Review Of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum & Perfectionist Pro Brightening Serum Used On Adult Acne Prone Skin

Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair remains the most expensive product to have ever graced my face. Given the title of my blog “Forever Saving For A Rainy Day” I’ll forgive you for wondering why this product is featuring given that it isn’t cheap. I ended up using the ANR out of sheer desperation a few years ago when my acne was at it’s most aggressive and I was willing to try almost anything that might help me. Given its cult favourite status I thought I was in good, trustworthy hands. Read on for my thoughts on both of the serums.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Review – RRP £60 for 30ml

The disappointment of this product is real. I first used this 4 or 5 years ago and sadly noticed zero difference to my skin. It’s a sad story when the best that can be said about a product experience is that at least it didn’t make my acne worse but that’s all I can muster for this. Whilst I didn’t experience any negative side effects I didn’t notice any positive changes to my skin either. I never expected this to be a miraculous acne solution but I did expect to see some improvements. I’ve only struggled with acne across my jawline and chin area but didn’t notice any difference to even my cheeks or forehead when I applied this nightly until it ran out. I didn’t feel as though my skin was any more hydrated, nor were my oil levels any more balanced and I didn’t feel it gave me more of a glow. I don’t recall it providing any assistance with pigmentation either. It felt lovely to apply but truthfully I’m not sure what it did – not a whole lot.

Earlier this year I received nearly 2 weeks’ worth of samples of their newest formulation of this product. I did like the texture of it but again I didn’t find this did anything for me. I appreciate 2 weeks is a very short period of time but given I was experiencing drier patches caused by prescription acne treatments I had hoped this would help soothe my skin but it didn’t provide any real relief.

I know for many this is a cult favourite but for me it was not a hit – it was a hard miss.

Estee Lauder Perfectionist Pro Brightening Serum – RRP £64 (approx) for 30ml

Last year I took advantage of a temporary deal on the Estee Lauder website which enabled me to get a gift with a small purchase and free delivery. The free gift included a 7ml sample of this serum which I’ve been using most mornings for about 2 months now so a little goes a really long way. On their website the 7ml sample retails for £10. If it weren’t for the gift opportunity I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to try this product given my previous experience with Estee Lauder serums.

I have to mention the texture of this product because it feels incredible to apply. It is silky, smooth, doesn’t pill and feels incredibly luxurious but then I would hope that given the price tag. It also has what I can only describe as a high-end glorious smell that is subtle. This was my first experience using a Vitamin C serum. It didn’t cause me to break out, there was zero irritation and no dryness. I’ve been applying this across my jawline and chin where I often break out and as a consequence struggle with hyperpigmentation. This has helped improve dark marks left behind spots and I noticed positive changes around weeks 3-4 of using. Regrettably, although I’ve loved using this product, I won’t be purchasing it purely because I can’t justify spending £60+ on a serum but I’m so pleased I had the chance to try this. I’d happily use it again if I’m able to pick up another mini sample and shall keep an eager eye out on Feel Unique’s Beauty Kit products in case this makes an appearance.

Although it sounds like a bit of a tragedy to say until then I shall stick with my £5-8 The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum as I find this low cost formula helps me with pigmentation as well as active spots.

The Final Word

Estee Lauder will be a brand that always holds a special place in my heart despite the ANR experience. Their Double Wear foundation transformed my confidence and when my adult acne was most affecting my self esteem it helped me go from feeling down to ready to face the day. I would happily use the Perfectionist Pro serum again if I can get my hands on some well priced minis or an exceptional deal but I’m afraid I’m through with trying to make ANR work for me.

Comments Welcome

A Review Of Banish Acne Scars – Fighter Gel – Used On Combination Acne Prone Skin With Occasional Dryness

Banish is a brand I’ve seen all over Instagram as I follow plenty of acne positivity accounts. I’ve yet to see a negative review of the products and they seem very highly rated almost with cult status amongst the Instagram acne community. Given that the brand is based in the US, whilst I’d been very keen to try their range, I’d been put off by the idea of importing them from the States. As I’m really keen to reduce waste I reached out to Kara Olivia Beauty offering her some hair products she’d spoken about that I’d no longer use and she kindly traded me this in return. It felt like a real moment of excitement when this product dropped through the letter box and I’m really grateful to Kara for sending me it.

