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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a dual-board-certified dermatologist with over 90 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


Can Snail Mucin Cause Acne? A Dermatologist’s Perspective

Updated: 2 days ago

Snail mucin shot to stardom in 2022, quickly gaining fame for its super-hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits. As it soared in popularity, the internet buzzed with all sorts of claims about its powers—some true, some exaggerated, and some outright wild. Yes, snail mucin hydrates your skin like none other, but the chatter about its acne-fighting abilities? Those are on shaky ground, with little solid research to back them up.

Cosrx Snail Mucin

What is Snail Mucin?

Snail mucin, or snail secretion filtrate, is derived from the external slime of snails. It is rich in glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and antimicrobial peptides, making it a favoured ingredient in many skincare products for its supposed benefits in skin repair, hydration, and elasticity.

The Acne Connection

The potential of snail mucin to cause acne revolves around several factors:

  • Growth Factors: Snail mucin contains growth factors similar to those found in dairy, which are known to sometimes exacerbate acne​. Furthermore, the protein-rich nature of snail mucin also contribute to clogged pores in some individuals, particularly those with oily or acne-prone skin.

  • Allergic Reactions: Between 5-30% of the global population is allergic to house dust mites, a common allergen among individuals with atopic dermatitis and other forms of eczema. Studies have demonstrated that snail mucin contains antigens that cross-react with those of house dust mites. Consequently, individuals allergic to dust mites may experience exacerbated eczema symptoms and impaired skin barrier function upon exposure to snail mucin. Such barrier disruption is a common contributor to acne flare-ups.

  • Improper Application: Snail mucin is rich in 3 humectants: hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and—surprise—glycolic acid (yes, you hear it right!). Humectants are moisture magnets, but here’s the catch: applying them to dry skin pulls moisture out of your skin instead of drawing it in from the environment. This will leave your skin drier, leading to irritation, inflammation, and barrier disruption—a perfect storm for both acne and eczema.

  • Overuse: Going overboard with snail mucin isn't doing your skin any favors either. Using more than two pumps can lead to overhydration. And what thrives in overly moist environments? Bacteria and fungi. This sets the stage for skin issues like acne and fungal acne to bloom.

Scientific and Clinical Insights

While one study highlights the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of snail mucin, which may benefit acne-prone skin by reducing bacteria and inflammation, the studied drug composition also contained other ingredients like Calendula officinalis and glycyrrhiza glaba root extract. Nevertheless. The data is very limited, and no conclusive evidence has been found in the literature so far.

Considerations for Acne-Prone Skin

If you are someone with acne prone skin and eager to try your hand at the 'miracle' product, I have a few recommendations for you:

  1. Patch Testing: If you or anyone in your family has a history of eczema, always, always, always do a patch test before fully integrating snail mucin into your acne-prone skincare routine.

  2. Observation Period: Monitor the skin's response over the first few weeks to self-check whether snail mucin is suitable for your skin type. An adjustment period might be 2-3 weeks before your skin starts adapting to any new ingredient.

  3. Consultation with Dermatologist or Allergist: If you are known to be allergic to house dust mites or snails in general, I would definitely not recommend using snail mucin. You can also consult your dermatologist or allergist to double-check if snail mucin might cross-react in your case.

  4. Usage Techniques: Limit the amount of snail mucin to no more than 2 pumps to prevent overhydration and reduce the risk of fungal acne. Never apply it to dry skin. If you have acne-prone skin and struggle to add snail mucin to your routine, you can layer it with salicylic acid or glycolic acid.

While snail mucin has properties that can potentially enhance skin health, its suitability for acne-prone skin is questionable.


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