Snail Secretion Filtrate & K Beauty: An Easy Guide To Scientific Research In Plain English


I never thought snail secretion filtrate would become such a big part of my life.

When I was ten years old, I accidentally stepped on a poor slug in my bare feet. In years to come I never forgot how gross the sensation was of feeling the slug under my foot. It still makes me squeamish today to think of it! Eewww… Anyway. Snail secretion filtrate, snail mucin, snail juice, snail extract. I don’t care what you call it.

Given that experience, I never thought that I of all people would be one plastering snail mucin on my face in the quest for better skin, let alone the wackadoodle witch manufacturing her own snail serum because she was unhappy with all the alternatives out there.

(^^ That's me experimenting in the SB lab.)

Anyway, I thought it would help everyone to understand how I went from snail skeptic to snail lover through a little survey of existing research. I admit I got a little carried away writing this post. What can I say, The Ph.D. did it to me, research is my happy place. Which is why this blog post has footnotes. Footnotes. In a freaking blog post.

In this blog post I summarize for you hours of research I’ve conducted on peer reviewed, scientific publications and patents in what I hope is in plain English.

Oh, and if you make it all the way to the end, I’ll drop you a link to a free glossary eBook our team just published on cult Korean skincare ingredients and what they can do fo yo face.

 

So, why put snail mucin on yo face anyway?

So the SB team wanted to make sure you heard the good news that snail is great for your skin so we made a little Youtube vid (go like and subscribe to our channel now y’all):

Where Does Snail Slime Magic Come From?

Ok. You’ve watched the video, but I feel you. You’re still skeptical.

From the standpoint of molecular biology, snail slime is simply put a magical healing cocktail of sweet chemicals to make your skin shine.

The magic chemical properties of snail slime come from its particular composition of glycosaminoglycans and peptides.

Glycosaminoglycans For Your Skin

If you buy a snail skincare product, you’re going to see something like “snail secretion filtrate” in the ingredients list. This “snail secretion filtrate” is the slime the snail produces while moving, after its been collected and purified and used in your skincare formulation. Snail secretion filtrate is naturally rich in are glycosaminoglycans. Big weird word I know, but glycosaminoglycans are polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) that exists as part of your skin’s “natural moisture factor.” Natural moisture factors help your skin retain its moisture, which contribute to whether your skin is going to feel tight and firm or dehydrated and wrinkled.

These magical unicorn rainbow glycosaminoglycans are nestled around other parts of the cell that help with the production of collagen and elastin, both of which are essential for tight, firm and smooth skin. Another more commonly known glycosaminoglycans ingredients within Korean beauty (and outside of it!) is probably one you know very well, Hyaluronic Acid! (Snail filtrate, btw, also contains hyaluronic acid).

Glycosaminoglycans are so magical because they can bind nearly 1000 times their weight in water (hyaluronic acid is one of these naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans in your dermis). This moisture buffer is necessary to protect the parts of the cell that contribute to collagen and elastin, which are necessary for elastic, bouncy, smooth, ‘chok-chok’ skin. So, more glycosaminoglycans, more chok-chok skin.

And snails are so amazing that researchers have discovered that snails have their own snaily glycosaminoglycan in the form of the glycosaminoglycan called Acharan Sulfate.

The magical wound-healing properties of Acharan Sulfate have been getting a lot of attention within the scientific community (See studies from 2002, 2004, 2011) and has major implications for improving your skin.


Copper Binding Peptides & Firm, Tight Skin

The Snail Glycosaminoglycan is special because it has been known to tightly bind copper to it.  

Copper binding peptides are one of the hottest anti-aging ingredients in the skincare industry because scientific studies have shown that they have stimulated collagen production in normal skin [8].

In four separate placebo-controlled clinical studies published from 1998-2005, women were given copper-binding peptide skin creams to measure skin improvement. Across the board, these studies found that copper-binding peptide skin creams would:

To make it even sweeter, snail skincare products are the ideal way to consume copper binding peptides as the peptide does its best work when topically applied. It doesn’t work if you take it orally. Additonally, snail mucin provides an optimized amount of copper peptides--excessive use can have the opposite effect of hyperaccelerating aging!

Even the Ancient Romans Thought Snail Secretion Filtrate Would Heal Them

We’ve known about the healing properties of snail--which go from healing your skin to improving regular skin-- for ages. This snail obsession isn’t just for recent folks, y’all. Korean cosmetics scientists aren’t the only folks that have been in love with snail secretion filtrate, by far.  

Snails as healing obsession -- for EVERYTHING, including skincare AND medical conditions -- goes back to antiquity.

