30 October 2023
From TikTok comes another K-beauty product that’s re-found it’s popularity: CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. Before it started trending on TikTok and Western skincare, snail mucin aka snail secretion filtrate was already a popular ingredient in Korean skincare. Snail mucin has also been used in surgical glues and wound healing1; and its history dates back to the time of Ancient Greece2.
Lest this ingredient creeps you out- snail mucin isn’t the slimy mucous looking gunk that snails leave behind in trails. Snail mucin or snail secretion filtrate as you might see this ingredient listed in ingredient lists, is a processed form of snail secretions. It does not smell; and neither it is slimy. Here’s everything you need to know about this trending skincare ingredient.
Snail mucin is also referred to as snail slime. Typically, snail slime is a thick liquid and only the snail mucin of edible snails are used (escargot anyone?). When crawling or irritated, snails secrete mucin3. This mucin helps with adhesion and lubrication, allowing snails to stick onto walk across surfaces, even when inverted1. Additionally, snail mucin helps with hydration and anti-microbial defense of snails1.
Historically, snail slime has been used to heal wounds and burns4. In modern skincare, snail slime or snail mucin is commonly used in skincare and cosmetic products for supposed anti-aging, anti-acne and hydrating effects.
Snail mucin contains several active ingredients including5,6:
• Allantoin: for soothing and calming the skin
• Elastin: A protein in the skin’s dermis for stretch and recoil.
• Collagen: Another protein in the skin. Used in skincare, collagen has moisturising benefits but does not replace collagen in the skin. Learn more in Is Collagen Skincare a Scam? and Do Collagen Supplements Work?
• Vitamins, and
• Proteoglycans e.g. chrondroitin sulfate: Chondroitin sulfate is one component of cartilage
The exact composition of snail mucin or snail slime depends on several factors such as snail species, feeding and behaviour of the snails and, most importantly, the extraction method7.
Snail mucin (snail secretion filtrate) is often marketed as an ingredient with a host of benefits to the skin. Snail mucin is said to provide moisturising, anti-aging and collagen building, hyperpigmentation lightening and soothing effects to the skin….kind of like most new skincare ingredients. But are all these claims true?
Despite its popularity, evidence and data to support the claims of snail mucin (snail secretion filtrate) is scant; like many trending and buzzy skincare ingredients. A search on “snail mucin” and “snail secretion filtrate” yielded mostly in vitro studies (i.e. cells or tissues in petri dishes) and a few human trials. Here’s what the human trials show:
• A 2020 study conducted over 3 months in the National Skin Center, Singapore of 50 subjects (20 controls and 30 cases) assessed the results of a serum that contained snail secretion filtrate in combination with retinoids, growth factors and other ingredients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiglycation activity8. The cases that received this serum showed improvements in their skin elasticity, wrinkles and moisture levels, compared to the controls that did not receive this serum8. The study was unable to prove that snail mucin in the serum was the causative agent for the improvement in these signs of ageing; as the other ingredients such as retinoids are already established for also treating these signs of aging.
• A split face study of 25 subjects in 2013 sponsored by; and conducted by an investigator that was also a consultant for Biopelle, a skincare company, found that the sides of the face where the snail mucin products were used had an improvement in fine lines compared to the sides that did not9. However, the subjects in the study did not report a significant difference in their skin9.
• Another split face study of 20 patients conducted by one of the advisor to Cantabria Labs, another manufacturer of snail mucin/ snail secretion filtrate skincare looked at the outcomes of using snail secretion after fractional laser. This study showed that the sides of the face that had 40% snail mucin skincare applied had faster recovery from the laser as well as improvements in hydration, wrinkles and elasticity10. What was not mentioned in the study was the exact composition of the serum used; and what was used in the control. The presence of other ingredients with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory ingredients in the snail mucin serum could influence the results.
And that’s all I managed to locate in my search for published trials involving snail mucin/ snail secretion filtrate skincare in humans. Based on these few studies involving 20-50 participants; the anti-aging outcomes of snail mucin/ snail secretion filtrate skincare in humans is ambiguous.
There are animal studies and in-vitro studies11-13 that suggest various biochemical and clinical end points for in cells and animals. However, whether these changes can be translated into humans remains unknown.
The controversy of snail mucin/ snail secretion filtrate skincare lies not in its equivocal (or perhaps overhyped) benefits, but its methods of extraction.
As snail mucin is released by the snail when they crawl or under stress, traditional methods of obtaining snail mucin involve stressing the snails. Traditional methods of obtaining snail mucus include spraying salt, acids or ammonium on the snails to stress them.
Nowadays, “cruelty-free” extraction methods are employed by skincare companies to reduce the controversy surrounding extraction of snail mucin. As to how these “cruelty-free” methods are employed- the subject remains shrouded in mystery as information is not publicly available. The only information I could locate on this was an article in the Klog that explains the process for which K-beauty brand COSRX obtains its snail mucin. COSRX is known for its TikTok viral, snail mucin containing Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
According to the Klog, “the snails are placed over a mesh net in a dark and quiet room…For about 30 minutes…leaving mucin in their trails”. Thereafter, ”the snails are transferred back to their homes to rest …while the mucin is collected and processed for cosmetic use”.
