The Skincare I’m Using to Start 2024

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I know I am not the only one who looks at their reflection a little more in January than any other month of the year. A new year can do that to you. Me maybe more than others as at the beginning of this month, I birthed my daughter, and at the end of the month it is my birthday.

I'm turning 49 next week. My 40's haven't felt old to me until 2023. That baby I birthed started high school. And my mom, who had me almost the same age that I had my daughter, died at the age of 80. This year, I had injuries and ailments that just sound old. Plantar fasciitis and macular holes in my detached retinas. When I get together with my friends, they discuss their bunions and receding gums, hairloss and blood pressure medicine. Dude. DUDE. Like, I am so grateful to be living this age, but I just didn't think this age would happen so fast.

Faces are like children, they look the same until one morning they look completely different. Maybe it happens after the release of a really intense year, maybe I only notice it because I am focused on it. I remember looking different the year I turned 30 (I got married the year prior and changed jobs). I remember looking different at the start of 2021 (I doubt I was the only one). I look different this January than I think I even looked on New Year's Eve.

a collage of the skincare I am using in 2024 for my 49 year old face by Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen

The Skincare I'm Using to Start 2024

My face changing is why I tried Botox back in 2018, but that also changed my face. Not back to what I was, but something completely different and I didn't like it. At least for now, I am trying to care for my skin but let my face change on its own. After that year of Botox, I now gift myself each birthday with some skincare to pamper what I have and find joy in caring for it. Below I'm sharing the skincare I'm using right now to start off 2024.

Colleen Rothschild Radiant Cleansing Balm

Folks, it there is one skincare product I recommend more than any other, it's this face cleanser. It radically changed my relationship with my skin and took me from combination/sensitive skin to pretty happy chill skin. I've tried other oil cleansers and cleansing balms, and for me, they just don't compare.

Apply the Colleen Rothschild Radiant Cleansing Balm to dry skin. Gently massage and the balm will turn into a liquid, and it will break down and lift makeup, sweat, dirt… you name it. It's wild to see your mascara, eyeliner, and brow gel liquify. And then you wet a washcloth or one of the muslin cloths that comes with each tub of this cleanser and wipe your face. And all that gunk is off your face, on the cloth.

What remains is soft, calm skin. If you use makeup, you may wish to have a second cleansing with a gentle face wash or micellar water. But this stuff works, doesn't strip, and doesn't make oily skin more oily, and I never feel tight or red or anything after cleansing except clean.

The Colleen Rothschild 10th Anniversary Sale is going on now through January 29, 2024. For the rest of the year, you can use OXYGEN20 for 20% off your purchase; during the Anniversary Sale, use code 10YEARS to get 25% off sitewide (some exclusions like gift sets, see the site for details).

Alloy M4 Estriol Face Cream

Last year, I finally found a practitioner who took my premenopause symptoms seriously. I got on estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and after a few months I truly feel the difference. I feel I got my body and brain back. I began replacing outfit influencers on my social platforms with gynecologists who discuss menopause, wanting to learn more and connect with others who are experiencing similar.

I heard of Dr. Mary Claire Haver in relation to The Galveston Diet. As someone who has done a lot of work to build a relationship with her body, I am automatically anti-anyone who shills anything with the word diet in it. But so many of you told me to follow her, to read her stuff, so I followed her on social.

And while she's sometimes a lot, I have learned a lot not just from her, but from those who comment, sending me down rabbit holes to find studies and medical confirmation. One day, Dr. Haver shared a video where she discussed what hormones she took. Estrogen patch like me. Little balls of progesterone at night like me. A colorful click-up tube of testosterone gel/cream from a compounding pharmacy like me. And then a face serum that I had never seen before. It was called M4 from the company Alloy.

Alloy M4 is a fragrance-free prescription estrogen-based face cream created specifically for perimenopausal and menopausal women. Active ingredients include topical estriol, glycerin, and vitamin E. The full ingredient list is: estriol, aloe barbadensis leaf juice , C 12 – 14 isoparaffin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, deionized water, laureth-7, phenoxyethanol, polyacrylamide, tocopheryl acetate, and triethylene glycol.