Things I Like About The Brand

They use real skin to promote their products. Their social media posts and website are full of photos of acne before and afters of using their range which I love. It also frustrates, saddens and disappoints me when a beauty or skincare brand market a product towards acne prone skin by using clear skinned models. It just doesn’t sit right with me so I really like this about the brand. I’m less keen on being called a “soldier” when visiting their website and browsing their products as it makes me feel like they’re trying to imply I’m at war with my skin when I actually now feel somewhat at peace with it having reached acne or real skin acceptance.

First Impressions Of Fighter Gel Before Use

I like that it comes in a glass jar and I intend to reuse this as either bathroom storage or a small plant pot once empty. I prefer glass jars to plastic ones as I feel like they’re better for the planet and nicer to keep so they don’t end up in the bin, or at least certainly not in my home!

Upon opening the jar for the first time I was pretty blown away by the strong minty smell of the gel. I didn’t expect it to be as powerful as it was but then virtually all my other skincare products aren’t scented so this may be why. It reminded me of a peppermint candy cane smell or something medicinal like Vics menthol Vapour Rub for easing blocked sinuses.

Product Claims As Per Banish’s Website

  • Designed to reduce redness and provide comfort for eczema, flaky skin and break outs
  • Green tea extract reduces sebum production and redness
  • Ideal for oily or dry skin
  • Vegan, cruelty free, oil free, dye and silicone free
  • Can strengthen skin quality against dryness

My Experience Using Fighter Gel

The instructions say to apply 1 or 2 times a day after cleansing and serums but before moisturisers and SPF. It can be applied to areas of irritation, dryness, redness or on breakouts.

The first time I applied a thin amount of this product to my skin I was surprised at the bouncy texture but even more so at just how much it stung on my chin area. It certainly did not “provide comfort” as the website states. I use prescription retinoids Adapalene to manage my acne several times a week at night. The first time I applied this after cleansing my face and it really stung, almost to the level that I wanted to wash it off. My chin area can sometimes experience dryness as a side effect of the Adapalene but given this product is marketed for dry or oily skin with flakiness or breakouts this came as quite an unwanted surprise. It sadly wasn’t a one off and has regularly stung despite my skin not appearing as or feeling dry. It always feels very cold on application. I haven’t washed it off after applying but have sometimes noticed an increased redness on areas I’ve applied it until my skin calms slightly. I even contacted Kara to ask if she’d experienced this stinging thinking perhaps I was using the product wrong and it wasn’t a subtle sensation. On a positive note, if I think beyond the initial stinging which didn’t happen with every use, I came to rather like the cooling feeling it gives when I apply it and the gel does melt really easily into the skin without pilling.

I do have a patch of eczema on my body but given the more-often-than-not-stinging on my face where my skin wasn’t flaky at all I was too hesitant to try the Fighter Gel on this. Maybe I’m missing out, but when I think back to that stinging which made me fan my hands as though I was comically trying to dry my nails on first use, I can’t bring myself to try it on eczema. I offered my housemate this opportunity, she sniffed it and politely declined. I contacted Banish to explain my difficulties with this stinging and was advised to apply a thinner layer of product but unfortunately this only made a very minor difference.

I opened this product at the beginning of March and began applying, as instructed, to break outs which mostly included my chin area and dots on my forehead where I had spots. About three weeks in of twice daily use I found myself looking up what the product claims were. I was starting to wonder what the product was trying to address as I wasn’t really noticing any particular extra results for incorporating this into my routine. I appreciate that isn’t a long time when it comes to testing out a new product but equally if this is designed to work as a blemish treatment to reduce inflammation I’d expect to see some results within that time. I didn’t find it particularly helped with the occasional dryness I experience from Adapalene which struck me as odd given that they say this can help with flaky skin.

