Korean Cosmetics

Why You Should Slather Your Skin with Snail Slime

Or, at least, why it won't hurt.

By Katharine Shilcutt July 23, 2014

A thought occured to me last night while watching Oldboy alone in my apartment. I'm already sitting here watching an incredibly creepy Korean movie, I considered, so why not finally pull out that super creepy Korean snail mask I've been meaning to use?

Said super creepy Korean snail mask was a gift to me from our publisher, Diane Caplan, who swears by the stuff for its moisturizing and tightening qualities. I'm no stranger to the wonders of Korean beauty produtcts, having been fully indoctrinated into the cult of BB creams a few years back, but something about the mask was just off-putting enough that I'd set it aside, waiting for the courage to spread foreign snail mucus all over my face. As it turns out, watching Choi Min-sik eat a live octopus was just the dose of courage I needed. 


Snail mucus (or slime, or cream, depending on which translation you read) has been steadily growing in popularity in Korea as a beauty balm for the last few years. In addition to providing a heaping dose of moisture, the stuff is said to cure all manner of ailments from acne to wrinkles to scars. The Daily Mail, that bastion of journalistic integrity, claims that "snail slime—or, technically, Helix Aspersa Müller Glycoconjugates—is a complex mix of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin that by nature has developed as a way to protect snail skin from damage, infection and UV rays." So take from that what you will.

As for me, I was nervous about spreading the slime across my notoriously sensitive skin; I found out I was allergic to cucumber after putting a couple of slices on my eyes one day before a date in college. There was no date that night, only two angry, red, tightly swollen eyes that looked like world record contenders for the largest hemorrhoids known to man. My friends were similarly suspicious.

"Eww, sounds yucky," wrote one friend on my Instagram photo of the snail mask package. "But if you look 10 years younger, I'd try it...maybe." Another wrote simply: "Um. Ick."

The next morning.

When I finally removed the mask from its packaging, I was surprised by the silky texture of the snail mucus. It was soft and delicate and not at all sticky. I placed the mask on my face (after washing and drying my face) and set about taking pictures of myself looking like Hannibal Lecter to text to unsuspecting friends. Aside from looking a bit cannibalistic, the cool, gentle texture was incredibly soothing and I almost didn't want to take if off.

Fifteen minutes later, though, I removed the mask—but not before squeezing all the extra snail mucus out of the package and spreading it across my neck and chest, the other two broad swaths of skin that show a woman's age. If it felt that good on my face, surely these two areas could benefit too. I left the mucus to soak in, per the instructions, and went to bed a while later.

This morning, I could still feel the mucus on my skin when I got into the shower. It was slightly viscous but washed off easily enough. I can't say that my skin looks or feels any different, though nothing on my face looks like a giant hemorrhoid, so I count that as a win.

ElishaCoy Skin Repairing Snail Mask, $32.90, elishacoyonline.com 

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