It might sound unpleasant, but live snails can do wonders for your complexion.
And an alternative therapy spa in Corby is the first place in the UK to offer the treatment which is taking Tokyo by storm.
Simply Divine in Meeting Lane is pioneering the treatment in Britain with the help of Dr Sunil Chopra, clinical director of the The London Dermatology Clinic and a regular consultant on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies show.
Spa owner Diane Gower said: “I learned of snail facials through my research into alternative therapies.
“The treatment was launched in Japan, but so far it’s not available here.
“All the staff are fully trained in snail facials and we have all had them.
“It does seem a bit strange at first but the treatment is actually very relaxing and the skin feels marvellous afterwards.
“We have 60 snails which have been specially farmed for us. They’re not the sort you’ll find in the garden, and they are given only organic food to keep them healthy. We can tell them apart and we’ve even given them names.”
The natural facial takes 20 minutes and begins once the skin has been cleaned.
Clients are asked not to wear make-up or use skin care products with chemicals or aftershave on the day of the treatment.
The snails are placed on the cheeks and forehead and a therapist stays with the client ensuring they don’t wander too near the eyes, nostrils or mouth.
As they move around the skin, at a surprising lick for snails, they leave behind a trail of mucus which is said to contain beneficial proteins and anti-oxidants.
At the end of the facial the skin is cleaned and the pampered snails are placed in quarantine.
Diane said: “We never re-use the snails on another client that day. The treatment has huge benefits and the skin really glows afterwards.”
The practice of using snails to treat the skin has been around since 400BC.
Dr Chopra, who plans to begin his research in the next few weeks, said: “We have machines which can measure the elasticity and hydration of the skin, as well as the brown patches and open blood vessels. Elasticity and hydration reduce as people get older.
“I will measure all this before the study and again after the clients have had one snail treatment each week for six weeks.
“Snail mucus contains natural antibiotics and hyaluronic acid which hydrates the skin. The theory of the treatment is good, now we want to see all the data.
“The French have found a way to extract the mucus from snails and put it into skin care products but the live snails should be a lot more effective as its properties aren’t lost over time.
“I’m looking forward to conducting the study and finding out the results.”
Simply Divine has been offering the snail facials for the past month, to both men and women at a cost of £50, including a face massage.
Diane said: “Once clients get used to the feel of the snails on their face, they really enjoy the treatment.”