Saturday, 30 April 2011

Swatches: Barry M Dazzle Dust in Mushroom #51

A rummage at the Barry M counter in Superdrug the other day yielded one of their famous Dazzle Dust eyeshadows in Mushroom (or #51, as they only seem to have names on the website).  It's a slightly pinky toned taupe shade, with pink and silver sparkles - very wearable.

Like most of the Dazzle Dusts, it has a very reflective finish, with a pretty metallic sheen.

Paired with a smudge of plum eyeliner and a lot of black mascara, it makes for a flattering neutral eye which is pared down enough to go with bold lips or cheeks.  Bit of a bargain for just £4.50ish!

Barry M Dazzle Dusts are available from Superdrug, or direct from Barry M's website.  Fun fact: I grew up in North London, and used to drive with my parents past a warehouse sporting two signs: one giant lipstick, and one saying Barry M.  It was significantly less popular in those days; now, whenever I pull out a Barry M product, I'm reminded of that warehouse, and that sign.

Anyway - what do you think?  What are your favourite neutrals?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Penhaligon's fragrance profile and Opus 1870 review

I recently attended a blogger event held by Penhaligon's in Shoreditch, London, where I was able to experience the Penhaligon's fragrance profiling service, and get a deeper insight into the brand from some of the very knowledgeable staff in attendance.

Gemma previously reviewed the fragrance profiling in Penhaligon's Kings Road store, while my profile was taken in a booth at a rather decadent East London evening venue. Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that both of us were equally delighted with our outcomes.

The fragrance profiling is a kind of olfactory journey through the Penhaligon's range - which is really quite vast. I didn't realise how many scents were offered until I saw them all laid out together (the picture above shows only part of the range). You sniff your way through a range of scents, guided by a staff member, until you arrive at "your" smell.

My friend and I were encouraged to smell deeply, close our eyes and then give answers from the heart about whether we liked a scent or not. As we sniffed, our guide enriched the experience by talking us through the scents we were smelling. As I inhaled a sample of Bluebell, he said - this is not a direct quote - "imagine you're walking your dog through the woods in springtime. It's a fresh, bright day, cool breeze, the sun is shining, and suddenly you come across a clearing in the wood that's absolutely full of bluebells."

I was surprised to learn that Penhaligon's, which I think of as mainly a feminine sort of perfumer, was originally exclusively a manufacturer of men's cologne. Most of the early scents (Hammam Bouquet, for example) were designed for men, and even now most of the scents are unisex.

The scents I really liked, and which made it to my "final two", were Opus 1870 (on the right, above) and Quercus, both of which are quite masculine scents. Quercus is fresh and bright, while Opus 1870, my final choice, is much more deep and earthy.

I have a sample vial of Opus 1870 beside me now, and I'm amazed at how accurate the "diagnosis" was for me. Even in a crowded bar with the air thick with perfume, it was still absolutely the right choice.

Opus 1870 reminded me straight away of Ormonde Jayne's Orris Noir. It has that same earthy coolness to it (I thought this was the orris root, but I actually don't see orris in the notes for Opus), a kind of steady, calm, level-headed mintiness with a soapy cleanliness on top. Opus is more "peppery" than Orris Noir, which is sweeter. It has a similar calming, comforting effect on me.

If I had to sum up the smell in one word, it would be "undergrowth". That might not sound very appealing, but what I suppose I mean is that it smells of the combination of good mineral-rich soil and fresh herbaceous leaves that you might find growing on a forest floor. There's also a shady, mysterious aspect to it that fits that word too (for me, at least). I would be very happy to wear this myself, or to smell it on a guy. It has a loveliness that isn't really gender-specific.

During the event we also sniffed some forthcoming releases from Penhaligons - a new fizzy, flirty gin-based scent for autumn as well as some gorgeous new (or revisited) smells from their Anthology revival line, which showcases some gems from Penhaligon's 140-year back-catalogue.

Keep your eye out in the coming months!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Review: Lush Happy Blooming Luxury Bath Melts

Being a confirmed lover of long, hot baths, I've worked my way through most of the glorious goodies to be found at Lush.  I love the Bubble Bars, am less fond of the Ballistics, and recently took the plunge into trying out their Luxury Bath Melts - I chose the Happy Blooming variety, which is cherry scented.

