TGIF

Friday Favourites – Eye Products

We always like to stress the importance of caring for your skin, and today we want to talk about the eye area. The skin around the eyes is thinner and more active than the rest of the face, particularly with all our squinting, frowning and laughing. This eye area doesn’t create hydration or replace moisture and is an area that we’re constantly touching or rubbing, making it more prone to dryness or worse – wrinkles! We at The Amazing Blog know what you’re thinking, that eye creams are just more expensive moisturisers in a smaller bottle. Well, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Please read on.

Eye creams are specifically formulated for the thin and delicate skin around our eyes. They are more intense and moisturising than a face cream, plus have more active ingredients aimed at protecting and hydrating the eye area. So, here dear readers we have a new selection of eye care recommendations that we can’t wait for you to try too.

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The first eye cream we have for you today is the Tiiya Alanoud Alattiya Epiphany Concentrated Eye Cream.  Alanoud Alattiya is a couturier by trade and because she’s related to royalty, knows all about the finer things in life. The Concentrated Eye Cream was specifically designed to fight signs of ageing around the eyes. It works to fight signs of stress and fatigue, leaving you with brighter and youthful skin. We recommend applying it every morning and night to clean skin for best results. The cream contains Phytocelltec™ Alp Rose, Swiss flowers that grow at high altitudes, forcing them to adapt to extreme conditions. When used in skincare, it helps to maintain the characteristics of skin stem cells and protects the cells against UV-stress. You can purchase the anti-ageing power of the Tiiya Alanoud Alattiya Epiphany Concentrated 30ml Eye Cream here for £96.

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Next up we have the Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream. Viliv was created by the expert Dr. Felix Bertram, a specialist with an international reputation in dermatology, skin surgery and beauty treatments based in Switzerland. He is an authoritative voice and sought-after in the field of wrinkle treatment, aesthetic medicine and cosmetics; so, we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the Viliv e -Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream has been created by someone with great knowledge and expertise.

A hot favourite with us all at The Amazing Blog, we particularly liked that Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream felt gentle, soothing and hydrating on our skin. Dr Bertram alerts us to the day-to-day things that affect the skin from the environment to the foods we eat. Something that you probably didn’t know is that when sugar molecules enter the skin via food, they accumulate on collagen fibres, eventually clogging them up and making the skin increasingly inelastic causing wrinkles to develop. Happily, this is where the Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream is specially formulated to help keep lines at bay by gently firming the eye area with ameliox with carnosine (more about this in a later feature on Viliv skincare). Other ingredients such as vitamin E and silymarin (from milk thistle) help to push cell renewal and keep the skin supple. Also, hyaluronic acid, cupuacu butter and macadamia nut oil all provide extra moisture, all leading to rehydrated and more youthful-looking eyes. This is a brand is not only full of biotechnology and science but is also 100% vegan, parabens, mineral oils, colourants, BHT, EDTA, fragrance
and cruelty free. Dr. Bertram gave us a quick tip telling us to keep the eye cream in the fridge during the summer, this makes it very cooling and refreshing when applied. Want to purchase this doctor-approved eye cream? You can get your very own 25ml pot of Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream, for £75 here .

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Finally, let’s meet Cinere, their mission is simple: Create pure, natural products made using only the finest ingredients. AEPC Laboratories (Amalgamated Euro Products Corporation) developed this skincare where they believe in using the timeless elements of nature and state of the art research to create unique products. This is another favourite brand with us, and we’ve previously written about their 100% Natural Cleansing Gel and Extra Rich Nourishing Cream. Cinere uses both their passion for natural ingredients and their expertise in science and dermatology. They have created products with some of the finest essentials oils and other natural therapeutic elements that all work at a cellular level.

