My Opinion of Caracol Cream

Caracol Cream ImageI will really, really try to be serious during this review. I’m smiling as I write this, and apologize in advance if I descend into snail-induced silliness. :)

Snail Extract?

Caracol Cream is a topical anti-wrinkle cream that has the most entertaining background story of anything I have reviewed so far. In 1980 a Chilean family established a snail farm, with the intention of exporting them to Europe for gastronomic purposes. Soon, they discovered that when handling snails, they developed an extreme softness in their hands. Little injuries produced by snail’s cages healed quickly, without becoming infected and there wasn't any scarring.

Observing this, Dr. Fernando Bascuñan Ygualt, the eldest son of this family, directed a rigorous scientific study about the properties of Chilean snail’s secretions. The investigation results confirmed that this snail species secretion has an extraordinary regenerative capacity on human skin. Realizing that they had discovered something, Cosmeticas Elicina was born.

BTW--Here is my top 2 favorite anti aging creams!

Real Science or Slimy Sales Tactics?

‘Helix aspersa Müller’ is the scientific name of the Chilean mountain snail species in question. Chemical analysis of this snail slime showed it contains a number of natural components that are usually used in cosmetology as antiseptic for healing and regenerating the skin, including collagen, elastin, and glycolic acid.

How Many Snails Are In Each Jar?

Now Mr. Bascunan has patented a process to extract snail slime to produce 35,000 40-gram units a month. “That is about eight snails a jar,” he says.  This secretion is incorporated into Caracol cream, and is their key ingredient. This snail extract is also the source of the seven key synergistic ingredients (listed in product claims), which is why you won’t see these ingredients actually in the list, because they are purportedly contained in the slime extract.

I’m sorry...I’m chuckling. But I’ll continue…

How About Some Proven Ingredients?

Caracol cream, per the website, is FDA approved and also contains several other wrinkle-fighting ingredients, including vitamin A, coenzyme Q10 (a potent anti-oxidant), Matrixyl 3000™, and alpha lipoic acid. Speaking of the website, in comparison to others that I have reviewed, this website is arduous and unfriendly. It is also, IMHO, unprofessional, with pictures of celebrities not affiliated with the product and loads of misspellings. If I had to recommend a product based on its website, I wouldn’t recommend this one. Clean it up guys!

There is a 14 day trial period. If you sign up for the autoship program, the company will send you a one month supply, you pay $4.95 shipping. If you like it, a new supply of Caracol cream will be shipped to you once a month for $59.95 plus $8.95 shipping (why does this shipping cost more?). If you decide you don’t like it, you must call (877) 550-0630 to cancel and obtain your return authorization number AND return any unused portion of the product within the fourteen-day trial period. There is also a 60 day money back guarantee minus shipping and handling.

Product Claims:

I’ve listed the claims about the snail extract:

  • Natural Allantoin:  Helps repair and reduce scar tissue and provides you with younger looking skin. It is the substance that makes possible the skin regeneration through snail cream. It is produced naturally by snails who regenerate their own tissues, and even their own shell if it is broken. Being bioavailable in the extract of snails, it is absorbed quickly and efficiently to the inner layers of the skin, unlike other skincare products that contain synthetic allantoin.

  • Antibiotic Peptides: Destroys the pathogens present and act as a protective barrier to the skin. They fight bacteria that are found most often in the skin, such as Eschericia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acne Vulgaris.

  • Natural Elastins: Keeps your skins supple. It is crucial in repairing beautiful skin.

  • Glycolic Acid: Acts as a Natural Exfoliate. Used for exfoliation or peeling purposes, eliminating dead cells found on the surface of the skin. It helps the other ingredients to penetrate the tissues, where they exert their profoundly regenerative action.

  • Proteins and Vitamins A, C and E: Maintain the proper condition of your skin. They stimulate natural collagen production and protect vital cell structures. They nourish and soften the skin.

  • Natural Collagen: Prevents your skin from sagging and keeps skin smooth and tight. This protein forms part of the main components of connective tissue.

