K-beauty ingredients range from the not-so-scary (sea kelp) to the downright-terrifying (bee venom). And somewhere smack in the middle you'll find snail mucus. The slimy liquid, which snails secrete to protect their bodies from cuts and bacteria as they crawl across the ground, has been used for centuries to calm inflammation (dating as far back as ancient Greece, The Cut reports). In the past several years, it's become even more popular thanks to the Korean beauty market, which took it from snails actually crawling across your face and packaged it into much prettier and more hygienic-looking sheet masks and serums.
But snail mucus isn't just a gimmick to sell products — it's actually one hard-working ingredient that works for all skin types. For one, it's anti-microbial (meaning it's especially great for acne-prone skin like mine) and packed with protein, glycolic acid, and elastin. It can fade dark spots and scars, moisturise dry skin, treat fine lines, and even soothe sunburns — that is, if you can get over the gross factor (and aren't a vegan).
I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new products, but even I was a bit freaked out about putting snail slime on my face. But with an open mind (and a few lingering acne scars I was looking to obliterate), I forged ahead with Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream. It's so silky and light that it almost feels like a gel, and it quickly sunk into my skin. This particularly potent formula contains 92% snail mucus extract, but you’d never know that by the scent, which smells like nothing at all.
After smoothing it on, my face felt soft and moisturised, not sticky or tacky like I had expected. Almost immediately, my face was visibly glowing, and two months later, the stubborn acne scars on my chin are as good as gone. Now, the cream is an irreplaceable part of my skin-care routine. Just don't ask me to try pig collagen — I draw the line at snails.