Natural Ingredients

Friday Favourites - Manicure and Pedicure Products

While Film and TV shows often depict women having a standing nail appointment at a downtown salon, we are sad to say that is not the reality at The Amazing Blog. While we love pampering ourselves at the spa every once and a while, we often don’t have the time or money to spend on full manicures and pedicures each week. Thankfully for us, there is a vast market for at-home nail treatments, and you can enjoy some of the luxuries from your flat. We have four #amazingfinds for you this week that will leave your hands and nails looking gorgeous while still feeling like you’ve had a day at the salon.

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The first product we have will leave your hands looking brighter and more youthful before you put on your nail polish. We had the chance to try another product from one of our tried-and-trusted brands, Beauty Kitchen. Since we tested their Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask and The Beauty Boosting BB Cream, the company revamped the collection into Seahorse Plankton+, which includes the 60 Second Manicure.

The 60 Second Manicure is a quick and easy scrub that uses Himalayan sea salt to exfoliate dead skin cells from your hands and nail beds. The fine texture of the sea salt works quickly and effectively, revealing smoother and healthier-looking skin, and is especially useful for dry patches of skin. What makes this scrub standout from others is that all of the products in the Seahorse Plankton+ collection contain microalgae and blue chamomile. Microalgae is a unique skin care ingredient that can survive in the cold and harsh environment of the North Sea and increases collagen production, which brightens skin. It also contains proteins and antioxidants that nourish skin and reduce redness as well as fine lines. Blue chamomile gives the scrub the relaxing aroma of a spa and renews skin.

Sustainability is a crucial pillar of the brand, so Seahorse Plankton+ products are made with recyclable materials (glass and aluminium) and sustainably grown microalgae. Despite the name, seahorses are not used to make the scrub, and it is vegan certified. You can purchase the scrub (80g) here for £19.50.



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This next product from BalbCare -  Luxury Waterless Manicure/Pedicure Starter Kit provides the perfect layer of moisture once you’ve smoothed your hands with the 60 Second Manicure. BalBCare is a Brazilian-based company that wanted to create a ‘manicure and pedicure service that doesn’t require water: saving both time and resources’. By using their Manicure / Pedicure Starter Kit containing a pack of 20 together with free plier toe nail cutters. Did you know that you can save two to four litres of water with each use and have beautiful-looking hands and feet this summer.

The Manicure and Pedicure Kits come with gloves and socks, plus emollient cream, a nail file and a wooden cuticle pusher. The packets are for single-use only, making them very sanitary – something that is vital when removing your cuticles. They are also flat and portable. The emollient cream in each kit moisturises hands and feet using natural ingredients like witch-hazel extract and allantoin (reduces skin inflammation), tea tree oil (sanitises hands naturally), and calcium pantothenate (nourishes nails). After putting the gloves or socks on, you must break the ends of the glove or sock to push back and remove your cuticles. Like a sheet mask, remember to rub in the excess emollient cream once you’ve removed the gloves and socks. To purchase this Starter kit it will be approximate £40 from here.

For extra soft feet, because we usually don’t put cream on our feet every day like our hands, we suggest using Foot File. We recommend finding a file that is made with 100 per cent surgical quality stainless steel, making it longer-lasting and more effective than a typical sandpaper file that runs down after a few uses. The material also makes the foot file extremely lightweight and has a coarse side and fine side. You can use it with or without water and creams, but we prefer to remain water-less and use the emollient cream

We must quickly add that this is in fact a popular salon-based ‘express service’ treatment that is offered in select nail bars and beauty salons UK wide. To have the full experience of mani pedi performed by trained individuals, this treatment will be around £20 (depending on each salons menus).

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The next product we have is another alternative to going to the nail salon or even having to use nail polish, and it will have even your closest friends fooled. Bows & Toes offers a unique solution for people who struggle at painting their nails – especially their non-dominant hands, makeup artists who quickly need to paint nails left and right backstage, or someone who doesn’t want to leave home. It also offers a luxurious twist to stick-on nails, which many people still believe are only age-appropriate for children to use.  

The UK-based online boutique was founded by two sisters who have backgrounds in the nail business, art, and design. They combined their experiences to create high-quality and detailed designs for the hand-painted nails. Bows & Toes allows you to express yourself and style through your nails whichever way you like with a wide variety of styles. The nails come in classic round and square shapes, but also trendy stiletto shapes that are difficult to create without going to the nail salon. Patterns vary from glitter and jewels to marble and solid colours, which come in both shiny and matte finishes. The 20-piece nail sets are not all uniform and have different hues as well as patterns that coordinate with another.

