Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Snail Trail- Korean Skincare (Missha, Mizon, TonyMoly)


Several years ago I got a PR pitch from a well-known Korean skincare brand that was establishing a stronger hold of the US market. They wanted me to try their range of snail mucous products, which was praised to high heaven. The year was 2010 or so, and while I've heard something about snails in cosmetics it seemed more of a weird gimmicky thing, kind of like the fish pedicure. Also mucous. One of the most revolting words in the English language. I politely declined, and ended up testing some other creams and serums by the company that did diddly squat for me, so I had nothing to say about them and never got around to reviewing.

Fast forward to 2014-2015. I've learned quite a bit about Asian cosmetics and have replaced many of my old staples with basic Japanese and Korean products. I've also done as much research as I could about snails and was happy to discover that the little creatures are not harmed. It makes sense if you think of it: they're needed to keep producing their precious slime (slime-- only marginally better than mucous). I also discovered that it matters a great deal what percentage of the product is actually snail secretion (another bad word). Not all gastropod-based products are created equal, and they differ in texture, absorbency, finish, and performance. Here are the ones I've been testing and using lately:


Missha Super Aqua Snail Sleeping Mask ($23, misshaus.com, made in Korea)
Missha is one of the better-known Korean brands thanks to their groundbreaking BB Cream (which I dislike, but that's a discussion for another post). This snail sleeping mask seems to be everywhere, perhaps because of its very attractive price. However, at only 15% snail extract this is the least concentrated product of this bunch. It also contains 2% baobab tree extract, which makes me think of this:
"Children, watch out for the baobabs"  --Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Anyway, snail and baobab trees aside, this is simply a decently hydrating sleep mask, along the lines of  Dr. Jart+ or Laneige. It's lighter than both, thus less effective for me personally, but might be just your thing if your skin is oily yet dehydrated or if you're 20 years younger than me. I think that the Laneige masks are far (far far) superior, even without a drop of snail goo, and are worth the price difference.

TonyMoly Intense Care Snail Hydro-Gel Mask ($19.30 for a pack of 5 on Amazon, made in Korea)
I'm down to my last two of those, so it's time to reorder. I've tried a variety of snail sheet masks (a sheet mask post is in the works), but TonyMoly's is my favorite because it's extremely hydrating and calming, and the construction of the mask itself is high quality and easy to handle (nothing worse than flimsy masks that disintegrate before they're even fully unfolded). It contains fragrance and mineral oil, so beware, but personally I find these masks very effective, especially before a night out when I'm questioning my sanity for leaving the house. 20-30 minutes of relaxation and I feel like new.

Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream ($16 on Amazon, made in Korea)
This is an odd one. At 92% filtered snail secretion I'd expect it to pack some serious punch, but after weeks of using it I couldn't tell much difference. It's supposed to replace your serum (meaning goes under moisturizer), but the matte feel and finish of the cream gives me a pause every time. It, indeed, requires a good moisturizer, but even so I can't tell if it's doing much for me. Maybe I should use it as a primer. Who knows?

Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream ($9.99 on Amazon, made in Korea)
This is my favorite snail product bar none. NONE. At 74% filtered snail extract I never expected this level of performance. But when Mizon  say "recovery" they truly mean it. Scrapes, cat scratches, breakouts, scars, sun damage--- everything looks and feels better after one or two days of use. The most shocking part was how the gel cream eliminated a milia I had next to my right eye (a result of an eye cream sample I was testing months ago). Within a week of snailing it (and everything else), the pesky little thing opened up and disintegrated without leaving a trace. The tube is 45 ml, and I've been going through them quickly, so I always have backups. On humid summer days I didn't need extra moisturizing. Now that the weather has changed I use LRP Tolerian Riche on top and all is well. I haven't been this crazy about a product in a very long time.

Mizon Black Snail All-in-One Cream ($18.33 on Amazon, made in Korea)
Are black snails the gastropod equivalent of black cats, hence more magical? No idea.  At 90% snail extract this cream is visibly different than the other Mizon All-in-1 above. The texture is... slimy. Really. It's quite runny, But also a lot more hydrating and nourishing. I use it as an extra treatment and another layer under my SPF, and so far it's kept seasonal effects at bay. I also massage it into my hands, as no residue is ever left and I can resume typing while admiring the plumped up appearance of my skin. I think it has helped lighten the scars on my right hand (cats ran through it).

Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule ($13 on Amazon, made in Korea)
A clear serum (80% snail) in a bottle with a dropper, this caters to the Western concept of serum under a cream. It absorbs quickly, feels good on skin, and have been a good companion after vigorous cleansing. I think you can alternate between this and one of the creams, or simply choose a preferred texture. I don't find it any less or more effective than the Black Snail, but it's good to have options. one advantage of the Ampoule formula and texture is that you can mix it into your base makeup (foundation, BB cream, Cover FX drops) and get a smooth and radiant skin.


How do you feel about snail products? Have you tried any?

(An outtake photo of Miss Olivia inspecting the products can be seen on The Non-Blonde Facebook group. Have you joined us yet?)

25 comments:

  1. In 2007 I caught chicken pox at the age of 27 (never had the disease as a child). I spent a week covered in itchy pustules and to my horror the most affected area was my face. I even took to sleeping sitting upright because I was afraid of turning in my sleep and bursting the pustules (popular wisdow says that if they burst, they are certain to leave a depression scar). As soon as I could, I saw a dermatologist who prescribed three products: 1) clean my face with Bioderma micellar water only (that was the first time I heard of it), no soap, no water); 2) apply a regenerating cream containing snail secretion from a Spanish medical lab, called Endocare; and 3) always, always apply SPF 50 (in that case, LRP Anthelios XL). After one month he introduced a topical medical-grade retinoid to be applied in the scars only. I had chicken pox in early July and had pustules the size of a dime on my face, but by late September my skin was clear and perfect both in texture and in tone.

    I'm a firm believer in the regenerating properties of snail secretion but I am careful when I buy products claiming to contain it. I've tried the Missha All in One Cream and recently purchased the Ampoule and like both very much. Now you've left me curious to try the Recovery Gel Cream (sorry for the long comment, but I thought it was a useful story to share).

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    1. Oh my! I remember clearly having chickenpox at age five, and it was a nightmare. Can't imagine the horror of dealing with it as an adult with the added anxiety of scarring. Thank you for sharing your experience. It's affirming my experience with the healing properties of this ingredient. I hope others read it and take note.

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  2. I've heard many wonderful things about the magical snail "goo" but I will need to give myself a serious pep talk to try it. Having lived in FL for 18 years, critters creep me out! *shudder*

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    1. I know. The first time I heard about it I said "a world of NO". It helps that the products have a pretty familiar texture, consistency and a neutral cosmetic smell. You're not reminded of snails when applying them.

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  3. Mizon, sadly, makes me break out.
    Or maybe not sadly.
    There are snail (and other critters) farms in my prefecture and it's a cruel business. And as I've learned from the snail farmers, snails do feel pain.
    So now I'm actually glad that snail filtrate breaks me out.

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    1. Oh! That's horrible on all counts. I dearly dearly hope that these companies are more careful and humane in their treatment of snails. I love snails (hence the little figurines in the photo).

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    2. Unfortunately snail slime is big business and to get enough of it on industrial scale is not easy.
      Cosmetic companies don't really care where the slime comes from and how it was obtained.

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  4. I've also heard good things about the Missha Time Revolution which is supposed to be as good as the SK-II. Have you tried this one? Obviously this one doesn't have snail it it.

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    1. Not yet, but it goes on my "Buy" list right away.

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    2. I've been using Missha's Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (Intensive) for over a year now and think it has SKII completely beat but be sure you order the "Intensive" as it is the newer, improved version.

      Here is the ingredient list: Saccharomyces ferment filtrate (it contains 80% of the filtrate), propanediol, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, niacinamide, polyquaternium-51, bifida ferment lysate, amaranthus caudatus seed extract, raffinose, ulmus davidiana root extract, pentylene glycol, piper methysticum leaf/root/stem extract, glycerin, beta vulgaris (beet) root extract, hydrolyzed corn starch, centella asiatica extract, portulaca oleracea extract, phenoxyethanol, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, phellodendron amurense bark extract, cassia alata leaf extract, tromethamine, water, adenosine, ethylhexylglycerin hydrogenated lecithin, acetic acid, lactic acid, sodium hyaluronate.