Firstly, one thing that often puts me off buying lots of Lush products is the comparatively high cost per use - a single use bubble bar might cost £3, where a bottle of Elemis' very expensive Milk Bath costs £39 a bottle - but I'd had at least 20 baths out of mine before the bottle ran dry, working out at around £1.95 a bath.  Happy Blooming, at least, gives you three baths for £3.70 - slightly easier on the wallet.

I dropped a third of the melt into a warm bath, and watched as the soft, cocoa butter based bar dissipated into the water.  The bath turned a rather pretty shade of pink, and a slightly soapy cherry scent was released into the air.  Unfortunately, that was it - the scent is subtle, and not as strong as you'd get from a ballistic or bubble bar, and whilst the bath water does feel softer and more silky, my skin wasn't left feeling any different to normal.  I suspect that the size of the melt, compared with the amount of water in a bath, means that any skin loving ingredients are diluted too far to have a noticeable effect.

All in all, then, a fairly nice product - but not as nice as Lush's bubble bars, and thanks to the lack of spectacular in-bath effect and no noticeable effect on my skin, not something I'll be repurchasing.  If you'd like to try one for yourself, you'll find them at Lush stores, and online, where three melts will cost you £3.70.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

NOTD - Models Own Pro, Midnight Blue

Models Own Pro in Midnight Blue is a black-based shade with a shimmer of multicoloured particles that are almost large enough to be called microglitter, but not quite. It's got a real oil-slick duochrome effect that I was instantly taken by when I saw in on the stand in Boots.

Unfortunately the multi-tonal effect was tricky to capture here, and it looks more like a straight-up metallic black. But I promise, it is there!

This is three coats. The base is a jelly-type consistency, which helps with application. It applies smooth and streak-free.

Here you can see some of the blue-ish particles in the bottle. There are purple and aqua shades in there too.

Finally an over-exposed close-up of the bottle, showing some of the colours that translate onto the nail, especially in bright sunlight.

I really enjoyed wearing this polish, and was constantly turning my hand this way and that to admire the duochrome effect. It's just a shame I couldn't capture it on camera. Wear was fairly average - I have to say, not noticeably better than with the regular Models Own line, but still a respectable 3 days before chipping.

Models Own Pro shades are available in Boots, costing £8 per 15ml.

Disclosure - PR sample

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Summer Essentials: NARS Multi-Protect Primer SPF30

I really bloody hate the summer.  I know it's got good bits, like longer evenings, Pimms, ice cream, lazing around having the odd BBQ with friends, but my pale skin hates the sun, going immediately red and freckly within ten minutes of unprotected exposure.  That means that summer, for me, is a whirlwind of sunscreen, looking for shade, and looking delightfully shiny.

I've tried many a high-SPF facial primer, and have found a few which deliver effective SPF protection with minimal shiny finish.  When I received one of the new primers included in NARS' summer collection, though, all those primers were blown out of the water - this stuff is amazing.

It's sunscreen credentials are good: in addition to SPF30, which provides good protection from UVB rays, it also has been rated PA+++, which means that it gives high protection against UVA rays.  Unusually, though, it has a very light, spreadable texture, which sinks into the skin, leaving no white cast and not a scrap of shine.  Granted, it takes about five minutes for it to be fully absorbed, but after that time the skin feels much like skin should - satiny, not greasy, and perfectly prepped for foundation.  It's almost as if you've not applied SPF at all.

I'm absolutely sold on this, and will be using it daily this summer - and as light as it is, probably year round too.  At £24, it's not cheap - but it's so rare to find a high SPF primer which doesn't feel greasy or heavy, it's a price I'll definitely, happily pay again.  If you'd like to try this for yourself, you'll find it exclusively at SpaceNK.  What do you think?  Do you use an SPF primer in the summer?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 25 April 2011

Review & Swatches: Urban Decay Afterglow Cheek Tint in Quickie

A while ago, we took a peek at Urban Decay's Afterglow cheek tint in Fetish - and found that whilst the texture was gorgeously easy to blend, the colour was incredibly subtle, even on pale skin.  Where Fetish was a natural, tawny pink, Quickie is a super bright, almost highlighter neon pink.

