One of the products featured in this post was provided for review by Memebox US. I have since repurchased that product several times over.
Updated May 27, 2016: Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and Snail 92 All In One Cream ratings adjusted to reflect how I now feel about them after very long-term use.
There are two kinds of skincare enthusiasts: those willing to smear purified snail goo on their faces, and those who find the idea totally repulsive. Think you belong to the second category? Hear me out. Plenty of your fellow topical molluscophobes have gone from noisily dry-heaving at the thought of snail mucin on their faces to enthusiastically slathering themselves in snail. It’s kind of hard not to, once you see what snail goo can do for you.
I named my blog Fifty Shades of Snail and adopted the blogger name Fiddy Snails (Chel at Holy Snails started that) because I belong to the Snail Clan. Let me see if I can recruit you, too.
A product featured in this post was provided by Memebox for my consideration. Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).
Snails and Your Skin
A few years ago, snail goo, a.k.a. snail slime, snail mucin, snail mucusretch, or snail secretion filtrate, was a trendy skincare ingredient making the rounds from Japanese spas to the Western media (and imagination). Snail is no longer the much-hyped fad ingredient that it once was. Unlike many fad ingredients, however, snail hasn’t faded into obscurity. Instead, at the end of its long slow journey from medicinal use in Ancient Greece to cosmetic use on my Ancient Face, snail has settled placidly into its current role as a surprisingly standard skincare ingredient.
Snail mucin is collected without injury to the snails. The snails are fed a clean and nutritious diet and, during the typical harvesting process, are placed on rough and/or very mildly electrified gratings. The mucus that they produce to lubricate and protect their skin from the surface they’re on is then gathered and purified for cosmetic use. Alternatively, snail slime is sometimes produced by…uh…manual stimulation of the snails. Some manufacturers are even gentler still, as we’ll see below.
What does that protective goo do, though? The research into snail mucin’s effects as a topical skin treatment isn’t extensive, but as I’ve said before, a lack of research does not demonstrate a lack of effectiveness, and the research that does exist is promising. Snail secretion is humectant, emollient, antimicrobial, antioxidant-rich, and contains collagen, elastin, and cell communication-facilitating glycoproteins, among other skin-friendly components. It may have wound healing abilities and shows promise for the repair of photoaged skin (snail is the star of my post-sun skincare routine) and atrophic acne scarring. At minimum, therefore, snail slime is a lovely natural moisturizer. It may also have long-term anti-aging and skin-smoothing benefits. Also, if you prefer your skincare to come from nature with as few intervening stops in the lab as possible before it hits your face, snail mucin fits those criteria very well.
As with any other unfamiliar skincare ingredient, patch test to rule out any sensitivities and remember that YMMV–but don’t dismiss snail slime out of hand just because it sounds strange. Snail can be great. So great, in fact, that the more snail secretion a product contains, the more I want to put it on my face. And that leads us to the real reason we’re here today: to learn more about COSRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream!
Review: COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
As a longtime snail secretion fan, I’ve tried several of the well known Korean snail products, among them Benton’s, Mizon’s, and Missha’s. The Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is the snailiest of all the snail products I’ve used. It is also the snail product that got me back into snail products after a long break.
Purpose: COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a lightweight hydrating essence that claims to smooth and moisturize skin.
Best suited for: All skin types.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to snail mucin or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: After cleansing and toning, smooth over face. Pat in if desired and continue with the rest of your skincare routine.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate, betaine, butylene glycol, 1,2-hexanediol, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, arginine, allantoin, ethyl hexanediol, sodium polyacrylate, carbomer, phenoxyethanol
Notable ingredients: The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is an incredible 96% snail secretion filtrate. It is, in other words, almost pure snail goo. This maximizes your chances of enjoying the benefits of snail mucin. This also leaves little room for anything else in the product. That other 4% contains small amounts of bland and generally non-irritating moisturizing agents, as well as a preservative. Which is a good thing in a skincare product, believe me.
Product comparisons: Instead of discussing the insignificant amounts of Not-Snail Stuff in the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, therefore, here I’m going to talk about how it differs from its two best-known competitors: Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence and Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule. The Benton product was one of my gateways into K-beauty, and I used it and then the Mizon product extensively for over a year. I loved both the Benton and Mizon snail goos, but they’re different animals altogether from COSRX’s version.
