Thursday, 2 October 2014

New Real Techniques Limited Edition Set: 'Nic's Picks'

I just thought I'd share with you a new addition to the shelves of Superdrug that has got me quite excited. I was going to add this set to my Christmas list, but I couldn't hold off that long and I snaffled them up for myself today after they were released worldwide yesterday. It's clear that the set has been brought out at this time of year with it being intended to be under a lot of people's Christmas trees as it really would make the perfect gift; both to give and to receive. 

Following on from the success of the Real Techniques set 'Sam's Picks' - a 6-piece set that I never bothered with myself - sister #2 has followed up with her own selection of favourites with a limited edition design and 3 exclusive brush cuts. Nic's picks, with the sleek silver handled design, comes in a set of 5 brushes; two that are already available, and 3 that are exclusive to the set. 

1) The duo-fibre face brush was a huge hit when it was released in the 'limited edition' Duo Fibre Collection (a set that didn't flare an interest in me), and is ideal for 'lightweight application and blending of powder products'. 

2) The cheek brush is one of the set exclusives and is prescribed to 'even apply make up across the cheek bones for a more dramatic finish'. This feels a similar size and shape to the expert face brush, but is far less densely packed and feels more like a smaller headed version of the powder brush.

3) The angled shadow brush is a second set exclusive and is 'perfectly cut for layering eyeshadow in the crease'. Real Techniques are known for being stronger with their face brushes than their eyeshadow brushes, and eyeshadow isn't my forte either but a nice fluffy angled brush always comes in handy. 

4) The base shadow brush is the second of the pre-existing brushes and is one that I own myself already. It works exactly as described and applies a smooth base of colour to the lids. Despite it being one of Nic's most favourite brushes ever, it's definitely one of my least used shadow brushes. 

5) Although there is a larger angled brush in the 'Starter Kit', this set has a smaller, exclusive eyeliner brush, with a small and precise, firm angled head for 'optimal control along the lash line'. 

I really like the expensive looking metallic silver finish of the handle and how they've also kept to the classic Real Techniques roots of colour theming the brushes, this time with the writing on the handles: gold for base, pink for finish, and purple for eyes. Every single brush in the set is fantastic quality and I'm sure each of them will be well used. The price point of £30 is amazing, making each brush just £6 each! There's not many brands who match up to the quality and the price tag that Real Techniques offer and I'd highly recommend them to anyone, from beginners with makeup, to people who think they already have 'too many brushes' ( if there's such a thing!). 

What do you think of Nic's Picks brush set?

Available now from:
Feel Unique - £29.99 link
Superdrug - £30.00 £20.00 link
Escentual - £25.40 link

Friday, 11 July 2014

Summer Abroad: Travelling Coast to Coast USA

Well would you just look at that map! If there's anything that summarises 'living the dream' then it's got to be this right here, don't you think? 

On the 1st January this year I had one of those 'this is going to be my year' pep talks with myself and took the plunge to book a 5 week trip from New York to Los Angeles. Nobody thought I'd do it, I didn't even think I'd do it - but I did it. (Booked it, that is)

It's organised by a company called Trek America who have a huge range of tours of America, ranging from 4 days to around 12 weeks! (Their 'Full 48' tour of all the US states except Alaska and Hawaii looks flipping amazing!). My trip is called the Coast to Coast South and it's a primarily camping trip, with some nights spend in hotel, hostel or B&B accommodation and we're transported from location to location by our trek leader who will drive us around in a mini bus. There's 12 of us in our group, mostly booked as solo travellers, like me, and we've all 'found' each other via Facebook and have already made a start on getting to know each other before we've even left the country. 

I've got butterflies in my stomach thinking about being dropped at Manchester airport and just boarding a plane to Newark via London Heathrow all by myself and arriving at Newark Airport Hotel ready to face to face meet the people that I'll be spending the next 5 weeks with. 