The colours, in the pan, look worlds apart in terms of intensity - if I didn't know just how sheer these are from my experience with Fetish, I'd run a mile from Quickie as it's just so insanely bright.

Swatched together, Fetish is clearly the more natural choice, with Quickie looking still bright, but more sheer and very juicy.

Blended out onto the cheeks, Quickie is a lot less scary - it gives a summery, pretty flush which is much more noticeable than the effect you get from Fetish, but looks much less neon than the colour does in the pan.  This bright pop of colour, paired with a touch of mascara and a bit of brow pencil, makes for a really quick and easy summer look - pretty and made up, but not overly heavy or overdone.

I'm much happier with Quickie than I am with Fetish - I can see it easily fitting into my summer makeup bag, and if I manage to get away for a holiday, I'll definitely be taking this lovely tint with me.  

Available from BeautyBay as well as other online retailers, and in store at Debenhams and House of Fraser, Urban Decay Afterglow Cheek Tint costs £18 - and I reckon for a quick, juicy summer blush look, the brighter shades like Quickie and Crush are well worth the money.  What do you think?  Prefer this, or the more natural Fetish shade?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Barry M Instant Nail Effects: Now in Pink, White and Blue

Barry M's Instant Nail Effects was the first widely available crackle topcoat, and remains one of the cheapest ways to rock the cracked effect on your nails.  I've worn the original black version over a wide variety of colours since I bought it and it continues to draw comment from everyone who sees it - to the extent that several of my male colleagues have expressed an interest in having their nails painted with it!

Three new varieties have just been released; baby blue, baby pink, and white.  I spotted them at Superdrug and couldn't resist the pink and the blue - the white reminds me a little too much of painting my nails with Tippex (as I did as a teenager).  Here they are over a few different colours from my polish collection.

Left to right:  Topshop AWOL*, Illamasqua Snap, Orly Sapphire Silk*, Leighton Denny Graycious*

Left to right: Leighton Denny Graycious*, OPI Past Present and Fuschia*, Estee Lauder Shimmering Bronze*, Leighton Denny Up in the Air

I'm not quite so convinced by these as I was by the original black variety.  The black looks fantastic on top of bright colours as the contrast is so stark - the pink and blue, however, aren't quite so opaque, and over darker colours don't look quite so contrasting.  Over the top of paler colours, though, they look really pretty - I'll definitely do a full manicure of the pink on top of Leighton Denny's Up in the Air.  I also quite like the tonal colours - blue on Topshop AWOL, and pink on OPI Past Present and Fuschia - for a more subtle manicure. The finish is still matte - so these swatches have a hefty coat of Seche Vite applied to give a bit of gloss.

Available at Superdrug stores and online via Barry M's website, the new cackle colours still cost a mere £3.99 each.  What do you think?  Will you be rushing out to grab these?

* denotes PR samples

Saturday, 23 April 2011

NOTD: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Shimmering Bronze

Another part of Estee Lauder's summer 2011 offering, Shimmering Bronze is a gorgeously metallic sparkling bronze with a warm, pinkish undertone.  I've always shied away from brown based polishes, but this one is an absolute cracker - there's plenty of gold and red microsparkle going on in there, and it looks quite nice against my cool-to-neutral toned skin.  This is three coats; the polish itself is rather thin, and whilst two coats looked opaque in most lights, you'll need three to truly banish any visible nail line.

The most impressive thing about this polish, though, is not the colour.  It's the wear.  I wore this shade for a staggering six days last week - tipwear crept in slightly at around day four, but didn't become overly noticeable until day five, almost day six.  That makes this polish the best wearing I have ever tried - I am immensely impressed.  If you like bronze colours, then you should absolutely, definitely buy this.

Available from May on Estee Lauder counters and on their website, Shimmering Bronze will cost you £14 - spendy, but due to the amazing wear and flattering colour, totally worth it in my opinion!

Disclosure: PR sample

Friday, 22 April 2011

Nars catwalk makeup looks for AW 2011

I was bowled over by these lovely images when I saw them blown up to huge resolutions at a recent Nars event. The 5 looks are by 5 different artists, including Francois Nars himself, and each one is wholly different from the others, although all of them definitely have that starkly striking Nars je ne sais quoi

Colour me inspired!

