It might astonish you to know that snail slime contains chemicals which not only rejuvenate the skin, but may help promote hair regrowth too.
Snail slime has a long history as a cosmetic product. The Ancient Greeks and Romans would let snails travel across their faces to moisturize the skin and remove wrinkles. Known also as baba de caracol, it has been used for centuries in Latin America to treat skin and scalp ailments.
How Snail Slime (Caracol) Works
Snail slime is 90% water and rich in glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. It has evolved to protect the skin of the snail from infection and the sun’s damaging UV rays. Its polymer structure makes it highly hygroscopic, which means it seals in moisture at the cuticle. It’s also a strong anti-inflammatory agent, which when applied to the scalp helps to soothe and moisturize sore, damaged areas. The glycoproteins help nourish the hair follicles too, promoting healthy hair regrowth.
This study shows how snail slime promotes the keratinocytes so vital for building strong, healthy hair. Secretion from Cryptomphalus aspersa stimulated growth, migration and survival of human keratinocytes. Expression of adhesion molecules in keratinocyte cells was also improved. The effectiveness of the snail slime increased both over time and with higher dosages.
Chemicals Present in Snail Slime
Acting chemicals you can find in snail slime include the following:
Allantoin, a diureide of glyoxylic acid. Allantoin promotes wound healing by regulating the inflammatory processes that cause tissue damage.
Vitamins A, C and E. These synthesize the production of collagen, an amino acid used to make keratin protein, the main structural component of hair. This study showed that reducing collagen levels near hair follicle stem cells is associated with increased hair loss.
Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids. These promote the renewal of dead skin cells by exfoliation.
Mucopolysaccharides. These help hydrate and protect the scalp.
Commercial Snail Slime Products
Thankfully, gone are the days when snails were slaughtered to extract their slime. Today, snail slime is harvested by safe, mechanical stress, which keeps the snails alive and even pleasures them!
Most commercial snail slime is extracted from the common garden snail species Helix aspersa. Snail slime is marketed primarily as a skincare product for moisturizing the skin and diminishing expression lines. But some people are interested in applying these highly absorbent gel extracts to the scalp to see if they can restore hair regrowth.
Andes Nature produce a Chilean cosmetic snail extract which is free of the harmful parabens often found in cosmetics. BingoSpa supplies a raw snail secretion filtrate sold in 5ml bottles, which can be added to a cosmetic gel for easier scalp application. Finally, Holland & Barrett market their Dr Organic Snail Gel in 50ml jars.
While recent trials have been promising, more research is needed to prove snail slime really does promote healthy hair regrowth. Still, snail slime is a strong anti-inflammatory, which protects the scalp and prevents inhibition of the hair growth cycle. Snail slime’s exfoliating action and propensity for collagen stimulation is also promising.
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References and further reading
- 7 Reasons Why Snail Slime Is Great For Your Hair, Feb 1, 2014
- I Tried Kim Kardashian’s Snail Slime Hair Trick, by Julia Sullivan, Sept 21, 2016
- The Science of Snail Slime, by Beauty by the Geeks, Nov 26, 2014
- Snail Slime (raw material) BingoSpa