I recently wrote a Dept of Daft post on the notion of using snail slime as an anti-aging ingredient and was obliged to consider whether I should reconsider when Darrell left a polite comment pointing out that snail slime is a source of copper peptides. Finding that I have in my possession a pot of Babaria Crema Hidratante with 20% extract of snail, it seems that this is the moment to follow the trail of snail slime and see where it leads.

Taking Darrell's advice, I Googled snails and copper peptides. Sure enough, there is more to the molusc than an excuse to eat garlic butter. In a (nut) shell, the secretions collected from snails contain glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that tightly bind copper peptides. Understanding why this should be a good thing, requires a quick diversion on GAGs and copper peptides.

Copper peptides promote the degradation of abnormally large cross-linked collagen (the one found in scars and, to a lesser degree, in wrinkles). Most of the research on copper peptides relates to would healing and there is a paucity of evidence that the same magical effects can repair wrinkles. However, there is evidence that they stimulate the production of "regular" collagen found in normal skin. In one small study, copper peptides stimulated collagen production in the intact skin and produced a stronger stimulation of collagen sysnthesis than tretinoin (Retin A, Renova) or ascorbate (vitamin C).

Glycosaminoglycans are a family of carbohydrates that play an important role in connective tissue between cells. They are also a component of hyaluronate, which provides the body with moisture.

Dr Lauren Pickart, is the founding father of using copper peptides for just about everything from hair regrowth (Folligen), acne scars, stretch marks, wounds and wrinkles. His source is soy proteins and I have no idea whether snail slime is in any way superior.

If you want to check out the powers of snail slime, you could check out Elicina Crema de Caracol. This has a whopping 80% concentration the stuff.

A note of caution is required at this point. Moderate use of copper peptides stimulates collagen synthesis and has antioxidant effect (by stimulating the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase), excessive use can have an opposite effect by increasing the levels of free copper and/or by triggering excessive production of metalloproteinases. Free copper promotes free radical damage and collagen breakdown leading to accelerated skin aging. Metalloproteinases can digest collagen and elastin, weakening the skin and causing sag.

Ingredients in Elicina:

Extract of Helix Aspersa Muller (80%), mineral oil, propyleneglycol, stearic acid, cetil alcohol, sodium lauryl sulphate, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, triethanolamine.