Four things I still import from America – there is no substitute.

Posted on April 20, 2013 by yankeebean

When I landed flight-eyed and groggy-tailed on the dales of Yorkshire, my beauty regime went back to square one because almost all the products I knew and loved were back in America. Back in 2004, there weren’t as many products that were the same on both sides of the Big Blue. So since then, I’ve been on a comparison-making-bender to find replacements for alllllll my daily-life lotions, potions and admin-of-life supplies.

Stuff like face wash, lotion, pain killers, concealer, foundation, face powder, deodorant, toothpaste, soap – you name it, I was lookin’ for it.

You know what would have been AMAZING? A brand translator. I wanted to pick ‘Neutrogena’ from a drop-down list and be told that ‘Simple’ was the closest match in the UK. But instead I just kept buying stuff, trying stuff, and binning stuff in an endless loop until I found a suitable replacement. THANKFULLY most of the expensive experimentation is now complete.

(Only took 9 years! So quick and convenient!)

BUT! There is a short list of things that I still import from the States because I cannot (seriously – cannot) find a replacement I’m happy with. If any lovely expat-perts can lend some advice, I’m all ears! So here’s the list:

1 – Physicians Formula Face Powder

I don’t want much – just something pale enough to match my palepalepale (yes, triple pale) hue, something that throws a veil over my under-eyes, and something that doesn’t settle into my smile lines.

I’ve figured out that three compacts is usually enough to get me through until I go back to America and I can stock up again…

2 – Neosporin (the cream, not the greasy stuff)

And so we reach my inspiration for this post!

Even as I type this, I’m nursing the cold from hell. My nose is red-raw from attempted mucus control (sorry for that image).

Neosporin is the ONLY thing standing between me and a painful Rudolph impression – and I’m almost OUT. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

3 – Aleve

You know cramps? You know how they’re the worst ever?

Aleve should come with a red cape and a theme song.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that PeacefulYorkshire has actually OVER-NIGHT MAILED some of these to me when I was really feeling the pain. (Yes, she’s the best of besties.)

4 – Ranch Dressing

The winner of the condiment world championships.

The crack of dressings.

The Godfather.

When home-sickness threatens, I dip into the King of dips – Ranch dressing. Some mayo, some milk and a sachet of Hidden Valley Pixie Dust are all I need.

I know, I know, it’s not a beauty product. I don’t smear it on my face (at least not on purpose) – but there’s still no substitute.


If you beauties have any suggestions or substitutions, please (oh please dear God) share them. There’s probably an expat out there with the EXACT SAME product-substitute challenges, so shed some light and save an expat :) .

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Dixie August 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    For Cool Whip, Dream Whip comes in a mix, and it is close, though you will have to mix it yourself.
    For Ranch Dressing, Pizza Express House Dressing from Tesco has loads of wonderful things from the US.
    For Neosporin, Brulidane Cream
    For Physician’s Formula, their powder comparible is MAC. Expensive, but the cream to powder shades go quite light.
    Feminax Ultra is the exact same as Aleve.
    Hope some of this is a help.

  2. caitink June 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    My boyfriend and I have been living back and forth between DC and Hull, so I’ve been stocking up on stuff for our UK house like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, Duncan Hines Cake Mixes, Old Bay, Mrs. Dash, and Frank’s Hot Sauce (the wings sauce one is DIVINE).

  3. American Burd May 3, 2013 at 2:45 am

    I’m leaving the ‘States in two weeks and this list reminded me of a few things I will need to be taking with, thanks for the reminder!

  4. Sarah Russell April 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I’m curious to know the results of your 9 years of research- what products have you found to be decent equivalents? I’m relocating from the US to UK this summer with my Brit spouse and want to be prepared!

  5. Tammy Hager April 24, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I’ll be visiting England in September of 2015. Give me your list and I’ll bring over some supplies for you!

  6. Claire April 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I excitedly bought Fruit Loops the other day only to be terribly disappointed the way everyone else was. Friends have shipped me Nilla Wafers-a must for making Banana Pudding which my southern heart craves. And real Busch’s Baked Beans…my sister sent me a small can of those for Christmas lol and they are still in the cupboard because I can’t bring myself to eat them I just want to cherish that they are there! I also had folks send me neosporin so there are two tubes in the medicine cabinet! They do sell regular Vicks vapor rub at Boots…I bought them in Woodley so they must be in every rinky dink store around the country. I am excited to hear about Ruffles in Asda, will have to look next time. I miss eating tuna with Miracle Whip and Ruffles for lunch lol…guess I will have to put up with regular mayo but if I can get Ruffles it will be A-OK. Anyone found a substitute for Cool Whip that isn’t cream? What I wouldn’t give for Cool Whip! I’ve been here one year – today! And just booked a trip back home in October….I’m making a list of things/places to eat while I am over there and things to bring back home-could use any suggestions my mind may have missed!

    In another question….has any thought been given (or does anyone know where to find) a place to connect with other Americans in places outside of London or the biggest cities? I’m truly trying to make friends here but darn its hard to break into the “friendship circles of life” here and I’d love to grab a coffee and commiserate with a fellow expat near me!