The Cinerex Ageless Concentrated Eye Serum is a lightweight formula to help reduce dark circles, fine lines and puffiness around the eyes. This contains a unique blend of highly concentrated proteins and peptides, which work to put wrinkles on hold and reduce the signs of ageing. After all, who doesn’t want to look younger? Serums are great for this as they provide a concentrated amount of active ingredients and absorb quickly into the skin. Cinerex Ageless Eye Contour Serum, keeps eyes looking brighter and more rested. Want an immediate skin pick-me-up? Cinerex Ageless Eye Contour Serum 15ml can be purchased here for £28.

Which one will you choose?

Woodsetton Art Pottery's Workshop

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After a long week, there's nothing better than doing relaxing and creative activity. We think that pottery achieves just that, allowing us to take the time-out immersing ourselves in something that doesn't involve work, emails or social media. Something we actively try and encourage at The Amazing Blog, so we were excited to learn more about the Woodsetton Art Pottery's classes.

We came across Woodsetton Art Pottery's is the brainchild of Lorraine Bates, who aims to tailor classes, ensuring everyone leaves with a newfound knowledge (whether you're brand new to pottery, or more experienced). Based in Woodsetton, West Midlands, there is a space for everyone, from beginner classes to throwing and glazing. With a maximum of seven people per workshop, the courses aim to improve everyone’s creative skills, gaining optimum knowledge and interaction with a pottery professional. The studio is also well equipped, with electric potter wheels and a range of equipment for hand builders and sculptures.

The beginner's pottery course includes hand building, extruding and sculpting. The aim is that every student will learn to throw on the wheel, giving the opportunity to let your inner child out (and to get your hands dirty in the process). If you choose only to do this course, then you can make use of Lorraine's extensive experience, paying £2 per piece for her to tidy/turn your work, with subsequent biscuit firing, glazing and glaze firing. This means that however skilled you prove to be (or not), you will leave with a professionally finished piece.

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For a more advanced course, Lorraine offers throwing courses. These are a day long, with a maximum of five students, allowing each person access to their own wheel - improving throwing and turning techniques. Alternatively, if glazing is your interest, then there is also a separate glazing workshop. Here you will learn to apply different glazes, colours and dippings, to make your pieces true works of art. The created pots can also be decorated with sponging, stencilling and brushing.

The Raku Day workshop is slightly different, allowing students to bring in their own works from home (size permitting), to decorate and glaze in the workshop. The extensive experience of Woodsetton Pottery will ensure that you leave with new glaze recipes, with the focus being to teach correct mixing techniques, including ways in which to reduce oxidisation.

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If you’re interested in enhancing your creative personality, the workshops run from 10am-4pm during both the week, and on Saturdays. There is also the possibility to arrange a group workshop for you and your friends. Up to six wonderfully decorated objects are included in the fee, which will be bisque fired and glazed, and available for collection within four weeks. Generally, day courses are £75 each (Monday to Friday) and £90 on Saturdays, You can also purchase gift vouchers as a special treat for loved ones. You might like to attend a workshop in August (subject to availability)⚱17th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated handbuilding and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques.⚱25th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated hand-building and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques. Otherwise from September onwards course dates will 3 months in advance. Please visit their Tumblr page here to see an extensive list of specific workshops and prices. Enjoy!

Friday Favourites - Summer Alcohol

Are you ready to try a new summer tipple? Then read on as at The Amazing Blog we’d like to give you a global tour of some very special alcohol brands stretching all the way from Japan to Switzerland, Iceland and then returning back to the UK. We guarantee it’ll liven up the tastebuds and add something extra to your regular sun-downer drinking. It’s always fun to experiment with new and different alcohols and today we’re happy to move on from our ubiquitous G & T.  While gin in known as the archetypal British go-to drink; whisky and vodka keep a steady visibility and are currently climbing in popularity. We hope these featured whiskies and vodkas will encourage you to explore new textures, experiences and flavours.

