Esse Protect Oil

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When the weather is bitingly cold, our skin begins to suffer. Coupled with London’s pollution and the pre-Christmas fatigue, we are always searching for new ways to protect our complexions. Esse is a brand that we know and love, having previously featured their Repair Oil, here. We were therefore intrigued to try their Protect Oil The Amazing Blog, an oil that boosts skin immunity and claims to hold in moisture without leaving a thick film of oil on the skin.

Founded by Trevor Steyn in 2002, Esse is a South African skincare brand known for using prebiotics, and producing vegan and sustainable products that cater to bespoke skin types. Esse was certified organic in 2005, and they haven’t looked back since. Their Protect Oil assists the growth of beneficial microbes, providing respiratory and antiviral support to our skin, as well as much needed moisture.

Protect Oil permeates deep into the epidermis and works with your own skin cells keep your skin looking radiant. As oils go, this one is very lightweight – although as characterised by a face oil, there is a glossy finish (for want of a better word). When you squeeze it out of the pipette, you’ll find it’s incredibly fluid, making for easy use. Additionally, it generates a tangible layer of prebiotic nutrients such as ximenia American oil, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, vanillin and sunflower seed oil, all of which help to feed the skin. To get the elusive ‘dewy glow’ just apply a few drops in your hands, and spread evenly over the face, neck and décolleté before moisturising. To give you a heads up, a little really does go a long way!

We definitely recommend this to our fellow city dwellers, for protection on the daily commute. That said, we would equally recommend this oil to those of you who are simply looking for a little extra moisture as the temperatures drop. Suitably convinced? You can purchase Esse’s Protect Oil here for £49.00 (15ml).

MicroBarBox - Chocoholic's Chocolate Cocktail Box

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It might only be Wednesday, but that doesn’t stop us dreaming of Friday at The Amazing Blog! We were thrilled to discover British company, MicroBarBox, as their novel cocktail boxes allowed us to indulge in a cocktail (or two) from the comfort of our own homes. The concept of a ‘bar in a box’ is a great one, the liqueurs and spirits you need to create delicious after dinner drinks are delivered straight to your door, and with several different versions, you can choose your box dependant on whether you’re a gin, vodka, whisky, or prosecco lover.

We decided to give the Chocoholic’s Chocolate Cocktail Box a whirl. This decadent delight contains a plethora of alcoholic and chocolatey treats, including Coole Swan White Chocolate Liqueur, Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur, Sweet Potato Chocolate Moonshine with Chilli, Bramley and Gage Cherry Brandy, Baileys Orange Truffle Irish Cream Liqueur and Wild Chocolate Vodka - all of which come in 50ml measures. In addition to that, you get 35g of Fudge Kitchen Classic Chocolate, as well as 40g Divine White Chocolate. What more could you ask for? They have created our liquid ‘chocolate heaven’! Although completely acceptable as a way to treat yourself, this box would also make a perfect Christmas present for your loved ones. The boxes are elegant, encasing the chocolatey goodies in black packaging, with pink and white lettering. If you have the willpower to save these treats, then they will also be great additions to your beverage collection.

These can either be mixed in your own experimental way, or you can follow the cocktail serving suggestions to create some fabulous chocolate cocktails. Our favourite was definitely the Winter Wonderland cocktail, which contains the Coole Swan White Chocolate Liqueur mixed with 1/3 of Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur. Perfect for a cosy catch up on wintery days! Everything you need is combined in the box, just add some ice for a refreshing bonus. For £35 you can order the Chocoholic’s Chocolate Cocktail box here or browse the selection of other boxes here. NB: the box contents are regularly updated so your contents may be different (although equally delicious!)

In order to always keep your selection updated, you can even become a Cocktail Club member, and get your monthly Cocktail box delivered straight to your door. The lovely MicroBarBoxTeam have also created a discount code for you, our readers, which you can use when purchasing their Chocoholic’s Chocolate Cocktail Box. Simply use the code “AMAZING10” when placing your order. Enjoy!

W=Hb²’s Power Duo Face Serum

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Keeping our skin looking hydrated and healthy is a daily gripe of ours at The Amazing Blog. We’ve found that our skin has been suffering from the colder temperatures and given that the next few weeks will include a little indulgence (in the name of the festivities), we’ve been on the search for new skincare to help us look party ready. This is when we discovered W=Hb²’s Power Duo Face Serum - our new force to be reckoned with!

The brand name itself is worth exploring: W=Wellness, H=health and b²=beauty squared, a formula that speaks volumes for the intended benefits of the products. We tried LA FORMULE SECRÈTE, a Power Due Face Serum, which thanks to founder Yilin Wang, is not a secret to us anymore. Produced in one of the best skincare laboratories in Switzerland, leading Biochemist Yilin Wang researched and developed this double skin serum to provide a product that genuinely cares for you, and your skin. Harmonizing the Chinese Yin Yang philosophy, using two complementary forces, she created a dynamic system in the form of a two-phase and vegan skincare treatment. This delivers skin protection and health benefits, while combining anti-ageing (Phase 1) and anti-pollution actions (Phase 2).

