When word started spreading a few years back that Korea was coming out with beauty products made of snail extract, my first thought was, “Okay you guys, this is TOO FAR!”
I am certainly not the kind of lady who’s afraid of trying new things, but this just seemed a bit extreme. Like, how could the benefits of anything coming from a snail actually outweigh the serious yuck-factor of knowing that I was spreading snail slime all over my face? No. Thank. You.
But I come to you today as a reformed woman. I am not ashamed to say that I was wrong, and that I’ve learned the error of my ways. Snail-based products may actually be the holy grail of skin care. Who could have known that snails can have the same powerful effect that other prestige, expensive beauty products have? I certainly didn’t! It’s got hyaluronic acid, proteins, elastin, and glycolic acid—all ingredients that are commonly found in face creams and masks. So that means that the snail enzyme helps fade scars, reduces hyperpigmentation, smoothes, brightens, firms, and revitalizes skin.
These days, there is a never-ending world of snail-based products available at our fingertips. It can be slightly overwhelming when trying to figure out which to use as you’re just starting to dip your toes into the snail pool. There are creams, lotions, masks, sprays and patches.
My beginning foray into the snail beauty world was via Tony Moly’s Ferment Snail Eye Mask. They’re small, gel-like patches that you stick under your eyes and then chill out. Let them work their magic while you busy yourself with other things. Initially, I was worried that they’d be overly slimy or that they’d have a weird smell or something like that. But I’m happy to report that they’re not too different than other gel-based under eye patches; they are slightly sticky and they have virtually no scent. I kept them on for upwards of an hour as I went about my very important business of watching Narcos and eating chips with queso until the patches dried and I peeled them off. My under-eye skin felt smooth and tight, like I had just had a facial.
As a result of my Mexican and French heritage, I’ve got pretty sallow skin. I’ve had serious dark circles under my eyes since I was nine-years-old—the kind you’d imagine Serge Gainsbourg would have after a three night bender. But after using these patches, my circles were noticeably lighter, much to my delight. I would most definitely use these before a special occasion like a wedding to brighten up that area.
Once I had tried the eye patches, I was no longer afraid to delve a little deeper into snail territory so I decided to try Missha’s Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Hydro-Gel Mask. I figure if I can get the magic that happened under my eyeballs to happen all over my face, it was worth some snail slime on my precious skin. The mask goes on like a regular sheet mask, and I left it on for about 40 minutes until I had effectively terrified everyone in my home by asking them to please put the lotion in the basket (I know I’m not the first beauty writer to make that joke while wearing a sheet mask, but it’s funny every time, okay?).
It was super cooling and calming, which I was desperately in need of as I was growing a giant zit on my chin and my skin had been red and angry for days. It smells clean and even slightly floral, but not overpoweringly so— I really enjoyed it. When I took the mask off, my skin was seriously chill (I’m originally from California, so chill is very important to me). The irritation and redness that had been tormenting me vanished and my skin was baby soft. This sheet mask is definitely going into the weekly rotation over at Casa Avila Uribe.
I hope that my initial pleasant experience in the land of snail-care helps inspire you to jump on the bandwagon, too! It’s a really refreshing way to brighten up and take care of your skin, and I’m so glad I finally got the guts to try it out.
—Lourdes Avila Uribe
Lourdes is a freelance beauty and culture writer living in New York City. Her best friend is her dog, Maeby, and her favorite star constellation is Lyra. She listens to Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet soundtrack more than is healthy for an adult, and she will put just about anything on her face in the name of science and beauty. She writes a blog about beauty and babies called Light in the Heart based on her love of skincare and her decades of experience as a nanny. When not busy fighting the patriarchy, she can be found wandering around, looking for food. Follow Lourdes on Instagram @lourdzilla and Twitter @lourdes_avila.