I'm going for a total of 38 days and considering I couldn't even stay 1 hour down the road at uni for more than 2 weeks, I think this is going to be a challenge for me. But of course, this isn't university with coursework and cheap nights out in sluggy Preston night clubs; this is a trip of a lifetime from New York and Philadelphia, tours of Washington DC, through to Florida with trips to Disneyland and Universal Studios, Miami, a drive down the southern most tip of  the US to Key West, experiencing the southern charm of Texas and New Orleans, alien spotting in Area 57, weeks of national parks and jaw dropping sights of the Grand Canyon (and more!) with the bright lights of Vegas and the surreal culture of LA and Hollywood to finalise the adventure.

There is no trip more perfect and I couldn't think of anything that I'd rather be spending my summer doing! Most of my updates will be on Instagram - @hannahripley1 so you can stay tuned that way, but I'll try and get some more details up on my blog in some sort of diary fashion whenever I can.

I leave 2 weeks today, and I'll be back in September!
Ciao England!

If you want to read more about this sort of thing, I was influenced to do this trip by the wonderful and fabulous posts from In The Frow and you can see her travelling updates from the US here

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Free Protein with The Protein Works

If you're curious about trying these little bottles of amazingly creatively flavoured protein powders from The Protein Works, then look no further! If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen that I have whey protein samples of: lemon shortcake, apple cinnamon swirl, caramel macchiato, choc mint brownie and cherry bakewell! Now I'm not sure which one of the flavours sounds more delicious (any of them are much better than plain chocolate or vanilla), and I'm also drawn in by the handy little plastic bottle with the correct amount for one serving ready and waiting for you. Next time I go to the gym all I'll be taking is one little bottle of these and then I can just chuck it away - no bulky and potentially stinky shakers weighing down my bag!

First of all, to receive this freebie bonus you have to be referred and that's where I come in :)
I have a code that you can use when you register on the site and I know the writing's not crystal clear on that image, but it's a 7, not a 1 on the picture above.
My referral code is: HR90074

You can also follow this referral link: The Protein Works

The one catch is that you have to spend £10 on your first order, but that's not a very high minimum spend and you can spend it on absolutely anything at all on the site. I just got myself a 500g bag of whey protein in ROCKY ROAD flavour which was £10.99 and then I qualified for my free protein samples.

It's super simple to claim, but if you need any further clarification then this page explains it all clearly:

Just make an account, enter the code, make your purchase and the freebies are yours!
Enjoy your summer bodies guys and gals
and remember: strong, not skinny!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Life Beyond A Screen

Don't get me wrong, I'm a slave to social media as much as the next person. I'd say as much as the next 'young person', but my mum is as much hooked onto Facebook as I am - it's stretched to all generations; young and old. Even my grandparents now have smartphones so they can see my Instagram updates while I'm in America! ..and don't get me started on my 10 year old cousins and their square eyes!

Sparked by fairly recent Banksy work of 'Mobile Lovers', and a similar style piece (not confirmed to be Banksy) of a young boy expressing distress over not receiving social media attention and validation through notifications and superficial 'likes', I've been having deep thoughts about life and the Internet. 'Mobile Lovers' really got me and my own 'lover' discussing the topic of using our phones when we're in each other's company and how inappropriately unnecessary it is to be engaged with an iPhone screen and Twitter feed of pointless updates from people I barely even know. Okay, so somebody I had one class with in sixth form is ordering a chinese for their tea, and somebody who lives down the road is going on holiday on 246 days. Somebody I've never even met or spoke to is hungover. Great. Fab. I'm so glad I spent 15 seconds of my life reading that update on my little phone screen. I'd much rather be watching my boyfriend speak to me and tell me about his day so I can read the emotions from his face, rather than his emojis on a screen.

In my Break From Blogging post I shared a couple of the things that I've been up to and how refreshing it's been to take a step back from being engrossed in online updates and social feeds and instead get out and about experiencing different things each day. I've actually been meeting a lot more new people recently and I always find that when you meet somebody new and gain an insight into their life and how they live, it can really open your eyes to new perspectives on life. There's always so much to learn and the best way to learn it is from meeting new people, but meeting them online and chatting via 140 characters isn't always the best way for this to happen. (See the video at the bottom of this post!)