Studies have shown transdermal estriol helps thicken skin, increase collagen, improve elasticity, and even helo with wound healing. It's $150 for a tube that lasts about three months (I am still using my first tube which I ordered October 4). If you're not a skincare person, it's the only product you put on after cleansing. If you use serums and such, put it on after them as your moisturizer. In winter, I put more moisture on top of it.

I think I have seen a difference since using it, but only seeing the changes in the past couple of weeks. My skin feels a bit firmer or thicker or something that isn't as sloshy as I felt I had in November. Never had a reaction. No redness, no irritation. I got my second tube (it's a subscription) and plan to continue using this. I'll report back with a full review after it's been a bit longer.

Right now Alloy's T&C say nothing about sharing a personal referral code on a personal blog; if it changes I will remove this. But if you try it and use code ALISON21667 at checkout, you will get $25 off your purchase and I'll get $15 off my next purchase.

Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum

When everything went down with my eyes, I went for a few weeks without using any skincare products anywhere near my eyes. And when I slowly incorporated some products back, I was surprised by how my eye area reacted, even if I wasn't using the product on or near my eyes. Retinol, which I used for years, was making me itch. Not red or flaky like retinol does, but itchy like SkinMedica did to me. So I switched to Vitamin C.

Last summer, Kiehl's had sent me a bottle of their Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum and I had yet to open it. I tried it and was surprised not only by how my eyes didn't react, but how one night could give me a morning glow. I totally forgot that just a few years ago, this product was darn near a Holy Grail for me. So I continued to use it, and when I ran out earlier this month, I went to the Kiehl's store at Montgomery Mall and bought the biggest bottle they offer.

I may go back to retinol, I may try other things, but right now as one of my eyes is still wonky and has follow-up appointments with my retinal specialist, I am going to keep my skin as non-reactionary with my eyes as possible. And for now that's Kiehl's.

Colleen Rothschild Extreme Recovery Cream

Some folks say your skin looks older when it is wrinkled. Others say no, age comes from spots and uneven skintone. I believe what makes my skin look its best is when it's super hydrated. I drink water, I take oil-based supplements, I try to eat food that will keep my body hydrated, and I do what I can to keep the moisture I have in my skin, and add more without millia or breakouts.

And this cream does just that. Skin is super moisturized but not greasy. No reaction, no real fragrance, and it feels like it really absorbs. Oh, and it plays nice with other products. I can do vitamin C, then estriol, then it, and even put oil over all that and everything works great.

I get lots of free skincare with this job, and I often receive samples and gifts of creams and lotions for dry skin. Many of them are heavier in consistency, and they have rave reviews. Still, Colleen Rothschild Extreme Recovery Cream is the only one that doesn't irritate my eyes, doesn't break me out, doesn't cause everything else on my face to slide off, doesn't leave a greasy imprint on my pillowcase, but leaves my skin super happy and soft.

Castor Oil

The castor oil moms on TikTok found me and showed me all their unbleached muslin castor oil packs and their oily belly buttons, sharing how this miracle elixir cured cancer and plumped every wrinkle on their face. I wasn't buying it. My sister for a while was a castor oil evangelist for brow and lash growth. I saw the results, so I bought that. Literally. Once I ran out of my GrandeLash and GrandeBrow I bought a bottle of castor oil. And then I had my eye surgery and was putting nothing near my eyes or even my brows.

And then the oily mamas somehow got to my husband. Maybe they discussed it on Rich Roll or Huberman Lab but he was asking if we had castor oil to get rid of floaters in his eyes. That was a new one for me; I handed over the amber glass bottle. Each night he put castor oil on his eyes… and his lashes grew, his floaters disappeared AND his dark circles were less noticeable. I couldn't believe it.