Both Benton and Mizon pack their snail products full of additional extracts and actives to achieve additional effects. Mizon’s Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule is a traditional serum with a variety of peptides, which may offer anti-aging benefits. A light, watery gel, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence also contains a peptide, as well as bee venom and the brightening agent arbutin, a milder form of hydroquinone. What Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Essence does not contain is an adequate preservative system, which can make the otherwise fantastic product pretty problematic.
All those extras can certainly enhance a product. What they can also do is increase the chances of adverse reactions, particularly in people with sensitive skin or who have issues with botanical extracts (or bee allergies, in Benton’s case). COSRX targets sensitive and troubled skin types and focuses on minimal ingredients lists for minimal risk. You won’t find row after row of tantalizing (but potentially irritating) botanical extracts or exciting-sounding pseudoactives here. Based on its short ingredients list, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence has one job and one job only. It exists to provide nutrient-packed hydration to your skin.
And that’s exactly what it does.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a clear, thick, slippery and slow-flowing substance that smells like nothing and feels exactly how you’d imagine purified snail slime would: smooth, dense, and lubricating. Spread over my face, the gloopy stuff also feels completely wonderful. As the product sinks in, the initial cooling, refreshing sensation turns into a deep hydration. On average, this essence raises my skin’s hydration level by about 10%. It’s not the highest, but it seems to penetrate the deepest and lasts a long time. And once the product absorbs, my skin looks and feels bare, but bare in the most supple, resilient way.
It doesn’t brighten. It doesn’t instantly erase dark spots or smooth away wrinkles. What COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence does is impart an incredible sense of comfort to my skin. It eases dryness, calms irritation, and makes my face feel smooth and healthy, deeply nourished and fortified against external irritants. In other words, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence does for my face exactly what snail secretion in its purest form does for the happy little snails who secrete it.
Conclusion: I don’t usually get this enthused about a product that doesn’t do anything but moisturize, but there’s something about the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence that just does it for me. I’m almost through with my first bottle of the stuff, and I bought a backup bottle of this ages ago so that I wouldn’t find myself without. When it comes to snail goo, this is the purest and, in my experience, the best of the best. Update: I have purchased and gone through three or four bottles of this stuff. I love it. I love it so much that I have changed its rating.
4/5 5/5 HOLY GRAIL
Review: COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream
I feel bad about not getting this cream sooner, because if I had, I could have tested it for long enough to write a formal review. Unfortunately(?), I’m so stocked up on creams that I could never justify the purchase of yet another cream, and I ended up receiving this one without enough time to fully evaluate. Memebox sent it to me when we first began discussing our snaily snail collaborationkeep reading a couple of weeks ago. I have been using it nearly nonstop since I got my jar, however, and I know my skin well enough to feel confident that my first impressions accurately reflect what the product does for my skin.
Purpose: COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream is a medium-weight moisturizing cream.
Best suited for: Normal, oily, and dehydrated/oily skin types.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to snail secretion filtrate, coconut oil derivatives like caprylic/capric triglyceride, olive oil derivatives like sorbitan olivate, fatty alcohols, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: After all the cleansing, toning, essence, serum, and ampoule steps in your skincare routine, smooth a thin layer over face. Follow up with a sunscreen during the day and, if desired, a sleeping pack at night.
COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate, betaine, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, sodium hyaluronate, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid, arginine, dimethicone, carbomer, panthenol, allantoin, sodium polyacrylate, xanthan gum, ethyl hexanediol, adenosine, phenoxyethanol
Notable ingredients: Think of the COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream as the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, but thickened up into a cream. Because, as you may have noticed from the ingredients, that’s pretty much what it is. This cream contains 92% snail slime (the same amount, by the way, as the generally well received Mizon Snail Repair All In One Cream). The rest of it is moisturizing ingredients–emollient and occlusive ones as opposed to the additional humectants in the essence–and preservative. Once again, it looks like COSRX aimed for simplicity in a bid to keep the risk of irritation low and the focus on the snail strong.
Product comparisons: There are plenty of other snail creams on the market. The three I’ve used the most (as in, 1 or more jars finished) are Missha’s, Benton’s, and Mizon’s.
I don’t really count the Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream as a snail cream, though. My least favorite snail cream, the Missha product seems to me to be way too little snail and way too much silicone and perfume. So forget about that one for now, unless silicones and perfumes are your thing.