Cross Examination:

Here is yet another wrinkle cream with an unavailable ingredient list. Don’t these manufacturers realize that we, the people, want to know what we are putting on our faces? Haven’t they figured out that we desire honesty and integrity, and will financially reward these honorable characteristics? Stop spending the money on the stupid computer generated wrinkle-erasing videos and give us what we want: ingredient lists and credible studies!

The only ingredients I can cross examine are what they put in their advertising: coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin A, and Matrixyl 3000™. I’ll leave the snail extract (snicker snicker) for last.

As listed in my Ingredients 101 page, Matrixyl 3000™ is a well-known peptide combination that has been clinically shown (in studies sponsored by the company that makes it) to stimulate collagen production and reduce wrinkles.

Alpha lipoic acid is a decent anti-oxidant that has been around for ages, as well as vitamin A. Vitamin A is better known as retinoic acid, and is the active ingredient in RetinA. Tretinoin, a form of vitamin A, has been tested and successfully treated the signs of photoaging. However, consumers should be aware that vitamin A can cause dryness, redness, or increased sensitivity. Vitamin A can also increase the risk of extreme sunburn, care should be taken (shade, sunscreen) to protect your face with overexposure to sunlight.

Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant. You can read more about it on my anti-aging ingredients page, but it has been shown to not only be a good anti-oxidant in its own right, but also boosts the levels of other anti-oxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E.

Snail Extract Deciphered...

And last, but not least, the snail extract. This is so difficult for me to evaluate. First of all, the snail they use may be from Chile, but it is not rare. It is a simple, edible garden snail. So common, in fact, that they are reared all over the world and are used in loads of scientific studies that I found on PUBMED.

However, I only found one topical study, and it was not on anti-aging properties. In 2008, the Journal of Dermatological Treatment reported that Helix aspersa extract is a natural, safe and effective alternative treatment in open wound management of partial thickness burns in adults.  This makes sense: there are probably factors in the snail slime that provide pain control and encourage cells to grow over wounds. But how is this applicable to fighting wrinkles?

The simple answer is that it’s not. I am sure that the snail extract has some anti-septic properties and emollient properties, but the fact is I could not find one credible scientific study that backed Caracol’s claims that snail extract fought wrinkles, or even had all the “synergistic” ingredients in it.

In contrast, I did find several reports about snail induced allergies. A 2005 study in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology reported that ingestion of snails can induce strong asthmatic or anaphylactic responses, mainly in house-dust-mite-sensitized patients.

Two more ingredients you may want to know about in Caracol cream: glycolic acid and allantoin.

Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and has a number of benefits for rejuvenating the skin. Glycolic acid is absorbed into the skin very easily and once applied it reacts quickly to the upper layer of the epidermis, this reaction temporarily causes the binding properties of lipids that hold dead skin cells together to weaken, thus acting as an exfoliant. This is a common ingredient.

Allantoin has moisturizing and smoothing effects on the skin.  It is frequently present in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products, in shampoos, lipsticks, sun care products, and clarifying lotions, various cosmetic lotions and creams. But Allantoin has not been proven scientifically to reduce the appearance of aging.

Before I give the bottom line, I have to comment on Caracol’s container. It is a pot. So even if Caracol cream does contain all those nice high-end anti-oxidants, they will be useless to your skin, because they will be oxidized by repeated exposure to light and oxygen. Such a pity.

The Bottom Line:

Products like Caracol Cream are difficult for me to provide an opinion, because they are so secretive about their formula. At this point, I can tell you that several of the ingredients they advertise to be included are high-end, and worth the $60 a month that they charge. However, as I’ve already stated, the ingredients are not protected in the container it comes in, and you may be paying $60 to put oxidized, useless ingredients on your face.

My jury on the snail extract (it really does make me laugh) is still out until there are credible independent studies evaluating its efficacy. I will gladly take back all my snickering if this ingredient is indeed proven to be the secret, magical bullet to treat the signs of aging. Until then, people who suffer from allergies (dust mite or other) may want to abstain from using Caracol Cream, as well as vegans and people with shellfish allergies. Ok…maybe not the shellfish allergies. But you never know!

The product does come with a 60 day money back guarantee. So if you don’t have allergies, and want to give it a try, there is no financial risk. Remember – Matrixyl 3000™ and the other ingredients take time for visible effects. And if you do try this product, please use sunscreen.