At-Home Beauty Health & Wellness

5 Minutes With Crushed Tonic Founder Sally Kim

crushed tonic

Discovering Crushed Tonic has changed the way I think about collagen. Up until this point, it was something I just tried to hide in my coffee or turmeric latte. The goal was to mask it and just get it over with like you would cough syrup. But then I stumbled upon Sally Kim and her irresistible brand Crushed Tonic (cute name, right?). All of a sudden, collagen powder went from backup dancer to center stage. With flavors like matcha and turmeric, it was easy to make a warm cup of creamy goodness — and cut out my 5:30am coffee habit in the process. What’s more, she has created a formula with a very stable and very absorbable probiotic already mixed in. Three birds, one stone. Score.

If you mosey on over to her website you can read her full story (and it is definitely worth a read), but in a nutshell, she had a mortifying accident in her 20s involving scalding hot oil and severe burns on both arms. After trying everything, and one internet search later, she decided to give collagen a try — with amazing results.

“When almost nothing worked, I decided to take the internet’s advice and started taking 20g of collagen daily for its regenerative and healing benefits. After about 3-4 weeks, I started noticing a dramatic change — my blister-turned scabs were starting to disappear.”

And thus, Crushed Tonic was born. What I love about Sally and her brand of collagen is that she preaches beauty and healing from the inside out. She comes from generations of women who understand the importance of food as medicine (and beauty supplement). She has also done her homework and has the scientific studies to prove it. We all praise French women for their effortless beauty, but it is well time we start paying more attention to Korean women — and I’m not talking about their ten-product skincare routine either. (Probiotic-rich kimchi, anyone?)

Sally was kind enough to give us a glimpse inside the brand, the science behind it, and has confirmed once and for all that Korean grandmas are our skincare gurus.


sally kim crushed tonic

Crushed Tonic founder Sally Kim


“Biohacking” is super buzzy at the moment — what does it mean to you?
For me, biohacking is about taking care of our health at the cellular level, and turning more to the medicine found in our food and nature, rather than chemicals and prescriptions. With the right type of nutrients at their optimal amounts, we are able to “trick” our bodies into thinking that they are younger and stronger, and it’s just as, if not more, effective as pills and potions. For example, drinking collagen tricks our bodies into thinking that we are producing the same amount of collagen as we used to.


How did Korean skincare inspire you to create Crushed Tonic?
Growing up in Korea, I was surrounded by a sea of lotions, creams and moisturizers, therefore, I never second-guessed the importance of skincare. However, despite all the craze today around the ten-step Korean skincare regimen, the ubiquity of topical product after product, all of the different ingredients popping up (from snail oil to gold-infused creme), the only Korean skincare ritual that my family has passed down to me, and the only regimen I’ve strictly ingrained into my lifestyle, is the one spoken about the least: the Korean diet.

Koreans consume a TON of collagen-based dishes and soups. Collagen is a type of protein that all living, breathing animals — including humans — produce. It makes up our bones, muscles, skin and hair. Think of them as gatekeepers of moisture in our cells. Without this collagen “wall” to keep our cells hydrated, they increasingly lose structure, leading to weaker, stretchier, thinner skin.


“Ingesting collagen facilitates new regeneration of skin, muscle, bones and joint cells, something my mother and grandmother never let me forget if I ever decided to be picky with my food”


And of course, this is what causes wrinkles, fine lines, dry skin, cellulite and the loss of structure in your hair follicles (the root cause of hair loss). And unfortunately, time, our environment and lifestyle — pollution, smoking, eating fried foods, etc. — causes our body produce less and less of it (decreasing at a rate of 1.5% a year). Ingesting collagen facilitates new regeneration of skin, muscle, bones and joint cells, something my mother and grandmother never let me forget if I ever decided to be picky with my food.


