SALLY OLIVIA KIM | FOUNDER
Sally discovered the power of ingestible skincare after experiencing painful burns up and down both of her arms. When topical creams and ointments didn't work, she had to turn to drinking collagen to speed her recovery. Soon, she was seeing results not just in her arms, but everywhere on her body: her hair was becoming thicker and stronger than it's ever been, and she no longer was struggling with dry skin and dark circles under her eyes.
Knowing how beneficial collagen was, she started suggesting her friends and family to start drinking it; yet due to collagen's taste when taken by itself, no one wanted to take it as consistently as Sally had.
This sparked Sally's passion in bringing collagen to everyone she loved, and she started formulating recipes using collagen as a base of many of her drinks.
After months and months of testing multiple types of collagen and tasting it with various superfoods in the kitchen, Sally was finally able to get everyone around her to be just as hooked on collagen: and that's when Crushed Tonic was born.
"Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what we put into our body directly translates to how we look and feel. Still, I do think that most of us either like to conveniently forget, or underestimate just how much of what we ingest, translates to our skin.
I mean, I definitely did.
However, if we took a second to trace some of our most frustrating skin and hair problems to their roots though, we would find ourselves circling back to what’s underneath it all: our diet, our stomachs and liver, two of our most stressed out, hungover organs, and most importantly, our biology: what was happening to our skin at the cellular level. I didn’t always know about this direct correlation— I always ignored that my under eye dark circles would get even darker on the weeks I felt more fatigued, or the immediate linkage of pizza date-nights to morning after pimples.
So I wistfully lamented about how I was “getting too old,” and turned to expensive topical eye creams and lotions (that I always forgot to put on consistently), only to quickly complain right away that I wasn’t seeing any changes. But it’s no wonder why I wasn’t: my skin problems were actually starting from underneath it all.
But this revelation only occurred to me in my early twenties, when I got severely burned from scalding hot cooking oil that melted the skin off both of my arms instantly. I immediately bought every lotion, patch, and prescription ointment out there, but when nothing really did the trick, I resorted to the internet and researched all of the different ways for my skin to heal and regenerate as quickly as possible.
After countless hours of research, I discovered that there’s a city in Brazil, where they would put strips of fish skin directly onto the burned area, and the collagen from the skin would absorbed directly into the wound. This would relieve the pain, and get the patient's’ skin to heal faster. There was no way I was going to go put fish skin all over my body, but I decided to order powdered collagen to ingest.
After a few weeks of consuming 20g of collagen a day, I was amazed by the results: I saw incredible changes not only on the fading scars on my arms, but everywhere, head to toe, even my nails, and my hair started looking better. Everyone started asking me what eye cream I was using— and that's when I realized— ingesting collagen was making my skin the healthiest it had ever been.
I became super fascinated by collagen. I had to figure out why it was so good for me: and I soon discovered that collagen is a type of protein that all living, breathing animals—including humans—produce. It makes up our bones, muscles, skin, and hair. It’s also the most abundant protein in our body that holds our bones, muscles, and especially skin, together (collagen comprises 70 percent of the protein found in skin).
Collagen plays an integral role in keeping our skin plump and youthful, as it is key in our body’s facilitation of new regeneration of skin, muscle, bone, and joint cells. Yet unfortunately, as we age, our body’s ability to produce our much needed supply of collagen diminishes at a rate of 1 percent per year, resulting in the depletion of collagen in our skin cells.
Consequently with this decline, our skin fails to retain moisture as it once used to, leading to less hydrated cells and looser, weaker, stretchier, and thinner skin (and of course, this is what causes wrinkles, fine lines, dry skin, cellulite, and even brittle hair).