The Ancient Roman Botanist Pliny the younger prescribed snails first boiled, then “grilled upon hot coals, and eaten with wine and garum.” Medieval medical texts document that our snaily friends were used to treat inflammation in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean, Ancient Greco-Roman and European communities by prescribing snails to treat a whole litany of ailments ranging from stomach pain to arthritis and skin diseases. [1]

This ancient obsession with our little snailed friends continued all the way into the nineteenth century. In 1817, a New Natural History Dictionary recommended the use of snails to soothe sore throats and make a beauty “paste” for women to “keep the surface of their skin smooth and brilliant” [2], while an 1840 French medical book describes various concoctions made of snail (sugared snails, snail chocolate) that could be to treat anything from a resistant cold to tuberculosis and intestine issues -- talk about a multitasker! People outside of Europe evidently felt the same; 19th century medical texts indicate that subcontinental Indians mixed fresh snail juice with water to make eye drops to treat conjunctivitis [3], while the 1827 medical text Pomacea lineata Spix noted that Latin Americans used a medical preparation of snails to stave off asthma [4].

Indeed, the Koreans themselves even predated their modern snail obsession: the 1791 medical text Omphalius rusticus Gmelin notes that Koreans on Jeju Island were using ground snail shell powder as a topical treatment for knee pain! [5]

And to add to all the ways in which natural medicine has embraced snail -- snail occupies an important role in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of the oldest and most well documented “ethnomedicine” systems that extend from antiquity till today. Ancient traditional Chinese medical texts argue that snails are part of a larger genus that can treat inflammatory conditions such as eczema, menstrual disorders, abscesses, arthritis, asthma and healing scalds and burns [6] . Snail ain’t no slouch.

Why is Snail Mucin So Big Right Now?

Now you know that the healing properties of snail mucin have been well known in traditional and folk medical traditions. But the current hype of snail slime stems from an unexpected discovery within the Chilean small-scale family business snail farming industry.

In the 1980s, Chilean businesses farming snails for the French consumer market (remember, the French love to eat snails!) discovered the healing properties of snail mucin when they noticed that their workers, whose arms and hands got easily cut while handling the sharp metal cages for the snails, experienced quick and no-scar healing when they applied snail slime to their injuries.

This even resulted in a Chilean snail cream that launched in 1995.

The hyper-innovative and competitive Korean beauty skin care industry noticed, and started devoting their researchers to studying whether snail secretion filtrate could be used to solve skincare woes. And these contemporary science studies showed that snail not only hydrates the skin, it also increases suppleness, hyperpigmentation, fights acne and keeps even rosacea at bay.

So, Should I Put Snail Secretion Filtrate On My Skin OR WHAT?

VERDICT: YES

Contemporary science, medical studies, pharmaceutical products using snail ingredients and registered patents over the last twenty years reflect the vericacy of this.

Snail secretion filtrate does indeed have amazing healing properties. Recent scientific studies and innovations show:

  • Snail mucin is amazing for skin; it may help with skin regeneration and stimulating dermal fibroblasts [8]
  • Snail juice is so miraculous that scientists have successfully used it to build a scaffold for human tissue replacement [10]
  • Elements within snail secretion filtrate have been used as an anesthetic. Peptides from the venom of sea snails are used to manufacture the anesthetic drug Zinicotide, and has been on the market since the 1990s.
  • Snail secretion filtrate is almost as good as clinical drugs in how it speeds wound healing and has antibacterial functions. [7]
  • Snail may even help with regulating blood sugar!

Additionally, the numerous patents that have been filed over the last fifteen years involving snail secretion filtrate speak to the rubber stamp of approval modern science has placed on snail juice.

  • The Chinese filed patents in 2007 and 2011 for the use of snail mucin in skin regenerating cosmetics [11]
  • Korean scientists filed patents in 2012 and 2015 on the use of snail juice in antiaging [11]
  • A US patent was filed in 2014 that argued snail mucin could treat rosacea [11]

But Don't Put Live Snails On Your Face Please!

So, in essence -- while the scientific evidence behind snail skincare and the patent community show that there is reason why snails are such a cult K beauty ingredient, (and that you need it for your face NOW), also note the following:

DON’T PUT LIVE SNAILS ON ANY OPEN, INFLAMED SKIN. Clinical studies in which snail slime has been used as a wound healing agent have shown that pasteurized snail extracts should be used in lieu of live snails, as fresh snail slime may contain harmful bacteria. [11].

Are Our Snail Buds Hurt When We Harvest Their Mucin?

The honest answer to this question: it depends on the individual product and ingredients that go into making it.

While ideal snail mucin production occurs when snails feel happy and comfortable, not everyone uses the same methods to get the snail nectar of the gods.

Snail mucin in the Sabbatical Beauty Snail Serum come from small snail family farms in France and are not harmed in the collection of their muciny deliciousness.

So, are you gonna try snail on your face?

So, what do you think, are you going to try snail secretion filtrate? Or have you already tried it?

And finally: since you stayed till the end, here’s your free download to our eBook: a glossary of Korean beauty ingredients and what skin conditions they solve!