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This is the first collagen product that I have come across that includes a probiotic ­— why was that important to you?
Most of us know that what we put into our body directly translates to how we look and feel. If we are bloated, stressed or recovering from a tough (or a really fun!) week, our skin reflects all of that and more. And don’t forget that most of our skin and hair problems actually circle back to our stomach and liver, two of our most stressed out, hung over organs. And when our stomachs are off (think constipation, diarrhea, even just too much of the wrong food), our skin takes a beating almost immediately. So, I wanted to get to the root of these problems and incorporate probiotics, a gut-friendly bacteria that take shelter in your stomach once ingested.

In addition, Crushed Tonic’s probiotics are a bit more special than most for a few reasons: it has been backed by more than 20 clinical studies, can survive manufacturing processes, withstand hot water, don’t have to be refrigerated, and because each one is contained within a seed-like spore that protects them from outside elements, it can survive the long journey to your digestive tract.


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What is the ideal dosage of collagen per day? Can you have too much?
When I used collagen for the sole purpose of recovering from my burns, I took about 30g of it daily. I also drank around the same amount a day — if not more —  when I started formulating and playing around with different recipes. I would say that is probably the max for me, 30g.

To get the effects of great hair and skin, it’s less about increasing your daily dosage and more about consistency and sticking to it. Of course, I’d recommend around 10g daily, but after that, there’s only so much your body can do with the extra amounts of protein, especially because our bodies cannot store it.


Are there any side effects?
In the clinical studies done on Crushed Tonic’s ingredients, respondents reported almost zero side effects. Since launch, however, we found that two out of our so far 200+ fans and friends felt a bit queasy after ingesting it. Neither of them was regularly eating foods like fish skin and bone broth (one was vegan, so absolutely no collagen in her everyday diet). They said that after two days, their bodies adjusted and they are both hooked!

However, it’s important to be very picky about each collagen brand, as not all collagen is created equal (and they don’t all go through the same quality control testing). Our collagen is 100% fish — carbohydrate-free, fat-free, purine-free, cholesterol-free, OGM-free and preservative-free.

crushed tonicBeyond the beauty benefits, why should we take collagen?

Collagen is sourced from the skin of animals – fish, cows, chicken and pigs—which is why it’s so beneficial to our skin. And because it makes up more than 70% of our protein supply, the benefits are transferred to every inch of our body that depend on the power of collagen as well. Collagen ingestion helps facilitate new regeneration of skin, muscle, bones and hair.

As the go-to medication for those with joint and bone diseases, it is known to reduce pain and improves mobility by stimulating the biosynthesis of type II collagen, the foundation of cartilage. In addition, Tokyo Medical and Dental University found that age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction of a protein called Collagen 17A1. When stem cells in hair follicles are damaged by age, they turn themselves into skin. Over time, this happens to more and more stem cells, causing hair follicles to shrink and eventually disappear. By ingesting collagen, you could counter some of this damage and support your cells with the amino acids vital for thick hair: proline, glycine, arginine and hydroxyproline.


Bovine vs marine collagen? Do you need both?
I personally would never stand behind non-marine collagen. Bovine/porcine collagen is sourced from boiled cow hides and pig skin that traveled quite a bit from their butchery. Still, if one is allergic to fish, I’d say that taking non-marine alternatives of collagen is better than not taking any at all.

In addition, beyond the fact that it’s more effective (as the smallest type and the most bioavailable type of collagen out there), marine collagen is most easily absorbed by the body, therefore can be broken down and utilized quicker) it is also the most environmentally sustainable, as collagen comes from “unwanted” parts of the fish that would have been thrown away otherwise.


Favorite Crushed Tonic recipe?
My favorite recipe is actually super simple: I love ½ cup of coconut water, half a cup of almond milk, and a frozen banana, all blended with the original crush. It’s less a smoothie and more of a bowl. The frozen banana gives it an almost an ice-cream-like consistency. That, with a sprinkle of chocolate chips, is my favorite healthy dessert to go. I love how creative some of our fans get with our crushes. I try to put as many of them up on the site as much as I can!


Do you have a healing collagen story as well? We’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments below. 

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