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?

  4. Lynn October 25, 2016 at 1:07 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison

    I’m writing to you with the hope you may be able to help me. This could be a long email so brace yourself !!!! (You did a blog a while ago on sensitivity – possibly only on the face area. I haven’t been able to find it so am writing as a comment on this one. I am not on Twitter or Facebook.)

    I saw you presenting “Pure Potions” (which I ordered) and you were telling us about the allergies you have suffered.

    I have suffered many different allergies most of my life but not to the extent I currently am. I bought some body cream from a well known shop and reacted very badly to it. I now have now an appointment with my doctor (which is in a months time) and I hope he sends me for a patch test but as you know this could take a long time before I get to have it done. At the moment I’m existing on anti allergy tablets.

    I decided at nearly 69 to take myself in hand and start a beauty regime. I have listened to all the presenters advice and purchased products from Elemis, Decelor, Gatineau, Flore Mare, Mally, Doll 10, Laura Geller etc. My skin improved enormously and on the whole and I am happy with everything I have purchased.

    I went into Lush a few back and the young assistant who was serving me said to me “you have lovely skin” (I was purchasing products for my daughter) and when I told her my age she and the other assistant didn’t believe me. They told me I didn’t look 69 and that I didn’t dress that age either, which made my day.

    Sadly my skin routine is fallen behind as everything I now use seems to affect me although it didn’t before!!

    I now suffer constant irritation and have tried many different products to alleviate this all to no avail. I think I am allergic to washing powder, cleaning products and any thing that has a strong taste or smell (also wine and chocolate both which I refuse to give up!). It may be that the allergic reaction to those products is causing sensitivity to other things

    I would be very grateful if you could advise me on how you overcame your allergies and about what products you use so I can at last get a good night sleep. Thanking you in anticipation of your reply.


  5. fee October 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm -  Reply

    not sure how to go about asking for alison’s help. i am 35. inbetween pregnancies. trying to take better care of my skin now watching lots of qvc shows listening to the advice. i have very crepey eye lids, what should i use to tighten the skin near the lashes? eyeshadow gathers in the deep crinkles and looks unsightly. thank you kindly

  6. Lucy Crystal November 6, 2016 at 9:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi, is it possible to get some advice from Alison? How do I contact her?
    Many thanks

  7. Jennifer Gray December 15, 2016 at 10:29 pm -  Reply

    I do not want to use oestrogen leaking plastics in shampoos or conditioners any more. Can you tell me if you sell any plastic free on QVC? Thanks

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