After severely burning her arms while cooking, 24-year-old Sally Kim did what most people would do: She ordered every cream and ointment that promised to heal her exposed, painful-to-touch skin. “I tried everything,” she says. Nothing seemed to help.
When one of her friends suggested she try taking collagen, Kim wasn’t exactly hopeful, but figured it couldn’t hurt. She already had added biotin, probiotics, and a turmeric pill to her morning routine, which all have a reputation for improving burn scars—but after just three weeks of taking 20 grams of collagen a day, she saw a drastic improvement. “It also made my skin brighter and hair stronger,” she says. “Everyone was asking me what cleanser I was using, but I don’t even use cleanser. I didn’t make the connection at first, but then I realized it had to be the collagen.”
There was one problem: Kim hated the way it tasted. All the powders she tried were a little fishy—and she didn’t like swallowing pills. It sent her on a mission to formulate a powder (as a side hustle—she also has a day job as a strategist at publishing giant Conde Nast) that simplified her morning routine of taking a probiotic pill, biotin capsule, and holding her nose as she downed her collagen water. And eventually—after much, much more research and testing—Crushed Tonic was born.
“Many people think Korean beauty is all about having these very special, expensive products, but it’s not. It really all starts with the diet.”
An unexpected influence as she developed the flavors? The foods she ate growing up in Korea, which are naturally rich in both collagen and probiotics: Kim’s family ate foods like bone broth and kimchi every day. “Many people think Korean beauty is all about having these very special, expensive products, but it’s not. It really all starts with the diet,” Kim says. “That’s the foundation.” Matcha is something else she was drinking already, so it made sense to incorporate it into her line. (The probiotic strain she uses, bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086, can withstand the heat of hot water.) And as for the turmeric, it was something Kim says she read about on Well+Good, and after seeing its long list of benefits, she felt compelled to incorporate it. “I actually felt selfish learning about all the benefits and not sharing it with others,” she says.
“My uncle had really bad joint pain, and I knew collagen and turmeric can both help with that. That’s really what drove me to continue pursing Crushed Tonic, even though it meant getting up at 4 a.m. to focus on it before work and coming home and getting a bit more done until late at night.”
Whether you’re using Crushed Tonic to try to improve your gut health or reduce inflammation, Kim’s goal was to make incorporating the powder into a daily ritual. Hey, if you’re pouring yourself a cup of matcha anyway, it might as well be brimming with extra benefits, right?
If you’re hunting for more beauty tips, here’s how to help your skin age beautifully, the natural way. And Frank Lipman, MD has some advice, too.