Saturday, 27 May 2017

Which sunscreen to buy?

This is not a paid post. Products are press samples.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have still not got the message about staying safe in the sun. A tan is not the sign of being healthy, it actually means that the skin has been subjected to UV damage and is trying to protect itself. Yet, we do need some sunshine as it makes us feel good and also helps the body to produce vitamin D. 

Using sunscreen can help prevent damage to any exposed areas of skin but choosing one can be a minefield so here is what you need to know.

UV (ultraviolet) radiation is part of the light which reaches the Earth. UVA and UVB rays penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.

While UVA rays are around all year they are stronger in summer and may not only contribute to skin cancer, but can cause more ageing of the skin than UVB rays which do not infiltrate the skin as deeply. They can pass through glass. So if you are sitting by a window you need to wear sun protection, especially in the summer.

The main culprit for sunburn. The rays are also linked to skin cancer as well as contributing to skin ageing. 

These rays do not penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.

Stay safe in the sun

Organic or non-organic sunscreens
Organic filters also known as chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone work like sponges absorbing UV radiation. 

Non-organic, also known as physical sunscreens, reflect UV radiation away from the skin. Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are well known physical sunscreens.

How to choose a sunscreen
Check the SPF “sun protection factor”. The higher the factor, the better protection. However wearing a higher SPF does not mean you can stay in the sun for longer. The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) recommends a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 as a satisfactory form of sun protection in addition to protective shade and clothing.

UVA star system
Many sunscreens in the UK carry a UVA star rating. 

Example of star system and UVA symbol

“The stars range from 0 to 5 and indicate the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB, in other words the ratio between the level of protection afforded by the UVA protection and the UVB protection,” says Matt Gass, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists. “Be aware that if you choose a low SPF it may still have a high level of stars, not because it is providing lots of UVA protection, but because the ratio between the UVA and UVB protection is about the same.”

So it is important to choose a sunscreen with both a high UVA rating and SPF.

“A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and a UVA rating of four or five stars is generally considered as a good standard of sun protection in addition to shade and clothing,” says Matt.

All sun products should also carry the UVA logo which indicates the product is in compliance with EU regulations: the UVA protection for each sunscreen should be at least a third of the labelled SPF. So it is advisable to buy a sunscreen which shows a UVA logo and four or five stars as well. Boots, Marks & Spencer and Ambre Solaire are among the brands that adhere to the two systems.

In some countries you may see the Japanese rating PA system. The more symbols that you see the more UVA protection it has.

It maybe cloudy or hazy outside but that does not mean that you do not have to protect yourself from the sun
Sand, concrete and even grass all reflect UV but if any of these surfaces become wet the amount reflected can double,” says Boots UK’s Suncare Expert Clare O’Connor. “This doesn’t mean you need to double your sun protection, but it does mean you need to think about UV protection all the time, especially as UV can still penetrate your skin on cloudy days and through glass.” 

How to apply sunscreen
“Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before heading outdoors to give sufficient time for it to be absorbed,” says Dr Justine Kluk, Garnier Ambre Solaire Dermatologist and London Consultant. The average adult needs a shot glass or golf ball sized amount of cream for each application which is significantly more than the amount that most people ordinarily apply.

Dress for the sun

Dress for the sun
“It is important to cover up in the sun, but to be aware that certain fabrics provide less protection than others,” says Dr Kluk. “It is still possible to get a sunburn through your clothing, particularly if you are wearing light colours and fabric with a looser weave, for example linen. 

“This is why UV protective clothing is preferable for the beach or outdoor activities and sunscreen should still be applied to exposed areas. Wearing a swimsuit at the beach is okay as long as the exposed skin is covered adequately with sunscreen. It should be reapplied every couple of hours at a minimum and immediately after swimming, sweating or towelling off.”

Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are necessities for summer. You should also protect any exposed skin. Also your eyes need to be shielded all year long as. The sun can damage your eyes.

One application a day sun protection products
Ignore what it says on the bottle, you have to apply it every couple of hours.

“The primary issue with once-a-day sun protectors is that they do not account for poor application and accidental removal,” says Matt.

Which? has, reportedly, found in its research that the SPF dropped over time.

Moisturisers with sunscreen
“A moisturiser with an SPF will help protect you against small amounts of UV exposure, such as when you walk to the car or pop outside to hang out the washing, but sunscreen is better suited for longer, more deliberate UV exposure, such as spending your lunch hour outside,” says Matt.