I also realized that I had been unknowingly consuming collagen all of my life, through my Korean diet— and especially with my grandmother raising me. For those who aren’t so familiar, Korean cuisine is always a balanced meal of grilled fish, rice (rarely bread), brothy soups, and lots of fermented vegetables as side dishes, such as kimchi, and miso paste. A typical meal by grandmother consisted of a basket of roasted seaweed, grilled mackerel with its skin on, and a bowl of piping hot soup with bone broth as its base (usually anchovy stock). And what all these have in common is that they are all loaded with collagen, or as my grandmother calls it, the good stuff.
Despite religiously yet unknowingly consuming collagen all my life—I didn’t always put two and two together—I always attributed my skin to “Korean genetics,” the same way everyone else did.
Because, to be honest, I didn’t really ever do anything to my skin. I was terrible at making a daily habit of those expensive products that I’d purchase on a whim, and in comparison to my friends who were getting regular facials and peels, my skincare efforts were minimal: on most days, I simply reached for sunblock before starting out my day.
However, I discovered through my collagen regimen that despite all the craze today around Korean skin and the ubiquity of topical products after products (don’t even get me started on the ten-step Korean skincare regimen), and all of the different ingredients popping up here and there (from snail oil to placenta-infused creme), the only Korean Skincare ritual that my family has passed down to me, the only regimen my Korean matriarch, my grandmother, has strictly ingrained into my brain, is the one spoken about the least: the Korean diet.
My family moved to the States when I was ten years old, and as I began to acclimate, my diet slowly evolved as well (as did my skin). But once I started back on collagen—this time, in powdered form—not only did my burns heal, but the differences I noticed were not just on my arms, but in my face and hair. My eyelashes, brows, and hair got so much thicker, and my skin no longer just looked great—my friends were complimenting me constantly, commenting on how my skin looked “perfectly photoshopped,” “glowy,” and “as soft as a baby’s bottom.” Even my number one skin problems—dry skin and enlarged pores—seemed to have disappeared without my even knowing, over the course of my collagen regimen.
It truly felt like a miracle, but was one that was literally hard to swallow. I was using powdered bovine collagen, which was designed to mix into drinks (coffee was the most popular as it was supposed to mask the taste). Even in the hottest, blackest of the coffees as it was recommended, though, I wasn’t able to veil the musky, icky, powdery smell and flavor (I guess it’s hard to make cow hides too palatable?). So I actually ended up just mixing my dose of collagen into a bit of water, holding my nose, and gulping it down.
The fact is, there are people who are able to stand the strong taste of collagen; I was not one of them— I would cringe after every sip. I was rarely able to finish a whole mug of the coffee, and because I hated that it would ruin my favorite morning routine, I actually ended up just mixing my dose of collagen into a bit of water, held my nose, and gulped it down. The fact is, there are other people who are able to stand the strong taste of collagen; I was not one of them.
But, knowing how beneficial collagen was for me from head to toe, I kept at it. I also started evangelizing it to everyone: but turns out, everyone hated how collagen tasted, just as how I had. But because they didn’t have the severe skin conditions I did, they just weren’t that interested in drinking what they didn’t like drinking. But I couldn’t let the taste be the reason that my friends and family, didn’t consume collagen.
So after months and months of research, tasting essentially every collagen brand out there, I found the king of all collagens, one that didn’t ruin whatever flavor profile of the drink you add it to, and then flavored it with other delicious superfoods as drink mixes. I happily sent it out to every single one of my friends and family.
But despite their approval, I came across another obstacle: they kept forgetting to take it daily (or were too lazy to scoop and measure other superfoods int it). And without taking it everyday, they did not see the results that I was seeing.
So I decided to reverse-engineer the experience a bit; if people genuinely liked the taste of the collagen drink and looked forward to drinking it, then they wouldn’t think of it as medicine, but any other flavored beverage out there.
On a mission to get them hooked, and with the goal that my final product would taste good (so good that you’d have no idea that there were 10 grams of fish skin in it), I started formulating, and invented hundreds of recipes with collagen in it.
Finally, when my friends and family couldn’t taste the difference between the matcha latte that had the collagen in it, and the one without, that’s when I knew that I’ve accomplished my mission.