Your guide to snail mucin skincare and 14 products to try in 2023

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Move over slugging, it’s snail mucin’s time to shine. The current skin care obsession makes use of actual snail slime — aka snail secretion filtrate — for plumper, softer and smoother skin.

Snail mucin skin care is not novel and has been a popular ingredient in South Korea for decades. “Snail mucin has been trendy in Korea for as long as I can remember,” says Dr. Zion Ko Lamm, a board-certified internal medicine physician who is a top authority on K-beauty skin care on social media. “Skin care products utilizing snail secretion filtrate started coming into the US from South Korea in 2011,” she notes, adding that “Hippocrates, aka the ‘Father of Medicine,’ was reportedly prescribing crushed snail for dermatologic issues as far back as 400 BC.”

With over 580 million views of #snailmucin on TikTok, it’s no beauty secret — but there are plenty of questions when it comes to using snail mucin in a skin care routine. Ahead, we delve into where it comes from, its benefits and the best snail mucin products to try.

While some skin care trends are simply named after the thing they emulate (jello skin, dolphin skin, etc.), the snail mucin trend does actually involve the harmless mollusks. “Snail mucin is naturally secreted by snails as a way for them to protect themselves,” says Ko Lamm. “The specific species used in most skin care today is Cryptomphalus aspersa” — more commonly known as the garden snail.

And though the skin care ingredient is not vegan, it is sourced as a byproduct of the snails, not directly from the organisms. According to a 2018 Racked article, a common technique for collecting the snail mucin involves having snails roam around a dark room on top of a surface like glass or mesh, which can then be scraped for the slime afterward. It is then processed into a filtrate before being added into skin care products. (Although, you supposedly can get the benefits of snail mucin directly from the source — but we don’t recommend this.)

“Snail mucin is naturally designed for protection and healing,” Ko Lamm says. “It’s packed with growth factors, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid.” So on top of being moisturizing, the powerhouse ingredient can help stimulate collagen production (hello, bouncy, youthful skin) and calm irritation (goodbye redness). Snail mucin has also been studied to improve skin texture and fine lines after daily usage for eight weeks.

Emily Genzer, Heyday shop educator and licensed esthetician, calls it “the VIP ticket to hydration town,” since it will “keep your skin plump and moist, the perfect combination for fighting aging.” The esthetician also says it helps diminish the look of scars, spots and wrinkles, as well as provide a protection boost. “Snail mucin fortifies your skin’s barrier, defending against pollution and other irritants,” she says.

Plus, Genzer says, “Snail mucin isn’t picky. It’s like that sweet friend who gets along with everyone in your squad. … It can work well for many different skin types and concerns.”

Snail mucin has made its way into toners, serums, cleansers, moisturizers and more. In order to reap the most benefits of the star ingredient, a serum or essence will typically give a more concentrated dose. These have a thick liquid consistency, somewhere between water and a gel. “Full disclosure, it can be kinda slimy, and some patients never get over the texture,” Ko Lamm warns. If you’re not a fan of the slippery feeling, a face mask or moisturizer is a good option as well.

The ingredient can be used day or night, and it has benefits for both cases. During the day, it can make for a smooth, glowing base for makeup; and at night, you can “lock it in with a moisturizing cream to maximize the benefit,” as Lamm shares (something she does in her own skin care routine).

“The skin regenerates best overnight, and due to snail mucin’s humectants and proteins, your PM routine could be the best place to add it in,” notes Genzer. Since it naturally contains hyaluronic acid, Ko Lamm says you can “incorporate snail mucin products like using another form of hyaluronic acid.” This also means that you’ll want to apply snail mucin products on damp skin, since it will help hold the moisture within the outer layers of the skin.

So now that you know what it is and how to use it, check out the 14 best snail mucin products that will bring softer, smoother skin.

If you’ve been on TikTok, you’ve seen COSRX’s viral snail mucin serum — a product Ko Lamm dubs the “GOAT of snail mucin.” The hydrating, plumping goodness has a thicker, gel-like consistency that provides a great base for makeup or nourishing layer in your nighttime skin care routine.

Ko Lamm recommends this restorative essence as a “less slimy version of the COSRX.” It combines snail mucin with the collagen-boosting benefits of peptides.

Oil- and fragrance-free, this lightweight eye serum treats fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles with restorative snail mucin, brightening marine extracts and calming chamomile.

Simultaneously exfoliating and hydrating, Genzer says, “This is an overnight exfoliating and resurfacing cream that works overtime at night to ensure you wake up looking radiant. It has a blend of snail mucin, lactic acid and nutrient-rich oils to stimulate collagen production while protecting the skin’s barrier.”

Ko Lamm says that this lightweight wash-off mask for dull and blemish-prone skin is cooling and calming. “I pop this baby in the fridge before use,” she adds.

And if you really want to amp up the snail mucin in your routine, Peach Slices has a whole Snail Rescue line.

These concentrated ampoules are packed with growth factors, glycolipids and antioxidants to restore and rejuvenate the skin. Ko Lamm says she recommends them often, “especially post procedure for healing and repairing.”

Combining snail mucin with herbal ingredients like ginseng, licorice and centella asiatica extract, this anti-aging serum targets fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains skin care hero ingredients like niacinamide and glycerin.

This daily moisturizer is gentle on sensitive skin yet super hydrating, with 70% snail mucin extract. One reviewer raved: “I have seen a tremendous difference in my skin! My skin feels more firm and dewy!”

Pop these eye masks on to smooth and hydrate the delicate under-eye with snail mucin, peptides and gold. They provide a restoring treat that instantly refreshes the eye area, on top of anti-aging benefits.

This K-beauty moisturizer packs in 97.5% snail mucin filtrate, along with vitamin E, shea butter, green tea and aloe. It has over 12,000 glowing 5-star ratings, with users loving its lightweight formula and skin-softening effect.

Who knew two garden dwellers would be the source of powerhouse skin care ingredients? This serum pairs snail mucin with bee venom to treat hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and control oil.

Light and refining, this serum features natural ingredients like wild yam root extract, basil seed extract and tea tree extract. Reviewers love how it absorbs quickly and improves skin texture.

Infused with snail mucin essence, these calming and hydrating sheet masks are great for all ages and skin types.

Reviewers with combination skin, rosacea, dry skin and more love the dewy and glowing effect this gentle and hydrating facial essence delivers.

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