When I was in my early twenties, I developed adult acne. It was a thoroughly miserable time. I was finishing up my degree in journalism, interviewing for jobs and desperately trying to save a deposit for my first home with my boyfriend – all with a face full of spots and my confidence at rock bottom.
People dismiss spots and acne as a trivial worry, something only the vain would stress over. But when your face aches from underlying painful cysts and pustules, it’s impossible to ignore and get on with your life.
And no amount of make-up can truly hide the lumps and bumps, despite what the brands might say. For years, I avoided harsh light, wore my hair long to cover my face, never left the house without a full face of make-up and rarely allowed myself to be photographed.
In time, my acne cleared up thanks to a strict regimen of organic skincare (Dr Hauschka mainly) and the elimination of all dairy. But as the years passed, I began to take my new-found good skin for granted and I began to relax my organic skincare regime.
However over the last year, I’ve slowly transitioned back to organic skincare. Why? It’s not that I didn’t enjoy some of the big brands I’ve used and adored throughout my early thirties. It’s just that my skin has changed and is suddenly quite sensitive and reactive again with the occasional (deep breath) breakout. I’ve been trying not to panic but it’s clear I needed to pare my routine right back. And give up the cheese again.
So for the past six months, I’ve been practising the Alexandra Soveral method of deep cleansing. For the uninitiated, Alexandra Soveral is the Portuguese-born, London-based facialist to the stars who has developed her own organic range of skincare products. Her book, Perfect Skin: Unlocking The Secrets, has become my bible and thanks to Alexandra’s clear, no-nonsense advice and techniques, my skin is looking the best it ever has.
One of the key takeaways from the book is that extraction facials do not work and only damage skin, spread infection and exacerbate pore size. In addition, Alexandra is not in favour of acids such as salicylic acid which, as Alexandra explains, strips the skin and sends a message to the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Instead, Alexandra recommends using oil (such as sweet almond oil) to dissolve sebum. And guess what? Her tips are working.
So without further ado, here is Alexandra’s Blackhead Deep Pore Cleansing routine. I typically aim to do this at least once a week.
Start by gently steaming cleansed skin to open up pores. You can place your head over a bowl of hot water or alternatively, use an electric face steamer.
Mix a little oil of your choosing (mine is sweet almond oil) with a little fine sea salt to create a scrub – you can mix this in the palm of your hand. Gently massage the scrub over the blackheads. Remove with a warm, damp face cloth.
Using one drop of lemon essential oil to one teaspoon of oil, deeply massage into the skin for a few minutes. Remove with a warm, damp cloth. Do this regularly for clearer pores.