When I was able to start putting products a bit closer to my eyes, I felt better about castor oil than any of the serums. I am not at the putting something on my lashes overnight stage, but I am doing under my eyes and on my brows and I am seeing a subtle improvement with both without any negative results. The extra oil I rub into my cuticles.

Have I put it in my belly button? I had to try since I had it. Neither the husband nor I have experienced any benefit to it in our navel, but no negatives either. We'll stick to our faces. We get the organic hexane free in a bigger bottle and pour it into a small dropper one we had from a previous purchase.

Pixi Glow Tonic

I don't know how I got on the Pixi mailing list, but I am so glad I am. And now that my kid is 15 and likes makeup and skincare, she's also glad. Because we're both Pixi fans. I am especially fond of Pixi Glow Tonic, a glycolic acid tonic.

Each year, Pixi sends me a big bottle of Glow Tonic with a pump on top and my name on the label and it's the best PR I receive with this wacky job. It sits on the side of my sink; I use reusable cotton rounds and in the summer wipe my face with it when I wake. I wipe my pits with it, it kills bacteria. I wipe under my breasts, between legs, anywhere things get warm and damp. If I moisturize my face in the morning, don't put on makeup and want to later in the day, I refresh with Pixi Glow Tonic, re-moisturize and do makeup.

Sometimes on days when I don't do makeup and don't go outside and have no desire for a whole nighttime routine, I wipe my face with Pixi Glow Tonic, rub in two pumps of M4 and hit the hay. It's as expected in my bathroom as a tube of toothpaste. I run out before the year is over and buy more with my own money and pour into the bigger bottle. And now the rest of the family uses it too.

Dieux Forever Eye Mask

I bought the Dieux Forever Eye Mask for my sister for Christmas… and she bought me a pair too! I liked the idea of something that was reusable. Medical grade silicone but designed to look pretty, these go over whatever eye cream you're using to help it soak in better. I don't know yet if it works but it looks cool and feels nice!

Victoria's Secret Flavored Lip Gloss

I know, this is a weird one coming from me. But my kid is the age where she likes going into Pink and Victoria's Secret when she visits the mall and we went at the beginning of the year and they had a sale and she bought lip gloss and it was buy X and get Y free so she got an extra lip gloss and gave it to me. And I am obsessed.

I like coconut-scented and flavored things, and this lip gloss smells and tastes like the best coconut dessert, but it's thick and stays on and has a really pretty shine and I wonder why I gave up yummy lip glosses like this for products that seem to work about the same but smell “sophisticated.” She has a strawberry one that smells delightful; I think I need Cherry Bomb and Electric Punch in my life. I'm totally buying more; I want to have one just for the Peloton bike and one just for the car.

Leaf Razor and Shave Soap

I started shaving my legs and armpits in 6th grade. I spent many summers (and even some winters) as a lifeguard and on swim teams. And as a college student in the '90s, the shape, length, amount, and style of one's pubic hair was a big deal (and hair anywhere else except on top of the head or a sliver above each eye was an absolute no-no). I can't imagine how many disposable razors and razor blade heads I've gone through over the decades.

I am a grown-ass woman, and I don't need to shave a single big toe if I don't want to. But I like how I feel of shaved legs and I like the flexibility to shave or not shave, which is why I never did laser removal. My eyebrows from the '90s taught me to treasure every hair I have. So I decided it was time for a metal forever razor.

Leaf got me with their ads on social media and the gorgeous oil-slick “Prism” color. I ordered the razor, extra blades, the handle grip, and the shaving soap. Big fan.

The razor feels good in the hand, like something you deserve as a grown-ass woman with a mortgage and plantar fasciitis. This is a gorgeous piece of hardware. It's like the difference between the hotel room pen at the Four Seasons and the Hampton Inn. The gripper is pretty necessary, IMO and also makes the razor look more badass. Blades are easy to put in, remove, and replace. I have an old Altoids tin I use for the old blades.

