You may not be able to milk an almond, but did you know you can milk a snail? Well, sort of. New reports reveal that Thai farmers are cashing in by creating snail farms where they ‘milk’ the garden creatures for their slime, all in the name of beauty. Yes, really.
Snails have long been thought to hold the secret to glowing, youthful skin, and it’s all thanks to their ‘mucin’ – that’s slime to me and you – which is apparently an anti-ageing super ingredient.
“In recent years it has become a popular ingredient in Korean and American beauty products,” Patricia Boland, skin expert at Colorescience UK, tells me. “Mucin is used in beauty products as it contains glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid. These are known to benefit skin as it stimulates collagen, slows down the process of wrinkles, heals acne prone skin and reduces scar tissue. They are sold with the promise of stimulating collagen (which should never be stated, as everyone’s skin will react to the ingredient in different ways), but it has seen improvements in facial lines and wrinkles.”
Once a garden pest, the snails are now being bred in Thailand because their slime is ‘worth more than gold’ thanks to the global demand for its use in cosmetics. With more than 80 farms in just one province already, Thai farmers have spotted a golden opportunity and are producing as much as 600 litres of mucin per month.
Before you jet off to save the snails, don’t fret – the farming process is seen as humane. Water is dripped over the snails to encourage them to secrete the youth-boosting slime, which doesn’t harm them, and they’re apparently on a diet of veg and grains.
Sounds pretty cheap to maintain – which is why the three-figure prices attached to some face masks and serums containing the hero slime are a little harder to swallow…