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So, let our journey begin. First stop is Japan, specifically in the temples of Nara, which is considered to be ancient land and one of the epicentres of spiritual belief, with temples that date back to the 8th century, and was once the capital of the country. Omiwa Shrine lies at the bottom of the Mount Miwa in Nara and is the centre of the Japanese alcohol producers, giving life to this Kamiki Whisky.  This whisky is one of the alcohols often served as a blessing at the Shinto temples. Kamiki Whisky is a remembrance of Japanese culture and tradition as well as nature and artisanship, and its name derives from the mount; ‘Kami’ meaning ‘God’ and ‘Iki’ meaning ‘Breath’.

Kamiki Whisky combines the west and eastern cultures. Using the purest spring water from Japan and the Yoshino Sugi – aka Japanese cedar – the whisky’s aroma and smooth texture that introduces us to mindfulness, giving peace to both mind and body. Kamiki is the world’s first whisky to finish its maturation with Japanese cedar cask. Kamiki whisky is also blended with the finest malt whiskies from around the globe, making it a unique and flavourful drink. Kamiki is mainly composed by heather honey, sweet caramel, Japanese plum, oak, peat and toffee with a touch of sandalwood and green tea. All these ingredients are carefully selected and blended incorporating the perfect percentage to achieve the finest flavour. This whisky is non chill-filtered at 48% volume in order to maintain balance and maximum taste. It also ensures that the oils do not become viscous at colder ambient temperatures or become cloudy in the bottle. You can purchase the 50cl of Kamiki Whisky at the Masters of Malt for £59.99.

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Next stop is Switzerland for a taste of the three Gold Winner of the Wizards of World Whisky Awards, for their Classic Langatun Whisky. Originating from a family owned brewery in 1860 created by Jakob Baumberger, which progressed into a distillery in 1907 by son Hans Baumberger the 1st. Handed down through the next generation and in 2007 they continued their grandfathers vision creating this hand-crafted Swiss Whisky "Langatun“ single malt. So, what is so special about Langatun? Let’s talk about its timing and barrel composition: Malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, cut, maturation and bottling. The fermentation is much longer compared to other whiskies and during the first distillation, the alcohol is given a cut at 26% and in the second distillation that it is upped to over 80% where it really packs a punch. The whole production process is carefully monitored to ensure optimum results.

We tried the Langatun Old Bear Cask Proof Smoky Whisky which is from the range of their five Classic whiskies . This single malt is matured in oak barrels using Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine casks and bottled at cask strength. It a peated malt that is laborious and painstaking made by a double distillation process with roasted malted barley added, hence the epithet ‘smoky’. The peating process goes through a smoking process similar to that for meat or fish. The distillation date on the bottle is October 2012, the bottling is March 2017 and it even has a lot number on the bottle! Master whisky drinkers say that it has a smoky fresh nose with a hint of red fruits and orange while the flavour is said to be of juicy grapes, toffee and wood smoke, leaving a long dark chocolaty finish. The distillery is open to the public for in-house events, such as brunch, a tour or whisky and dinner gatherings.

We have had a taste (of course, who could resist!) and found it remarkable toasty and smooth with a deliciously rich aromatic flavour. This is a perfect for rounding off the evening as a night cap. Get your Langatun Old Bear Cask Proof Smoky Whisky 50cl (62.4%) at the Gauntleys of Nottingham  for £64.78 or at Master of Malt, Nickolls and Perks, Shop4Whisky or The Whisky Exchange.

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Next, we travel all the way to Iceland where we meet the Icelandic Mountain Spirit. Based in Reykjavik in 2016, the founders created a range of four alcoholic formulations; Eagle Spirit, made with Gin; Mountain Spirit, based on Vodka; Dragon Spirit, made for shots; and Taurus Spirit, made with Rum. FUN FACT ALERT! The Mountain Spirit might be familiar to you if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, if not let us explain: ‘The Mountain’ is Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, (actor in Game of Thrones) he is also The World’s Strongest Man and one of the founders of this Icelandic Mountain Spirit.

