A spa in central Tokyo has introduced a new facial that involves snails crawling freely over the face, leaving trails of purportedly anti-aging slime.
Hailed as a means to youthful-looking skin, the secreted snail mucus reportedly contains beauty-boosting proteins, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, which help skin retain moisture, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin.
The 60-minute treatment, called the Celebrity Escargot Course, costs about $240 (Y24,150).
Spa staff said the snails are sourced from an organic snail breeder in Japan. The snails are fed organically to ensure they are clean and healthy before being placed on clients' faces.
The live snails are followed by massages using creams infused with snail mucus, masks and electrical pulses to ensure that the live secretions fully penetrate the skin.
"This salon is the only place in Japan where you can try a live snail facial," said Yoko Kinami, sales manager at Clinical Salon, the flagship outlet of Ci:z.Labo, a nationwide spa operator and affiliate of Japan's biggest medical cosmetics company.
"Snail slime can help the recovery of skin cells on the face, so we expect the snail facial to help heal damaged skin," she said.
It was as long ago as 400 BCE that Hippocrates recorded mixing crushed molluscs with sour milk as a treatment for skin inflammation.
Over the past two years, snail face creams, serums and masks have exploded in Japan and South Korea. "We have one beauty product called Lift Keep Cream which contains snail slime," said Kinami. "We started selling it in May last year and it has been very popular."