1. What is the message behind The Collagen Glow?
The Collagen Glow is a collagen-based cookbook, of smoothies, smoothie bowls and soups and a collagen guide 101, a synthesis of research and anecdotes that will help those who have never taken collagen before, to be able to integrate it into their everyday diet. Collagen is traditionally suggested to be taken with coffee and I wanted to set out to disprove that. When you get used to collagen and how to use it, you can add it to anything and everything, watermelon juice, butternut squash soup, and protein bites! It finishes with a “Collagen Boot Camp” that guides readers through a 30-day collagen diet that suggests what they should and shouldn’t consume, on top of the collagen and some other Korean beauty tips and secrets that were passed down on to me from my family.
First message is — that skincare begins from within— and for healthy skin, we need to nourish ourselves where it matters: at the cellular level. For example, there's so much fuss around KBeauty and the whole 10-step regimen — but to be really frank, it’s less about these rituals and more in Korean food, and our diet*. Of course, it definitely helps that most of us invest a lot of time and effort into our skin — but skincare’s not just great moisturizers and masks — a lot has to do with all the other things we are doing (in this case, eating). Because what’s inside, matters just as much, if not more.
And second — that collagen can be added to just about anything you drink and eat (not just coffee). I say this because currently, a lot of brands suggest their customers take collagen with coffee, or other strong drinks that can mask collagen's strong and often off-putting flavor and taste. However, if the collagen is of high quality, it is virtually tasteless and should be able to be added to anything without it altering the drink’s flavor too much. Although, having said that, there are certain ingredients that can make it even more delectable — hence the 40 other recipes!
*Koreans ingest marine collagen on a daily basis (it’s common for a meal to include whole-roasted fish with its skin on) and lots of bone broth (most of our meals come with a bone-broth based soup) and once or twice a week, we will have a Korean barbecue, such as pigs belly and then there are side dishes such as jellyfish salad, steamed octopus and squid. More extreme collagen-rich specialty foods are chicken feet and pork knuckles! Koreans also consume a lot of collagen-producing foods, such as green tea and barley tea.
2. What turned you on to collagen?
It all started when I got burned from a cooking accident. The oil melted the skin off both of my arms instantly, and I had to turn to a ton of prescription ointment and silicone patches only to find out none of it really did much for me. Unimpressed by the options out there, I ended up turning to the internet to find ways to heal my skin.
After some research, I discovered that ingesting collagen was extremely beneficial for our skin (and hair, bones, joints, list goes on). I was super fascinated, especially because I always thought collagen was something that was topically applied or injected— and started drinking it everyday. After just a couple weeks, I saw incredible changes not just on my burns, but my entire skin, head to toe, and also my hair. Turns out, collagen is something that’s in our own bodies — actually the most abundant substance in our bodies second to water—and our bodies stop producing it as much when we are in our mid 20’s. Drinking extra collagen, however, offsets that decline, returning your skin and hair to what used to be.
I then tried to evangelize it to my aging parents and family, and this was where I saw the problem. No one wanted to take collagen as often as I did, for how it tasted (and to be fair, most collagen powders do have an unpleasant taste-- it is often gamey tasting, like any other protein powders are); and had I not been burned, I probably wouldn’t have drank it so regularly either.
But knowing how amazing it was for you, I HAD to have my parents take it. So I began to flavor each mix with specific superfoods that they liked, so they would drink the collagen with the beverages they were already drinking everyday anyway (matcha for my mother, coffee for my dad, and hot cacao for my brother).
And after tasting and testing for months, getting it so that the collagen was virtually unrecognizable in the flavor, and seeing my friends and family drink Crushed Tonic raving about how amazing it tasted— that’s when Crushed Tonic was born.
3. What is a Korean beauty secret you can let us in on?
First and foremost— that Korean skin is also a product of the Korean diet. In addition to the great topical products out there, Koreans consume foods that are rich in collagen, probiotics and various vitamins daily. We are what we eat.
My biggest skin concerns—dark circles, peeling/dry skin—could only be hidden for so long with cover up. But when I started turning to ingestible skincare and working on my skin from within, I no longer needed to depend on makeup. It made me feel so confident, being able to step out without having to turn to foundation or concealer. And the best part? When you start taking care of the health of your skin, the transformation is permanent. It doesn't come off with a wipe!
4. What will be a top beauty trend in 2019?
5. What is your favourite way to use collagen?
My favorite recipe is:
- I pour 1/2 cup of vanilla oat milk and 1/2 cup of water (1:1) ratio into a big, microwave-safe mug.
- I microwave the mug for 2 minutes.
- I’ll then pour 1 original crush (if you don’t have it available, you can substitute in for 10 grams of marine collagen and 2 grams of lucuma powder) into a big reusable thermal bottle.