What makes this vodka stand out (besides the Game of Thrones fact) is that is it made with Icelandic water, known as the purest water in the world. This vodka, gluten-free and is distilled seven times which makes it incredibly smooth, soft, and quaffable! They recommend drinking it on its own but for those who are not so keen on shots, combining it with a simple tonic seemed the way to go for us. Each Mountain Vodka bottle is printed with ‘The Mountain’ on the reverse of the bottle, making it an ideal gift for all those GoT fans. It is 40% ABV and more importantly, was a Gold Medal Award Winner at Tastings.com; proving its quality, sourcing of ingredients and time spent perfecting this vodka. Based on the Tastings jury review: “…Creamy, with confected aromas and flavours of spumoni, peach jam, and pistachio paste and a lychee and mint cream finish” this clearly makes it a winner. We love the heritage (as G of T fans) and because of its smooth and creamy qualities we also enjoyed it in a chilled Kamikaze cocktail: 1 part vodka, 1 part triple sec, 1 part fresh lime juice; which is a bit of twist on the popular Margarita.

To get your very own star-studded vodka, go to Icelandic Mountain Spirits website here for £25 including delivery (any mainland UK address). Although the spirits are distilled in Iceland, they are shipped directly to Northumberland for distribution.

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Last stop, we’re coming home. UK based vodka RK Vodka is considered to be an ultra-premium brand and is only available in selected stores. Featured in GQ and Tatler, RK Vodka aims to combine old with new, past with future, traditional with modern. RK Vodka combines the high-quality, authentic, hereditary vodka with forward-thinking and modern techniques.

RK Vodka is different, it is bold. Distilled only once and being non-filtered, the drink is full of character. Making it enjoyable on its own as well as mixed (we suggest a zesty mixer). RK Vodka contains English sugar beet which adds a sweetness, replicating the flavour of vanilla. Going back to the production process, traditionally it is suggested that multiple filtering makes for a higher quality and smoother vodka. However, RK Vodka defies that. The founders say that the more you filter it; the more the natural flavours and power of the drink will disappear. This is why RK Vodka is not filtered to preserve its characteristics and minerals, rather than just water and alcohol. This vodka is only distilled once which all takes place in a copper pot to reduce the tannin (what makes vodka poor and rough) and also gives it the smooth finish, whilst being both gluten and sulphate free. Apart from its stylish and elegant black and white bottle, these alternative production methods are what make RK Vodka stand out. They have managed to create a high-quality and a dedicated drink for a modern and cosmopolitan market. We added only lemon zest to the very chilled RK Vodka and loved it! Get your RK Vodka here for £38.00 (70cl, 40%).

Friday Favourites – Sheet Masks

Since the 10-step Korean skin care method and its corresponding products have become a full-on trend, you cannot walk into a beauty department without seeing a plethora of sheet masks and The Amazing Blog can see why. Sheet masks are so easy to travel with, just throw one into your bag and you’re good to go! They leave your skin looking ten times brighter in just 15-30 minutes. However, with hundreds of options, it’s so hard to choose the right one. For this month’s Friday Favourites, we have four #amazingfinds face masks, something for everyone. These will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated while you sit back, relax with a cup of tea and watch the telly.

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The first set of masks we have for you is by Mitomo, a Japanese company that specialises in creating high-quality beauty and wellbeing products, particularly face masks. We’ve already tried their Anti-Wrinkle Eye Mask with Gold and Bee Venom and Eye & Nasolabial Mask with Snail Extract and EGF in January, and recently their Collagen + Lithosperium, Hyaluronic + Lithospermum and Q10 + Lithospermum Essence masks. So we were even more excited to try their latest launch of Facial Essence Masks which targets, moisturises and heals sensitive skin.

