Snail-Slime Facials ... Really?

Seekers of the fountain of youth can add one more bizarre treatment to the list: slime.

Not just any slime. Snail slime.

The Tokyo branch of the international spa Ci:z:Labo recently debuted an hour-long "Celebrity Escargot Course." For $245, the salon's clinicians place five snails on clients' faces during a series of massages and masks.

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The salon claims that snail slime is a natural moisturizer that soothes inflammation caused by ultraviolet exposure and gently removes dead skin cells, resulting in a more youthful look.

The treatment was reportedly used by ancient Greeks. More recently, Chilean farmers noticed their hands becoming softer and minor cuts healing without infection as they handled snails bred for - what else? - the French market.

Doctors disagree about the slime's effectiveness. Some say the idea has merit, as the slime's purpose is to heal and protect the snails themselves. Snail secretion contains allantonin, collagen and elastin, which plump and soften skin, and glycolic acid, which exfoliates and speeds up skin-cell turnover.

Dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas told style blog Fashionista that she believes that snail slime, when used as an ingredient in cosmetics, is an excellent regenerative agent, adding, "It is also effective in treating acne and scarring."

But the snail-slime approach has its skeptics. "There are no respected scientific studies to prove that it actually works," Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi told Canada's National Post. And William Stebbins, a dermatology professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News, "I'd be surprised if this has any lasting effect on skin health," explaining that the supposedly beneficial molecules would most likely remain on the skin's surface.

Either way, there's no telling if the treatment will reach the United States. It's currently only available at the spa's Tokyo branch.

 

Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

 

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