A question answered: blackheads


Question: I’m 53 and I’ve suffered with blackheads for years – please can you tell me the best treatment to get rid of them? I already use Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish regularly, and also I use Alpha-H Liquid Gold. Thank you, regards Julie x

Answer: Hi Julie, thank you for your question. Blackheads can be a real pain when they go on for many years. Blackheads are caused by an overactive oil gland filling up the funnel of the hair follicle, which then solidifies and blocks the pore at the top where the sebum or your skin’s natural oil then oxidises in contact with the air and turns black.

When an oil gland has persistently been filling up the same few pores for many years, this can cause a stretched pore. Also, in our age group this stretched pore can also be caused by a slackening of natural collagen fibres, which probably means that your blackheads have more of an oval shape with a vertical drop.

You mention using two great cleansing products, but no moisturising or tightening products – so let me fill you in on the full story.  The only way to calm down an oil gland is to apply moisture or oil onto the surface of the skin, which then has a kick-back effect helping to calm the oil gland down.

What your skin is trying to do, is constantly produce natural oil to mix with the excretion of the sweat gland – this happens every second of the day – which then mixes together on the surface of the skin to create your skin’s natural lubricating, protective shield called the hydrolipidic film (oil and water).

Persistent blackheads can sometimes be a symptom of over-cleansing, which then encourages more oil to be secreted – so it is important to make sure that you are using a moisturiser. Try sticking with your Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish both AM and PM, and then following with a moisturiser twice a day, and omitting Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold.

If you begin to see a slight improvement within a week, then you need to stick with this regime and then maybe once a week use a deep cleansing exfoliation treatment to help unblock your pores, such as Ole Henriksen Power Peel.  This may show you that your skin needs you to help balance it and not just give it a deep clean.

If you wish to stick with your Liquid Gold, make sure you only use it three nights a week and try, for example, taking your makeup off and applying the Liquid Gold early evening, but then applying a moisturiser before you go to bed – this may also show the improvement.

Going forward, a key product for you would definitely be Decleor Prolagene Gel, as over time this can help to firm up the look of open pores. B aware that oil gland activity can be exacerbated by a high oil or fat content diet or even an over-healthy diet of too many acids such as pineapple, strawberries and apples – so your system may need more alkaline and low-fat foods, which can make a dramatic difference.

If you wear long-wear makeup, you may find it also helpful for a few weeks to double cleanse and definitely, at the moment, add a toner into your Cleanse and Polish routine. The fabulous Instant Boost Skin Tonic won’t strip your skin, or use the Eye Bright as a toner because of the witch hazel, if you feel you need more cleansing without a stripping sensation.

My golden rule, with a skin persisting in secreting oil, is less is more – so, as the more product and more physical things you do to the skin, the more you can stimulate an already out of balance pH level and top layer.  So, just choose a very simple regime as discussed, based on what you already own at home, and you should begin to see a difference within a week or so – but the open pores will take a few months once the oil secretion has calmed down to relax and firm up.

I hope this helps – great question.

Thank you!


  1. Sue September 30, 2016 at 11:40 pm -  Reply

    I have recently developed patches of dry skin on my face ( always had greasy skin)particularly around eyes. These can be rather sore. I am 55 I use Elemis cleansers,age benefit eyes am alpha h pm. Propagate gel takes out the soreness but doesn’t get rid of the dryness. What else can I use?

  2. Angel October 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi question for Allison my nose is oily and red (sometimes feel like its been sunburned even when i havent been in the sun)when I put my foundating on it comes of my nose and I’m left with a big red nose I’ve tyred a few primers (bare minerals, dior, flash balm ysl) but as of yet I’ve had no luck any suggestions

  3. chris October 11, 2016 at 8:41 am -  Reply

    A question for Alison. I am 50 and have recently noticed some age spots developing on my face. They are also getting quite clumpy looking, as though the skin cells are bunching a little.
    I always use Liz Earle cleanse and polish and the Superskin moisturisers but have added the Dennis Gross acidic pads to my regime and daily exfoliation. Am I doing the right thing?

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