Another factor influencing my slight impatience with wanting results of some kind is that this 50ml jar costs $39. This doesn’t include shipping to the UK. It isn’t cheap and I’ve certainly used less expensive products to address breakouts like targeted spot treatments, which is how I used this, that have been more effective than this. I’m not trying to say this product doesn’t work as a blemish treatment or that it’s no good, I’m saying that for me personally I didn’t really notice any benefits to using this over my lower priced existing skincare collection. They also didn’t cause the bizarre stinging that this does – it isn’t necessarily painful, just feels very strange.

After 5 weeks I found myself not reaching for this product and sort of giving up on it slightly. When I had a particularly sore breakout I opted instead for my trusted pimple patches in the evening and La Roche Posay Effaclar AI during the day. One morning I realised I forgot to apply the Banish Fighter Gel and popped a thin layer over moisturiser when really you’re supposed to apply beforehand. It dried leaving a really tight feeling on my skin that made me feel like pulling strange faces to try and ease the restrictive sensation so didn’t do this again. I had to wash it off on this occasion. Truthfully I think I’m going to find it hard to get through the jar before it expires within 6 months of opening as I can see myself forgetting I have this in my collection.

I also just can’t get past the stinging even though it doesn’t last long or happen every time. My skin doesn’t look or feel particularly dry but more often than not there’s mild stinging when I first apply this gel, even as a thin layer. I should mention none of my other products stung on application, including a BHA exfoliant.

Likes: cooling feeling on application, doesn’t pill, fresh smell, glass jar packaging

Dislikes: stinging, not enough results to justify the price

The Final Word

I’m writing this conclusion after using the product for over 6 weeks.

I’ve used other products which, for me personally, work better for my skin in tackling and managing breakouts which aren’t as expensive. I was really excited to try the iconic brand Banish but this has left me feeling a bit flat and deflated about their products. I wouldn’t rush or pay a similar price to the Fighter Gel to try any of their other products after this experience which I’ve found a bit sad if I’m honest. For me The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum and La Roche Posay’s AI treatment work better as a combination to treat any breakouts and redness, mostly hyperpigmentation, for less than half the price of a jar of Fighter Gel.

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Eco Friendly Skincare – Bolt Beauty Stackable Review – Filthy Clean Cleanser, Glow Don’t Shine + Vitamin A Game Serums & Mad About Moisture Used On Acne Prone Skin

Honesty is very important to me when reviewing products so I want to mention that Bolt Beauty were incredibly generous in gifting me a Stackable to try with no obligation to post or review. I’m humbled to be able to try these. As you’ll know if you’ve read earlier posts of mine, I’m trying to make more eco conscious swaps throughout all aspects of my life. As I’ve had acne prone skin for 6+ years now skincare is one area I’ve struggled to find more environmentally swaps with formulas that I’d even be willing to try. Bolt’s range of products has been on my radar since last year and I’ve been really excited to give them a go. Whilst using these I used no other products apart from SPF. Read on to discover my experience with the products I tried.

Reasons I Like Bolt Beauty As A Company

They’re an eco conscious company in many ways. They make zero waste skincare products. The drops are biodegradable and made from seaweed. The products are refillable and the packaging for these is also biodegradable which makes a refreshing change to all the single use plastic typically found in high street beauty products. The company is carbon neutral.

It made me happy to see they’d gifted products to accounts which promoted acne positivity. I absolutely love it when beauty brands promote skin inclusivity. This is something I feel strongly about as representation can have such a positive effect. The fact that Bolt aren’t afraid to be connected to real people with acne and scarring made me want to try their products even more.

First Impressions

The beautifully wrapped package arrived through my letterbox and was labelled as “100% recyclable” – it was a small carboard box with paper information leaflets and branded tissue paper. I was a little surprised that the Stackable was plastic, I thought it would be glass, but it is wonderfully compact and I can easily see myself reusing this regardless of if I fall head over heels in love with Bolt’s products or not.


The Stackable included enough skincare for 3 day’s worth of usage. It retails at £15. 100 capsules of their cleanser and moisturiser retail for £30.00 each in a glass jar or £25 in a biodegradable packet. Their two serums are £42 each for 100 capsules in a glass jar or £38 in a bag. The average price per product is more expensive than the items in my current skincare routine.

