Friday, 30 August 2013

Look after your handbag!

It never ceases to amaze me how many women leave their bags under the table or hanging from the back of a chair in restaurants and then are astounded when it goes missing.

Not only is there the inconvenience of having to get locks replaced and stopping all your credit cards, if you leave your personal details in your bag, there is also the chance of somebody using your information to steal your identity.

Whether you are travelling or out and about at home it pays to be vigilant so look after your bag at all times and keep it on your person.  

“Make sure all zips are closed and straps fastened,” advises a spokesman for the insurance company, Aviva. “Don’t leave it open so that your stuff can be taken without you knowing.”

Try to blend in with your surroundings especially when travelling. Don’t overdress. Don’t carry too many credit cards or large amounts of cash. “Only take with you what you need,” says Aviva.

The guidance from the Metropolitan Police ( is never to leave your bags or other valuables unattended in public places and to be discreet with your belongings. “Displaying expensive jewellery or electronic devices, like mobile phones or cameras, could attract unwanted attention,” it cautions.

When you go to the ladies, my tip is not to place your bag close to the door if there is a gap between the door and the floor. It can be grabbed.

The Metropolitan Police point out that you could be more of a target if you carry your bag over your shoulder or on your back. Wear your bag close to your body messenger style so that it faces away from passing traffic especially when travelling. 

If you are carrying a handbag, try not to carry it by the handles. Holding it in the crook of your arm is safer. A bag that has a zip and inner pockets makes it harder for a thief to rummage around. It should also make it easier for you to notice if you have lost something. 

Always be careful when opening your bag in the middle of the street to answer your phone.  “Don’t walk and text at the same time, you will be less aware of what is happening around you,” counsel the Metropolitan Police. “Keep calls in public places as brief as possible, the longer you talk, the more likely you are to be spotted by a potential thief.”

According to the Metropolitan Police you should keep bags on your lap, or touching your feet when you are in restaurants and bars.

There are scams, especially in hotels, both here and abroad, when one person will distract you by talking to you, while another accomplice nabs your bag. 

“Be safe late at night and be aware of any ulterior motive if a friendly stranger is keen to buy you a drink.  The easiest way to be robbed is to have your drink spiked,” says Aviva’s spokesman.

“Don’t carry all your cash around with you. Make use of the hotel safe – not just for cash but also for your passport, travel information and valuables. An alternative to carrying cash is a pre-paid travel card.”

Just because you have travel insurance does not mean you can be careless. “When you are travelling keep all valuables in your hand luggage. Don’t put them in luggage being stored in the hold,” says Aviva. 

“You must take the same level of care as you would take if you didn’t have insurance. So, for example, don’t leave your camera or phone under a towel whilst you go for a swim.”

If you do have your bag stolen at home or abroad, report the theft to the police immediately and get a crime number, so that you can make an insurance claim.

Most of us don’t realise how much we carry round in our bags and what the contents are worth until we start adding it all up. 

Keep receipts for all major purchases such as cameras, iPads and mobile phones. Small items that are commonly found in handbags (such as make-up, etc.) may not require receipts. The wording can vary from insurance company to insurance company, so you should always check it whenever you take out a home contents or travel policy!

By Daralyn Danns

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Make-up anti-ageing tricks

Make-up, if applied adeptly, instantly gives you a lift and is far cheaper than fillers or Botox.

When you are in your late teens and early 20s you can have a late night and it doesn’t show on your face the next morning. But, from 25 onwards, your face starts to reflect the life you lead.

Applying a moisturiser will help plump up the skin and smooth out fine lines, especially after the morning after the night before. Clarins HydraQuench Rich Cream (£34) is the perfect drink for dry skin.

Don’t make the mistake of piling on the make-up to cover up the first signs of ageing or tiredness. If you wear a base, you want it to look as natural as possible. To avoid making your complexion look older and drier, always ensure you have the right shade. You should colour match your foundation to the skin on your décolletage.

Try Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Treatment Foundation (£32). It has a great texture and will even out your skin tone as well as giving you a youthful glow. Use your fingers to apply as the warmth will make blending the cream easier. It comes in 20 shades, so you should find one to suit you.  

Bobbi Brown

After 35, less is more. Use concealer sparingly as it can accentuate lines and dark circles.

A tip from make-up guru Bobbi Brown is to lighten the under-eye area with her pink-toned corrective Tinted Eye Brightener (£23.50). People will focus on your eyes, not what is underneath.

 “The shades of the brightener will totally counteract dark shadows under the eye making the eye look more lifted and tight,” she says. “Be sure to apply close to the lashes and to the inner corner of the eye as well.”  

According to Bobbi, the brow bone should always be the lightest part of the make-up. She suggests applying a white or ivory highlighter such as her Eye Shadow in Navajo (£16.50) to this part of the eyelid for an instant lift.