I don't hate technology and I do appreciate instant communication with anybody in the world, but the viral video titled 'Look Up', which is embedded in this post, made me think about trying to detach from the digital world, and fully embrace the life beyond a screen.

Seeing pubs with funny messages outside like 'no wifi in here, talk to each other instead' makes me giggle, but the reality of being in genuine situations surrounded by friends/colleagues with each and every one of them looking down at their phones, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram instead of engaging with the real life human that is sitting right next to them, is something that has been rubbing me the wrong way for the past few months. 

“look up from your phone, shut down the display, take in your surroundings and make the most of today”.

If you haven't yet seen this video, or at least seen it recently, then please please watch it. It's 5 minutes long and I can guarantee it will get you thinking about how much you use social media and how much more you should enjoy the world around you. 

Use technology, embrace technology, but don't let it consume you.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Break From Blogging

Sitting here and opening up feels a little bit alien.
I haven't written a proper blog post since April!!
Any of the ones that went live in May were scheduled and not 'proper' posts, and then June, well.. June was a complete no go! Zero published posts. Zero.

As much as I dislike 'blogging tips' kind of posts, the ones that lay out rules and step by step instructions on how to be a 'good' blogger.. the recurring advice that you'll always see is
a) to be yourself, and
b) don't force it
if you don't feel like blogging for a bit, then don't!

It feels much better to be writing about what you want to, because you want to, and not through some sort of forced obligation. No one will mind if you take a little time off, as long as you come back to it..  but coming back to it was the part that I struggled with. 

I stopped blogging because the final parts of university work got on top of me (March - May) and I was dedicating every second of my free time to my dissertation and then exam revision after that, and I always said that straight after my exams I'd hop straight back into blogging.. but I just couldn't seem to do it. The writer/blogger's block got too much for me so I took a major step back and I'll hand on heart say it was one of the most refreshing and beneficial things I've ever done. I actually have a post planned tomorrow; life beyond a screen, discussing how we can all become a little too wrapped up in the online world and social media especially, and how nice it is to break free and enjoy 'real life' without the worry of documenting every moment of it. 

I've always known I'd come back to Cosmetic Crave, but I didn't enjoy feeling as though I had to keep publishing new content and keeping my traffic at a reasonable level because of the advertisers that had paid to promote their blog through me, so (combined with the fact that demand has drastically declined) I'm going to temporarily suspend my blog advertisers and just blog for me

Here's what I've been up to since I last updated my blog:

- I finally finished my double dissertation and obsessed over exam revision

- I completed 3 years at university and celebrated like the wild student I once used to be
- I changed my hair and got a tattoo

- I reconnected with friends I'd once pushed away and enjoyed catch ups and nights out

- I spent quality time with my sister; lunch dates, cinema trips and spa days

- I went to Parklife festival and partied in the rain
- I went to see Jason Manford and spent time up the Lakes with my boyfriend
- I got my exam results.. 2:1 honours degree in law!! And started to prepare for my summer in America.
Life got real!!

Follow me on Instagram for more: @HannahRipley1

Also, I finished working at my part time job (now officially unemployed!) andddd..
I was shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Award!
Say whaaaaaaat?!

I actually feel a bit guilty about being shortlisted after my big break, but it's amazing to know that the support is there for Cosmetic Crave and I'm very much in shock! I need to get my head around it and process that this has happened.. but if you nominated me then THANK YOU!
Now excuse me while I go freak out on Twitter and congratulate the other nominees!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

New: Bourjois Nail Polish Remover Pot for Hands & FEET

I don't doubt for a second that anybody reading this has tried, repurchased, or at least heard of Bourjois' 1 Second Nail Polish Remover pot for fingers. It's a wonder product and I wouldn't be without it now. However, the original nail polish remover for hands used to defeat the object of being quick, easy and faff free when I was doing a full on pamper.. because I'd still have to pull out a bottle of remover and cotton pads to do my feet! (Take my word for it, toes do not go in that little pink pot..)