The shave soap was surprising. I never used shaving cream, just a bit of lather from my body wash and the razor's moisturizing strip got the job done. But I was worried with a “real” razor and bought it. OMG I love it. It lasts forever (I got it in October and have barely put a dent in it). A light swipe on skin gives just the right amount of glide but it rinses clean.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. If a post could receive an Oscar you would definitely be holding that little gold man,
    I have never been disappointed in your very honest product recommendations.
    You introduced me to Universal Standard and some many other brands and products which I have made part of my closet & medicine cabinet.
    I am turning 65 next month and getting your Medicare card is pretty sobering. That said I have been pretty blessed with good skin genes but I am always searching for the holy grail. I am definitely going to try some of the above recommendations.

  2. Thanks for these recommendations! I just purchased the CR cleanser and some of the muslin cloths. I’m excited to try it based on your rec about how mild and non-reactive it is. I’m using The Ordinary squalane cleanser which is very mild but it doesn’t seem to cleanse fully. My skin, especially neck, chest, eyelids and eyebrows, has become so sensitive in the last few months. It’s maddening. I’m down to just using a few trusted moisturizing and cleansing products. I’ve cut out my retinoid, acid exfoliator and Vit C serum for now. I just turned 60 this month so I’m firmly in menopause. I was so was hoping that I skipped the sensitive skin stage but maybe not.

  3. I’ve popped open a few of these links and am looking forward to trying one or two new things, thank you! After your Xmas post, I purchased the CR cleansing balm in a travel size and I love how it works and smells, will be purchasing the larger container, I didn’t realize the sale was still going on.

    The Vitamin C should help with age spots and evening skin tone, no? I need to add that in! My freckles are starting to join together! :0

    Personally I desperately need regular exfoliation, but with aging skin, it’s difficult to find something that does not remove moisture. And I really don’t like little beads or texture as now feeling way too harsh and also sometimes the little grains get in my eyes. I started using Alba Botanica Hawaiian /Papaya Enzyme mask 1-2x a week — it’s like a gel you leave on for 5-10min, and it takes off the rough/old top layer and leaves things really nice and smooth and NOT taut/tight.

  4. I read all your posts, but the ones like this are my favorites. I am so grateful to you for sharing tried and true products that are “…something you deserve as a grown-ass woman with a mortgage and plantar fasciitis.” Some of your previous favorites have made it onto my always-on-hand list. What would I do without the Bioderma shower oil, the Kielh’s vitamin C, and the Maya fragrance base? (Not to mention the Land’s End swimsuits, the Amazon Bretons…)

  5. 2023 was a tough year for me, and yes, I looked at my face in January and was like “who the hell is that?”. I’m giving the CR cleansing balm a go, as well as the Pixi Glow. Thanks as always for amazing & grown-ass woman recommendations!

  6. I turned 60 last year, and until COVID hit I was pretty happy with my skin. But I feel like COVID aged me 10 years and I don’t have any life in my face, if that makes sense. I use the CR cleansing balm and like it, but the recovery cream really isn’t enough for me at night in the winter months. I use a product called Cifalcate from Avene that looks like diaper rash cream but has never broken me out, and sometimes I use a lipid serum (a heavier oil) or an overnight mask from Kiels, which they unfortunately changed a couple years ago and I don’t like it as much. I do have sensitive skin and Vitamin C doesn’t always play well with it, but I should try it again in a milder form.

    I feel like I’ve never gotten great results from a chemical exfoliant and now they just seem too drying. I am still loyal to gentle physical exfoliation, often using jojoba oil and a damp cotton ball. It actually works!

    But I’m not always good about my water consumption, even though I eat a lot of citrus in the winter. I know I need to be better about that.

  7. I love Pixi vitamin c glow tonic and the h2o skin tint and the peel & polish. The peel & polish is great every couple of weeks when your skin starts to look dull. I let it sit on my face for a few minutes in the shower and then use like a light scrub. Not harsh at all. The h2o skin tint is great when I want to get that “even” skintone look without actually covering every freckle and mark. Just one pump for sheer coverage and since I don’t use it every day it lasts forever.

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