Keep your cool

Here's how to cope in the summer heat - if it ever arrives.

I ask this with hope in my heart: when the weather gets really hot, how do you keep your cool? Clothes-wise you really can't beat linen, however much the damn fibres crumple. The White Company has a sale on with some wonderful big, baggy linen trousers that have the right number of pockets and are cut to be comfortable without making you look, or feel, like a slob.

But really this isn't about clothes. It's about products that can help you cope with the heat (and rest assured that, unless stated, all those mentioned below work just as well for men as they do for women).

Certain smells are simply too claustrophobic when it gets hot. Creed makes some divine perfumes that are just right for the heat. Spring Flower is one - subtle, although too floral for men (you can't miss it in its garish pink bottle); but Royal Water, Silver Mountain Water and Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse are all perfect for summer wearing: they make you smell expensive. Eau Dynamisante Moisturising Body Lotion from Clarins is the only lotion worth bothering about when summer comes. It is moisturising without being remotely heavy and it has a slightly bizarre cooling effect as you apply it, which is addictive. The smell wafts gloriously but unobtrusively about you all day.

I'm not overly keen on moisturisers with UV filters built in to them (another layer of chemicals on your skin), but I've been caught out when the sun has been stronger than I thought and ended up with a slapped-face look. Sisley makes a revolutionary cream called All Day All Year that protects against 90 per cent of UVA/B rays for eight continuous hours (the idea behind it is that anything that stops 100 per cent of rays, and that you wear every day, will eventually leave your skin unable to defend itself). If you already have a fav ourite cream, Clinique makes a superb product called City Block. In two formulations, sheer or super, it sits comfortably over moisturiser, irons out little imperfections in your skin (it's like a very light foundation, but men, don't be afraid of it!) and protects against the sun with an SPF of 25 or 40. A good product if you cycle or walk in to work.

The Chill Mate Cooling Neck Scarf from Beauty Naturals needs activating, but once done, it can keep you cool for a couple of hours - it has some variety of magic crystals in it. Ideal for commuting or gardening. I never use antiperspirants with aluminium in them - ergo, I never use antiperspirants, as it's the aluminium that stops the sweating - only fairly natural deodorants. But be warned. Some natural deodorants can make you smell even worse. The only three I've tested thoroughly enough to recommend so far are made by Neal's Yard Remedies (it does two types: both are excellent) and the Organic Pharmacy. The latter also makes a superb-smelling after-sun cream for when you've overdone it. But, for cooling properties, you can't beat Liz Earle's Aftersun Gel.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Bush: Is the president imploding?