Now, I can completely do away with a bottle of remover and pads and this one single purple pot, reinvented for use on hands and feet, is all that I need - Brilliant! 
It's the addition we've all been waiting for.

It's a simple revolution. In the lid of the pot is a nail polish remover solution soaked sponge with the plastic lid as its handle. Simply tip the closed bottle upside down to soak the sponge in the solution, and then hold it over your toenails and watch your varnish vanish! (Not in 1 second, but close enough).

It's also still just as good for using to remove nail varnish from fingers in the same way as the original pot. Just dip them in, twist, and remove!

It makes sense that if you have it for your hands, you could quickly and easily use it on your feet too. If you love the original and are thinking about repurchasing, skip it out and head straight to the new invention to be able to use it on your feet too ..just in time for sandal season! 

Available now only from Beauty Mart | for £6.00
and will be available from Asos, Amazon and Very from mid-May (£5.99)

Bourjois 1 Second Nail Polish Remover Pot for Hands & Feet* - £5.99 | link

Would you use this?
I'd love to know what you think.

Thanks for reading! 
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* c/o Bourjois
Check out my April Gold advertiser, Katrina, and her amazing blog:

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Skin Health Spa Experience

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon last week, I was kindly invited to Manchester to receive a treatment of my choice at the Skin Health Spa. Tucked away on a quiet side street of St James Square in the city centre of Manchester you will find the beautiful and welcoming Skin Health Spa; one of 5 locations in the UK with other clinics in Birmingham, Nantwich and 2 in London. They specialise in advanced skin care and offer treatments that range from hair removal, acne, wrinkles, unwanted pigmentation and more. See a full treatment list here.

Before we crack on with talking about the day, 
I should briefly introduce you to the bane of my life.. my skin:

My Skin
I mention it on Twitter, and it's been touched upon on Instagram, but my real skin journey has never been divulged on my blog ..and I can't see that happening any time soon, as it's still a very raw and sensitive subject for me. All you need to know is that my acne used to be very bad, and now it's not so bad. See this picture for reference (2012 v 2013). My skin concerns are what hold me back more than anything, even with something as simple as blogging because I hate to take pictures of my face (..unless there's at least 10 filters on it ;) #selfie). 

Now, at age 21 and after years of trips to my GP and the dermatologist, my acne hasn't 'gone' - it is still there - but it's a lot less active and less aggravated as I'm currently taking long term antibiotics to control it (Oxytetracycline). I still get occasional breakouts but they're now much more isolated and don't cover the entire surface of my skin.  

My main skin concern now is the scarring that remains. Quite a lot of it is redness and surface scars, but there's also deep set 'ice pick' scars across my cheeks too (unflattering picture here). This is why I focus on a lot of skincare, especially masks, that target radiance and renewal of the skin, to try and fade some of these scars and marks.  

The Spa
The Spa was very easy to find and I received a friendly and warm welcome, offered a comfortable seat, a drink and asked to fill out a couple of forms. I then had a thorough consultation with Sophie as we chatted a little bit about my skin history, what I use at the moment and what I'm aiming for from the treatment. 

Sophie explained that she had once been a sufferer of acne herself, and it was so nice and comforting to speak to somebody who had experienced the same skin troubles in the past. She had almost gone on Roaccutane, but found that the peels and treatments offered at Skin Health Spa helped her complexion far more than packs of pills from the doctors ever did. Anyone who's been a long term sufferer with acne is probably nodding thinking 'yep, my doctor can't seem to fix me', and that's because your GP probably knows naff all about dermatology, they just hand out the pills. I felt like Sophie really cared; even though she'd only just met me I felt so comforted and really reassured by her and that she just wanted to help me and give me the best results for my skin.