An Art Deco inspired geometric take on the smoky eye. Lead artist: Francelle at Nars. Show: Mandy Coon.

A shimmery aqua wash of colour using the new Nars eyeshadow trio in Cap Ferrat. Lead artist: Lisa Butler. Show: Phillip Lim.

Orange powder blush applied over a base of red lipstick, apparently. The brows are deliberately whited out. Lead artist: Diane Kendal. Show: Thakoon.

Inspired by 1920s French fashion - the blush placement is apparently a reference to flappers, whose cloche hats covered most of their cheeks, so they applied their blush lower down the face. Lead artist: Francois Nars. Show: Marc Jacobs.

A punch of strong colour on the eye offsets an otherwise neutral look. Lead artist: James Boehmer. Show: Honor.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

NOTD: Topshop AWOL & Sinful Pearl Harbor

This is a rather pretty summer combo - Topshop's cobalt blue AWOL (which has a flat cream finish), topped off with a coat of Sinful Colors' blue-green-silver shimmer delight, Pearl Harbor.  The result is very vibrant and very sparkly too.

The texture of the Topshop polish surprised me - it's rather thick, but also quite streaky; you won't get decent opacity with one coat with this polish.  Two, though, is enough to give opaque, shiny colour - although if you're overly paranoid about visible nail line, three might do you better.

The Sinful Colors shade is one I received as a sample from a US friend quite some time ago - it's probably a bit thicker due to its age, but it's still a relatively gloopy, glittery affair, requiring careful application to get an even cover of glitter.  Whilst extremely pretty, the blue/green/silver shimmer isn't massively unique.  With Sinful Colors polishes costing a mere $2.50 from CherryCulture though, I'll forgive the slightly difficult application!

If you'd like to try either of these, you'll find Topshop's AWOL in stores and online, where it will cost you £5, and Sinful Colors' Pearl Harbor at CherryCulture, where it will cost you $2.50.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Review & Swatches: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Bonheur

I'm a sucker for lipstick.  Particularly luxurious lipstick in shiny packaging.  I'd been lusting after a Chanel Rouge Coco Shine for a fair old while - and after a particularly long week at work, I caved and treated myself to Bonheur, a sheer, juicy berry shade with silver and gold sparkles.

with flash

in natural light

On the lip, Bonheur is a pretty, gentle berry pink which is still soft enough to pair with a stronger eye look whilst still offering more colour than your typical nude shade.  

The formula is light, sheer, and glossy, gliding onto the lips smoothly and feeling very emollient and silky.  Needless to say, something with lots of slip and lots of shine isn't going to last long on the lips, and this is true of Rouge Coco Shine - within an hour of application, it dries down to a more semi-matte finish.  If you want to maintain the glossy look, you'll need to reapply often.

Given the need for frequent re-application, it's quite likely that a tube of Rouge Coco Shine won't actually last all that long.  I've had my tube for a couple of weeks now, and I've not been using it every day - I can already see a fair bit of usage.  The product, when new, is even with the top of the casing.

The verdict?  If you like luxurious, glossy, comfortable lipsticks that are relatively sheer, and don't mind the reapplication issue, then you'll probably love this.  I'm more used to semi-matte or matte finishes which last longer, and I find that with my busy work life, I don't get to reapply as often as I'd like to keep the colour fresh on the lip throughout the day.  For me, I won't be buying more shades - but I can totally understand the level of excitement and hype surrounding these lipsticks, particularly with summer just around the corner!

If you'd like to try Bonheur or one of the 17 other shades available, you'll find them at department stores and at Debenham's online, where each lipstick will cost you £22.50.  What do you think?  Worth the cash?  Tried and loved these already?  Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Swatches: Kryolan Satin Powder Eyeshadow & Glamour Sparks Powder

I really love the foiled, ultra shiny effect that's made possible by loose pigment eyeshadows - but I hate the faff of fiddling with little open pots that comes with them.  So I was both surprised and excited by the packaging of these Kryolan loose powder products - I can't believe this kind of packaging isn't more widely used.  The screw top jar is pretty much ubiquitous with loose powders - but the little cover with a small hole, as shown above, is something I've not seen before.  It prevents me from dipping my brush too deeply into the power, and a bit of a knock is less likely to result in all the powder falling out of the pot.  Genius.