- With the lid on, you shake— and then pour the mixture back into the mug. The collagen powder will dissolve perfectly, making the drink frothy and creamy!
This sounds more complicated than it actually is— in reality it takes less than 3 minutes to make, and it’s SO YUMMY! I also like to add things like CBD oil and MCT oil into it, depending on what my body is craving.
6. What is a common misconception about Korean beauty regimes?
Myth: The brand you go with, is a make-it or break-it.
Fact: The skincare ingredients list, is just as important as nutritional labels. Before purchasing any skincare item, I look at the ingredients to see which bioactive ingredients the formula calls for, rather than simply sticking to the legacy brands and trusting that they are the best just because they have been around longer. Some of my favorite products (Hyaluronic Acid moisturizers, Rosewater serums, Collagen-based masks)—are brands that I’ve never heard of.
7. What is a beauty hack you can share?
I love making my own masks— for skin and hair. My favorite hack is my own “deep condition treatment”— where I mix organic coconut oil, organic sesame oil, marine collagen powder, and egg yolk. After mixing the mixture well, I comb through my hair and also spread it all over my face during a bath!
8. What else can collagen help with? (besides beauty)
Ingesting extra collagen helps us keep our skin supple, elastic and hydrated. With more collagen to keep in the moisture within every cell, our skin will stay hydrated and taut. Collagen is also especially great for hair— is made up of amino acids arginine, glutamine and methionine— amino acids that are clinically proven to thicken hair and stimulate hair growth when ingested. Participants in our clinical studies also have reported thicker hair, eyelashes, brows and beards after three to six months of daily use.
Still, though the industry emphasizes the benefits of collagen on mostly skin*, collagen is a miraculous superfood that is good for you, head to toe. Because collagen is a complex protein that contains EIGHTEEN out of the twenty existing amino acids found in our bodies, these eighteen amino acids, when ingested, support all of the different various functions of our body in different ways: our skin, hair, brain, bones, teeth, nails, heart, digestion, muscles, weight, mood, virility and even sleep.
Collagen Benefits Our . . .
- Skin, as discussed
- Hair and nails: Additional ingestion of the amino acids arginine, glutamine, and methionine in collagen has been shown to strengthen the hair structure and nails. It also can aid in limiting hair loss.
- Joints, which seems obvious when you think about gelatin and how it might buffer our body from the physical wear and tear of everyday life
- Bones, teeth, and nails all contain collagen naturally, so we’re just improving upon nature if we increase our intake of collagen, especially as we start to age.
- Muscle tissues, ligaments, and tendons, as one of glycine’s most important roles is to help form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells
In addition to helping those physical attributes, collagen is good for:
- Digestion, because the collagen can help soothe the lining of the gut and also assist with the absorption of water, which keeps digestion moving smoothly
- Lowering stress and anxiety, as the glycine in collagen can help calm an excited nervous system
9. What are the ways collagen has benefitted you personally?
My skin is more taut, plump and hydrated than it has ever been. I don’t even wear as lotion anymore, and it’s helped me with skin conditions that I struggled with previously to discovering collagen, like cellulite and dark circles. My entire body, head-to-toe, has actually benefitted from the collagen. My finger nails are stronger, my hair (including eyebrows and eyelashes) is thicker, and both grow at a much quicker rate. I can’t speak to the joint pain personally, but my aunt, who is an avid drinker of collagen also— has recently been told by her doctor during her annual check up that her joints are stronger than ever before, and even her bone density has increased.
Overall, ingesting collagen has helped me heal quicker from bruises and scabs. This is a more of a personal anecdote—but I just recently had to get my ears pierced again because my piercings have closed up from my skin turning over so quickly and “healing”!
10. What is the best beauty advice you’ve been given? (and by who?)
11. What is another beauty ingredient you can’t live without?
Glycolic acids can be an active ingredient in many different products, but the form I use the most of it in is peels.
Glycolic peels are amazing at getting rid of scarred / discolored skin, and having new skin regenerate quickly and homogenize in color. I like to use this every two weeks.
12. What can always be found in your handbag?
Tinted Lip Gloss / Butter (Fred NYC is my favorite lip gloss brand)
Some sort of a moisturizer
Crushed Tonic (at least one crush, always)
13. What makes you happy?
I love creating things with people I love— whether it’s cooking, pottery, or photography, or painting.
15. What are three healthy products you can't live without?
- Nature’s Aid MCT oil: MCT oil is made of medium-chain triglycerides. "Consider MCT oilas a super fuel for your cells, because it boosts fat burning and increases mental clarity" (Source: https://drhyman.com/blog/2016/02/04/the-secret-fat-that-makes-you-thin/). It’s also great for making your drinks thicker and texturized, and almost buttery!
- Apple Cider Vinegar Water - Ready to Drink
- Nature Organic Lucuma Powder