My Experience With The 6 Filthy Clean Cleanser Capsules

There were many positives I felt when using this cleanser. These included: my skin felt clean without being stripped, my skin didn’t feel tight or dry after use and there was no stinging. There was no notable fragrance and it was definitely gentle. I personally didn’t love the silicone feeling of the Filthy Clean capsules which didn’t foam, nor were they creamy but this was new to me as I’ve never used a product of this consistency before. Whilst using I straight away thought these might suit someone who likes the texture of a cleansing oil. The cleanser was my least favourite of all the 4 Bolt products I tried but this comes down to personal texture preference.

My Experience With The 6 Mad About Moisture Moisturiser Capsules

This lightweight product which reminded me of a gel moisturiser felt hydrating without leaving my skin feeling sticky or as though I hadn’t used a moisturiser which I’ve experienced before. There was a slight essential oil scent to it. It didn’t pill when I added SPF over the top. It eased some minor dryness I had by my lower lip within 2 or 3 uses.

My Experience With The 3 Glow Don’t Shine Serum Capsules

When I first popped one of these open the almost essential oil type scent did throw me a bit as my usual skincare has no real smell. The texture was thicker than expected but felt wonderfully silky to apply to my skin. I had worried the presence of oils would break me out but didn’t experience this during my short time using them. However; it would take using a product for a longer time period for me to assess this properly. As I hadn’t used my typical oil control products I expected to have a shiny forehead by mid afternoon but 3 days into using these this didn’t happen so for me the “don’t shine” lived up to it’s name during this short trial period. Even after breaking a sweat exercising I still didn’t look shiny in the afternoon.

My Experience With The 3 Vitamin A Game Serum Capsules

Again, a thicker consistency than expected but this serum didn’t have the same essential oil type scent so I preferred this. I’ve used high strength prescription retinoids over my chin and jawline on and off for 12 months. I hadn’t used retinol across my whole face before and had concerns this might irritate or cause dryness. This serum did neither of those things when I used it consecutively 3 nights in a row. I felt like my skin looked particularly plump and glowy the morning after using these. I went to bed one night with a new, sore spot brewing. I expected it to become a white head overnight but instead the pressure behind it dissipated and it never reared its head. I liked these the most.

The Final Word

The capsules were easy to tear open without being messy or too fiddly and had just the right amount of product for 1 use. I didn’t think there would be enough in them as they looked so small. None of the products caused irritation in the 3 days I used them, whilst this may seem a very short space of time to note this, I have previously experienced irritation with products after one or two uses such as exfoliants or retinoids. I did note my skin felt very soft and I really enjoyed having such a simple routine which didn’t involve 5-ish bottles for a change!

Likes: environmentally friendly credentials, the brand’s skin inclusivity, the biodegradable capsules which I composted are fun to use, a simple routine that’s nice to do, these would be perfect for travel – especially flying as they wouldn’t count as part of a liquid allowance, nor would you have to worry about leaking! My skin also felt softer and more velvet-y for using these than with my routine skincare. Entirely irrelevant to performance but I love the pearly look of the capsules!

Dislikes: texture of the cleanser – but then I’m wary of oil textures so this comes down to personal preference, lack of smaller size products to try – it’s either 3 days worth or 50-100 days worth.

Rebuy Yes or No? The cleanser – I don’t think so. I’m finding it tough to say with the other products as whilst I’m incredibly grateful to have been gifted these to try, 3 days is hard to make a judgement. I’m wary of the presence of the oils and the scent of the Glow Don’t Shine serum as my skin is very acne prone and I’m conscious that £38-42 is quite a high price to give this a go. I wish it was possible to try a small amount such as 30 capsules as this would last a month and cost approximately £12.60 for the serums. I normally buy trial size products if I can that last roughly 4-6 weeks to see how I get on with them. If that was possible with Bolt I’d be buying the Vitamin A Game straight away to start with. I’d equally love for these to be stocked in Boots so I could spend my points on them!

These products have definitely given me something to think about, they’re innovative and better for the planet whilst feeling luxurious to use. I think this is important to note as, whilst I’m happy to stick to bar soap as an eco swap, it doesn’t necessarily feel very indulgent! Bolt will remain on my radar for the future as I work through my current skincare stash. I’ve previously reviewed other skincare products I’ve used as “hate” because they’ve totally not worked for me either they haven’t delivered results or I’ve found the formulas unpleasant to use. I feel like I can’t label these products with a definitive “rate or hate” after 3 days of usage but I will say that I wouldn’t want anyone to feel discouraged from trying these products as a result of reading this.