The Facial Essence Masks come in six different types: Camellia (nourishing), Green Tea (purifying), Rice Leaven (protecting), Sake (moisturising and heat retaining), Soy Bean (irritation reducing and skin improving), and Tea Tree (soothing). Each includes a combination of antioxidants, vitamins, omegas, and organic acids depending on your changing skin needs. It is ideal to use these masks at night so your skin can soak up the ingredients while you sleep. You should use the mask after you’ve cleansed and toned your face (you can also throw in an exfoliating scrub and serum too). After 20-30 minutes, you can gently remove it and rub in the excess essence before following with a moisturiser.

Our two personal favourite masks were the camellia and soy bean. Camellia contains more natural antioxidants than practically any other botanical oil and the results are noticeable. The vitamins and omegas of the mask quickly absorb and instantly reveal more nourished and moisturised skin. While a soybean mask doesn’t sound as lavish as some of the other types Mitomo has to offer, it greatly reduces skin irritation, evens rough spots and texture, and fights any sun damage. After using this mask, your face instantly feels calmer and smoother. These were our favourites, but the line of masks offers a huge variety and each was made with a high quality that you can see and feel.

 You purchase a single sheet mask here for £3.49 and you can also purchase each in a pack of four for £12.50.

 

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The next line of face masks we tried were also from a beauty and skin care brand that we’ve tried, BeautyPro. Previously we’ve tested their Rejuvenating and Brightening Collagen Masks, both of which are for anti-ageing like all of BeautyPro’s sheet masks. Their masks are intended for use by both women and men and are cruelty-free and dermatologically tested in South Korea, the heart of the Korean skin care movement.

Unlike the above Mitomo masks, these BeautyPro’s Natura Sheet Masks are targeted speficially for anti-ageing. They have a range of six naturally infused types for your various skin needs. They each have a unique combination of marine collagen to nourish skin with key vitamins and herbs and botanicals to even skin complexion. The types include Avocado (hydrating and repairing), Rose (soothing and redness reducing), Turmeric (protecting), Multi-Grain (complexion boosting and firming), and Herb (pore minimising and rebalancing). The line of sheet masks also has a Potato & Parsley Under Eye Mask.

While each sheet mask created fast-acting results, the Natura mask that stood out the most to us was the Eye Mask. We don’t often think of ordinary potatoes offering such nice skin effects, but we are sold now. The potato brightened our under eye area, making us look more awake and alive on Monday mornings, while the parsley reduced the puffiness and dark colour of our eye bags. The masks worked so well that we received compliments from our family members on our more ‘awake appearance’.

The sheet masks are available here for £4.95 and a set of three Potato & Parsley Under Eye Masks here for £5.95.

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The next sheet mask we have for you is MILU’s Mud Sheet Mask. While the thought of slathering mud onto your face does not sound very enticing, we can assure you that this is a luxe product that isn’t messy and leaves your skin feeling nourished, purified, and soft.

What draws us to this brand’s ethos is the fact that MILU is like a friend who wants to help you with all your beauty and skin care woes—and better yet provides solutions to enhance your natural features. The radiant and glowing skin of Korean women inspired the company to create products that are additions, rather than replacements, to your daily skin care routine and contain ‘skin loving ingredients’.

Of these skin-loving ingredients that are found in the Mud Sheet Mask, a few jump out at us namely the two types of clay used. Bentonite clay extracts impurities from pores and reduces skin blemishes while kaolin clay minimises and deeply purifies pores. With these benefits, it’s no surprise why these clays are the main or key ingredients in many face masks currently on the market. However, many of these masks only use one of these clays in their formulas, not both like this sheet mask. Together they create a dynamic combination that softens, tightens, and evens your skin. The mask also has soybean to soothe your skin and rose flower to reduce pollution effects, and it has been dermatologically tested for sensitive skin.

For smaller and smoother looking pores, put the mask on for 30-40 minutes until it dries then peel it off. Remove excess mud with warm water. You can purchase the Mud Sheet Mask here for £9.