And because we love you, here's an infographic summarizing this blog post!

snail secretion filtrate benefits

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adeline Koh, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Sabbatical Beauty, a small-batch, handcrafted Korean-beauty influenced company based in Philadelphia, PA. Sabbatical Beauty has been featured in media outlets like Allure, Slate, Shape and many more.


SNAIL SECRETION FILTRATE FOOTNOTES

[1] Snail--and its larger genus group the Molluscs--have been widely used around the world to treat inflammation in Medieval Eastern Mediterreanean, Ancient Greco-Roman and European communities. From: Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs, Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) 156–178.

[2] From Mémoire sur la Composition Chimique des Escargots et sur les Préparations Pharmaceutiques dont ils sont la Base. Montpellier: F. Gelly; 1840.” Cited in “Helix and Drugs: Snails for Western Healthcare from Antiquity to the Present.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005 Mar; 2(1): 25–28.  

[3] From Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs, Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) 156–178.

[4] Quoting Lamarck, Filopaludina bengalensis Lamarck, 1822f. From Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) 156–178.

[5] Medical reference is the Pomacea lineata Spix, 1827 (Ampullariidae) From Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) 156–178.

[6] Omphalius rusticus Gmelin, 1791 (Tegulidae). From Review of anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and wound healing properties of molluscs Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) 156–178.

[7] Various in vitro and animal scientific experiments (Indonesia, Nigeria) that shown that snail secretion filtrate can be an adequate substitute for expensive synthetic wound-healing drugs have affirmed this.

[8] In a recent 2018 study, the peptide GHK-Cu was shown to increase key functions of healthy skin: increased collagen and elastin production and supporting the function of dermal fibroblasts

[9] A 1998 clinical study showed that copper-binding peptides increased collagen by 70% (as opposed to creams enhanced within Vitamin C or retinol) (See: A. A. Abdulghani, A. Sherr, S. Shirin et al., “Effects of topical creams containing vitamin C, a copper-binding peptide cream and melatonin compared with tretinoin on the ultrastructure of normal skin—a pilot clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study,” Disease Management and Clinical Outcomes, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 136–141, 1998. View at Google Scholar)  

A 2002 presentation also said that a copper-binding peptide facial cream reduced visible signs of aging after 12 weeks of application, improving skin elasticity, clarity, density and thickness (J. Leyden, T. Stephens, M. Finkey, Y. Appa, and S. Barkovic, “Skin care benefits of copper peptide containing facial cream,” in Proceedings of the American Academy of Dermatology Meeting, New York, NY, USA, February 2002)

A 2002 University of Pennsylvania publication showed that a copper-binding peptide eye cream tested on 41 women with sun damage for 12 weeks reduced lines and wrinkles and improved skin density and thickness (J. Leyden, T. Stephens, M. Finkey, and S. Barkovic, Skin Care Benefits of Copper Peptide Containing Eye Creams, University of Pennsylvania, 2002.)

A 2005 study where 67 women between 50-50 years old with advanced sun damage were given a copper peptide binding cream found that a twice daily application reduced fine lines, coarse wrinkles and mottled pigmentation. (M. Finkley, Y. Appa, and S. Bhandarkar, “Copper peptide and skin,” in Cosmeceuticals and Active Cosmetics: Drugs vs. Cosmetics, P. Elsner and H. Maibach, Eds., pp. 549–563, Marcel Dekker, New York, NY, USA, 2005. View at Google Scholar)

[10] A 2016 scientific study successfully used snail mucin to build a scaffold for human tissue replacement

[11] See the patents filed over the use of snail in the last 15 years, such as

  • Chinese patent CN101181221A (2007) for the use of snail in cosmetics for skin regeneration and antibacterial function  
  • Chinese patent CN104254318A (2011) for snail cosmetics using snails that have been fed red ginseng
  • Korean patent KR20130107386A (2012) on fermented snail extract and its use for anti aging effects
  • US patent US20170281690A1 (2014) was filed in the U.S. to patent the use of snail secretion for the treatment of rosacea
  • Korean patent KR101677546B1 (2015) for snail secretion in skincare

[12] Indonesia and Nigerian in vitro studies have shown the presence of harmful bacteria in fresh snail slime when used for wound healing.

WHY SABBATICAL BEAUTY?

WHY CHOOSE US?

  • Our products contain higher percentages of active ingredients than the majority of products on the market. This means you can see amazing differences very quickly, and with only a scant amount of product.
  • Our products are manufactured in-house by a small team of women in Philadelphia, PA, in small batches, with love.
  • Our products are never tested on animals, just Adeline and Sabbatical Beauty employees.
  • Everyone who works for Sabbatical Beauty earns a living wage.

WHAT DO PEOPLE LOVE ABOUT SABBATICAL BEAUTY?

  • Our stuff works. And works quickly, period. And we sell sample sizes, so you don't need to commit a lot financially to test if a product works for your individual skin chemistry.
  • Our mission as a feminist company is not to sell you skincare as something that you need, but rather a routine that will help you with prioritizing yourself and own needs for self-care.
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