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Epoch Glacial Marine Mud Mask VS The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Mask – Clay Mask Review For Acne Prone Skin

Anyone familiar with my blog will know by now that I love a good direct comparison of two skincare products I’ve tried for spot prone skin which I like to pitch against each other in a VS post. I’ve previously covered day moisturisers, cleansers and pimple patches to name a few in this accidental series. Let’s kick this clay mask comparison off.

Here’s a comparison break down of the two products:

Epoch Glacial Marine Mud MaskThe Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Mask
Price£29.53 per 200ml£18.00 per 75ml (or £6 for 15ml trial mini size)
Product Claims (as per the brand websites)Natural, simple way to soften and smooth skin. Draws out dirt and impurities. Leaves skin fresh, renewed and healthy-looking. Absorbs dead skin cells and excess oil.
Suitable for all skin types.
Powerful purifying charcoal clay mask. Absorbs excess oil, dirt and impurities. Exfoliates. Gives a healthy glow. Tingly and refreshing. Helps unclog pores.
Eco / Charity benefitsNu Skin donates $0.25 per sale to the Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation Glass packaging. Community Fair Trade tea tree oil.
How To Use (as per the brand websites)Shake before use – apply to face and body2-3 times a week – leave on for 10-15 mins

Nu Skin – Epoch Glacial Marine Mud Mask Review

Firstly, I won this product in a giveaway so was fortunate to be able to try this for free. I love the really smooth feeling texture of this mask. It feels silky to apply and is incredibly easy to wash off and almost feels nourishing in the process. It is clean mask to use and doesn’t make a horrible mess. I’ve been using this twice a week for two and a half months and not experienced it drying my skin out at all. Even after using this frequently on my face I would estimate the bottle is at least half full still so the product lasts a really long time. However; unfortunately I haven’t really noticed any particular improvements in any congestion in my skin even after using this product for over 10 weeks. I generally use facemasks only to try and tackle my enlarged and often dark looking pores across my nose which spread onto my cheeks. This mask hasn’t made a difference to their appearance at all. I’m a little disappointed about this as the product feels so lovely to use.

Likes: smooth feel, easy to apply and remove, not drying

Dislikes: no real noticeable improvements in my skin

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Mask Review

I first tried this product a couple of years ago when The Body Shop offered samples of this mask via their social media sites. I remember liking it but for some reason didn’t purchase. I bought my first full jar of this about a year ago and I still recall the total shock I experienced when I used it the first time, rinsed and looked at my skin in the mirror. The dull congested pores I’m conscious of around my nose and surrounding area, to me, instantly looked better. I had one of those moments where you start doubting the “before” so lean in really close to the mirror in amazement wondering if it’s really your skin you’re looking at. It definitely tingles more than the Epoch mask. The texture also is very lumpy and not the easiest to spread across the face. The only thing I dislike about this mask is that it is a bit of a mission to wash off. I’ve discovered the best way is to dampen the mask and then really gently soak it off with a flannel and no scrubbing. It dries kind of like a shell on the face. For the impressive results I don’t care about the messy wash off faff. Of all the face masks I’ve tried to date this is my favourite. I use a clean plastic spoon to remove the product from the pot to try and reduce any possible bacteria and apply once or twice a week depending on how busy I am. Using it this way means 1 jar typically lasts me 6 months and The Body Shop regularly have offers which I time with purchasing a new jar. Another perk with this product is the glass jars are lovely to upcycle into bathroom storage or plant pots.

Likes: impressive results on my congested pore areas, glass jar packaging,

Dislikes: time consuming and slightly messy wash off process

Towards the end of last year when the La Roche Posay website had a huge deal which worked out at 40% off products I purchased their Effaclar clay mask which I’ll be trying once my Nu Skin product has run out. Whilst I do really love The Body Shop one’s results I’m not wild about the lumpy texture and do, on rare occasions, skip using it because I’m not in the mood for the messy wash off business. I’ve previously raved about The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal mask on my Instagram which prompted one of my favourite accounts, In My Piggy Bank Blog, to request a sample which led her to buying the product.