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Finally, to complete our Friday Favourites, we have the Oh K! Mix Your Own Gold Dust Peel Off Mask. After testing their Cooling Eye Pads and Coconut Water Face Masks, we couldn’t wait to see what else the Korean mask brand had to offer.

Using the expertise, skills, and passion of Korean dermatologists, Oh K! creates high-performance skin care essentials for every type of skin. Did we mention their products and masks also come in cute packaging? The Cooling Eye Pads came in panda-shaped packets and the Gold Dust Peel Off Mask came in a vibrant yellow box with bubbly letters and gold powder on the front.

The mask is designed to give you a natural and radiant glow. The box comes with two gold dust sachets, two gold liquid formula sachets, a spoon, and a container. The gold powder is enriched with hyaluronic acid, allantoin, gold, purslane extract, gotu kola extract, and peppermint oil while the gold liquid is infused with collagen, gold, hyaluronic acid, and pearl extract. These luxurious and precious ingredients give the mask its nourishing, replenishing, and glowing properties. Hyaluronic acid, gold extracts, and collagen provide deep moisture, rejuvenate skin, and promote a supple, younger-looking complexion.

This mask offers the ultimate at-home pampering experience. In just 15-20 minutes, you peel off the mask and your skin has been transformed. After application, our skin looked immediately more luminous, radiant, and refreshed. It’s the perfect mask for anyone looking for a brightening boost. Just mix the gold dust and gold liquid in the mixing pot, apply it to your face, and enjoy having a golden goddess glow. The Mix Your Own Gold Dust Peel Mask is available here for £12.50.

Whether you want to perk up your skin, have some ‘me time’, or both, we hope we’ve helped you navigate the complicated yet exciting world of sheet masks. So, relax and let the sheet mask do all the work!

Good Gym

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Do good, get fit. This is the mantra of GoodGym, an organisation with the goal of combining fitness and community activities, with encouraging runners to spend time helping others. As we sometimes struggle with the motivation to exercise at The Amazing Blog, we think this is an excellent solution.

In a nutshell, GoodGym’s concept is to make the most out of the time spent running. This is in the form of running to and from activities, whether that be to help an elderly person who need’s a lightbulb changing, or running to a group gardening activity at a community centre. The motto of Good Gym? Why waste your energy at the gym when you could use it to improve other people’s lives?

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Winning first prize in 2008 at the Social Innovation Camp, GoodGym was formed as a non-profit organisation in 2009. The company itself is commissioned by local authorities and the NHS, testamant to the benefits of getting involved. Over 1 million people aged 65 and over admit to always, or often feeling lonely, and recruiting volunteers has become increasingly difficult as a result of busy work and private lives. This is where GoodGym noticed a niche, focusing on creating an easy method of committing to a long-term project.

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GoodGym provides three different types of runs. On Mission Runs, you run to help older people with every-day tasks, such as gardening, or changing a lightbulb. It gives you the chance to run different routes each week, while having a significant effect on someone’s life. On Coach Runs, you see an isolated person on a regular basis. This only claims about 20 minutes of your week, and besides giving someone something to look forward to, having a commitment can also increase your likelihood of completing exercise. On Group Runs, you get the chance to run with other people from your community, completing tasks such as planting trees for your local park, running back together to stretch with a qualified trainer. All this is completed within 90 minutes, fitting easily into your daily routine.

In terms of commitment, there is no specific pressure, GoodGym aims to achieve your fitness goals, while helping the community. How often, and where you do this is, is up to you, but if you sign up to visit an older person, then it is understandable that this commits you to at least one run per week. Mission and group runs are more flexible, and can be attended whenever you like. There really is a solution for everyone here, with support available from qualified trainers at all times. Signing up is easily achieved online, and although membership is free, there is a voluntary donation of £9.95 per month if you so wish. Visit the GoodGym website for frequently asked questions, here.

Currently operating in 47 areas, with a futher 73 in proposal, you’ll be sure to find a local group (especially in London). Check out the availability in your area on the GoodGym website here.