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Why Retinol and Snail Mucin Might Be The Perfect Combo for Your Skin

When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, the skincare world offers a sea of options, which can sometimes confuse the quest to pick a new product. One of the most lauded anti-agers is retinol, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A in the class of retinoids. It’s been shown countless times that, with frequent use, retinol can make the skin radiant and firm, refine texture, plump fine lines and wrinkles, and diminish breakouts.[1] However, this potency and the fact that it temporarily weakens the protective barrier makes it intimidating for newcomers and people with easily reactive skin. While, indeed, retinol can be intimidating on its own, teaming it up with replenishing and hydrating ingredients can make things turn your way. That’s why in today’s post, we also discuss snail mucin, a Korean ingredient that has been rising in the skincare scene thanks to its moisturizing and anti-aging properties.[2]

Knowing more about these two ingredients raises the question: should you use retinol and snail mucin together? Keep reading to find out.

What is snail mucin?

Snail mucin is made of the slime that snails secrete from their salivary epidermal glands.[3] This mucus has adhesive, emollient, moisturizing, lubricating, protective, and reparative properties and contains a bunch of good-for-skin compounds, including vitamins, copper peptideshyaluronic acidallantoin, and glycolic acid. As far as skincare is concerned, snail mucin has anti-aging benefits (as it induces collagen production), antimicrobial, as well as regenerative and protective effects on the skin.[3][4][5] This makes it a great repairing ingredient to use after retinol.

What is retinol?

You’re probably no stranger to retinol, but we’ll still give it a short introduction. Retinol is a type of retinoid known for boosting cell turnover and promoting collagen production, which in the long run, improves skin texture, uneven tone, dryness, acne, and signs of aging.[1][6] However, the accelerated cellular turnover caused by retinol also makes the protective barrier vulnerable, leading to potential redness and irritation. Because of that, using retinol along with calming and hydrating ingredients like snail mucin is recommended.[7]

Can I use snail mucin and retinol together?

Of course, snail mucin and retinol can be used together and make a great team for improving a wide array of skin concerns, including acne, wrinkles, dark spots, and dryness. Because retinol can be harsh, it’s best to introduce it progressively so the skin can adjust to it. A moisturizing ingredient like snail mucin can help in this process, calming the skin, supporting healing, and ensuring retinol won’t cause sensitivities.

You can play with this duo in both your AM and PM skincare routines, preferably with a retinol serum and snail mucin cream. This way, you reap the most benefits of retinol and allow snail mucin to work its best to repair and nourish the skin. But the question is now, do you use snail mucin before or after retinol?

Snail mucin before or after retinol?

If your skin is sensitive or usually reacts to retinol, it’s best to use snail mucin before retinol, as it will create an extra layer of protection that acts as a buffer against irritation. Otherwise, use snail mucin after retinol, so the two ingredients don’t interfere with each other while also reducing the chances of sensitivities.

Benefits of using snail mucin with retinol

It’s clear cut that retinol and snail mucin complement each other. Retinol delivers skin-transforming results but is intense and may temporarily weaken the barrier, causing sensibility.[8] Snail mucin does the opposite, counteracting retinol irritations due to its potential to improve skin barrier function along with its moisturizing and calming effects. Also, both ingredients stimulate collagen production and provide antioxidant protection, so they work in tandem to maintain skin firm and elastic.

That said, snail mucin and retinol is a solid duo to add to your routine, and with products like Sesderma Snailas Serum and SeoulCeuticals Snail Repair Cream, you can have the best of both worlds in a single formula.


Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.

  1. Kang S. Mechanism of action of retinol. Cosmetic Dermatology. 2005 Jan 1, https://researchgate.net/publication/287001316
  2. Yongeun K., Woo-Jin S., Jeong-seok L., Tae-Gyu L. Snail mucin is a functional food ingredient for skin, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 92, 2022, https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/7722567
  3. Trapella, C., Rizzo, R., Gallo, S., Alogna, A., Bortolotti, D., Casciano, F., Zauli, G., Secchiero, P. & Voltan, R. (2018) HelixComplex snail mucus exhibits pro-survival, proliferative and pro-migration effects on mammalian fibroblasts. Scientific Reports, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30518946/
  4. Nguyen, J. K., Masub, N. & Jagdeo, J. (2020) Bioactive ingredients in Korean cosmeceuticals: Trends and research evidence. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32100931/
  5. Etim, L., Aleruchi, C. & Obande, G. (2016) Antibacterial Properties of Snail Mucus on Bacteria Isolated from Patients with Wound Infection. British Microbiology Research Journal, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283563366
  6. Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6791161/
  7. Zasada, M., & Budzisz, E. (2020). Randomized parallel control trial checking the efficacy and impact of two concentrations of retinol in the original formula on the aging skin condition: Pilot study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31222977/
  8. HAN, H. et al. Efficacy validation of synthesized retinol derivatives in vitro: stability, toxicity, and activity. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12901928/
Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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