Snail slime is controversial among skin experts, but not for the reasons you think

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If your FYP is anything like mine, it’s filled with people recommending products they purchased from the TikTok Shop. Whether it's a Pebble Ice Maker, Sol de Janeiro's Scented Spray, or the inevitable work diary, it seems like every day there's a new reason to splurge while browsing them. 

But the only ones I saw ubiquitously in the TikTok store recommendations were products containing snail slime, the slippery slime snails secrete to retain moisture. The hashtag #snailmucin has been viewed more than 750 million times on TikTok. 

People who use it hail it as a hero ingredient, claiming it's "better than retinol," a lifesaver for those taking Roaccutane, and "worth the money" because of the ingredient's ability to boost moisture, smooth texture, and Promote collagen production. 

But like every other ingredient on the market, snail slime has its detractors. Users have reported possible links between hives, breakouts, and fungal acne, as well as dust mite allergies, shellfish allergies, and adverse reactions to the mucin itself. 

My own allergies were triggered by the use of snail slime which causes small bumps to form on the skin and my face seems to come out of nowhere. Wondering why this happens, I reached out to beauty experts to see if we should really take the concept of "slamming" literally. 

What is snail slime? Why is it good for skin? Snail slime is a sticky substance that snails secrete to protect themselves from predators and keep them moist. 

In skin care, it's a powerful ingredient: snail slime is made from glycosylated proteins (protein molecules that are bound to sugars) and contains polysaccharides (a natural ingredient that helps the skin moisturize and lock in moisture), as well as growth factors, copper peptides, allantoin, and glycolic acid—all hydrating ingredients. 

It's worth noting that snail slime isn't a new ingredient - the ancient Greeks, including Hippocrates (who was a physician sworn to do no harm), used it to treat skin inflammation and heal wounds. "About six years ago, there was a renaissance in the Korean beauty market with snail slime," explains Dr. Martin Smith allergist, immunologist and founder of Untoxated Skincare. 

“The Korean market, in general, is not afraid to try new ingredients, and it’s going to happen quickly.” It came to the U.S. last year after a wave of videos on TikTok and Instagram. One reason, he believes, is that it's so popular. 

The reason snail slime is so popular is actually because of the virality and shock value of applying it to your face, not because it's a miracle cure. "At least a dozen patients have asked me, 'I've been talking about snail slime for the past six months. 

Almost everyone has heard of it on TikTok. ” Smith Vs. Another problem with snail slime is that many of the results you see are anecdotal, and there aren't many clinical studies done on the ingredient. Beyond that, the ethics involved in replacement are questionable. 

PhD. Sanjay Batra, co-founder of WETHRIVV and former associate professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, explains: “Snail slime is a type of defensive mucus that is produced when the snail is threatened—imagine poking it with a stick. t - or worse, "you put them under high gravity in a centrifuge or even expose the snails to high temperatures or chemicals to force them to release the mucin." 

However, dermatologist Andrea Suarez, MD, FAAD, also known as Dr. Extraction, believes that when snails are damaged it can cause changes in the composition of the mucus, ultimately affecting its effectiveness. Not to mention, South Korea bans cosmetics for animals Experiment. Basically: happy snail, happy life. How does snail slime cause allergies? 

Here's the big question: How exactly does snail slime cause skin reactions and worsen dust mite or even shellfish allergies? "One reason I was able to find this is that the proteins that trigger allergy to house dust mites are similar to proteins in land snails. 

So when our body encounters snail proteins, it reacts in a similar way to when it encounters mite proteins. This can trigger an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to one or the other," says cosmetic chemist Javon Ford. 

PhD. Smith found this information not surprising: "Snail mucus and snails contain a rather allergenic enzyme called tropomyosin. This enzyme is also found in other arthropods or animals with exoskeletons, e.g. Crustaceans and house dust mites, which can cause nasal allergies." 

Dust mites are tiny insects that live in our bedding and mattresses. They feed on our dead skin cells and are a common cause of allergies year-round. Research shows that 15 percent of people who are severely allergic to dust mites are also allergic to crustaceans, including shellfish and snails, Smith said. 

Another challenge with snail mucin is that secretions from the mollusk Cryptomphalus aspersa, or ancient garden snail, are considered "xeno" or foreign proteins by humans. Foreign proteins may cause severe allergic reactions, such as skin inflammation or acne. 

PhD. Batra compares it to a key without a lock. "Growth factors are highly species-specific. In humans, snail (or plant)-derived growth factors do not have the receptors required to bind to cells or signal cells to do all the regenerative effects that marketers claim,  

For example, it stimulates our fibroblasts (cells) to "produce collagen." He explains that snail mucus may be effective because it is part of the skin's response to stress, rather than a coordinated regenerative and physiological response. 

Okay, but what if I'm allergic to snail slime? First, identify the symptoms of a possible reaction to snail slime. "If you experience burning, redness, rash, dryness, or itching after using snail slime, discontinue use immediately," says nationally board-certified dermatologist Dr. Naana Boakye, MD, MPH, FAAD. 

Symptoms may appear immediately or within two weeks of normal use. So proceed with caution these two weeks. If you experience primarily stinging and burning sensations when mucin comes into contact with your skin, you may be experiencing an irritation reaction. 

If you're concerned about allergies or sensitivities, every expert consulted for this article recommended doing a patch test on the inside of your forearm to see if you might react to the snail slime. If you're particularly concerned, it's best to consult a dermatologist. 

If you're struggling with the side effects of snail slime but want similar hydration, try collagen, Inkey List Collagen Peptide Serum (£12.99) or Skin Republic Collagen Hydrogel Mask (6.99 ) contains collagen. ).

There's also glycerin, like Then I Met You Birch Milk Refined Toner (£31) or COSRX Propolis Light Ampoule (£33.99), and hyaluronic acid, like Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intense Hydrating Serum (£26.68). The regular Matrixyl 10% + HA, £9, with hyaluronic acid and skin-volumizing Matrixyl 3000 and Matrixyl Synthe'6, is a cheaper alternative. 

For those looking for a vegan alternative to snail slime, try phytomucin or plant-derived mucin, such as the deeply hydrating Wild Yam in Blithe Skincare's Velvet Yam Pressed Serum (£30.16). Oh, and by the way, CosRX, best known for its snail slime products
has launched a vegan alternative, Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, priced at £26.95. I don’t want to sound like a hater – I celebrate the beauty that snail mucin represents. 

It was one of the elements that introduced Korean beauty to the U.S. market nearly a decade ago, signaling a cultural reset in our beauty industry.

K-beauty brands now known for their snail slime products like CosRX, Soko Glam and Neogen introduced me to the world of K-beauty and continue to produce alternative but equally effective products that I love to this day. If it works for you and doesn't hurt you, I won't upset you here.
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