I was originally booked in to receive an Ultimate Facial - a 4-in-1 facial consisting of: Microdermabrasion, a balancing enzyme facial, a transderm treatment, and a relaxing facial massage. Read more about the Ultimate Facial here. After a chat it was decided that, especially with having a current active breakout, the Ultimate Facial was likely to not offer the best results for my skin at that time. That treatment is more for relaxation, and there could be a risk of unnecessarily spreading the breakout with the exfoliation, so we decided on an alternate treatment of a Micro Peel, a treatment aimed for at giving instantly visible results of a smoother and brighter skin surface, and helps to target mild scars and lines. 

My Treatment* - Micro Peel (Single Face Treatment £125)
Instead of the Ultimate Facial, I was recommended a Micropeel; a duo of a peel and microdermabrasion. They offer a range of peels for this double act, but I was given the Mangobright Peel: a combination of all three acids - salicylic, lactic and glycolic, to combat blemishes, pigmentation and resurface the skin. 

Micro Peel = Microdermabrasion + Skin Peel

The gentle mango extract peel was activated and left on my skin for 7 minutes; slightly less than the usual time because it was my first peel, but longer than a typical first time because my skin is used to glycolic products with having used AHAs on my skin before (Alpha H Liquid Gold, Clarins Gentle Exfoliator, REN Radiance Renewal).

There was no discomfort during the peel as it sat on my skin, just a slight tingle and a gentle warming sensation. After the peel came the medical microdermabrasion which pushes the peel deeper into the skin and also removes any dead skin cells to brighten, stimulate cell regeneration, improve blood flow, regulate excess oil production, reduce flaking and dry skin, and fade scars, pigmentation and age spots. Medical microdermabrasion is like a miracle procedure! 

Microdermabrasion - 'The skin is treated to a deep, mechanical exfoliation. Using a vacuum, the machine passes micro-fine crystals across the skin. As the crystals make contact layers of the stratum corneum are exfoliated, then vacuumed away with the dead skin cells. The combination of skin exfoliation and slight vacuum stimulates new healthy living cells and improved blood flow for better cell turn over'. 

I enjoyed the microdermabrasion so much. It only lasted about 10 minutes and it was so gentle and relaxing, it was just like my face was being attacked with a teeny tiny mini Hoover! Just really gentle suction on your skin is the only thing that you can feel, but knowing that crystals are gently exfoliating the skin surface and then it's all being sucked away is an amazing feeling. 

To finish, SPF 50 and B5 Hydrating serum were applied and I was advised not to wear make up for at least the next 18 hours, and that my skin might be more sensitised than usual. 

The Result
Although the results are instantaneous, it's not a quick and ultimate fix, because nothing ever is it :( You don't walk through the door with bad skin, walk out of the door an hour later with good skin and that's your life happily ever after (although I do really wish this was the case!!). Immediately after the treatment my skin appeared to be quite red and looked a little blotchy, but by the end of the day and especially in the next morning I was just staring at my complexion like 'wow!' and I was truly amazed. Nearly all of the redness had eased, my blemishes had shrunk to literally nothing, and post-blemish red marks has faded away dramatically. My skin was so much clearer, brighter and smoother. All that was remaining was the deep set, ice pick scars along with still lightly larger than average pores, and even they looked less noticeable. 

The results are supposed to be long lasting, but not permanent. What Skin Health Spa gave to me was the confidence that not all hope is lost with my skin, and the intense boost and kick start to really make some improvements by being persistent with home dermabrasions and lots of exfoliation.

Treatments are recommended in a course of 3 or 6. I'm going to continue to follow up with a routine of products at home (outlined below), but I'm aware the results won't be as drastic as what was acheived in that hour at Skin Health Spa. I'm definitely going to be booking back into Skin Health Spa for a course of peels; there's so many to choose from I'm not sure if I'd go for a Glycolic Peel, a Skin Brite Peel, or another Mango Bright Peel. I can also see myself potentially becoming addicted to the Microdermabrasion - I love the sucky sensation across the skin and I'm already booked into a small, local spa for another single treatment of this. 

