Anyone fancy having their faces smothered by snails?Ci:z.Labo, a spa operator that has branches all over Japan, and an affiliate of the country’s biggest medical cosmetics company, swears by the new “snail facial” therapy’s medical and therapeutic effects in help the skin on your face retain moisture, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin, thereby giving you a younger-looking, beautiful facial glow. According to the therapists, it is the snail mucus that is key to the facial – the slimy substance reportedly contains a mixture of proteins, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid that boosts beauty.
“This salon is the only place in Japan where you can try a live snail facial,” said Yoko Minami, a manager at the Clinical Salon, the flagship outlet of Ci:z.Labo. “Snail slime can help the recovery of skin cells on the face, so we expect the snail facial to help heal damaged skin,” Minami added. As far back as 400 BC, there have been records of snails being used for medicinal purposes, the most famous probably was that of Hippocrates, who reportedly crushed the mollusks and mixed them with sour milk and used the mixture as treatment for skin inflammation. But snails appear to be making a comeback in a big way these days, especially in the cosmetic and beauty industry. A number of international skin and beauty products are already claiming to contain snail mucus, and high-profile Hollywood actresses – like Katie Holmes, the American actress and former wife of Tom Cruise. In Japan and South Korea, snail face creams, serums and masks have increased in usage and popularity in the past two years, with this “snail facial” therapy just one of the many ways the public is being made aware of this.
In this particular spa in the Ebisu district of Tokyo, there are five “resident” snails that they use for the novel therapy that are kept in a clear container and fed organic vegetables to ensure that they are clean and healthy before being placed on customers’ faces. These snails are the highlight of a treatment the spa calls the “Celebrity Escargot Course”, which costs 24,150 yen (around US$250). The treatment starts with the customer’s face being washed before the snails are gently placed on the cheeks and forehead and allowed to move around the whole of the face as they please. Customers who have tried it say that the snails feel heavy, cool and slightly ticklish on the skin. No need to worry about the snails going near the mouth, as an attentive assistant is always there to nudge the snail away should that happen. Customers who have tried it also advise others to close their eyes while the whole thing is happening, as seeing tentacles and snails moving on your face can be very much unnerving. But customers do vouch a feeling of youthful healthiness, where their faces feel cooler and plumper, after the strange slimy treatment.