Nail art - Nude half moons

I've been a bit slack on the old nail art front recently but I suddenly realised I had a couple of designs put aside for the posts I needed to prepare for while I was filming in the summer.  

Nail art - Nude half moons
Nail art - Nude half moons
Nail art - Nude half moons
Nail art - Nude half moons

I went for nude half moons for the name for this design but now I'm a little unsure about the Google searches that might lead to this post! This is a spring pastel version of a half moon manicure which is usually done with deeper darker shades. It's really not a difficult design to do. I started with a base of Soigné Caramel from the Macaron collection and then sectioned off the half moon shape with a hole reinforcer before painting over the rest of the nail with Soigné Petale de rose, also from the Macaron collection. Hole reinforcers are perfect for providing the half moon shape but I would recommend sticking them to your skin a few times first to make them a little less sticky as even if you've set your base with a top coat they can pull your base colour away from your nail when you remove them.

What do you think of nude half moons?

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Paying more for limited editions/celebrity collaborations

Recently I've been thinking about the price hikes that appear to go hand in hand with releasing a limited edition or celebrity collaboration product and I'm wondering how people feel about paying more for certain products?

The first thing that got me thinking about this was MAC's price increases when they release a range that features special limited edition packaging. I love MAC's standard packaging as I feel it has a high-end, sleek appearance to it, but I have mixed feelings about their limited edition packaging. Some recent limited edition releases I've really not been a fan of, the Cinderella collection for example, and some I've adored, such as the Aquatic collection and the Wash and dry collection. As I haven't really tried many of MAC's other products I tend to be drawn to their lipsticks and I've noticed that limited edition packaging often means a price increase of around £1.50/£2. Now this isn't too bad, it does pain me to part with £17ish for a lipstick that would usually be £15.50, but at least I know I should be getting a bloody good lipstick with very pretty packaging that I won't be able to get in the future. But what about much higher price hikes?

Image from the Ciate website

What really triggered this post was the recent Olivia Palermo x Ciaté and Victoria Beckham x Nails Inc collections (using an x is obviously the way to go when collaborating with a celeb!). Starting with Ciaté, I do really like their nail varnishes and I don't think £9 is too bad, although I do like to pick them up cheaper if I can. However, if you want a nail varnish from their Olivia Palermo collection then you'll need to pay £17, a whole £8 more. Admittedly you do get a slightly different bottle design that looks a little more high end and I believe they do also individually come in boxes, but that is still quite a price hike.

Image (with permission) from Gemma at Miss Makeup Magpie

As you're probably aware Nails Inc have recently launched new bottles, and although I much prefer the new bottles to the old ones, this has meant that we've seen a price increase. A Nails Inc nail varnish used to cost around £11 if I remember correctly, but now you're looking at paying £15 for a standard shade and a couple of pound more for a special effect or similar. As with the Olivia Palermo nail varnishes, if you buy a Victoria Beckham nail varnish I believe it does come in it's own (rather over-sized) box and possibly even with a bag as well, but you'll need to pay a whole £10 more for one nail varnish! You'd only need to pay another £11 to get a Christian Louboutin nail varnish complete with don't-get-it-too-near-your-eye-or-you'll-lose-it fancy bottle. If you did want to buy both Victoria Beckham x Nails Inc nail varnishes you do get a £5 discount, but that's still £45 for just two nail varnishes. I am a fan of Nails Inc, although I don't think I would pay full price for a standard bottle now, but there's no way I would pay £25 for a Victoria Beckham nail varnish, especially when I'm not particularly keen on either colour.

I haven't read any reviews on the Victoria Beckham nail varnishes recently but I have read some on the Olivia Palermo ones and they did say that they were worth the higher price, so I guess it depends on whether or not you're willing to pay the price.

So what are your thought's on price hikes for limited edition or celeb collaboration products? If you liked the product(s) would you pay whatever amount extra you need to to get your hands on it or do you have a limit?

 
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Colour B4 hair colour remover

For most of my life I've been naturally blonde, but it was far from a nice blonde. The sun would bleach it in the summer and I loved it then, but the rest of the year it was mousy and almost brown and I really wasn't keen on it. More recently I did go for blonde highlights to help lighten it, but they were expensive to keep up. For a long, long time what I really wanted was to be brunette, I wasn't brave enough to go for it though. That was until I went through a crisis of image after being made redundant. I cut all my hair off from around boob length to shoulder length and thought why not go the whole hog and go brunette. 

To start with I had it dyed at the hairdressers and as she always is she was very cautious and dyed it a very light brown, so light some of my friends barely noticed I'd changed colour. I continued having it done at the hairdressers until £50 a time got too expensive with my redundancy money going down, so instead I hit the bottle!

I decided that I wanted to go darker, but unfortunately I didn't get the memo about box dyes giving you a darker colour than shown on the box and my choice of dark chocolate ended up pretty much black. I do like my current colour, but with my pale complexion I think it is a little too dark and Morticia Addams. I've been considering having it stripped for around a year now, but unfortunately couldn't really afford to have it done professionally. When I spotted a tweet looking for people who regularly dye their hair and discovered that they were looking for people to try Colour B4 hair colour remover* I decided why not give it a try. I'm currently in the position where I can afford to run to my hairdresser to sort out any mess I might end up in, so I thought I'd got nothing to lose really. I was sent the frequent use version but to be honest I'm not entirely sure what this means.

