Slimy creature creates marketing story. But this time it’s a snail.

Some things just don’t sound right any way you dress them up.  One idea that pops up every couple of years and usually fades away pretty quickly is the idea of using snail slime as an active ingredient in skin care.  It is certainly one that sticks in the mind. There is a reasonable case for its use, though I imagine most readers of this post have already cleared off to another less distressing part of the Internet.

So why would you want to put snail slime on your skin?  Snail slime is composed of a mixture of proteins and polysaccharides.  Both proteins and polysaccharides are water soluble polymers.  This means that they are long thin molecules that can disperse easily in water.   If you dissolve them in water they tend to swell out to fill the space.  If you then dry them they shrink back again.  If you look at my post on the Roman use of egg white as an anti-wrinkle agent you’ll see that this is quite a long and well established idea.   As the polymers shrink they pull the skin to which they have been applied you feel a tightening of the skin in the area applied.  If you are lucky it might get rid of or at least reduce some fine dryness lines as well.

So in principle it could be quite effective.  If there were some reason to believe that snail slime was more effective than other polymers at giving the kind of tightening of the skin that people want, it might make a lot of sense.  But to be honest there isn’t really.  You could make just as good a case for wallpaper paste.  (Don’t try this at home – the preservatives used in wallpaper paste might not be suitable for use on the skin.)

It is easy to get publicity for snail slime because it is such a wacky idea, but it is much less easy to get people to actually buy it.  And if they do invest some of their hard earned on it,  I doubt they’ll find it does anything that can’t be achieved by nicer sounding materials.

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