Friday, February 19, 2010

Face Lotion and Other Substitutions.

In my experience, a move to a new country initially brings with it a desire to bring all the "necessities" from home. And as a relatively picky person, especially as far as toiletries goes, I have a preferred brand for almost every product I use. This selectiveness stems from some skin sensitivity that began in high school, and so there are only a few lotions and soaps I can use. I brought a couple months' supply when I moved here and hoped I could find the "right" toiletries after I got settled.

This desire to bring the familiar along with me first became clear when I moved to Norway after graduating college. I brought the products I normally used with me, partially because that seemed to be what most of the other Americans living there did. And who knows what kind of crazy products I might find (or not be able to find) over there? And I did come to realize that there was not tons of selection in Norway. So, I would bring Crest toothpaste, JIF peanut butter, microwave popcorn, and other things that were impossible to find in Norway (in that era, anyways) with me, and ask visitors coming to Norway to bring a couple things too, if they were willing. This continued to some degree for the entire time I lived there, but I did discover some Norwegian substitutes along the way, and in some cases, I liked the substitutes so much that when I moved back to the US, I brought some Norwegian products with me. Ironic, huh?

Now I find myself in that place again of finding myself here long enough to run out of the familiar, and be faced with the necessity of finding a substitution. Most of the products are pretty similar between Canada and the US, so it isn't a big deal in most cases. Except for face lotion. I ran out around Christmas and have searched everywhere to find my reliable face lotion from home, Johnson and Johnson's Purpose. It has SPF 15 in it and never irritates my skin. Sadly, and somewhat shockingly, I can't find it anywhere. So I tried another lotion that was a brand I knew and trusted as a brand safe for sensitive skin...and every time I used it my face burned a little. I felt like this must be my new Canadian face-burning-fate if I couldn't use Purpose lotion. Then at S's prompting (who said that surely some Canadian must have sensitive skin like me and need lotion that doesn't burn), I went out and bought another brand to try. And I am so glad I did, because this one does not irritate my face and is about 8 dollars cheaper per bottle than the face-burning-lotion.

All that to say, adjusting to a new country involves slowly letting go of some of the familiarities of the former home and learning to embrace the realities of the new home. And maybe making some unexpected discoveries of future "favorites" that I am sure I will come to miss later, if I don't live here. Some things are relatively simple, like lotion, and other things are much more complicated and long-term, like friendships. Before I made this move, I was used to long-distance relationships with my family and several close friends, but now the Chicago friends that I used to see daily/weekly/monthly are now a gazillion miles away. Not that I want to find substitutions for any of my friends, but the reality is that the ease of my former Chicago day-to-day relationships will have to adjust to the effort of long-distance communication, and I have to build a new network of day-to-day friends in my community here. But thanks to Skype, gchat, email, and VOIP internet phone calls, the long distance communication opportunities are NOTHING like what it was like when I lived in Norway with only email (and not everyone did email) and very expensive long-distance phone calls. Yes, things are unbelievably different now and I love the ease of international communication. I just need to get better at it.

I guess all change means adjustment will be necessary, and I am sure I will adjust to all the little and not-so-little changes in life that a big move brings. And maybe even my desire for my favorite Trader Joe mint toothpaste with no Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Dryel, Malnati's, Snow Spice's Crab Rangoons, and Cheez-its will subside eventually?

PS. Try explaining the concept of Dryel to a male clerk in a pharmacy in French when you don't know the French word for dry cleaning. It is hard enough to explain to a guy in English.

PPS. The day this was originally schedule to go up, I got a Valentine's Day package from my parents with some Purpose lotion in it, and other things. :) This is funny because I stopped whining about lotion around Christmas. (Well,except to S. And in this post. Hihi.)


  1. i completely understand. if you ever go to china, take whatever feminine products you may want... trust me.

    also, i feel ya on the skin burning thing! the only sun screen moisturizer that works for me is Eucerin spf 30 - it's amazing!

  2. Nice to know I am not alone with the face-burning thing!!! I will have to try that sunscreen when I buy more; I like Eucerin body lotion and use it all winter. And I am so happy to have more Purpose because my substitute doesn't have sunscreen!

    Interesting about China I will remember that! :)