As with their snail serums, Mizon and Benton pile on the extracts and pseudoactives in their snail creams. In addition to the botanicals, Mizon’s snail cream contains a couple of different peptides; Benton’s thicker, richer snail cream doubles up on the brightening ingredients, offering both arbutin and niacinamide. And once again, while those extras can be great for some, for others, they just raise the chances of irritation. Plus, let’s be honest. The point of a snail cream is the snail, right?
If you want some snail, COSRX’s snail cream delivers in pretty much the same way that the essence does. The first time I opened the jar and scooped out a little dab of the scentless, smooth, goopy, ever so slightly translucent cream, I could tell that it was made from lots and lots of snail secretion and very little else.
Much like the essence, COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream is a simple, single-minded product. Its purpose is to nourish, moisturize, and protect skin, the same way snail secretions protect the skins of snails. Have you ever seen a snail with flaky skin or wrinkles? Has any snail ever complained to you of feeling dry and tight? No. Ever wondered why? Now you know the answer.
Over the course of my many, many experiments with face creams, I’ve become attuned to the subtle differences in effect between different ones. Some are more firming, others are more occlusive, some brighten without moisturizing all that much, etc. The effect the COSRX snail cream has is to make my skin unbelievably soft, like seriously, you have no idea how soft my skin feels when I use this stuff. Soft like a baby’s cheek. Soft like fresh flower petals when the flower hasn’t yet figured out that it’s been picked. So soft I can’t stop touching my face or forcing Mr. Fiddy to do the same.
COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream does all this softening without making my skin feel oily or look shiny at all. On average, it increases my skin’s hydration by 10%, just like the essence, but it also increases the lipid content within my stratum corneum–the outermost layer of skin–by 5%. These are lipids that make its way in between the cells, not lipids that sit on top of the skin. They smooth and soften skin’s texture, not turn it into a shiny mess.
This light and non-greasy formulation makes the Advanced Snail 92 particularly suitable for oilier skin types and really great for oily/dehydrated skin types that need moisture but don’t want extra shine. Compared to the kinds of creams I normally go for, however, COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream isn’t the most moisturizing. Dry skin types may want to use this product as more of a whipped essence, in the vein of the Mizon snail cream, rather than as a standalone moisturizer. I did a stupid thing earlier this week and followed up a chemical peel with my usual Curology tretinoin, and while my skin is definitely nice and smooth now, it’s also feeling much drier than usual. I still find this cream enough for daytime if I use my moisturizing Senka sunscreen on top, but at night, I’ve been topping it off with either a COSRX overnight mask or my Goodal fermented honey sleeping pack for best results.
Conclusion: I mean, I really didn’t need another cream in my collection, considering that I have over half a dozen already, but I’m really happy that I have this, and I’m actually positive I’ll purchase another jar when this runs out. Very few things make my skin feel as soft as this product does while simultaneously not making me oily or shiny at all. There are times when I wish it were slightly more moisturizing, but for oilier skin types, that’s probably not going to be an issue at all. Update: I have now purchased two or three jars of this product myself. I love it and apparently can’t live without it. Rating changed accordingly.
4/5 5/5 HOLY GRAIL
Should I use the COSRX snail essence OR the cream, or both? How do I decide?
Because these products are so similar, it may seem redundant to use both of them in the same routine. If your skincare goals are complex enough to require different actives for each step of your skincare routine, then it’s probably a better idea to decide which one of these is more suitable for you, and save the other step for something that targets a different issue.
With that being said, there’s nothing at all wrong with using both of them, either. Their functions are different. If you’re looking for a nice mild hydrating essence and a nice bland moisturizer, the COSRX snail essence and snail cream give a one-two punch with the power to deliver beautifully soft, smooth, supple skin that’s nourished from within and protected from external irritants. Like all else in skincare, it all comes down to what you want.
Does COSRX obtain their snail secretion humanely?
Oh, man. You know it.
Because COSRX is a very animal-friendly company and because Hye-Young is a very awesome friend of our animal pals, she took the initiative to let me know her understanding of how their supplier collects the snail goo:
They don’t do any electronic shock or tease them to get the ingredient. Just leave snails on the nap and in the dark room and wait for the right time to get the ingredient.
Incidentally, this generates some of the cutest mental images I’ve ever enjoyed.
Are you ever going to tell me where to buy COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence and COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream?
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is available from:
COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream is available from:
How do you feel about snail goo in your skincare?
This post contains affiliate links, which generate commissions that support Fifty Shades of Snail and Fiddy’s further skincare adventures. Full disclosures can be found here.
© 2015 unless otherwise noted (copyright and sharing policy)