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“Snail cream has improved my complexion, helped to improve my acne scars, and my pores look much smaller,” says Leah Kien, co-founder and manager at LaaLaa.ca, an online shopping site for Korean cosmetics and beauty products. Kien, who used to use high-end, expensive skincare products, says that since switching to more reasonably-priced Korean products, her skin has changed for the better. Previously a sufferer of cystic acne, she says that the combination of a cleanser from The Face Shop and Jaminkyung’s Crema Caracol Original Cream, which features 90 per cent snail secretion extract, has cleared up her acne and she calls snail cream her “holy grail product.”

She says that although snail creams aren’t very well known in North American markets, they are very popular in Asia and have been available in Europe for years. But once the creams hit Korea — the world’s new beauty capital — they became major money makers for skincare producers. And of course, the gross-sounding formula made snail cream a hot topic. In Asia, you can even get facials where live snails glide across your skin, but the truth is, they actually work.

The first snail cream was developed in Chile in 1995 by a company looking to export snails to Europe for escargot. The culinary business failed, but the family behind the business noticed that small cuts and scrapes on their hands healed quickly without scars when they handled live snails. The Bascuñán family invested money into nine years of research to discover that snail secretion is made up of allantoin, a cellular regenerator, collagen, elastin and glycolic acid. It’s like a totally natural anti-aging serum!

“Snail slime promotes skin regeneration and overall, it helps to condition skin, improving the texture and appearance of wrinkles. It can also help to prevent acne breakouts and reduce the appearance of acne scars,” says Kien. And while we can’t speak for every company that produces these creams, they are, in general, produced without harming the snails. The mucus is simply collected from snail trails, just like you’d see in your garden, except that the snails are encouraged to travel across glass plates where the secretion can be easily scooped up.

Convinced that you need to try snail cream, too? Kien recommends using a snail essence or serum after toning skin (an important step if you follow Korean skincare regimes), then following with a snail moisturizing cream as the last step in your routine.

Products to try

Sanil Beauty Products
From left: Benton SnailBee High Content Steam Cream, $19.99, laalaa.caBenton Snail Bee High Content Essence, $18.99, laalaa.comJaminkyung Crema Caracol Original Cream, $19.99, laalaa.comDr. Jart Premium Time Returning Serum, $54, sephora.com