Snail facials the new anti-aging beauty trend in Japan

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TOKOYO -- A central Tokyo salon is turning to snail slime to give its clients "a younger-looking, beautiful facial glow" that women the world over strive to achieve. That slime is not applied by an aesthetician, but rather by the snails themselves.

The live snail facial is called, appropriately enough, the Celebrity Escargot Course, and it's exactly what it sounds like. Snails are set on a client's face and allowed to slither about as they like, leaving a trail of beauty-enhancing slime in their wakes. The mucus the snails excrete, which supposedly helps skin retain moisture while reducing inflammation and removing dead skin cells, contains a unique mixture of proteins, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid.

According to the Japan Daily Press, the spa has five snails that perform the treatment. Those snails are "fed organic vegetables to ensure that they are clean and healthy before being placed on customers’ faces."

The cost is roughly $250 per treatment.

The idea of mollusk mucus as a beauty treatment is not particularly new. The gooey substance, sometimes called snail extract, is the active ingredient in a variety of specialty beauty creams and gels.

"'Snail extract is well known for its super-moisturizing properties, although not everyone will like the idea of using the extract on their faces," Daily Mail beauty columnist Elsa McAlonan told MailOnline's Daisy Dumas in July 2011.

So, while products containing snail goo have been available overseas and online for a least a couple of years, the Tokyo salon is believed to be the first to offer the miracle slime fresh from the snails themselves.

It is not, however, the first time live animals have been used in beauty treatments.

In October 2008, a Gilbert salon offered fish pedicures, in which live Garra Rufa and Chin Chin fish removed dead skin from clients' feet. Although the salon fought to keep offering the treatment, the Arizona Board of Cosmetology eventually prohibited it, citing a potential risk to public safety. While there is a potential for issues, there have been no published reports of illnesses stemming from fish pedicures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this year, a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling found that the Arizona Board of Cosmetology was well within its rights to ban the treatment.