A rout of giant African and garden snails glide along specially crafted mesh and glass in dark rooms, leaving a trail of mucin that will be the centrepiece in “bare beauty” products. That these molluscs are delicacies in the form of escargot, valued by French and Spanish gourmands for centuries, is well-known. That their slime would be christened the next best thing by purveyors of beauty in Seoul’s Myeong-dong district was unforeseen.
But then, few things are beyond the watchful eye of Myeong-dong: an eye that constantly scans likely breakthroughs for the global skincare market. On the anvil now is donkey milk, pig collagen, starfish extract, snake venom and aqua filling—a method of using moisture-binding products to plump up the skin to transform it into zzon zzon, or “custard-skin”.