Anyway, inside this excellent packaging is Kryolan's Satin Powder and Glamour Sparks loose eyeshadows.  Satin Powder is the usual richly pigmented loose shadow we've all seen a hundred times, and Glamour Sparks is a sheer but very sparkly powder which can be used wet as a sparkly liner, or patted over shadow for even more sparkles.

I received these in copper (SP241/copper) and green gold (SP222/green), and I love how the Satin Powder shades have a corresponding toned Glamour Sparks.  Both shades of Satin Powder shadow are high in pigment, as you'd expect, and both have a high shine, almost metallic finish, which I absolutely love.  The glitters are also beautiful, albeit more subtle until the light hits them - both products paired together would make a hell of a night-out combo.

Below, I've applied the copper Satin Powder shadow with a damp brush for a foiled effect, and then packed more dry pigment on top to get maximum colour and a metallic finish.  This photo was taken after a full day's wear, and as you can see, the eyeshadow has lasted well on top of a layer of primer, with only a tiny bit of settling in the crease.

If you love your colours intense and metallic, you'll probably like the Satin Powder shades - they apply easily, layer well, and that fabulous packaging make these loose powders really stand out from others on the market.  If you'd like to try them out for yourself, or check out the Glamour Sparks glitter powders, you'll find them at Love Makeup online, where they will cost £5.99 each.  I've got my eye on #233, a tarnished silver colour, for my next purchase!

What do you think?  Love loose shadows, or prefer pressed?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR samples

Monday, 18 April 2011

NOTD - contrast tips in purple and khaki

YSL-style contrast tips show no sign of going out of style. (Illamasqua's recent Toxic Nature collection showed the contrast tip worked to perfection in the promo photos.)

This NOTD came about as a result of seeing Illamasqua Hectic and Estee Lauder Violet Diva sitting side by side on my desk at home, and liking the way the two looked together so much that I wanted to wear it on my nails.

Hectic, £13.50 (15ml) from Illamasqua

Pure Color nail lacquer from Estee Lauder, £14 (9ml) (Violet Diva was sadly a limited edition)

Disclosure - Estee Lauder polish is a PR sample

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Estee Lauder Summer: Bronze Goddess Bronzing Blush

Estee Lauder's summer collection is always promoted with photos of bronzed, glossy looking beauties lazing around next to turquoise pools.  As a terribly pale person, I generally run a mile from anything related to bronzing, as I'm scared of looking a) silly, as red hair and a tan don't really go, or b) orange.

This Bronzing Blush, however, is actually a non-scary, buildable bronze colour, tempered with some pink and gold.  Applied to the cheekbones, I've been finding that it emphasises the contours of my face, adds a bit of colour, and doesn't leave me looking silly or orange at all.  I suspect that this is down to the pink tones, which make this much more easily used by those of us who don't bronze regularly.  

The ultra-pretty starfish design is gorgeous - I had trouble forcing myself to actually touch a brush to the pan for fear of disturbing the prettiness - but I've now used it a couple of times, and the starfish is still well defined.  The bronzing blush is packaged in a plastic compact which feels rather heavy and substantial - and with the touches of gold and the hot orange outer casing, it's a compact that just screams summer.

Finally, here's a photo of how it looks on the skin - this is a couple of gentle swirls around the pan, brushed onto the cheekbones.  There's a slight golden sheen to the powder once applied - but as this comes from a shimmer overspray on the surface of the product, I'd imagine that it would disappear as you worked down through the product.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised by this compact - being scared of bronzer, I was worried I'd get no use out of it, but I've found it to be an excellent subtle, non-orange, buildable shot of colour, which makes me look healthy rather than overtly bronzed.  I'll definitely be using this a fair bit this summer.

Bronzing Blush compacts are limited edition with Estee Lauder's summer collection each year, and cost £29 each.  They'll be available in Boots and department stores, as well as Estee Lauder's website.

