Snail slime for skincare has blown up on TikTok — and dermatologists actually approve

Is the secret to glowing skin found in snail slime? Plenty of TikTokers seem to think so.

Snail mucin, or the mucus secreted by snails, has surged in popularity in the United States in recent years as a skincare ingredient, with people touting its supposed benefits on TikTok and other social media platforms.

Though rubbing snail mucus into the skin might seem like a recipe for an acne breakout, dermatologists say the benefits may include increased hydration, skin barrier protection and even an anti-microbial effect that may help combat acne.

"There are quite a few purported benefits, and some of these are borne out, but in relatively small studies," dermatologist Dr. Brooke Jeffy says. "You'll see people putting it on their skin and just immediately it looks very glistening and shiny."

Is the secret to glowing skin found in snail mucin? Plenty of TikTokers seem to think so.
Is the secret to glowing skin found in snail mucin? Plenty of TikTokers seem to think so.

How does snail mucin work?

Snail mucin for skincare isn't all that new, first taking off in South Korea, dermatologist Dr. Anthony Rossi says. Now, the phenomenon is starting to make its way to the United States and elsewhere, as the ingredient gains more attention on social media.

Rossi says the main benefit of snail mucin is a boost in hydration to the skin. The sticky mucus, he says, helps strengthen the skin's protective barrier, which helps it retain moisture. Snail mucin also contains plenty of antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E, he says, which help reduce inflammation, and there's some research that suggests it may also have an anti-microbial effect, which helps combat bacteria and reduce acne.

Jeffy says snail mucin may even have an anti-aging effect as a result of growth factors that promote collagen production.

"I would recommend it as a dermatologist," Jeffy says. "It's tolerated by most people. It also plays really well with other ingredients, meaning we are not aware of a lot of interactions that would limit its use with other products that we might use on the skin."

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One potential drawback, however, is that it can be a challenge to find companies that are transparent about how they harvest snail mucin. Some brands promise they do not harm snails in collecting their mucin, while others are more vague about the process.

Rossi says he expects snail mucin to be made synthetically in the near future as a result of these concerns.

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Should you add snail mucin to your skincare routine?

Snail mucin can be used day or night, Rossi says, though he recommends it primarily as part of a nighttime routine. If used during the day, however, he recommends putting it on after applying sunscreen and waiting for that sunscreen to dry.

Adverse reactions to snail mucin are rare; still, some may find they have an allergy. So, if you're new to snail mucin, Rossi says try it out on your arm first to see if it causes irritation.

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He also says that, while snail mucin has some helpful benefits, it isn't essential to a skincare routine, nor is it a replacement for something that is, like sunscreen. Also, people with more oily skin may want to use a product that is more mattifying, instead of snail mucin, which is very hydrating.

"It's a nice ingredient, and it does give you a nice, good effect, so, if you can afford it, I think it's fun to use and it's a nice additive into a skincare-slash-beauty routine," Rossi says.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: TikTok is going wild for snail mucus for skincare. It really works.