I am not, for the most part, squeamish. And I do, wherever possible, try to use beauty products made from ingredients that are found in nature, rather than manufactured in a laboratory. And so, when it comes to trying out Tony Moly's Gold 24K Snail Gel Mask Sheet, I don't really give it too much thought.
Which is probably the best way to go about it, because once you do start thinking about the fact that you are about to smear snail goo all over your face, it starts to feel like a wholly unnecessary endeavour.
The mask is a combination of "fermented snail slime filtrate", 24k gold extract, ginseng callus extract and jeju organic citrus complex. The gold element promises to soothe and stimulate sensitive and stressed skin, brighten the complexion and improve the blood circulation; the snail bit is purportedly packed with nutrients that hydrate and increase the skin's elasticity, while the ginseng extracts are rich in phyto-nutrients that help tone and brighten. The mask is part of an extensive snail-slime-based range by Korean brand Tony Moly, which includes gel masks, eye masks, creams and sunscreens. I remind myself that things could be worse – I could be testing the Timeless Ferment Snail Lip Treatment stick.
The packaging has obviously been cleverly considered. A luxurious-looking, metallic, mirrored gold packet is meant to make you forget all about the snail slime, and instead convince you that you are about to dip your face in gold.
The instructions pose the first hurdle; they are in Korean. There is a helpful little pictorial guide showing me what I need to do – but if there are any major health warnings to go with them, I remain entirely oblivious. I do a quick search online and am instructed to place the mask over clean skin and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes.
Extricating the mask from its packaging is a slippery business. In fact, the whole process is slippery. This mask is slimy in every sense of the word. I had been forewarned, so I make sure I am lying down when I apply it to my face – and then I lie still for the next half hour. Otherwise, it feels like it might just slip right off.
The mask comes in two parts – one to cover the top of your face, the other to cover the bottom. The first surprise is how nice is smells. The second is how horrifying it looks. I appreciate that these masks are not designed to look flattering, but there is something about the slimy, semi-transparent texture of this particular one that makes me look like my face is slowly melting off.
There is a faint tingling sensation in the more sensitive parts of my face, but nothing untoward. Once my time is up, I remove the mask and gently pat the remaining essence into my skin "for maximum absorption", rather than washing it off. Which is a bit weird. My skin certainly looks plumper and brighter as a result, but I'm not sure that snail slime is necessarily the answer to my anti-ageing needs. Mind you, I would need an entire family of snails to take up permanent residence on my face to make any real difference to my fine lines.
Tony Moly products are available online from YesStyle.com, which ships to the UAE