Science World
Science World for grades 6–10 brings science to life with fascinating feature articles and hands-on activities that reinforce science concepts and help students build test-taking and critical-thinking skills.
Some people claim that slime from a giant African land snail helps to regenerate skin and eliminate wrinkles. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters)

A Slimy Facial

An article about a beauty treatment where snails crawl on people’s faces.

Some people do wild things for beauty—like pay to have giant snails crawl all over their face! A salon in Siberia, a region in eastern Russia, claims that the slime of the giant African land snail helps to regenerate skin and eliminate wrinkles.

Snail slime’s antimicrobial properties protect the gastropod’s skin from bacteria. But there’s no scientific evidence that the slime benefits people’s complexions in any way.

A snail’s slime is mostly water. The other major component is glycoconjugate, which gives the slime its snotlike feel, says Mark Davies, a biologist at the University of Sunderland in Great Britain.

A person receiving a snail facial may feel a cooling sensation as the water in the trail of slime left behind by the snail evaporates, says Davies. But that’s about it.

Even if snail slime did have proven beautifying effects, it wouldn’t penetrate the skin deeply enough or last long enough to make a difference, according to Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, a dermatologist at the St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. “Our skin is a great barrier,” she says. “It’s designed to keep things out.”

Snail slime is also extremely sticky. Once the facial is over, the slime would be tough to remove—even with scrubbing.

What does Davies think about the snail facial? “It’s absolutely bonkers.”

This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2012 issue of Science World. For more from Science World, click here.


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