Each nail set includes the stick-on nails, gel tabs to keep the nails on, alcohol wipes, and a cuticle stick. All nails can be removed with just warm water and are reusable if taken care of properly. You can purchase the Bow Ladies nail sets here for prices of £14.99-£18.99, depending on the design.

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Finally, we have two products for you from HandMade Beauty to complete your nails. The Moisturising Base Coat with Aloe Vera and Top Coat Sun Dry both got a lot of love at this year’s Beauty Shortlist Awards, and we can see why. Diana Burillo’s brand provides organic, handmade, and cruelty-free alternatives to traditional nail polishes that often have harsh chemicals and damage nails. The products are also fair trade and produced with as few ingredients as possible to uphold the company’s mission of ‘creating 100% organic spaces for body and mind care’.

The first item we tried was the Moisturising Base Coat. Our nails truly felt the difference with this base coat due to the formula’s mixture of aloe vera, bamboo extract, and vitamin E. These ingredients add moisture, but also repair existing nail damage and prevent future damage. It’s perfect if your nails are feeling drier with the rising temperatures. On top of feeling more moisturised nails, the base coat left a nice natural shine that could be worn on its own. After the base coat and nail polish of your choice, HandMade Beauty’s Top Coat Sun Dry will give you shiny and glossy nails that look like you got a gel manicure. The catch is that you don’t have to put your hands under a UV lamp or UV light. The top coat creates a hard shell in just three minutes under natural sunlight and protects your nails from getting chipped, resulting in a longer-lasting manicure. The product additionally has a rounded application brush that makes it easier to distribute the top coat onto your nails.

Both products come in simple glass bottles (a clear one for the base coat and a matte black one for the top coat) with wooden caps that would look nice on any counter. You can purchase the Top Coat Sun Dry (11ml) here for €18 and the Moisturising Base Coat (10ml) here for €14. If you buy both together, online orders over €30 qualify for free shipping.

With these four unique at-home nail treatments in mind, we hope you find some time to treat yourself during the weekend. Put on a soft robe, rest your feet, and relax in front of the telly while doing one or all of these treatments because you and your nails deserve to feel like you’ve had a weekend spa holiday.

Procoal - Activated Charcoal Purifying Detox Mask

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At The Amazing Blog we’re fully aware of the current charcoal trend  in many beauty and wellness products, which is where we have covered it here from Restoria’s Charcoal Exfoliating Wash to White Glo’s Charcoal Deep Stain Remover Toothpaste and Just For Tummies Food Supplements. What we like about activated charcoal it removes excess oil, dirt, environmental pollutants, and dead skin cells from pores, leaving us feeling detoxed, helping us to achieve a more radiant complexion. With this in mind, we were keen to try the new Procoal Activated Charcoal Purifying Detox Face Mask.

Procoal is a UK-based company and was started in 2016 after its founders set out to create high-quality products without lower-cost filler ingredients, like a few charcoal brands that can be found in this sector. The company prides itself on ‘prioritising quality over profit’ and uses natural ingredients that are traceable, ethically sourced, free of parabens, and cruelty-free.

The Purifying Detox Mask uses one of its four key ingredients, charcoal, to deep clean pores and remove pollutants. We can see why Egyptians have used activated charcoal for centuries for its many different uses-including drawing poison from wounds-because you can feel clearer pores after just one use of this mask. Natural clays kaolin, montmorillonite, and ghassoul work to absorb and eliminate impurities and sebum as well as even out your complexion. Besides making your skin feel fresh, this product is effective on all skin types (charcoal is very gentle and won’t irritate sensitive skin) and helps fight acne. So, take 5-10 minutes out of your day to relax and treat your skin with this face mask while knowing that what is in it is all-natural. You can buy the mask for yourself here for £8.99 .

Friday Favourites- Lip Products

While skin care is very important, a lot of people forget to give their lips the TLC that they deserve. Although a good lip balm is a must, sometimes we need a little extra help to keep them moisturised, protected and plumped. For this week’s Friday Favourites at The Amazing Blog, we rounded up four NEW lip must-haves to use in your weekly lip care routine.