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How To Use Differin / Adapalene. Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Prescription Retinoid For Acne.

January marked my 1 year anniversary of using Differin (also known as Adapalene) to manage my very acne prone skin. It has been the only topical prescription medication to ever be effective for me and I’m very glad I found it. However; there are so many things I wish I knew before I started using this medication as the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) which I read from cover to cover had very little in it. I’ve also picked up tubes of this which honestly just say “apply sparingly at night” with no further details or they didn’t even come with a PIL which prompted me to write this post.

Please remember I am not a pharmacist, beautician or dermatologist and am only sharing what I’ve learnt from my personal experience of using this brilliant product. I had great success with consulting pharmacists for advice when struggling with using this product initially.

Break It In Gently

The Patient Information Leaflet which came with my first tube of this mentioned applying a thin layer to affected areas at night and stopping if irritation occurred. When using off the shelf retinol ingredients they typically advise starting with the weakest product and introducing this gradually and working up from there. As I’d never used off the shelf retinol products I had no idea of this so just followed the PIL advise for retinoids which are far stronger than the beauty products which don’t require a prescription. I wish I’d known to introduce this strong medication slowly such as 2 nights a week then build up from there as my skin learnt to tolerate it. This would have saved me a lot of painful soreness that happened in the first month of use. Nowadays I don’t use this every single night and never have, I will typically use it 5 times a week for maintenance now that my skin is much clearer although still spot prone.

Don’t Use Other Active Ingredients

I consulted with a pharmacist towards the end of my first month of use as the medication was proving really effective for me in a short space of time at stopping spots but my skin had begun cracking and was almost weeping in places. Along with seeking their advice I looked online and even called Clinique in desperation for some answers after thinking their toner might be the culprit. I learnt that retinoids could react with certain ingredients or irritation that could be increased if used alongside salicylic acid for example which my toner at the time contained. A couple of days after stopping other actives my skin made a big turnaround and the dryness began easing.

Use Hydrating Products

When introducing Differin I wish I’d pared my routine right back to just hydrating products and left the blemish fighting ones to one side to give my skin a chance to adjust. This would have seriously helped to keep dryness at bay and keep my skin barrier healthy. I swapped to the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser and was recommended the Cetaphil Rich Night Cream from a pharmacist as it works very quickly to ease dryness without clogging pores. This is one product I simply cannot be without now and it’s great value for money.

Protect Your Skin From Sun Exposure

It was the 2nd tube of this medication that I picked up which made me aware of “avoiding direct sunlight or sun beds” as retinoids make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. Upon learning this I started wearing SPF every day regardless of the weather or if I was leaving the house or not to ensure my skin was protected. My favourite SPF that I’ve tried so far is Eucerin’s Oil Control SPF 50 which I’ve been able to buy on offer twice for around £12-13 and lasts me 3 months.

The Moisturiser Sandwich

Again through personal trial and error and discussions with a pharmacist I discovered there were a few ways to use Adapalene to minimise irritation. I use it in a couple of different ways. The first being applied directly to cleansed skin before waiting about 20 mins and then applying my night cream. The second being to apply my night cream to act as a barrier for irritation and then the Adapalene once this has soaked in. I have heard some people using retinoids with a “moisturiser sandwich” approach of applying moisturiser, then retinoid, then further moisturiser. If I think my skin needs a little more of a gentle touch I apply Adapalene over my Cetaphil Rich Night cream.

Listen To The Instructions

I strongly recommend not applying it close to the corners of your nose or lips as the PIL, if included, says. If in doubt I’ve found pharmacists to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

How Long To Use It For?

To my knowledge this will ultimately be governed by your GP. I first posted this in February 2021 and wanted to provide an update now that we are in July. I used Differin for around 14 months before gradually reducing my usage. I haven’t used Differin in around 3-4 months now and whilst I still have breakouts I’ve found these to be easily managed with shop bought skincare like Acnecide Gel Wash, pimple patches, The Ordinary Niacinamide serum and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+.

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