Snail mucin that is collected then undergoes a purification process, and is known as snail secretion filtrate. You’ll see this name appearing on the ingredient lists, and that’s how it differs from snail mucin.
Part of the inspiration for this review on snail mucin essence was from my recent trip to Seoul, where I found that snail mucin was trending as a skincare ingredient. Another reason for this post: the constant sponsored ads by COSRX of dermatologists on TikTok raving about their Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. My interest was piqued, so I bought COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence to try and review.
Active ingredients in COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
• 96.3% snail secretion filtrate
• 1,000 ppm sodium hyaluronate- that works out to 0.1% sodium hyaluronate • Humectants: Betaine, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol ,Panthenol
• Allantoin: calms skin
• Arginine: amino acid with antioxidant and moisturising benefits
The Good about COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Thicker than most essences, but slightly thinner than most serums, the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence feels like slime. It spreads easily on the skin. It does not have any fragrance and does not irritate my skin.
The Bad about COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence takes a while to dry; and although it feels lightweight, the finish is sticky and oily looking on my skin. I did not like this tacky, sticky feel of COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence on my skin.
As I’ve shared in Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid , 0.1% sodium hyaluronate shows some moisturising benefits; but you are likely to get more moisturising benefits from products with higher hyaluronic concentration. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence contains only humectants; and without other moisturising ingredients like emollients; this product is unlikely to be sufficient on its own, especially for dry skin.
did not find the moisturising and calming and anti-aging effects of COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence to be noticeable. I had to pair COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence with a moisturiser for my skin to feel less dry; and even so, I did not feel that COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence added any additional benefits compared to using moisturiser alone.
According to COSRX’s website (see screenshot above), the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is supposed to fade dark spots, improve skin texture and offer anti-aging benefits. However, the ingredient list of COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence does not include any ingredient that fades hyperpigmentation. Other than snail mucin (which as explained above, has very weak evidence if at all for anti-aging benefits); there are no other ingredients that have any anti-aging benefits in COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
All the hype and sponsored TikTok posts may make COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence seem exciting but it did not offer any moisturising, anti-aging or calming benefits to my skin. None of the ingredients live up to some of the product claims, and the finish was tacky and sticky.
I will not be repurchasing COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
And this is snail mucin (snail secretion filtrate) decoded for you! Unfortunately, like many other buzzy, trending ingredients of the moment, snail mucin (snail secretion filtrate) remains poorly evidenced. Based on its composition, using snail mucin (snail secretion filtrate) may offer moisturising and calming benefits; but it is very unlikely to improve any signs of ageing when used in isolation.
1. Advancing Discovery of Snail Mucins Function and Application. McDermott et al. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021; 9: 734023.
2. Molluscs: Their Usage as Nutrition, Medicine, Aphrodisiac, Cosmetic, Jewelry, Cowry, Pearl, Accessory and So on from the History to Today. Ekin İ. (2018). mejs 4, 45–51.
3. A natural biological adhesive from snail mucus for wound repair. Deng et al. Nat Commun. 2023; 14: 396.
4. Helix and Drugs: Snails for Western Health Care From Antiquity to the Present. Bonnemain. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2005;2:25–28.
5. Zooceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients Derived from Animals. Cristiano and Guagni. Cosmetics. 2022;9:13.
6. Isolation and identification of chondroitin sulfates from the mud snail. Lee et al. Arch Pharm Res. 1998 Oct;21(5):555-8.
7. Novel drug-loaded film forming patch based on gelatin and snail slime. Filippo et al.Int. J. Pharm. 2021;598:120408.
8. Efficacy and Safety of a New Cosmeceutical Regimen Based on the Combination of Snail Secretion Filtrate and Snail Egg Extract to Improve Signs of Skin Aging. Lim et al. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2020 Mar; 13(3): 31–36.
9. The Effects of Filtrate of the Secretion of the Cryptomphalus Aspersa on Photoaged Skin. Fabi et al. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Apr;12(4):453-7.
10. A cosmetic treatment based on the secretion of Cryptomphalus aspersa 40% improves the clinical results after the use of nonablative fractional laser in skin aging. Truchuelo and Vitale. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Mar; 19(3): 622–628.
11. The Protective Effect of Snail Secretion Filtrate in an Experimental Model of Excisional Wounds in Mice. Gugliandolo et al. Vet Sci. 2021 Aug; 8(8): 167.
12. Snail Slime Extracted by a Cruelty Free Method Preserves Viability and Controls Inflammation Occurrence: A Focus on Fibroblasts. Ricci et al. Molecules. 2023 Feb; 28(3): 1222.
13. Bioactive ingredients in Korean cosmeceuticals: Trends and research evidence. Nguyen et al. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Jul;19(7):1555-1569.