“When lining the eyes, extend the liner ever so slightly at the outer corner of the eye. Make sure the liner is thick enough and visible enough when your eyes open,” says Bobbi. Try Bobbi Brown Long wear Gel Liner in Caviar (£17).

Well-groomed eyebrows make your face look instantly lifted. Use an eyebrow pencil such as YSL Eye Brow Pencil (£19, comes in four shades) to fill in any sparse areas in your brows and to cover up the odd stray white hair.

Don’t apply mascara on the lower lashes as this can also make you look darker under the eyes. Always comb it through with an old mascara brush after applying as you get a more natural effect. A good one is Lancôme Définicils Mascara in Noir infini (£22). 

To make your complexion pop, take Bobbi’s advice and sweep blush high on the apples of your cheeks. “Choose a shade of blush that looks like the colour of your cheeks when you blush,” she says. “Pinks and corals are great colour choices to give an uplifting youthful appearance to the skin. Try my Pale Pink Powder Blush (£18).”

If this colour is a bit too bright for you try Desert Rose, a muted pink with a hint of brown. For evening you could add a light dusting of a brighter one on top. Just make sure that it is blended well into the skin, so it looks like it belongs there.

Another subtle shade is Clarins Blush Prodige Illuminating Cheek Colour in Rose Wood (£26). As the name suggests it is a soft rose.  

Lipstick can age you, so stick to colours in soft, neutral shades. During the day ensure that your lippy contains an SPF. Clinique High Impact Lip Colour SPF 15 (£16.50) comes in a wide range of colours and is lovely and moisturising. Dot some Vaseline in the centre of your bottom lip to add fullness.

If you need to brush up on your application techniques, head to your nearest Bobbi Brown counter for a complimentary Make-up Face Lift lesson. 

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 19 August 2013

Look after your hair

Over processing your hair can lead to dryness and I should know. After years of having too many highlights resulting in hair that looked like a stack of hay on my head, now several haircuts later, my hair is in great condition.

“It is now one length except for the sides. You can now grow it and let the sides come down,” said hair guru Michael Charalambous, when I visited his salon Nyumba  to get my hair trimmed.

It had been almost three months since Michael last cut it and my ends were not really that dry. It just shows what a good cut I had. Not having layers in my fine hair has helped keep the weight down so I don’t get as many frizz attacks as I used to get when my hair was shorter and layered. If anybody ever mutters the words layers or highlights to me again, I will run a mile.

A great trick I picked up from Michael to help deal with “summer” hair is to wash your hair and let it dry naturally over night and blow-dry it in the morning. “It saves you having to keep going over the hair several times with a hairdryer, which means that the hair is exposed to less heat,” he says.

If your hair is fine and fluffy you may want to dry it as soon as you have washed it as the quicker you dry your hair and lay down the cuticle, the less chance of getting frizzies.

Michael recommends using the Kérastase Nutritive Gluco­active Bain Satin 2 (£15.90). This shampoo is one of my favourites. The Masquintense (there is one ­for thick hair and another for fine, £25.90) in the same range is a must to keep hair revitalised and nourished. Use once or twice a week. 

I often apply a tiny amount of Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair Overnight Crème (£4.99) which is not greasy and helps replenish protein, leaving your hair soft and smooth as well as smelling lovely.

In the morning, if I don’t need to rewash my hair, I apply some conditioner or a product such as Bumble and bumble grooming crème (£21.50) to the ends, twist my hair into a knot, secure with a couple of sectioning clips, put on a plastic cap and let the steam from the shower set it. When you let your hair down, it is wavy and there is no fluff.

Michael also suggests using a protective UV hair spray. If I am spending a lot of time in the sun, I will wear a hat otherwise I’ll use a protective UV spray such as Clarins Sun Care Radiant Oil Spray "For Body and Hair" UVB/UVA 6 (£18). It is light-weight, delicately fragranced and stops hair from drying out.

When my hair had been styled to perfection, Michael applied a tiny drop of Kérastase Touche Finale (£19.50). This shine polishing serum does what it says on the tin.

After having had my hair done by Michael, I felt ready to take on the world.

By Daralyn Danns

For appointments with Michael Charalambous visit

Friday, 16 August 2013

Le Blush Crème de Chanel

I have long been a fan of cream blusher, but having had difficulty finding the right shade, or one that does not instantly disappear into the skin, I became a powder convert. Textures are now so fine and transparent that they mimic your natural flush.

Chanel’s Joues Contraste Powder Blush in Rose Pétale (£31) is one of my favourites. It simply fuses with your complexion to give a lovely healthy flush. Although it contains shimmer, which I don’t normally like, it is so subtle that what it does do is add a luminous effect to the skin. This autumn, though, I will be adding a cream to my cosmetic collection, thanks to Chanel.

Chanel is one of my favourite cosmetic houses. I love the way it manages to marry classic and contemporary with luxury. Its fashion colours are extremely wearable so it is easy to update your look.

