We've heard our share of off-beat beauty regimens--from nipple tattooing to eating tissues--but a new slimier trend seems to be making waves around the world. Media outlets have reported about a "snail facial" which is exactly what it sounds like: Letting snails crawl over your face secreting their slime.
While there is no concrete scientific evidence proving that snail slime benefits the skin, there is some logic behind the fad. Specifically, the mucus (aka the slime) that is secrete from the snail contains powerful proteins, antioxidants and hyularonic acid. This cocktail of ingredients is believed to help retain skin moisture, soothe inflammation, remove dead skin and combat skin damage.
The team behind The Beauty Brains, a beauty blog that looks into the science of beauty products, found that there is a little scientific basis for the use of snail slime; the technical name for snail slime is "Helix Aspersa Müller Glycoconjugates." They reveal that "snail slime is a complex mixture of proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, glycoprotein enzymes, hyaluronic acid, copper peptides, antimicrobial peptides and trace elements including copper, zinc, and iron."
"Snail slime can help the recovery of skin cells on the face, so we expect the snail facial to help heal damaged skin," claims Yoko Miniami, sales manager at Tokyo's Clinical Salon which offers the "Celebrity Escargot" treatment, to the Sunday Telegraph. "We are interested in the fact that snails have a function that can help heal skin damaged by ultraviolet rays."
The snail slime facial trend may be making headlines now, but the gastropod has long been used for beauty treatments. Records left by Hippocrates, the renown ancient Greek doctor, indicate that crushed snails were mixed with sour milk to treat skin inflammation. But the recent spike in snail mucus-infused products can be credited to climbers of Mount Fuji who use snail mucus to treat skin damage caused by thinner air and intense sunshine.
And if you think this beauty trend began in Asia, think again! The trend has been rampant throughout South America for the past decade. In fact, Chilean farmers noticed smoother skin after handling snails in 2006. According to Christian Plaut, the spokesman of Andes Nature, the product is 100 percent pure and natural product.
The million dollar question (or in this case, the $234 question since that is the cost of a snail facial) is, "Does the product work?" The jury is still out on exactly how effective the treatment is, but according to the ladies of The Beauty Brains, there are studies that saw the following results from snail slime: proliferation of fibroblasts, stimulation of new collagen and elastin fibers, increased production of fibronectin proteins, improvement in skin condition by increasing the dermis' natural ability to retain water and topic wound healing properties.