 

MYJ  - Knightsbridge Lip Mask

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The first step to any successful lip care routine is to make sure you have even foundation before applying your favourite gloss or lipstick. MYJ’s Knightsbridge lip mask does just this! It rejuvenates and moisturises lips for a plump and naturally-pink pout. Infused with hibiscus extract and other natural minerals, the Knightsbridge Lip Mask created to help improve the natural lip colour by regenerating skin cells. 

For this exfoliation, apply a layer of the lip mask to clean lips. Wait 5-10 minutes before wiping away and you will see a difference in your lips’ texture. After a few weeks of using the mask for MYJ’s recommended twice-a-week usage, we found lips were suitably moisturised and more kissable than ever before! For only £10, you can purchase a 15ml container of the lip mask here. We think that this is a must-have for having smoother and hydrated lips.

 

Jane Apothecary -  Restoring  Eye and Lip Serum

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We all know how important it is to incorporate a serum to your skincare routine but have you ever tried a serum that targets your lips?  This was a new on for us too!  Jane Apothecary’s Restoring Eye and Lip Serum provide that extra step to aid your lip care routine. Made in Spain, the serum is infused with only natural oils and extracts such as raspberry seed, sesame, grape seed, rose hip, chamomile and calendula that work beautifully together to tighten and minimise damage to your lip contour especially from the dreaded free radicals. The added infusion of the calming lavender, bergamot and geranium oils also adds a hint of aromatherapy healing  when you apply this serum to your lips.

For optimal results, we suggest applying a small amount of the Jane Apothecary’s Restoring Eye and Lip Serum to the lips after the removal of the lip mask (above). After patting the excess, continue the next steps in your routine. Even though the serum bottle is 10m, a little goes a long way with this deliciously rich serum. To purchase the Restoring Eye and Lip Serum for £32.67 click here.

 

Lavera -  SOS HELP Lip Balm

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Lavera’s SOS HELP Lip Balm is the perfect lip balm to protect and moisturise chapped lips for all year round. Since 1987, Lavera has developed and produced all its products in Germany using only  100 % natural formulas. With over 300 natural ingredients and actives, each product is made to the highest specification ensuring the quality of their products. The SOS HELP Lip Balm itself is made with their production of ground liquorice root to provide a calming and anti-inflammatory relief to even the most irritated lips.

In addition to being vegan and gluten-free, the lip balm contains no mineral oils or silicone to keep the skin’s natural skin barrier intact and nourished. Other extracts infused into the balm made from plants like the Echinacea strengthen and protect lips from getting dry and chapped. After applying the Jane Apothecary Restoring Eye and Lip Serum, we recommend applying a small amount of SOS HELP Lip Balm to help retain the moisturising effects. Purchase a 100 mL tube of the balm on here for £5.36

A.T Antao  -The Luna Trio

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Finally, while we’re all for a natural pout, sometimes we want a little pop of colour to enhance an outfit. The latest Chinese brand to hit the UK is AT Antao with one of their hero set of products which are their The Luna Trio. This pack of three mini lipsticks that come in three different highly-pigmented shades of red, all presented in a rather glamorous gold box. When A.T. founder Teniya Tao launched the brand in 2014, she aimed to market the brand on a global level by developing products that were highly effective yet non-toxic. The Luna Trio, like other A.T. products, are strategically developed with partnership with European laboratories to ensure these standards. Although the lipsticks when applied are matte on lips, the Vitamin E and jojoba and avocado oils which are infused into the formula, gives the lipsticks a creamy, effortless application.

A.T. also claims that their lipsticks contain lower levels of lead compared to other lipsticks in the market. So you can still have a bold lip without it having to be toxic to your body. These nourishing ingredients hydrate lips while still giving you a bold, matte look. The first lipstick in the trio, 519 Chili, is a coppery red that is great for a more subtle pop of colour. The next lipstick in the trio in the shade 520 Corail leaves lips covered with a gorgeous coral sheen. If you want a ‘true red’ colour, 521 Antao Red is a dialed-down version of the tone to great for putting together a more casual look.  After completing our suggested lip care routine, apply your favourite shade on moisturised lips for a finished lip routine. The Luna Trio is available for purchase for £33.90 on the AT Antao website here

Follow our suggested lipcare routine here with our #amazingfinds and it’s sure to leave your lip truly kissable!

