Imagine this: you’re settling back onto the aestheticians table, ready for some relaxing skin TLC, when a bunch of live snails get unleashed onto your visage. That’s what an emerging wellness ritual out of northern Thailand is all about. Snails, all over and around your face.
It’s been practiced for years in Southeast Asia (one of the world’s top spa destinations), but snail facials are just making their way into spas across the world. France, London, and Tokyo have started offering the novelty treatment in the past year.
Why would you want to subject yourself to such a treatment, let alone shell out money for it? The fluid exuded by snails under stress is said to contain nutrients and antioxidants that act against acne, stretch marks, scars and signs of aging, and it’s use in beauty rituals actually dates back to ancient Greece when the physician Hippocrates reportedly crushed snails and sour milk as a skin remedy. When it comes to the weird ingredients in skincare products, snail slime seems pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff out there (heard of the one with human umbilical cord in it? Yeah. Snail mucin doesn’t seem quite so gross now, right?)
Despite it’s history of use in Eastern countries and celebrity endorsements (Katie Holmes is said to be a fan), North American dermatologists are still skeptical. According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, “there are no respected scientific studies to prove that it actually works.”
Hence, the only snail facial treatments offered in North America are pretty under-the-radar. (Read about one woman’s “EscarGlow facial” in a New York plastic surgeon’s office in Elle – which was a pretty positive experience, in spite of the above dermatologist’s dismissal.)
If you can’t get across the border to get your own EscarGlow treatment, look for one of the following snail-based products you can get in Canada and give your skin a snail treatment at home.
Tony Moly Age-Defying Snail Hydro-Gel Face Mask Sheet ($12)
This gel-based sheet mask combines snail mucin with a powerful combo of seaweed, sea algae extract, and traditional Korean herbs, all of which work together to nourish the skin and protect against environmental damage. After cleansing and toning, apply the mask on clean, dry skin and leave on for 30 minutes.