Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Snail What? On My Face!

"Snail slime contains 91-98% water. The slime is filtered multiple times to increase its concentration and ensure its purity. Some snail slime products claim to contain as much as 97% snail secretion filtrate. However, the consistency and quality of the snail mucus should also be taken into account when looking for a good product." 
The YS Beauty Lab

"In the last ten months alone, we've seen a 46 percent increase in snail slime, due to demand from the cosmetics industry."
"It is really taking off."
"It [the Muller One machine] is essentially a spa for snails."
"We raise them naturally, feed them only vegetable matter and then extract the slime with water that contains ozone, which kills all the bacteria. The snails are not harmed."
Simone Sampo, president, National Heliciculture Association, Italy

Image: Yoshikazu Tsuno/ AFP/ Getty Images

Heliciculture, for the uninitiated, refers to snail farming. Which is to say, the industrialization of raising land snails to be used for human disposal. As in, for example, using snail flesh as an edible escargot, snail eggs to produce 'gourmet' caviar, and the slime one can see as a shiny path wherever snails slink in the garden along pathways or on the foliage of plants, as an ingredient to be incorporated into the manufacture of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

So snails are not plucked out of the garden and set upon your face to frolic and leave those slimy trails as they go about the business of replenishing natural oils in the prideful assurance that their secretions are capable of stimulating the production of collagen, helping women to retain that youthful, dewy appearance of beautiful, young, firm skin. The secretions -- a more polite word admittedly, than 'slime' are harvested and used to create creams, gels and serums.

Products which those who produce and market them claim can wonderfully heal acne and scars and slow down the age- and environment-induced wrinkles that blemish youthful beauty. At least that's what the manufacturers claim. And the consuming public is more than pleased to accept those claims and as a result, enthusiastically line up to make their acquisitions and use the products with high expectations of success. While dermatologists seem to delight in slighting their effectiveness.

Italy appears to be the source for the snail extract, where farming of snails has increased over 325 percent in the past several decades while a range of products using snail extract has blossomed on the market for cosmetics. The industry is now valued at $292 million. "We are seeing record numbers of new avant-garde snail production businesses", Roberto Moncalvo, president of Agricultural Association Coldiretti says.

According to Coldiretti, 44,000 tons of live and preserved snails are produced in Italy on an annual basis. And over four thousand producers are engaged in the lucrative business in Italy alone. For the most part, focusing on raising the European native breed, Helix aspersa. And both men and women, as a result, have taken to slathering snail mucus on their skin. For the sake of health and enduring beauty.

Interestingly enough, ancient Greeks left historical documentation describing the use of snail slime to heal skin; alternatively for its internal use as a protective agent against ulcers or coughs. So snails used in cosmetics and medicines is not unique to the present age, obviously. Human ingenuity in the use of natural products whose properties may benefit us in one way or another is not reserved to the current crop of inventive biologists.

Traditionally snails were placed in water with salt, vinegar or other chemicals to force them to secrete the treasured slime. Now, some Italian snail-breeder co-operatives do things differently. The invention of "cruelty-free" snail production methods and slime extraction has replaced the previous methodology, so producers can claim with pride that their industry harms no exploited and manipulated creatures.

The Muller One, recently patented by Italy's International Heliciculture Association, extracts snail slime through the immersion of snails in a special steam bath. Which the producers claim is a delightful experience for the snails, a natural process, and the snails are well treated with especial attention to their diet. Which doesn't quite explain how they feel about being eaten.


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