Friday Favourites – Spring Alcoholic Drinks

As regular readers will know we like to champion indie beauty and food brands which are our passion at The Amazing Blog, So for this week’s Friday Favourites we’re publishing one in a series of three features showcasing indie alcohol brands that we’ve recently discovered (and enjoying!) this spring. And as the weather warms up, what better way to keep friends and loved ones entertained with some our glorious and experimental tipples! The UK alcohol market is a competitive one and hard to navigate when there are so many options. However, hopefully we’ll make it easy for you with these first four spring #amazingfinds. They’re all newly launch alcohols, taste delicious on their own, on the rocks, or as an inventive cocktail with mixers.

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The first new launch alcohol we have will surely raise some eyebrows: It’s a line of tea-infused alcohol from NOVELTEA. Before you write it off, we can assure you that it tastes good and adds an extra kick to our beloved cup of tea. We also note that this would have been perfect for National Tea Day which was on the 21st of April (Easter) last weekend. The company was founded two years ago by German artisan mixologists Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia, who had a passion for disrupting the current market and inventing an entirely new category of alcohol. They achieved both by harnessing Britons’ love for both tea and alcohol with three distinct flavours in a ready-to-drink format. The alcohol is made by cold brewing real tea extract for 10 hours to draw out each tea’s distinct taste and natural sweetness.

We tried all of the flavours (The Tale of Earl Grey, The Tale of Tangier, and The Tale of Oolong), which were inspired by the country where each tea originated. NOVELTEA most recently launched The Tale of Oolong in February of this year, and it was our personal favourite. It’s a Scottish whisky that is infused with Chinese oolong tea, red rose petals, papaya, and mango flakes—giving it a sweet after taste. The Tale of Tangier is a Moroccan green mint tea and Caribbean white rum while The Tale of Earl Grey is a black earl grey tea and British gin. Each flavour has a smooth and rich taste that will suit any tea and alcohol preference.

The blend is roughly 1/3 spirit and 2/3 tea (11% ABV), so it is quite delicious to drink on its own. We particularly liked that it can be consumed hot like tea, cold like whisky (or whiskey!) Or with other alcohols such as prosecco and rum. If you’re in the mood to try a new category of alcohol or tea, NOVELTEA is for you. It comes in elegant glass bottles and two sizes (25cl for £9.95 and 70cl for £24.95). The brand is available in over 150 stores across the UK and exports to China, Hong Kong, and Germany and online here



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Next up is Spytail Ginger Rum, which brings a 19th-century French recipe of using ginger and cognac barrels to the modern day. The Caribbean dark rum is bottled a small distillery in France’s Cognac region that is famous for its spirits craftsmanship. Inspired by sea exploration, Spytail gets its name from an early engineering drawing of a submarine housed in the Cognac maritime archive. The rum is owned by Biggar and Leith, a New York-based company that specialises in importing fine spirits from distilleries dedicated to innovative ideas and high-quality products. Thomas Gladstone founded the company in the late 18th century after he moved to the port city of Leith, in Scotland.

To create the rum’s spicy taste, it is aged for 3-6 months in cognac casks for depth and flavour. It is then mixed with ginger and spices to give the rum an extra kick that appears after its initial smoothness. The ginger infusion is not overpowering and adds a nice touch to the delicious rum. You can drink it perfectly well on the rocks, in a cocktail, or with Coca Cola. However, if you want a stronger ginger flavour, you can add fresh ginger or spicy ginger beer. We loved it with the latter on a sunny day, making us feel like we were French explorers on the sea.

The ginger rum also comes in an ornate round bottle with a submarine port-hole and coordinates of French novelists Jules Verne’s grave on the front. It looks just intriguing enough to display on your bar during parties rather than hidden in your cupboard. Spytail Ginger Rum (70cl) is available at multiple online retailers like Amazon and The Whisky Exchange. We have chosen Master of Malt see here for a bottle starting at £24.97 and containing 40% ABV.


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There are no tiger by-products in Shropshire Spirits Company ’s Tiger Gin nor are there even tigers on the logo, but the name is something the company fought hard for in its early beginnings. Founder JJ Lawrence, a self-professed ‘Shropshire Lad’ and gin enthusiast, set out to make and produce his own gin in 2016. Eventually partnering with family-owned distiller Alcohol Limited, Lawrence entered a trademark war with Heineken Asia Pacific PTE’s Tiger Beer. The high courts sided with Lawrence, and the company proved the tiger within itself. We applaud!

