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I tried snail slime face masks in the name of great skin — and they worked

I’ve spent decades searching for magical beauty products that will give me smooth, luminous skin. When I heard that snail mucin, or what I like to call “snail slime” was a popular skin treatment ingredient in Asia, I knew I had to give it a try. 

There are hundreds of products on the market that contain snail mucin. It is rumored that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, combined crushed snails and rotten milk as an anti-inflammatory skin treatment.

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Years later, cosmetic scientists discovered that in the complex blend of secretions in garden snail mucin there were glycosaminoglycans, which are, no lie, commonly referred to as GAGs. These molecules attract water, which means more hydration for the skin. The slimy stuff is also believed to speed healing, and like Hippocrates understood, reduce skin inflammation.

As someone who has long battled ruddy, inflamed and angry skin, this stuff sounds a bit like magic. Sure, it also sounds totally gross, but I’m just vain enough to not care.

snail masks
Image: Bryanne Salazar

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For dramatic effect, I also hand harvested a few friendly neighborhood garden snails that were not harmed in the photo-taking process. In fact, one guy seemed to really enjoy the drink of water I gave him.

Side note: After handling the live snails I found out that they could possibly transmit meningitis and salmonella. So don’t do that.

snail hand
Image: Bryanne Salazar

As per the instructions on the face mask, I washed my face with a mild cleanser, patted my skin dry and then opened the package. The cloth mask is folded and super drenched in slimy skin stuff, but that was OK because I was ready for it. I unfolded the mask, settled it on my face, smoothed it down as much as possible and let it sit for 20 or so minutes.

wearing a mask
Image: Bryanne Salazar

During that time I watched an Anjelah Johnson comedy special and snapchatted with my friends. I like to multitask.

When I removed the mask, I rubbed the remaining slime into my skin until it was absorbed. Unlike mud masks that have to be washed off, these masks turn into their own serum after removal.

Shortly after, I went to bed. When I woke up I was hoping to see some magical change in my face, but I didn’t. In fact, I had a few small pimples, so I was bummed. Those pimples may be PMS related, which not even a friendly snail can ward off.

The next morning, I washed my face again, and applied the snail ampoule. It comes in a pretty glass jar and has a dropper to release the perfect amount of serum. It felt viscous and sticky, sort of like the remnants of the mask the night before. I rubbed it thoroughly into my skin and studied my face for any change. Nothing.

snail ampoule
Image: Bryanne Salazar

That night, I went out with my husband and had one beer too many. I woke up with dehydrated, slightly sallow skin and decided to try another mask. This one was much smaller and didn’t fit my big American face too well. After about a half hour, I removed the mask, and once again, rubbed the remaining liquid into my skin.

I have to say — I saw an instant transformation. My skin had a brightness and lucidity it didn’t have 30 minutes before. It was also softer and more supple. Apparently, snail slime works wonders on hangover-face.

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This morning I used a third mask. I placed the mask close to my eyes because I’ve noticed these fine lines that are stretching from my eyes into my cheeks and they make me self-conscious. I’d hoped the snail snot (slime, mucin, whatever) would somehow make those lines vanish. After removing the mask I was super pleased to see that the lines were much fainter than before.

snail beauty
Image: Bryanne Salazar

The verdict? I freaking love this stuff. The ampoule (which I tried a few more times) didn’t seem to do anything. The masks, however, are pretty awesome when your face is fatigued, dry or wrinkly (or all three). I’ve even noticed that my makeup stays on longer if I apply it after the mask.

Snail snot gets a win in my book and it will be something I buy again.

Pro-tip: You can find these masks at most Asian supermarkets. If you live in a larger city, you’re likely to find them quicker than it takes to order them online and wait for them to be delivered.

I’m still on the hunt for more unique, even weird, beauty treatments. Have a suggestion for a product I should try? Let me know in the comments below!

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