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I smeared snail mucin on my face to see if it would change my skin

IMAGE VIA @BROWNANDBOUGEE_/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY SARAH ROWE

Could snail slime provide you with your best skin yet?

I generally consider myself a fairly low-maintenance kinda girl. I gave up on waxing and shaving my legs a few years ago, partly out of a commitment to my feminist values, partly out of laziness. I wash my hair once a week (sometimes once a fortnight), and I always air-dry – I can’t remember the last time I owned a hairdryer, and my days of wielding a GHD are long behind me.

My makeup kit consists of a single eyebrow pencil (damn you, sparse brows!) and a no-nonsense, colourless lip balm. I like that I can fit my entire makeup routine into a single bathroom drawer, and it makes getting out the door in the mornings, or heading out in the evenings, an easy, predictable, efficient process.


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However, if there is one area of my routine where I can perhaps be a little more indulgent, it’s skincare. I find skincare not only fascinating but incredibly soothing. There is something so comforting and even cathartic about coming home from a long day and quite literally washing the day away.

I’m a big believer in the power of touch (it’s one of my love languages), and the process of delicately dabbing moisturiser onto one’s face can feel like an act of self-love, something that in today’s pandemic-ridden world is arguably more important than ever. Among women, skincare routines can be a way of bonding, sharing information and trade secrets and lamenting the shared experiences of breakouts or acne scars.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve spent many an evening trawling through Into The Gloss, devouring the routines of some of my favourite writers, actresses and influencers. It’s a way of finding out about new products, yes, but it’s also a way of getting to know someone in a more intimate way. You get a peek behind the proverbial (shower) curtain of someone’s life. And what’s more intimate than someone’s bathroom cabinet or shower caddy?

I toyed with the idea of using a pubic hair oil after Emma Watson boasted its benefits (the product’s hefty $60 price tag was what put me off). I went through a period of lathering Weleda Skin Food into my hands every night before bed because Jia Tolentino is obsessed with it. So it should come as no surprise that when I read an article on snail mucin being the new ‘it’ skincare ingredient, I had to try it.

That’s right – the secretions of those sluggish, shell-bound little critters that congregate in your mailbox is credited with a host of skin benefits, including blurring fine lines, improving hyperpigmentation and keeping skin hydrated. It’s also suggested as a critical step in achieving ‘glass skin‘, a K-beauty phrase referring to skin so smooth, sheeny and pore-less, it has the reflective quality of glass.

At 25, I’m not yet worried about fine lines and thankfully don’t have any acne scarring or pigmentation. However, between a cruel Melbourne winter, my sharehouse’s central heating and wearing a mask most days, my skin has become a little dehydrated and dull, so some extra hydration was welcome.

Plus, the idea of having skin so iridescent it could reflect the sun and blind my enemies (and all without the help of a highlighter, no less) was quite appealing. So, I decided to carve some space for a little slime in my skincare routine.

I decided to try renowned K-beauty brand COSRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, available at Adore Beauty. Containing 96.3 per cent snail secretion filtrate, the product is said to help improve skin elasticity and reduce moisture loss. It also contains sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid), which is well known for its moisture-boosting properties.

In terms of where it fits in one’s beauty regime, the product is described as an ‘essence’, meaning it should be used after cleansing and toning, but before moisturising. The product is non-comedogenic (fancy dermatologists’ speak for “doesn’t clog pores”) and is suitable for pretty much everyone, except vegans.

Given that it is made from snail secretions, I was a little hesitant that the serum would be a strange colour, smell a little funky or feel a little slimy. But to my pleasant surprise, the serum is transparent, with no detectable odour. The texture is pleasingly non-slimy and thinner than I expected – almost a little watery.

I applied the serum after my cleanser, but before my moisturiser. I found it a little sticky and hard to spread, meaning I had to use a few pumps to cover my whole face. The packaging is elegant and simple, and the pump design means it’s easy to dispense.

After a few weeks of using it, my skin seems well-hydrated, and my complexion is smooth and even. I wouldn’t go as far as to say my skin resembles glass in its sheen, but that could also be due to the fact that I simply slotted snail mucin into my existing two-step routine. Being a student and living in a sharehouse means I don’t have the money, time or, frankly, the bathroom cabinet space, for the extensive five, seven or even 11 (11!) step K-beauty skincare routines that glass skin requires.

Even if it didn’t give me the holographic complexion of my dreams, snail mucin did provide a nice boost of hydration and made my skin feel plump and smooth. It’s reasonably priced, the bottle looks elegant on my bathroom sink, and the sensation of applying it is cool and soothing. Not bad for a bit of slime.

For more on the science behind snail mucin, try this.

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