Helix aspersa muller glycoconjugates may sound like something Mary Poppins would say, but the real definition is simple: snail slime. More specifically, this is the snail slime that is the main ingredient in the natural cosmetic aptly named “snail cream.” Now, slime probably is the last thing you’d want to put on your skin, but snail cream is actually used as a beauty aid and is thought to reduce inflammation and redness, stimulate skin regeneration, and lock moisture into the skin.
The use of snail slime to improve skin dates back to ancient Greece, where Hippocrates, the famous physician, reportedly prescribed crushed snails and sour milk as a way to rid the skin of inflammation. In more recent times, the use of snail creams started when Chilean farmers who handled snails for the French market noticed their skin was visibly smoother. Nowadays, it is the secreted slime discovered by these farmers that is harvested to produce snail cream, not crushed up snails.
When snails are agitated, they excrete a thick fluid as a means to protect themselves. It may sound odd to use something like that on your skin, but remember that humans and most other animals also excrete oils as a way to protect their skin. In fact, the oil your body excretes to moisturize your skin is made up of lipids, sebum oil, and dead skin cells. As a snail protects itself, the slime that is excreted from its body is packed with nutrients like hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, antimicrobial and copper peptides, and proteoglycans. All of these nutrients are already commonly added to skin care products and are thought to provide many benefits to skin.