What is the truth behind snail mucin, and is the industry trying to hide something from us? As a medical esthetician who has struggled with acne, Cassandra is always hearing about how great snail mucin is. But, Cassandra is not only a medical esthetician, she is also a critic and a vegan. So, let’s address the following questions: What is snail mucin used for, and does it hurt the snails or not? Cassandra asked around, and she tried to get the manufacturers to answer her. As it is a common ingredient in K-beauty, she even asked manufacturers while she was in Korea!
What is snail mucin?
Snail mucin is snail slime or secretions, and snails create it for three main reasons. The first is to move. Snails can slime upside down, and their secretions allow them to stick to different surfaces so they can do that. The second reason is for a defense mechanism. It's something they do when they’re stressed. And number 3, is when snails are happy. In this cases, they secrete the mucin which people often use as a hydrator or moisturizer.
What is snail mucin for?
There are many different types of snails, and some snail mucin can be harmful to humans. But, trying snail mucin is safe and doesn't really require trial and error. Snail mucin skincare is well-distinguished, and it has been around for quite a long time. Studies have shown it to be helpful for arthritis or nephritis which is basically kidney inflammation.
It can also be helpful for liver disease and fatigue. While the ingredient has become very recently popular, the ingredient has actually been around for centuries. Romans used to crush up, grind snails, and rub them on their skin to help with redness, inflammation, and wound healing.
However, modern skincare still asserts that you can get those same benefits -- just without the cruelty. But, Cassandra did not take this at face value. She truly wanted to understand how modern methods of extracting snail slime.
When Cassandra was in Korea, she got to do so many amazing things. She spoke with a dermatologist about his opinions on skincare and snail mucin.
While she was there, she asked the experts and locals about snails in skincare, and a lot of people genuinely did not know how the snail secretion was extracted. And in regards to the manufacturing companies, either they didn’t have the information or didn’t want to share it.
For example, one of the most popular K-beauty brands that sells snail mucin is COSRX, but Cassandra wasn’t able to get in touch with them or talk with them, but they have made a public statement about where they get their snail mucin, and one of the biggest ways that sail mucin is created is by using these large washing machines.
Manufacturing companies use large domes that resemble washing machines , and it’s like a bath for snails. These machines are mainly used for big industrial scales.
A vinegar or acid wash can also be used. In this case, acidic potions are washed over the snails, and this makes them secrete mucin. Manufacturers then collect those secretions, extract the moisture, purify it, and then rehydrate it.
But, does this process hurt the snails, or is it just a knee-jerk reaction?
Is snail mucin the result of an involuntary muscular contraction ? Do they feel pain? Well unfortunately, some of the snails do get crushed in the machines. So, as a vegan, Cassandra can’t get behind that. But, there are other ways of extracting snail mucin. Electrocution is a way of extracting snail mucin. They put the snails on wire mesh, let the snails slime across them, and they shoot electricity through the mesh. Again, it supposedly doesn’t hurt them, but no one will show videos of this or of how it works.
So, the fact that it’s kept secret makes Cassandra wonder if they’re secreting mucin because it hurts them. The industry claims they wouldn’t kill the snail because then “they couldn't extract mucin.” But Cassandra wonders if is this doing more harm than good? For someone who is a cruelty-free vegan, this is all too ambiguous for Cassandra even with K-beauty, cruelty-free brands.
For instance, remember how we mentioned COSRX? Even though COSRX is a Korean brand, Korea takes animal cruelty very seriously, it’s not for certain that snails are seen as animals. So, do these cruelty-free laws apply?
So, can you find the benefits of snail mucin in other places?
A lot of these brands are saying that snail mucin has so many great properties. And yes, snail mucin can promote wound healing, hydrating, and plump up fine lines and wrinkles. Snail mucin is naturally rich in hyaluronic acid.
Snail mucin has also been shown to have high antioxidant properties. But, vitamin C, fruits rich with colors like blackberries and blueberries and even green tea have a ton of antioxidants! Snail mucin is also high in glycosaminoglycans, but again, we can find this in plant-derived sources. So, are snails mucin extractions truly the best method to get this ingredient? If we’re able to use plant sources, why should we have to extract these benefits from snails?
Ultimately, Cassandra is vegan, and she doesn’t want to take something that doesn’t belong to her without permission. For Cassandra, this is something that Cassandra needs more information on and doesn’t want to contribute to. Cassandra doesn’t want anyone to feel bad, but she just thinks everyone should have their own information so they can make proper decisions. She wants people to have the truest information so they can make the best decisions for themselves.
Here are a few vegan, cruelty-free mucin skincare products that Cassandra loves!