Price list for treatments - link
They have so many treatments available, whether you have skin concerns or not, but there'll always be a treatment to relax you, stimulate dull skin, target wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, or scars. Skin Health Spa also frequently have offers on, such as all skin peels are buy one, get one free for April.

Special Offers Page - link

Aftercare and continuation..

..And here's what I've been using at home to keep up the good results:
They're all products that I've had lurking around in my cupboards, but I've pulled them out into action to maintain the effects of the skin peel. I am still been using the NSpa Hot Cloth Cleanser as a gentle morning cleanser but I've been more strict in the evenings: alternate nights using Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash* and twice a week using the Origins Modern Friction (Gentle Dermabrasion) or the Philosophy Microdelivery Peel (intense home dermabrasion) to work on shifting dead skin cells and encouraging skin cell renewal. The salicylic acid in the Philosophy Peel will help with any breakouts, and the lactic acid should help to fade pigmentation. 

Having an oily skin type, all I've ever feared is adding more oil to my skin and if there's any step I stick it's always been moisturiser. For damaged and scarred skin (actually, any skin) this is a big no no! Don't skip out on the moisturiser! It was recommended to me to find a 'dry oil' to moisturise, so I've been using the Balance Me Radiance Face Oil* which sinks in instantly and literally feels like there's nothing on the skin - just what I like, but I also need to find a really good serum too. Something to help repair the deeper layer of my skin as these troubles go beyond just the surface and top layer of my skin. 

To help with extra rejuvenation, I've also ordered another bottle of Alpha H Liquid Gold, a tub of Glam Glow, a home derma roller and I'm thinking about the Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate too. 

Skincare overhaul! Any more recommendations for me?
Have you ever had a skin peel experience? 

A huge thanks to Skin Health Spa for the amazing treatment and changing the way I treat my skin. I'm now so glowing and happy; in less than two weeks my confidence levels have shot sky high all because of having better skin. 

Thanks for reading! 
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*My treatment was received c/o Skin Health Spa
**Products marked with * have been sent as separate PR samples
Check out my April Gold advertiser, Katrina, and her amazing blog:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Mint Line Up | Mint Green Polishes For Spring

As a continuation from yesterday's post about a mint little game where I showed a nail wheel with a selection of mint green polishes and asked you all if you could guess which shades were which to test your beauty eye.. today I'm revealing the shades!

Dun dun dunnn...

1. Primark P.S. Love 'Mint Green'
2. Models Own 'Apple Pie'
3. Rimmel 60 Seconds 'Breakfast in Bed'
4. Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine 'Sugar Apple'
5. Essie 'Mint Candy Apple'
6. MUA 'Pistachio Ice Cream'
7. Maybelline Color Show 'Green With Envy'
8. Models Own 'Jade Stone'

My personal favourite is #3 - Rita Ora for Rimmel 'Breakfast in Bed' because that one also has a very subtle silver shimmer running through it too, and I also really love #2 for a bit more of a greenier shade - Models Own 'Apple Pie'. As a bonus, that's one of their scented polishes from the Fruit Pastel range.

The closest one to looking like a dupe for Essie Mint Candy Apple may actually be the Primark polish! (#1). At just £1 that's saving you a bundle if you opt for that one instead of Essie. Obviously for the price the formula isn't quite on par.. but for the colour selection alone, Primark comes up good!

There's one shade missing that I wish could be included here and that's
Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Mint Sorbet
and I almost ordered it from Amazon before I realised.. how many mint greens does one girl need? Really??..
I've got more mint than I could ever use up, and spring/pastel nails aren't even my favourite - I'm more about summer/neon nails!

Let me know in the comments below if you saw yesterday's post too where the shade names were concealed and if you correctly identified any of the shades from this minty line up!

Did you know which one was Mint Candy Apple? :)
Also, which one is your favourite?

Thanks for reading!
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Check out my April Gold advertiser, Katrina, and her amazing blog:
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