      It is sooooo soothing. I never want to be without this essence--at least, not until something better comes along :-) It boosts hydration, softens and calms the skin, and helps even skintone and all for about $30 for 5 oz. compared to $165 for the same amount of SKII. It's easy to see why so many SKII Essence devotées have gone over to Missha. After cleansing, I pour a bit into the palm of my hands and then pat it all over my face, neck, and décolletage. It does have a slightly yeasty smell when you first apply it, but it vanishes in a flash. I order mine from Amazon but it ships for free from Korea. I've had no problems with the vendor or the product. I highly recommend anyone interested in the benefits of an essence give the Time Revolution (the "Intensive" version) by Missha a try.

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    3. Thank, Eileen! I just ordered it from Amazon. Better price than from Missha's US site.

      It's always "until something better comes along", right? And there always IS something better. That's a big part of the fun.

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    4. I hope it works well for you, Gaia. What is one person's wonder can be another person's nightmare; so let's hope this falls into the wonder category for you :-) As for that proverbial something better, chasing after that is definitely part of the fun and seldom involves much of a risk--except to our pocketbooks! LOL.

      We're lucky to be living in a time and place where so many people are well educated regarding ingredients and where there are safety regulations in place. I just finished reading Lisa Eldridge's book (OK, but repetitive and certainly not ground breaking). Although the book is only so-so, the section about ceruse (the lead based foundation) with the stunning and disturbing photograph of a woman's makeup running off her face, distorting her beauty, as she glances heavenward with a "Why me?" look haunts me. What price beauty, indeed!

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    5. I have just started using Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner - love it. Really soothing and has helped my hydration levels and redness. Highly recommend it. Can't bring myself to do the snail thing!

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    6. Eileen, I felt the same about the photograph. I hope nothing we do today will look to future generations as insane as the lead paint.

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    7. Maureen, thanks for the tip. I'm adding it to my list of things to try in the near future.

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  5. Am doing very, very little in the way of skin care these days, but I have a real respect for Korean skincare products and the snail products make me think of early morning gardening, which is always a wonderful thing. I'm horrified to the extreme by slugs, but I feel a certain fondness for snails and somehow the snail association seems to give these products a certain magical, fairy tale quality - something I'm not immune to. I read this earlier and couldn't get these products out of my mind, so the Mizon Gel Cream and Ampoule are both now on their way to me.
    Anna

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    1. Let me know how they work for you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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  6. I have used the Endocare cream Patuxxa used for her chicken pox pustules, I live in Spain and it's quite easy to find in any pharmacy. I usually use it after summer, as I spent part of the month of August at the seaside, and even if I'm very careful with SPF, my skin suffers and, comes September, loves to be treated to Endocare.

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    1. I see that Endocare products are available from Amazon. I'll have to investigate them soon.

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  7. I am now strongly tempted by the Recovery Gel Cream. I only wonder where there is space for it among all my other skin care products morning and evening... first world problem? :)

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    1. I know the feeling... Eventually the Recovery Gel has taken over a large part of my routine. At least for now.

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  8. I've been getting snail sheet masks from my local Asian grocery store for a while now, but I saw the Tony Moly mask at Ulta the other day and freaked out I was so excited. I'm really looking forward to finally try it out in a hydrogel instead of a cotton sheet. =D

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    1. The hydrogel is fantastic. With all my affection to the various cotton masks, this is less messy and feels more hi-tech.

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  9. So after doing some research on beauty blogs and finding a study on positive effects of using snail extract in skin care products from the NIH, I'm sold (finally!) and taking the plunge.
    Will be purchasing Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream this weekend.

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  10. IN WHICH ORDER DO YOU USE THESE CREAMS? LIKE WHEN YOU APPLY THEM WHICH ONE GOES ON FIRST, SO ON, AND SO FORTH.

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