Presented in a white box with rose gold and dark grey lettering, this serum is delivered simply, yet chicly. The matte 2-in-1 bottle is easy to use, and creates a great skin-loving experience. When trying it, we were more than positively surprised. Even though the modern and elegant appearance set our expectations pretty high, the pleasant feeling on the skin created pure relaxation beyond our expectations. Best applied both mornings and evenings onto cleansed skin, this treatment delivers long-lasting and visible results.

To apply the product, you start with Phase 1, the stage focused on Beauty. It revives, refines and rebalances your skin. The Tri-Active Age Corrector Complex combines versatile ingredients such as phytocelltec alpine rose stem cel and probiotic bacterium, helping to boost collagen production, encourage skin stem cell vitality, strengthen skin barriers, and hydrate. Aiming to encourage better skin elasticity, step 1 makes wrinkles less visible and creates a more radiant skin complexion within just 16 days (YES, just 16 days!). Equally important, Phase 2 focuses on Health. The Tri-Active Brightening & Anti-Pollution Complex brightens your skin while repairing UV and blue light damage. It also purifies pollutants and helps your skin to handle environmental stress and pollution, while sodium hyaluronate adds hydration.

To try the Power Duo Face Serum for yourself, click here, available exclusively for £110.00. This product delivers a 360° wellness experience, so what are you waiting for?

Captain Fawcett - Triumphant Moustache Wax

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“Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!” - the wise words of Mr Toad in the Wind and the Willows. Played by Rufus Hound, his thespian talents are not his only distinguishing feature - thanks to his extraordinarily well-manicured facial fuzz. He has since teamed up with Captain Fawcett, a brand providing top quality shaving and grooming products since 2011. Thanks to the highly successful vibe they have created, it is fair to say that the range has now snowballed in both form and profits. Their website even transports you to a bygone world of Dickensian charm, but with an up to the minute interface, encouraging us chaps to lavish some attention on our personal grooming regimes. Having previously tried their Million Dollar Beard Oil (see here), and from reading up on some of Captain Fawcett’s newest adventures, we at The Amazing Blog HQ found ourselves researching for 3-piece tweeds, pipes and baccy…and none of us smoke!

Back to the point, and more importantly, the product which our friend Rufus Hound has collaborated with Captain Fawcett on: ‘Rufus Hound’s TRIUMPHANT Moustache Wax’. Part of the Signature Series, where ‘The Captain’ has teamed up with a string of perfectly coiffed hirsute faces (literally), we were keen to see what Mr Hound’s tin would provide.

Fragrance-wise we have a delicious recipe on offer - there’s bergamot, lime and ylang ylang, with blackcurrant, clove and galbanum. If that’s not enough, then this wax also has earthy notes of sandalwood, ambergris and musk, producing a richl and indulgent pong that sits well on the top lip area. The 15ml tin may be small, but a little goes a long way If you too believe a ‘tache should be primped ’n perky, £12 is a small price to pay. Be warned though, appropriate application is definitely required for the perfect result - use just the flicker of a fingernail amount and ensure it is warmed thoroughly to achieve an even spread throughout. The hold is firm, and once you have styled your moustache, you can be sure that your creation will stay in place for the day.

Available through the Captain Fawcett website for £12 (15ml), you’ll also find a plethora of other goodies to investigate, including information, advice, and updates on The Captain’s latest adventures!

Friday Favourites: Festive Gins

The second weekend of December is here, and we think that justifies a festive tipple or two. As gin lovers at The Amazing Blog, we were thrilled to come across six new spirits - we're certainly never averse to a spot of gin tasting in the name of research! Whether you're a connoisseur or not, we're sure that you'll find a suitable botanical to mix with your favourite tonic, add to a signature cocktail or gift to a gin lover in your life.

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Firstly, we discovered Conker, based in Bournemouth and known as Dorset's first gin distillery. They pride themselves on being free from traditional constraints, instead, evolving their Dorset Dry with meticulous testing and tweaking; producing a gin that has a strong focus on quality, rather than industry expectation. We don't mind admitting that we were dubious as to whether this approach would produce a suitable outcome, but in fact, the delicious taste of this gin speaks for itself, proving this assumption very wrong. Whether distilled traditionally or not, we are suitably impressed.

Despite their no-fuss approach, Dorset Dry is still a classic dry gin. The fresh taste is thanks to the use of ten unique botanicals, including Dorset elderberries and samphire, as well as handpicked New Forest gorse flowers. We were pleased to see the use of local ingredients, including British wheat spirit and New Forest Spring Water, both adding subtle and different flavours. We particularly enjoyed the light and refreshing taste, still smooth enough to be consumed neatly over ice, or equally enjoyable when mixed with a good quality tonic. We also found it works well with a dash of ginger ale, for a spicy and fresh tipple. Purchase Conker's Dorset Dry here starting from £21.50 (350ml).

