooth rougher texture due to vitamin B5, according to the brand. It has a 4.5-star average rating from over 20,200 reviews on Amazon.
Intended to be used both morning and night after cleansing, this serum combines hydrating snail mucin with ginseng root water to brighten and fade acne scars, according to the brand. The serum, which has a 4.5-star average from over 5,900 reviews on Amazon, can be applied to your face using clean hands — simply use the dropper to add a few drops to your fingertips and pat it onto the skin, according to Beauty of Joseon.
Meet our experts
At NBC Select, we work with experts with specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Yoram Harth is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne
- Dr. Karan Lal is a double board-certified adult and pediatric dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona
Why trust NBC Select?
Bethany Heitman is a contributor at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers beauty, home and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed two board-certified dermatologists to gather their guidance on what to look for when shopping for skin care products with snail mucin.