The fountain of youth—how snails could be the key
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A lot of breakthrough beauty products are the results of happy accidents. Eyelash growth serums were discovered when patients under a new glaucoma medicine discovered the pleasant side effect of longer lashes. The drug Retin-A, discovered and developed in the late 1970s, was an irritation-free means to treat acne; users noticed how their wrinkles seemed to have disappeared with continued use, and today, retinoids and its derivatives are still one of the go-to ingredients for anti-aging creams.
Chilean snail farmers, who grew snails to be exported as food, discovered through their harvests that cuts or abrasions on their hands that came in contact with snail slime healed rapidly, leaving the skin smooth and clear.
Scientific research would later show that snail mucin was effective in improving skin elasticity, along with providing regenerative and protective properties. In fact, snail cream is fast becoming a hot commodity in the volatile skincare stock market.
In Seoul, the streets of popular tourist spot Myeong-dong are peppered with beauty boutiques selling the latest in color, powder and potion. You won’t see a recognized American or European beauty brand, it’s all homegrown, and it’s all good. Japanese women would regularly visit Seoul like a beauty pilgrimage, flocking to the boutiques to stock up on snail creams, snake-venom wrinkle fillers and pearl masks.
During a tour of cosmetics brand Tony Moly’s headquarters and boutiques in Seoul, we saw just how brisk business is. The Duty Free floor at Lotte department store was filled with women in a buying frenzy. Forget visual merchandising, the stocks were lined up in shelves, packed and ready to be snapped up, the customers just wanting their creams and serums fast.
This particular small kiosk of Tony Moly makes $US700,000 a day from selling skincare alone. And it doesn’t even sell the makeup—you’ll have to visit a different boutique for that.
Tony Moly’s skincare products have been gaining devout followers, including members of parliament and government officials, according to the brand’s CEO, Kim Joong Cheon.
“Even though they have the means to purchase more expensive brands, they still choose to buy Tony Moly,” said Kim.
We were given the chance to try out the snails for ourselves at Hyurijae Spa. The snail line covers everything from cleansing to base makeup, as well as more intensive add-ons like ampoules containing 92-percent of snail mucin concentrate, and once-a-week treatment masks.
I was impressed with the results. My skin was left with a glow, and it felt hydrated without that oil slick feeling. I was so wowed that I found myself back at the busy Duty Free boutique the next day to stock up on masks and ampoules. I adjusted my regular beauty routine to include the ampoule, applied nightly after my moisturizer, and a facial mask once a week, and within a week my skin looked more even-toned and dark spots left by old pimples disappeared.
After a month of use, the usual PMS pimples were a no-show, and late nights didn’t leave me with sallow skin or breakouts the way I did before, and I didn’t even need to see my dermatologist for our usual monthly zit-zapping session. I have now expanded my snail-cream routine to include an eye cream as well as the hand cream.
The best part about it is the price. Because Tony Moly’s other venture involves manufacturing cosmetic packaging for big-name beauty brands, it is able to funnel its profits into product research and making sure the contents cost more than the actual packaging (a big portion of a beauty product’s cost is to cover the packaging expense). You’ll be able to maintain your skincare routine without breaking the bank.
If the thought of slathering snail slime all over your face seems icky, don’t worry, the products don’t smell or look like snails. If you are concerned about the snails’ welfare, rest assured that the snails are not harmed to extract the mucin.
The only results you will get from sliming your face with snail essence are smaller pores, clear, even skin and fewer wrinkles. Now isn’t that worth the slime?
Tony Moly is at SM Megamall. Visit www.tonymoly.ph.
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