What hours are you most at risk?
UV rays are strongest in spring and summer so sunscreen should be applied daily to exposed skin before leaving home from April to September,” says Dr Kluk, “It should then be topped up every couple of hours throughout the day until sunset. UV levels are lower in autumn and winter, but not completely absent. So ideally,  exposed skin should be protected from UV rays all year round.

The advice from BAD is to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny in the UK. Check the BAD’s World app for other countries

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Spotlight on New Zealand wines

This is not a paid post. Products are press samples.

To export wine into the world’s biggest wine market, the US, and be surpassed only by Italy and France is no mean feat. This is exactly what New Zealand has done. What makes this even more remarkable is that the country’s production accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s wine. What it does produce is extremely good quality and value for money.

Marlborough, New Zealand

While we all know and love New Zealand’s Marlborough sauvignon blancs, the country has a wide variety of styles. Pinot gris has become the fashionable grape. It is a mutation of pinot noir and the fruit appears to have a slight greyish tinge, hence gris.

New Zealand pinot gris tend to be more like those from Alsace rather than the drier and crisp Italian pinot grigio. They are more complex and aromatic than their Italian counterpart, with notes of apples, pears and lemons laced with smoky spice.  

The grapes are grown throughout the country. Some of the main regions are Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Central Otago and Canterbury/Waipara Valley. 

Here is one that I recommend.

Isabel Estate Pinot Gris, 2014, Marlborough £19.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd, (
Loaded with mesmerising tropical fruit flavours infused with a smattering of honey and spice, this refreshing pinot gris tantalises the palate. A well-balanced wine that has more complexity than many wines of this genre.

Pinot noir
This is a notoriously difficult grape to get right, but when it is done correctly you end up with a most delicious wine. The second most widely-planted grape variety in New Zealand (sauvignon blanc is number one), it is mainly found in the cooler southerly regions of the country such as Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Central Otago, Canterbury and Waipara Valley.

Pinot noir oozes flavours of red berries. As it matures it can have hints of mushrooms. Generally, they are velvety smooth on the palate. New Zealand pinot noirs tend to be softer and fruitier and not as powerful as those from France.

Here are two that I have really enjoyed.

Berry Bros. & Rudd New Zealand Pinot Noir 2014 by Greystone Wines, Waipara £17.50, Berry Bros. & Rudd (
From what is regarded as one of the New Zealand’s top wineries comes this delicious crisp pinot noir produced especially for Berry Bros. & Rudd. Think ripe cherries underpinned with a savoury tang and a hint of oak. Wonderful at any time of the year, with or without food, this is impressive.

Nelson Pinot Noir 2016 (Marks & Spencer, £11)
Nelson, north-west of the South Island, is said to be one of New Zealand’s sunniest regions. It is also bursting with small family-owned wineries. Its most renowned grape is pinot noir. Matured in new and used French oak barrels for 12 months, this effort from Chris and Heidi Seifried is a good pinot noir. A cherry-loaded wine enriched with a peppery kick, it is subtle and elegant. Easily quaffable.

Riesling and Gewürztraminer
The South Island has the perfect climate for growing riesling which can be sweet or extremely dry dependent on where it is grown. New Zealand rieslings tend to be fruity with bracing acidity.
New Zealand Gewürztraminer is wonderfully fragrant with notes of cinnamon and ginger. The texture and taste of wines will vary according to whether it comes from the North Island or the South. 

Here is a delightful blend that I have discovered.

Hunky Dory The Tangle 2015, Marlborough £11.99, Waitrose
A melange of riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer, this apple-soaked wine with dashes of lychee and ginger is gloriously aromatic. It is lovely and smooth and goes down a treat on a summer’s day.

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 22 May 2017

Spotlight on Clinique Chubby Plump & Shine Liquid Lip Plumping Gloss, £18

These are a delight to wear. They give a lovely shine, reflect light and make your lips appear plumper. There is a slight tingling effect but it does not feel uncomfortable as many of these genres tend to be.

Jumbo Jam

Unlike many glosses, these are not tacky either nor do they streak. They are moisturising so they will not dry your lips out.

Pink & Plenty

There are eight shades. My favourite for summer are Jumbo Jam, a soft pretty pink and Pink & Plenty, which actual describes itself.

Easy to use, you just twist it up to get the right amount of gloss. Lovely for summer.

By Daralyn Danns