Besides its dramatic backstory, Shropshire Spirits has made a top-quality tipple. Tiger has been recognised as being one of the best gins in the world by gaining no fewer than 16 world awards! It has a juniper berry base, which gin lovers will know is the basis of any good gin, but it is the other botanicals and how they fuse that make Tiger Gin stand out. Liquorice root powder adds immediate sweetness followed by warmth from cinnamon and cassia bark. However, you get a citrus aftertaste from dried sweet lemon and orange peels. The entire production process takes around nine hours with the ingredients mixed into a neutral grain spirit overnight then blended with another neutral spirit for a 40% ABV.

The gin’s citrus flavour pairs well with an orange slice or lime if you want to make a classic gin and tonic. It also makes a marvellous base for a martini. While we love a good G&T, Lawrence intended Tiger Gin to be consumable over ice, and he’s done just that because it’s so got a slightly sweet and smooth taste. It’s ideal if you’ve just run out of mixers and don’t want to dash out for more or for your friend who can’t get enough of gin on the rocks. See the list of stockists here to buy Tiger Gin (70cl). Prices start at £37.

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While clean products have been immensely popular in the beauty and skin care industry, it appears the trend has also moved into vodka and spirits with WM Spirits PURE Vodka. This vodka indeed goes back to the basics with no added colours, flavours, sugars, preservatives, or chemicals.

The inception for WM Spirits came during a time of prosperity for the UK in 2016, as Andy Murray won Wimbledon and Queen Elizabeth turned 90 years old. However, as a group of individuals they felt that the vodkas on the market were littered with impurities and unspellable ingredients. They decided to change that and the market by committing to ‘create drinks that taste great, are clean, and a brand that people can trust’. The independently owned brand is also dedicated to sustainability with the goal of being carbon neutral and staying ethically conscious.

PURE Vodka is the company’s flagship product and takes after the brand’s inspiration figure, 1920s American prohibition smuggler William ‘Bill’ McCoy. While he was a bootlegger, he was a fair dealer and didn’t dilute his imported spirits. The phrase ‘the real McCoy’ has made him synonymous with authenticity, reliability, and quality—exactly what guides this product. PURE Vodka is hand-distilled in small batches and uses an innovative technique that purifies the vodka to an equivalent of 100 times while competitors like Grey Goose and Cîroc are only distilled around five times for purification. This process results in a poignant vodka (40% ABV) that goes down easily, without a piercing after taste. It is also organic, vegan, gluten-free, low calorie, and made in the UK with 100 per cent natural ingredients.

The vodka tastes so clean it seems a shame to mix into a cocktail! If drinking shots or vodka straight is not your thing then WM Spirits offers a convenient guide of different drink recipes here, and you can purchase PURE Vodka (70cl) here for £33.

Whether you want to support up-and-coming spirits brands, have a desire to try something new, or need a gift, these versatile brands offer something for everyone. Chin-chin!

Acti-Labs - Vendome Eye Shadow Palette

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We love to make new discoveries here at TheAmazingBlog particularly when they offer us an affordable price-point and great value for money. The British beauty brand Acti-Labs pride themselves in doing just this. They carefully select their high concentrate of botanical ingredients from the south of France, where they  create their state of the art and performance-led products. None of their products are tested on animals and their factory in France has even received a Government Environment Award for low carbon footprint. In having their own laboratory, it means that they can offer exceptional value products at laboratory direct prices.

We particularly like the Acti-Lab’s core philosophy of  ‘using science to get the best out of nature’ and ‘medically inspired products for home use’.  Although this brand is probably best known for their skincare, we decided to venture into exploring some of their makeup.  They very kindly sent us their Vendome Shimmer Palette that comprises of twelve shimmering and neutral shades of eye shadow. This glamorous Vendome Shimmer Palette is very easy to use to mix and match. What we liked best, is that like other Acti-Labs’ products, this palette is infused with completely natural ingredients like vitamin E, kaolin and jojoba. Not only do the shades apply smoothly, the added vitamin E  helps to protect and nourishes the skin. Also included in the palette are a mirror and a two-sided brush, which is perfect for application and blending.  

While everyone has different steps in their makeup routine, we recommend applying your primer first before applying your eye shadow to achieve a longer-lasting effect. After choosing your colours, Acti-Labs recommends starting with the lightest colour working up to the stronger shades, blending until you achieve your given look. To get this elegant and versatile Vendome Shimmer Palette buy here,  it’s a steal at only £15! We can’t wait to try more…