Live snails, hailed as an elixir for youthful and beautiful skin, take centre stage in an unusual new “snail facial” launching tomorrow at a spa in central Tokyo.
The treatment involves a therapist placing snails directly onto the faces of reclining clients and allowing the molluscs to move at random, leaving trails of mucus slime in their wake.
The secreted snail mucus is key to the facial, as it reportedly contains a beauty-boosting cocktail of proteins, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, which help skin retain moisture, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin.
Snail mucus as a skin repair serum is becoming popular. It is used by the snail itself as a skin protectant but also for adherence, lubrication, repulsing predators and also during reproduction. It consists almost entirely of water with glycoproteins. I don’t know if it has any actual positive properties as is touted. Snails can adjust the discharge of slime so you may want to keep them calm for this particular procedure so they do not feel threatened. There may be a potential for allergic reactions and of course the ICK! reaction but it doesn’t seem too bad – we have fish that eat off dead skin during pedicures. And this cool, wet version is better than THIS insanity. Or blood facial weirdness.
Animal products have long been used as skin applications. This is not so weird, just a bit freaky. However, be very wary of the effort and money in such novelty treatments. They are often more hype than reality. The purpose of this snail slime is to “stimulate the formation of collagen, elastin and dermal components that repair the signs of photoaging and, [...] to minimize the damage generated by free radicals that are responsible for premature skin aging. You can get results just as good or better by other means. Or, it could be complete bunk altogether.