What does snail slime contain?

Here are all the substances that snail slime is rich in.

    In recent years, land snail slime has been the subject of numerous studies aimed at highlighting its composition and potentially beneficial properties.

    The interest in this substance, however, derives from much older times than the current ones. For example, already in Ancient Greece, Hippocrates used snails to relieve skin inflammation, while in 1700 doctors used a preparation based on snail mucus to treat dermatitis and burns.

    Currently, the secretion of snails is used in cosmetics as an ingredient in products for the face and body, and in the pharmaceutical sector, to produce soothing cough syrups.

    But what does snail slime contain and what are its properties? Why is this substance becoming more and more in demand, especially for skin care?

    In this article we will analyze in detail the composition of snail slime, so as to provide you with answers and clarifications in this regard.

    Composition of snail slime

    The chemical composition of snail slime varies depending on the species. The variety from which the secretion for cosmetic and pharmaceutical use is extracted is the Helix Aspersa , i.e. the classic garden snail .

    Researchers have highlighted that the mucus of this species contains a vast number of substances beneficial to human skin , namely:

    • glycolic acid
    • allantoin
    • collagen
    • elastin
    • glycoproteins
    • antioxidants, including vitamin A, C and E

    The richness of these elements makes snail slime an ideal ingredient for anti-aging, hydrating, rebalancing and soothing serums and creams .

    Let's see below the properties and benefits of the substances contained in the mucus of snails.

    Glycolic acid

    glycolic acid contained in snail slime

    Image by Freepik

    Glycolic acid , the substance in which snail slime is richest, is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) capable of penetrating the skin and known for its exfoliating action.

    In fact, it is capable of removing dead cells, sebum residues and other impurities present on the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin.

    This property of glycolic acid promotes cell turnover , i.e. the replacement of old cells with new cells, and stimulates the production of collagen and elastin.

    Glycolic acid can also improve skin hydration thanks to its humectant action, i.e. capable of attracting and retaining water.


    Allantoin is a ureide that derives from the oxidation of uric acid.

    It is mainly found in vegetables, but is also produced by some animals (including, in fact, snails) and has regenerating, soothing, healing and protective properties for the skin.

    It also promotes cell turnover thanks to its keratolytic and re-epithelializing activity: it dissolves the stratum corneum of the epidermis, eliminating dead cells , and participates in the formation of new epithelial tissue.


    Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body that provides support to connective tissues, maintains skin elasticity and promotes joint flexibility.

    It is divided into endogenous and exogenous collagen: the endogenous one is produced by our body, while the exogenous one is assimilated from the outside.

    The endogenous production of collagen, however, decreases over time; furthermore, after approximately 25-30 years of age, the fibers already present in the body deteriorate more and more rapidly.

    Snail slime represents a good source of exogenous collagen and can help slow down the consequences of the degradation of endogenous collagen, such as the appearance of wrinkles and loss of skin tone.

    woman after using snail slime with collagen


    Elastin is also a protein found in human connective tissues, including the dermis, the connective tissue of the skin.

    Its function consists in making the tissues capable of deforming and returning to their initial stage when subjected to mechanical tension.

    Like collagen, the elastin present in our body also decreases over time. The skin loses elasticity, and sagging skin (one of the main signs of aging) becomes increasingly evident.

    Snail mucus is rich in elastin, so applying it to the skin can help supplement elastin.


    Glycoproteins are a family of proteins that have at least one amino acid covalently linked to a sugar or carbohydrate chain.

    By analyzing snail slime, the presence of a glycoprotein called acacin was highlighted, capable of inhibiting the growth of bacteria and attacking their plasma membranes.

    Probably, thanks to glycoproteins such as acacin, snail slime has an antimicrobial action on the skin.

    Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C and E)

    Snail slime contains several antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E.

    Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules, such as free radicals.

    Free radicals are harmful to our body because they accelerate cell death and damage DNA. Among the consequences of their action we also find oxidative stress , one of the main causes of premature skin aging.

    Using cosmetic products rich in antioxidants, therefore, helps to slow down the negative effects of free radicals, benefiting the beauty of the skin.

    In conclusion

    Snail slime is rich in glycolic acid, allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycoproteins and antioxidants, highly beneficial substances for the skin.

    The synergy between these substances makes the secretion of snails, in particular of the Helix Aspersa species, an ideal cosmetic ingredient in anti-aging, hydrating, protective and anti-inflammatory treatments.

    A natural and functional substance, we are not surprised that snail slime is so requested and studied in order to identify all the potential uses both in the cosmetic and medical fields.

    Featured image: Wirestock image on Freepik

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