Who Tried It: Alex Abel, News Editor at StyleWatch
Why I did It: True life: I’m obsessed with skincare. See, I’ve always been someone who is willing to go to great lengths for the beauty benefits of even the quirkiest of ingredients, and for years now, I have been desperately seeking anything that will help my face look just a little bit better. My passion has a lot behind it. For a while, I suffered with cystic acne. I thought I had my skin issues all figured out after my teens, but then in my early 20s, it came out of nowhere right along with some new insecurities and naturally, I was determined to do anything to make it stop. I went to dermatologists, switched up my diet, used scrub after scrub (probably only making things worse), and eventually, with the help of some of my beauty editor coworkers (perks!) landed in the magical heaven that is Korean beauty.
Since venturing into all of the wild and crazy trends they’re popularizing half a world a way, I’ve tried everything. So when snails were lauded as an ingredient that could not only boost my radiance, but moisturize, clear, and smooth my visage, I was the first in line to try it. Most people would run away from slathering snail mucus (yes, I said mucus) on their faces. Believe me, I’ve tried to get my friends to do it with me many times. But I can’t get enough of the results from every use. An overnight snail sleeping mask is constantly in my rotation, and my stomach gets fluttery with excitement when a new snail sheet mask comes in the mail.
Level of Difficulty: 3/10. It might sound like this should be a straight 0 when the word facial is involved—you lie there and do nothing! But this treatment involves microneedling, something I wasn’t totally familiar with beforehand. While it’s not exactly difficult, it can be slightly painful (more on that later), so I’m counting being uncomfortable. Don’t expect a fluffy robe and a massage here—it’s all about results!
The process: Let’s get to it. I went to Dr. Schulman’s office, where I met Amanda, the medical aesthetician who would be handling the facial while Dr. Schulman himself answered all of my pressing snail-related questions. I have to admit, I was a little nervous! Now, it’s worth noting that I did this procedure on Facebook live (watch below!) so it took a little more time to talk everything through, but normally, you can be in and out of the office in half an hour.
So first things first, a little bit of info. The EscarGlow facial is a microneedling treatment where they administer a snail serum. Now, microneedling is basically having a device with teeny tiny needles run all over your face, pushing product deeper into your skin and creating a “controlled injury,” as it was described to me. When your skin is wounded in this way, it produces collagen to help heal, which tightens the skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and creates that beautiful, plump complexion we all crave. But it sounds kind of painful, right? So before we started, Amanda asked me about my pain tolerance and if I’d like numbing cream to help with the discomfort. Um, yes please to blocking out the pain of the tiny needles in my face! She administered the numbing cream, and we let that sink in for about 10-15 minutes, and then began the actual procedure.
Enter: Snails! A mixture of “purified” snail slime and hyaluronic acid was the first thing that was applied to the skin. Oh, and if you’re an animal lover like I am and are picturing snails working long hours just to help me get my glow on, it’s all good. Dr. Schulman said the snails are actually living their best life at a farm in Spain and are not harmed whatsoever in the donation of their slime (Amanda even got to go visit them on their farm to check it out firsthand!). If you’re wondering why we don’t just put the actual snails all over our faces, Dr. Schulman explains that you’d actually need about 75 of them crawling on there for hours (and you thought needles were bad!). “It doesn’t really work,” he said. “You’re not getting enough of the extract because it’s not concentrated and purified.”
Once the serums had been applied, it was time to put the needles to work. Amanda moved them around my entire face, steadily and gently for 5-10 minutes. And now, I can reassure anyone who is considering something like this that it didn’t hurt badly! I didn’t really feel any pain—it was more of a slight pinching, even in the areas the numbing cream didn’t fully reach. Either that, or I’m actually way tougher than I’m letting on (I’m not).
Once we were done, Amanda put another round of concentrated snail serum on followed by an icy sheet mask to really let it all set in further. And let me tell you, I am always a fan of the sheet mask, but at that point, it never felt so good. It was soothing, cooling, and felt like a skin dream.
Then you’re done! After it’s all over, you’re not allowed to touch your skin with any product or makeup for 12 hours (I didn’t do anything until the next day). But they send you home with a little care package that includes two vials of that concentrated snail serum so you can apply it over the next two nights and really boost the effects.
Verdict: I have to say, as much as I love my snails, I was skeptical that it was worth the steep $375 price point. As expected, my skin was a red, splotchy mess for the entire rest of the day, but I was holding out lots of hope. Sure enough, the day after, that had all gone away and I felt really clear and glowy. But the second day? My skin looked better than it ever had. Seriously! I was blown away. It was clear, my pores looked so much smaller, my makeup went on smoother, and it was softer than I’ve ever felt it. I saw a friend that day who doesn’t know anything about skincare, and without me even mentioning my experience with snails, she complimented my skin. Dr. Schulman recommends 3-6 treatments to get the long term benefits of really reducing fine lines and wrinkles, shrinking pores, and healing acne scars, but I definitely saw the effects of one facial for a few weeks. Until my next visit, I’ll just be hanging with my medicine cabinet of snail products.
Try It! EscarGlow Facial, $375; drschulmanplasticsurgery.com