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Snail facials: Japan's slimy new beauty trend
Although dermatologists question its effectiveness, snail mucus contains hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans, which are used in cosmetics

Our eyeball-licking friends from Japan are usually known for being ahead of the curve, which is why we might as well point out this slow-moving beauty trend now. Snail facials, which are being sold as a "Celebrity Escargo Course" at a high-end Tokyo spa, are exactly what they sound like: A beautician places three slimy, live snails on your face and lets them crawl all over your cheeks, nose, and forehead. For beauty!

The process, according to Nature World News, distributes the mollusks' mucus over your visage and is said to "remove dead skin, soothe any inflammation and help the skin retain moisture." Whether the process actually does anything is a matter of debate among dermatologists, although snail mucus contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans, which are used in cosmetics and are known to promote tissue flexibility and skin healing.

Also, these aren't your typical garden-variety snails. According to Miho Inada at the Wall Street Journal, these shelled celebrities are given the A-list treatment within the spa:

These little celeb snails are fed an all-organic diet — carrots, Japanese mustard spinach, and Swiss chard — and are always kept in a room set to 20 degrees Celsius. Of the five in-house snails, there are three "regulars" that are more frequently chosen for their superior mucus-emitting ability, the spa attendant said. [WSJ]

And even if you wanted to take the $243 treatment for a test drive, you'd have to wait in line. The beautifying powers of the snails are in high demand, and they're said to be fully booked for the next few weeks.

While it might sound weird to let slimy creatures leave a trail of goop all over your face, they're hardly the first living things to be enlisted for beauty purposes. Despite their potential to spread infectious diseases, pedicures using flesh-eating Garra rufa fish, which nibble off dead skin, are still as popular as ever:

Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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