Disclosure: PR sample

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Clinique Chubby Sticks - pencils with a punch of glossy, wearable colour

This weekend, Clinique release their new Chubby Sticks for lips - an 8-shade range of chunky pencils that deliver a sheer - but buildable - coloured sheen for summer lips.

I was given an early introduction to the Chubby Sticks range on Thursday night via a blogger event at Clinique. So far, I'm definitely a fan. A someone who's not often comfortable leaving the house with a full "lipstick" lip on (or with the maintenance, touch-ups and checking it's not migrated to my teeth or, you know, chin) I love it when spring/summer rolls around and the beauty market fills with sheer, tinted lip colours like these.

The chubby pencil format is great - it's just really pleasing to pick up one of these big colourful sticks and paint on a smile. They're pretty sturdy too - I'd feel confident carrying one around with me in my bag. I also learned today (via LondonMakeupGirl's post on Chubby Sticks - I had no idea!) that once the point has worn down, you can twist the pencil up - so no need for sharpening.

I was really expecting the colours to be scented or flavoured for some reason (probably the "juicy" appearance and the way they're marketed with cubes of jelly), but they're not at all.

Here are swatches of 6 shades (there are two more that I don't have - Woppin' Watermelon and Graped-up (I'm afraid I have to send a general "grooaaann" in Clinique's direction for the "chubby" themed shade names, but they're a bit of fun I guess.)

I was surprised to find myself loving Chunky Cherry the best - usually I'm more into warm colours and neutrals, but this cool-toned red is my definite favourite. Here it is on the lips:

If you're London-based, head down to Selfridges this weekend for the Chubby Sticks launch event - you can have a set of free photos taken at the counter in your own shade of Chubby Stick, and take them away in a Clinique photo wallet. There's also a GWP available when you buy two products (one to be colour), with a 7ml moisturiser, mini High Impact mascara (4ml) and All About Eyes cream (5ml).

Finally - I have to share this picture of the tower of jellies that Clinique laid on for the blogger event. Each shade was custom blended by a specialist jelly company (only in London can you find things like specialist jelly companies) to match the exact shade of an individual Chubby Stick.

Clinique Chubby Sticks, £14 for 1.5ml at Selfridges

Disclosure - PR samples

Friday, 15 April 2011

Lip of the Day: NARS Lipstick in Flair

This is NARS Flair, a gorgeous berry toned red which has full coverage, rich pigmentation, and yet somehow avoids being an attention grabbing, hard to wear red.  It has a slight golden shimmer to it, and wears fabulously - the semi-matte texture stays on for four to five hours at a time without drying out too much.  At £17.50, NARS lipstick isn't cheap, but the quality is fantastic - Flair applies smoothly, dries down enough to stick, and makes my lips feel plump and gorgeous.

NARS lipsticks are available at SpaceNK and major department stores - with House of Fraser currently stocking Flair, at £17.50.    

What do you think?  Love NARS lipstick?  Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Retro Beauty: The Body Shop Fuzzy Peach Shower Gel

Ahhh, the Body Shop Fuzzy Peach.  Much like their Banana Conditioner, Fuzzy Peach bath and shower gel is a firm part of my distant teenagerhood.  Looking back, it kinda feels like I spent most of my time and limited pocket money on the Body Shop products, probably because they were brightly coloured, reasonably priced, and simplistically scented.

A recent foray to the Body Shop found Fuzzy Peach bath and shower gel back in stores as part of the old-product-revival thing they've got going on at the moment, so I had to pick up a bottle.  And I'm glad I did - it smells exactly as I remember, of fresh peach with a slight edge of something synthetic.  As a bath gel, it's passable, creating plenty of bubbles which are lightly scented even if they don't last long.  As a shower gel, it's fantastic - applied with a puff or some bath gloves, a little goes a long way, producing lots of lather that leaves the skin feeling clean and refreshed, without any dryness.  Plus, I smell like Fuzzy Peach for at least an hour afterwards.  Lovely.

If you'd like to get some Fuzzy Peach in your life, you'll find it at the Body Shop both in store and online, where it will cost you a teenage-pocket-money-tastic £4 for 250ml.  What do you think?  Remember this?  Love it?  Let us know in the comments!
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