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If you're a traditionalist at heart, then Hayman’s may be the gin brand for you. Producing gin since 1863, Hayman’s have a wealth of knowledge, passed down between generations. This has unearthed a brand that is committed to championing traditional methods, and through priding themselves on creating truly English Gins, Hayman’s have produced a collection of delicious spirits, that certainly stand out amongst the crowded gin market.

For us, sloe gin optimises December and Christmas, the ideal tipple for an evening spent by the fire (or perhaps Father Christmas’ spirit of choice). We tried Hayman's Sloe Gin, a handcrafted spirit that is distilled using a fifth-generation family recipe. Thanks to the use of English wild-forage berries, this gin has a plummy aroma and fruity taste, particularly popular among those of us with a taste for almond. Made from harvested English sloe berries and Hayman's English Gin, the ingredients are steeped for four months, giving a broad and bursting flavour. Due to the lower alcohol content of 26% ABV, this gin is delicious when consumed on its own, or when mixed with prosecco, for a party worthy Sloe Royale. We must also mention the packaging, launched nationwide in Marks & Spencer; the bottles are wrapped in limited edition paper, perfect as a gift for gin lovers, or merely to add a bit of festive cheer to your spirit cabinet. To purchase your own Sloe Gin for £26.00, head into a local Marks & Spencer store or visit the Haymans website here.

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Despite the name 'London Dry Gin', it is not only manufactured in the UK. Strane introduced us to their Swedish offerings, made at Smögen Whisky, a small craft distillery on the Swedish west coast. As a whisky company, we found it interesting that Strane have applied their whisky process to gin making, focusing heavily on the blending process. Launched in 2014, Strane's blending process is designed to ensure that each gin has a distinctively different outcome, with different proportions of botanicals added to each of the three offerings. What impressed us, is the quality control of this small batch company, trialling and testing on a constant basis to re-balance the final product.

We tried two of Strane's gins: Strane Merchant Strength 47.4% ABV and Strane Ultra Uncut 82.5% ABV. Both are handcrafted in small batches of around 45 litres and are mixed by master blender, Pär Caldenby, who ensures each of the three gins is mixed precisely. Merchant Strength has an intense depth of character thanks to the use of juniper, coriander and mint. Strane also include two secret botanicals, one local, and the other, typical of the ancient trade of the armed merchant ships. Although we can't spill the names of these ingredients, we certainly enjoyed the gin with a good quality tonic and a classic lemon garnish. Strane's Ultra Uncut gin is an explosion of strength, yet is still a delicious gin to be consumed with a good quality tonic. Thanks to the use of cinnamon, sweet almond and sage, this gin has a botanically strong taste, which is rich in juniper, and heavily citrusy with notes of lemon peel and garden mint. Try it for yourself here for £33, or if you're feeling less adventurous, try Strane's Merchant Strength for £39.83 here.

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Finally, thanks to Esker Spirits, we were transported to Scotland and introduced to two final additions to our (ever-growing) gin cabinet. With a desire to create premium spirits, Esker's first distillery was housed in a humble back garden shed, which has now impressively evolved into a distillery on the Kincardine Estate. As a family-owned distillery, ingredients are sourced from the local area of Royal Deeside, and it is the silver birch sap, in particular, that is characteristic of their unique spirits. Thanks to this ingredient, Esker Spirits have a classic yet distinct flavour, distilled traditionally in a copper pot still, creating delicious gins that we couldn't wait to try.

Firstly, we tried Esker's Traditional Gin, with citrusy notes, thanks to the use of orange peel. This is a refreshing gin, with floral undertones that are characteristic of rosehip and heather flowers. We found this gin is best mixed with a good quality tonic (we liked it with elderflower tonic especially) and the citrus flavour really pops when served with a small amount of orange peel. It is also delicious when added to prosecco, add a cordial of your choice, and wow your party guests with a delectable (yet simple) cocktail. Equally, if you're looking for a spicier alternative, then Esker's Honey Spiced Gin is the answer. Thanks to the use of pink peppercorn and cassia, this gin has a warming kick, enough to warm the cockles after a long week at work. Although this can be served with traditional tonic, we enjoyed it immensely when served with ginger ale and orange peel, the ultimate long drink to accompany an evening of present wrapping. Purchase Esker's Traditional Gin for £36 here, or Honey Spiced Gin for £35.30 here.

How's that for some gin cabinet inspiration? Whether you're searching for a gift, a companion for your festive cocktail recipes, or even a spirit to put hairs on your chest - we're sure one of these gins will be your answer. Enjoy!