Here’s How Snail Slime Is Sunscreen’s Best Kept Secret

Sharon Renee Weird /
snail slime sunscreen spf
LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/Contributor/Getty Imagses

Typically, staying safe in the sun calls for lots of SPF. But according to a breakthrough study, slathering on snail slime might just be the best kept secret. From the initial research to the interesting discovery it called for, here's why scientists are hailing the slimy creature as the solution to better protection.

It all started when researchers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy set off to maximize sunscreen's capabilities. As is common knowledge, a typical bottle of SPF contains tiny particles intended to reflect sunlight - usually metals zincs or titanium. How could they concoct that same formula in a more eco-friendly and cost-effective manner? Sure enough, they soon turned to the most unexpected of places for their answer: Our backyards.

snail slime gold sunscreen
ARNO BURGI/Stringer via Getty Images

With the help of the brown garden snail (Helix aspersa Müller), the group of researchers mixed both slime and gold atoms into a compact flask. "The main component of snail slime - a protein - is a reduction agent," one of the team's chemists Vito Rizzi, explained of the unique decision. Sure enough, the reduction agent in question helped morph the gold particles from Au3+ to Au0. In other words? The atoms of this gold were now officially nanoparticles, a crucial aspect of any good SPF. Up next, Rizzi and his colleagues were ready to put their concoction to the test. They began to measure how much light the slimy formula absorbed...

Much to their relief, their hunch was correct: the snail slime and gold together absorbed far more sunlight than the gold particles on their own. This meant that the seemingly unexpected blend could hold the ability to boost sunscreen's protection factor (SPF) like never before. "This is a very good study," Indian biotechnologist Bipinchandra Salunke praised. As he put it, by successfully experimenting with nature's resources the team has "added one new biological agent to the library... And they are showing biomedical applications, also." Of course, though, there's still lots to be learned here. And while their slime-gold formula isn't quite yet ready to hit the market, the eco-friendly finding provides hope for a better tomorrow. Until next time, stay tuned.