A snail of some sort.

Weird Facials: Snails in Thailand

A snail of some sort.

Snail CC Photo Courtesy of Liz Lister

It seems people will try just about anything to look younger, no matter how odd (or gross!) it seems. The latest in the weird category: snails. In Thailand and Japan, aestheticians are putting the slow moving, slime secreting creatures, on faces in the name of more youthful skin. The UK is the latest to offer citizens the chance for a snail facial.

Is it something you’ll soon see in a facial package offered by your Windsor spa? Probably not. But are the claims snail slime can actually reduce wrinkles and improve the look of your skin true? Let’s take a look.

The Science Behind the Slime

The aesthetician places snails on your face in strategic areas – your forehead, cheeks, nose, or anywhere that could benefit from the anti-aging properties of the slime – and allow them to creep across your skin, leaving a trail of slime behind. Those who believe in this treatment say the slime left behind provides numerous benefits to the skin.

There is no doubt there are some great properties contained in snail slime – there are already creams containing the substance on the market, even here in the US. Snail slime contains antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, both things your skin can benefit from. But why let the snail crawl around on your face, when you can just slather a cream containing snail slime, hyaluronic acid, or other antioxidants? There are numerous creams and serums on the market for you to achieve the same results.

The Question

In an interview with the Today Show, the director of cosmetics and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York highlighted the true problem with stating unequivocally the slime is the reason the facial is effective. It all lies in the fact the snail treatment goes along with other treatments common to facials, such as massage. It can’t be said if the results seen are a product of the massage, the snail, or other aspects of the facial experience and spa services.

He says that the movement towards all-natural treatments is leading to an increase in treatments like this – how much more natural can you get than having a creature crawl across your face? But he adds that more research is necessary to make sure it isn’t detrimental in any way, whether to your skin or your overall health. After all, isn’t it kind of like being covered in snail spit? That’s just gross.

Don’t DIY

Think you can just head to the ocean or out to the garden to harvest your own snails, in the hopes of getting these treatments for free on your own? Think again. The snails used in the UK salon that offers the service has about 60 snails, each one raised specially for the salon. They are fed a diet of only organic fruits and vegetables to keep them in tip top shape.

When a snail is used for a treatment, it is then put “out of commission” for a period of four days, a sort of quarantine, negating the chance for cross-contamination. Staff is trained in the proper handling of the snails before they are able to work with them, and to further ensure the welfare of the snails, clients are asked to come product- and makeup-free on the day of their facial.

They claim this treatment is great for those with sensitive skin and acne issues, whose skin would be bothered by the chemicals used in other anti-aging treatments. However, despite the beneficial components of the snail slime, scientists want to see more regarding possible risks. Some scientists also wish to see more studies done on the effectiveness of the treatment. It could be that the nature of the molecules are such they can’t even penetrate beneath the skin.

Don’t worry, you won’t see this on the list of facials in Windsor any time soon! Would you get a snail facial if it were proven to be beneficial, or is it just too weird for you?

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