    • Dana May 9, 2013 at 11:55 am

      HAHA, Claire… I do the same thing when I have trips back home. My list of things to purchase and bring back is so long it’s ridiculous… I went over Christmas and could barely lift my suitcase after I packed it to come back to England. I think you’ll find that the longer you live here the shorter that list of things to import becomes? At least I hope so…

      Sadly, I don’t think there is a substitute for Cool Whip…

      I can definitely relate to the hardships surrounding breaking into the “friendship circles” here… I have been living in this country for just over 2 years now, and still have a hard time meeting new people, EVEN within my husbands circle of friends (which was shocking to me!). I think we definitely need to organize an American Expat meet and greet! :)

      • Claire May 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Dana, just saw your blog and the Alpaca shearing….I saw a sign while we were out and about re: the shearing at Ashdown farm and really wanted to go but since it is a bit far for us (by UK standards lol) we ended up just doing bbq’s the entire weekend and going to a charity “dog show.”

        It’s too bad there is no substitute for Cool Whip because its not something you can really ship is it? Sigh…

        I feel your pain, all of James’ friends and/or their girlfriends are nice to me when we are out together but no one makes an effort to include me in anything, especially ‘girls’ outings.’ And now that I’ve been here over a year they probably assume that I have my own friends now? Sometimes I just want to shout….be friends with me please!

  7. Sara April 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Much like others of said, I definitely miss:

    Fruit Loops- I almost screamed when wandering around Tesco’s I came across Fruit Loops. Bought it only to find out it tastes NOTHING LIKE REAL FRUIT LOOPS. It’s bland and not colorful in the slightest. Huge disappointment. :(

    Velveeta shells & cheese: The ultimate comfort food; I bought a box off Amazon after winning a £10 voucher for filling out a three minute survey, but I can usually never justify paying so much for it.

    Restaurant-wise I really miss Steak-n-Shake. :/

    I can completely relate to your beauty product dilemma. The last few days I’ve been trying to search for face washes with the same ingredients as my American brands, but it is nearly impossible (especially because they don’t do the whole ‘Active Ingredients’ list on the back of any bottles here).

  8. Kiwigirl April 20, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I think Aleve has the sane active ingredient as Feminax Ultra, though the dosage may be different (check packaging info). As for neosporin, apparently the ‘sticky stuff’ has not been shown to be more effective than petroleum jelly (but Vicks and similar have added menthol, etc to the jelly) and actually supports antibiotic-resistant diseases… I use Mentholatum which I think smells better than Vicks, but pretty sure there are loads of brands (since it’s easy to formulate)… but some people are against using pet. jelly for other (environment and/or chemicals being harmful rrasons) but i haven’t followed these up (since im sure most of my regular neutrogenas or kiehls would raise similar concerns)

  9. eliza April 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    ah, this may not help, as i’m writing from stateside, but when i’m nursing a cold and my nose feels like it might just fall off my face if i blow it one more time, i use a & d ointment or vick’s vapo-rub… maybe those are easier to find brit equivalents for?

    • yankeebean April 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      I think there’s a Vicks equivalent. I’m on it!

  10. PepperAnn April 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I would kill for some ranch style beans, Gain laundry soap, velveeta mac and cheese, funyons, fritoes, Jimmy Dean Sage sausage and a burger with tater tots and a Route 44 Dr.Pepper from Sonic…drool. I havent been home since Ive been here which is coming up on 3 years, nor had a visitor from home, but I have had a care package. It had Mac – n Cheese, Miracle Whip and Ranch. I buy my ranch from Amazon, and also buy Kraft Cheesy Pasta. It is in a red box- £11 for 12 boxes. Its not the same as back home (weird that its made by the same company but tastes different) however Ive grown to enjoy it as its the closest thing with out paying an arm and a leg. Sure miss Texas :(

    • yankeebean April 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Ooooooo… Fritos. The chili cheese kind. Forgot about those.

  11. Taylor April 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Neosporin!! I still have some that I carry around in my bag…
    My list would also contain ranch dressing (I found a make shift one at Asda… it’s disgusting, but it’s fine for mixing… i.e. I use ranch instead of mayo for a lot of stuff because I hate mayo… I still miss Hidden Valley Ranch more than home itself I think…) and cinnamon Altoids… Nobody gets the concept of cinnamon here!!!
    Also I miss the toothpaste brand Crest like no other…. Apparently it’s not allowed to be sold in the UK, but I feel like it does a better job! (And also they have a cinnamon flavored one… again with the cinnamon…)

  12. andrea April 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Yeah, the Ranch makes no sense! I always had people bring me butterscotch chips for baking, jellybeans, secret prescription strength deodorant and other random stuff. Baby stuff is different too!

  13. Jocelyn Nelson April 20, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Kraft mac and cheese was my one request from the States every time someone came over. Now you can get it at Amazon and Waitrose, I find I don’t actually like the stuff anymore! Every year that goes by here, more and more things are on sale from America. My latest find was online at Sainsburys they have Oscar Mayer bacon! Real American bacon at a normal shop and price! I think you can get most anything on Amazon for a certain price. Aleve and neosporin are both sold but run about £10 each with shipping. Hidden Valley ranch is about £11 for 3 bottles which is what it would cost in the US- if you can consume 3 bottles before it goes off. Asda began selling Ruffles chips/ crisps (still say RRRRuffles have rrrrridges in my head!) and I was so excited to see them, but then realised I don’t actually like them that much despite being the same as in the States. Fruit Loops are on sale at Asda too, but those have definitely changed- where are the neon colours and tonnes of sugar?? My husband once drove me all the way from Leeds/ York to city centre Manchester to have Taco Bell. I have to say I really enjoyed that meal and it did taste just the same, although my husband and kids thought everything was exceedingly repulsive!

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