 Le Blush Crème de Chanel in Affinité,

One of the stars of Collection Superstition Autumn 2013 Make-up Collection is Le Blush Crème de Chanel (£27). This superb silky formula comes in six super shades. I love the Affinité, an intense pink with blueish tones that instantly brightens up my complexion. Don’t be put off by how vivid it looks in the compact. It is so sheer that once blended, it gives a really soft rosy glow.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Rendez-vous

Apply with your fingertips. The blushers are wonderfully creamy and easy to blend. And, they give a velvety finish that lasts all day. If you prefer a warmer-toned flush, go for Destiny, a browny- beige.

There are also lipsticks to match. (I like wearing lips and cheeks from the same colour family, it gives the face a polished look.) Rouge Coco Shine Rendez-vous (£24) works well with Affinité, while Destiny looks good with Rouge Coco Icône (£24).

If you haven’t tried cream blushers, or not for a while, you will almost certainly be converted by Chanel’s genius in a compact!

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 9 August 2013

Destination Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

If I were to describe my vision of heaven it would be Cartagena de Indias, the Colombian paradise on the Caribbean. In this hot and steamy city the rhythms of salsa, cumbia and vallenato seem to ooze from the cobblestones. The Caribbean laid-back, almost soporific, lifestyle merges harmoniously with history, nature and informal sophistication peppered with a sprinkling of edginess.

The stone walls of Cartagena were built to protect the city from plundering pirates such as Sir Francis Drake who wanted to get their hands on the city’s treasures. Inside the walls is the old town, a glittering and precious jewel, now a Unesco world heritage site.

Picturesque colonial buildings punctuated with balconies draped in bougainvillea rub shoulders with ornate cathedrals and buzzing squares, all set against the bluest of skies. Milling the streets are characters that could have just popped out of a Gabriel García Márquez novel. Cartagena de Indias is irresistibly exotic.

Cartagena de Indias, the Colombian paradise
Courtesy of Proexport Colombia

It is hard not to be tempted to buy a slice of mouth-watering pineapple from one of the Palenqueras attired in brightly-coloured dresses carrying fruit balanced on their heads. These Afro-Colombian women are a reminder of the melting pot of cultures that have left their mark on Cartagena.

The hotel that I called home while in the city was the Sofitel Santa Clara. Here in what was once a 17th-century convent you get a sense of detachment from the rest of the world. It has a colonial feel, but modernity stakes its claim as well.

After having breakfast accompanied by parrots and a toucan that roost in the central courtyard, it was time for a swim in the pool before heading off to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago of pretty coral islands, about an hour’s boat ride away. 

Evening approaching

Sailing out of the bay through the open sea, the water miraculously changed to a beautiful shade of turquoise. As I embarked on to the white sands fringed by palm trees, I felt as if I was entering a film set.

It is easy to see why people come here to the San Pedro de Malagua hotel to escape reality and engage in a little quiet contemplation. It certainly does not get more tranquil than this. Besides walking along the beach, trying some watersports or going to the spa, there is not much else strenuous to do than lift a drink.  As evening approaches, chill out in a hammock and watch the sun set and gaze at the blanket of stars that covers the sky. 

Bocagrande, Cartagena’s answer to Miami Beach, is only a short cab ride away from the Sofitel Santa Clara. The beach may not be as beautiful as the ones you usually find in the Caribbean, but Cartagena's culture and pulsating nightlife offer so much more than the average Caribbean island. 

The late afternoon, when the sea breeze cools the air, is the best time to explore this city. The late afternoon sun acts likes a spotlight bathing it with a golden glow.

A ride in a horse-driven carriage around the old town is the idyllic way to see it. Though it may sound cheesy, it’s rather nostalgic and romantic which is what Cartagena is all about. 

The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

If history is your bag, there are a few culture spots you should see. The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas provides an insight into the city’s days of yesteryear. It is considered the best fortress built by the Spaniards in the colonies.

The Palace of the Inquisition, one of the city's finest buildings, is now a museum. It is not for the faint-hearted as there are instruments of torture on display. Worth visiting is the Gold Museum, which has an impressive collection of pre-Colombian gold artefacts.

Afterwards saunter along the streets and alleys that beg to be roamed. You will want the exercise to walk off the calories you consume. The food here is superb. There are so many top-notch restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice.

Cartagena is a tale of two cities: the old and the new. For excellent views of the past colliding with the present, take a cab up to the Convento de la Popa, the mountain-top monastery.

I felt a real pang of regret when it was time to leave for the airport. It is not often that reality matches the dream. But, then it is not often that you stumble across the wonder that is Cartagena de Indias.

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

I stayed at the Sofitel Santa Clara ( and flew with Iberia via Madrid

Last Frontiers ( offers tailor-made holidays throughout Latin America including Colombia

For more information about Colombia visit