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Snail mucin is a hallmark ingredient in K-beauty skincare products. Long lauded for its ability to moisturize and heal skin, you can find it in a variety of products such as essences, serums, creams, and masks. I’m a solid fan of this particular ingredient, and I’ve found that it works wonderfully well with my skin.
My first experience with snail mucin in skincare was the Mizon Snail Repair line. I enjoyed the light feel of the products, as well as the results that I saw while using them. After my positive experience with Mizon, I moved on to what is arguably one of the most iconic snail mucin products in K-beauty: the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence.
This essence is a fantastic part of my routine, and it is wonderfully moisturizing. I’ve been through a few bottles of it already! In more recent times, I’ve been working my way through iUNIK’s affordable and artfully formulated skincare products. Next in line was the Black Snail Restore Serum, and I was eager to compare it with the COSRX essence. Would I like the texture more? Would one be inherently better than the other? Here are my findings!
As a note, both iUNIK and COSRX are cruelty-free brands!
Here are the ingredients you’ll find in the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence:
Snail Secretion Filtrate, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Arginine, Allantoin, Ethyl Hexanediol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol
Pretty straightforward, right? It’s made up of 96% snail mucin (hence the name), so it truly packs a punch of snail! Snail mucin stimulates collagen production, which in turn helps with skin healing.
Betaine is an ingredient that is naturally occurring in the human body, and it helps maintain balance in the skin’s hydration levels. Butylene glycol can be used as a humectant moisturizer as well as a solvent. Despite its strange name, 1,2-Hexanediol isn’t a scary ingredient. Its purpose is similar to that of Butylene glycol; it is a humectant that can also act as a solvent. Sodium hyaluronate is a common humectant moisturizer found in many a skincare product these days!
Panthenol (or pro-vitamin B5) is a humectant that binds water and hydrates the skin. Arginine acts as an antioxidant by fighting free radicals. Additionally, it can hydrate the skin and improve collagen production. Allantoin is an emollient moisturizer that soothes skin and promotes healing.
Ethyl hexanediol functions as a solvent in formulas, and sodium polyacrylate and carbomer are both thickening agents. Lastly, we have phenoxyethanol, which is a stabilizer and preservative.
Next, we can take a look at the ingredients in the Black Snail Restore Serum for a little comparison:
Snail Secretion Filtrate, Centella Asiatica Leaf Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Glycereth-26, Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Allantoin, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris Extract, Vaccinum Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Carbomer, Arginine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Adenosine, Xanthan Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Aspalathus Linearis Extract, Commiphora Myrrha Resin Extract, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Yucca Schidigera Root Extract
Ok, so there’s a lot more happening here! This serum contains 70% snail mucin, which makes sense given the amount of other ingredients in there.
The formula includes centella asiatica to promote healing and fade acne scars. Niacinamide is high on the list, and this ingredient helps brighten skin, tighten pores, and diminish fine lines.
What’s the difference between glycerin and glycereth-26, you might ask? Glycereth -26 is simply a polyethylene glycol ether of glycerin. It’s both a humectant and emollient that smoothes skin and acts as a thickening agent in formulas.
According to iUINIK, mistletoe ferment extract, soybean ferment extract, and cogan grass are fermented to produce bio-polymers that help the skin stay hydrated by locking in moisture. (To read more about polymers, I highly suggest this article! I found it helpful while researching the role of polymers in cosmetics.)
Caprylyl Glycol hydrates the skin, and it also acts as a preservative in products.
iUNIK cites five ingredients included in the formula for their anti-aging properties: laminaria japonica (kelp) extract, lactobacillus/soybean ferment extract, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed extract, solanum melongena (eggplant) fruit extract, and oryza sativa (rice) extract.
This serum contains a myriad of wonderful antioxidant ingredients: coffea arabica (coffee) seed extract, vaccinum angustifolium (blueberry) fruit extract, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, rosa canina fruit oil, aspalathus linearis (rooibos) extract, commiphora myrrha resin extract, perilla frutescens leaf extract, yucca schidigera root extract, and glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract.
Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) extract soothes skin and helps banish redness. Ethylhexylglycerin is a preservative and a solvent, and pentylene glycol acts as a preservative as well as a thickening agent.
In comparison, the experience of using each of these snail mucin products couldn’t be more different!
Texture & Application
After having used the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence for some time, I had gotten used to the sticky, bordering on slimy texture that comes along with it.
I expected that the iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum would have a similar texture since they both have such a high percentage of snail mucin ( 96% and 70%, respectively.) I was surprised to discover that the texture of the Black Snail Restore Serum was far more watery and didn’t leave stickiness behind like the Snail Mucin Power Essence.
When I apply the Snail Mucin Power Essence, I’m able to easily spread it around on my face. There’s an easy slip to it that makes application something you don’t even have to think about.
The Black Snail Restore Serum requires slightly more planning! It’s watery enough that it starts soaking in nearly immediately, and if you apply it to your hands first you’re liable to lose some before it hits your face. I have to use the dropper to put several drops around my face and then spread/pat it into my skin.
Both products have no added fragrance, and there aren’t any ingredients that add a distinct smell either.
One of these snail mucin products sails ahead of the other in the way of results; can you guess which one?
In terms of noticeable skin changes, the iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum has been the clear winner for me. My skin immediately looks smoother and brighter after applying it, and I think it does a better job of evening out my skin’s texture over time.
I still get fantastic moisture from COSRX’s essence, and I love piling it on during the winter. It feels nourishing in its own way, but it doesn’t leave my skin looking much different than it did before.
Given the added niacinamide plus the other antioxidant and anti-aging ingredients, it makes sense that the iUNIK serum would have some extra oomph to it.
I think that iUNIK’s formulations overall are smart and effective. You can check out my reviews for several of their other products, including the Centella Calming Gel Cream, the Beta-Glucan Power Serum, and Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum.
There is a fairly significant difference in price, with COSRX’s essence costing $23 for 3.38 oz ($6.80 per ounce) and the iUNIK serum costing around $17 for 1.71 oz (9.94 per ounce).
As you might expect, the COSRX essence will last you a lot longer AND it is cheaper. Depending upon how much I use it, I can stretch out my essence for 3-4 months. (I don’t find myself reaching for it everyday, unlike the iUNIK serum.) I can go through an iUNIK serum in about 1 1/2-2 months typically. It doesn’t last terribly long, but it’s still affordable for its size in my opinion.
The Snail Mucin Champion
For me, the iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum beats out the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence by a longshot. The texture is much more suitable for me (watery and easily soaks in) and I see visible results after using it. The addition of various antioxidant and anti-aging ingredients is appealing and useful to me. I like that it has uses aside from being a moisturizing/hydrating product.
There are, of course, many other snail mucin products out there to be tried and enjoyed. What snail mucin skincare products have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!
To shop the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence or iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum at YesStyle, you can use my affiliate link. You can also use my code INTROVERT6 at checkout to get 2-5% off your purchase!
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