Ahhh...creams and potions are such lovely things. Things you take for granted when there's a CVS or Target within driving distance. In my spare bathroom, I have a mini drugstore that's packed with little treats to be opened throughout the year: deodorants and trial perfumes, brand-new mascara and lipsticks, hair spray, etc. If you're anything like me, you hoard those last few teaspoons of a favorite lotion, hide the dregs of a perfume bottle for a special occasion, or just buy your daily necessities in bulk out of fear that someday you might have to go back to using those horrid, wet, roll-on deodorants because the lovely solid versions are all gone. Once we began thinking about having a child, I had to add a whole extra list of things to my US drugstore "smuggling" needs (okay, it's not really SMUGGLING, but I always feel a little silly with a year's supply of beauty and hygiene products stuffed into my suitcases).
Here are a few of my must-haves for pregnancy and beyond:
Prenatal vitamins don't seem to be very accessible here in Brazil, at least not in the forms most Westerners are accustomed to. Vitamins in general aren't very affordable; I brought Centrum back for my massage therapist because a bottle in the local drugstores was about R$100 (more than US$80)! Stock up, waaaay up on vitamins when you get the chance and store them in the driest place in your house. I liked these; they didn't upset my stomach, weren't full-on horse pills, and while I don't know if the probiotics really helped or not, I can attest that...warning, TMI ahead...I didn't have problems at all with constipation, which I hear is a common pregnancy complaint. And I took my prenatals pretty regularly.
2) Hormonal Hideousness
I have had terrible acne throughout my pregnancy. I'm glad I had a small supply of doctor-approved zit cream, but I also ended up using a prescription one that my dermatologist liked. Not cheap, but effective. Still, I wish I'd have brought a few products back from our Christmas trip. The drugstores DO sell a few over-the-counter creams, but most contained ingredients that my doctor wanted me to avoid during pregnancy. Also, they were fairly pricey. Face washes and so forth, too, are better brought from abroad, if you have the chance. Almost all the acne options aren't pregnancy-approved. Those that do pass muster are R$60+ for a couple of ounces, and they don't have trials. I just can't see paying that kind of money for soap and finding out it doesn't do a dang thing. So I've been making do with a variety of homemade options, clay masks, and am getting a facial as a birthday treat, which should help clear up some of the lingering horridness. I look like a troll without coverup and foundation on!
If you're a makeup wearer, I'd recommend buying several foundations and concealers in a variety of shades. My light concealer, which is fine during the winter, is ghostly on me now. Even using SPF 30 every time I go out, I'm still getting a powerful tan! With the acne, I've used more makeup in the last 3 months than I have in the past 2 years.
All sorts of thin body lotions are available at the drugstores here, but if you want anything more potent, you'll have to bring it yourself or pay out the nose. Cetaphil costs upwards of R$100 in the stores for a bottle that at most costs US$10 back home. Also worth picking up or having sent, if you're so inclined: oils or stretch mark creams. My family members complained about itchy skin, so I was prepared for needing something with a lot of moisturizing potential, but I've actually not yet had issues, so a regular cream has been fine. Not too much in the way of marks at the moment, but we're still shy of the BIG GROWTH weeks, so I'm not ruling out the possibility of getting a few reminders that Gabriel was at one time, taking up residence inside me. But, like every single doctor, medical technician and random stranger suggests, I am drinking lots of water and applying my stretch mark creams with religious dedication. (I estimate that I'll have used 2 tubes from months 4-9. One from Mustela, the other from Biotherm.)
4. Baby goop
Unscented varieties and organic versions of beauty and baby products are hard to find; I wanted baby powder to deal with chafing in the sticky summer humidity, and couldn't find a single container of unscented talc. One product that has been a lifesaver and I am almost out is an anti-chafing cream made by Monistat. It's a gel that becomes powdery when smeared on, and is great for areas prone to rashes or rubbing, and...shhh, beauty secret coming up….makes an excellent makeup primer. Seriously. I need to stock up on this next trip...
After wandering the drugstore aisles, it seems that Hipoglós is the Brazilian version of petroleum jelly/diaper rash cream (it contains zinc oxide and cod liver oil). If you want something that's cloth diaper friendly (and I do!), you'll have to bring that from abroad as well. Johnson & Johnson basic products are well-represented in the baby aisle and Gramado makes a baby line as well as several other national brands, so unless you have a great desire for a specific kind of infant shampoo, you can probably leave those off the international shopping list.