Colour B4 hair colour remover

I warn you this is probably going to be a rather lengthy post but if you're considering trying Colour B4 yourself I want you to know exactly what is involved. Before you even think about slapping this all over your head the instructions advise conducting a patch test and also a strand test on a small section of hair. The patch test was fine but I was a little concerned that the strand test didn't appear to do anything at all. My hair is very dark though and I didn't use very much. I haven't included a before picture (ahem, because I forgot to take it before applying this) but you can see how dark my hair was in my blog picture.

The whole process is quite long, especially if you need to repeat it, so you really need to make sure you have a whole day free to dedicate to it if needed. The set contains four bottles labelled A to D. To start with you mix bottles A and B together and apply this evenly all over your hair. This doesn't contain ammonia or bleach but I did find that the fumes got to my chest and I started coughing quite a lot. I'm currently struggling with a bad chest and a cough due to hay fever, so if you suffer with asthma this might be something to bear in mind. I then wrapped my hair in cling film as suggested by the instructions to try and keep my hair warm as apparently being cold or drafts can slow down the process. You then leave this on for 60 minutes.

After 60 minutes you then start the removal process. This involves rinsing the hair for at least five minutes, or at least 10 minutes if your hair is very long or thick. After this you apply half of the contents of bottle C, which is called a buffer. You then wait for one minute before then rinsing for another five minutes. You then apply the rest of the buffer and rinse as normal as if shampooing. You then apply half of bottle D, which is a conditioner, before leaving for three minutes and rinsing and then repeating this again. 


When I looked in the mirror to remove the cling film I could tell from the top of my head that it had worked to some degree, but obviously it wasn't until I'd dried my hair that I could see what I was left with. I was really impressed with how much colour it had removed from the top of my head (although the top was lighter than the ends), but what it left me with was a really dodgy ginger colour! However, the mid-lengths were darker and then the ends were even darker than that, maybe just a little bit lighter than they had been before. It doesn't look too bad in the picture above (apologies it's such a bad picture!) but it looked much worse in person. I knew removing an almost black colour from blonde hair probably wouldn't be easy but I was really disappointed there was such a difference in colour between the roots and the tips. I knew dying over the top was out of the question and thought I might have to make an emergency trip to the hairdressers, but then I decided to try the second box I'd been sent as you can repeat the process up to three times in one day.   


So I repeated the entire process again. When rinsing the ends of my hair these still appeared to be the same colour, so I thought this hadn't made any difference at all. However once dry I found that the second application had really evened everything out to a point where I'd be happy dying over the top. There is contradicting advice on the instructions regarding how quickly you can colour your hair again. In one place it states you can do it immediately and somewhere else it says you should let your hair rest for seven days. But apparently the buffer should leave your hair at a suitable PH level for re-colouring. To be honest I wanted to recolour my hair as soon as possible as I wasn't happy to go out in public with the colour I was left with.  Silly me didn't read the instructions properly and dyed my hair with a permanent colour which unfortunately made the colour from my old dye reoxidize and appear again, at least I think that's what the instructions said. Straight after removing your colour you're supposed to go with a semi-permanent dye. 

I've never had my hair stripped at the hairdressers but there are a few things you need to take into account when deciding whether to try it at home or go to a salon. As I mentioned Colour B4 doesn't contain ammonia or bleach and is very gentle on your hair whereas I would imagine salon stripping might be harsher. On the flip side though being harsher may mean it's much more successful at removing colour. Although my hair is much lighter after using Colour B4 it's far from back to my normal colour, although this is likely at least partly due to my hair being stained from dying and I believe ginger is the shade you usually get after removing colour. It might appear that attempting this at home would be much cheaper, but this might not be the case. If your hair is any longer than shoulder length or particularly thick then you'll need two boxes. One box was enough for my hair with a little left over but then I did need to use a second box to even out my colour. If your hair is reasonably long and thick and a dark colour then you might need three applications using two boxes a time, which would be six boxes altogether. I nipped down to Asda to buy a dye to use and spotted this on the shelf for £10. So if you did need to use six boxes you're looking at £60 to try and remove your colour. I can't comment on the price for all salons but I believe at mine colour stripping is around £50. 

As you can probably tell from this rather long post the process of using Colour B4 can be a bit long (and if using it for the first time, stressful!) and possibly expensive but it definitely does work (at least to a degree). I don't think you stand a chance of getting your natural colour back, but you will at least get enough colour out to be able to go for a lighter shade.

Would you ever consider removing your hair colour at home?

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My manicure essentials

Being a fan of nail varnish and nail art I like to try and take care of my cuticles and the skin around my nails. If I neglect them for a few days it's not a pretty sight and I find myself picking at any dry skin to try and get rid of it until I can reach for something to add some moisture to them. I thought I'd show you a few of my favourite products and how I like to use them to help keep my fingertips in good condition.

Manicure essentials
Manicure essentials

My nails naturally grow quite square so I don't shape them as such I just soften the corners, but occasionally I do break a nail and need a nail file to help me correct the shape. I used to use traditional rough emery boards but I've now switched to a glass file from Leighton Denny. This can sometimes send a vibration up my finger that goes right through me (even just thinking about it makes my teeth feel funny, is that normal??) but in general I prefer using this as it's kinder to nails and can last for a long time if you take care of it. 

The strange scissors pictured I believe are called cuticle nippers, but I very rarely use them for removing cuticles as they're there for a reason and cutting them away can result in problems such as infections. The only thing I do with my cuticles is gently push them back after applying a cuticle oil etc. Although I haven't bitten my nails for years for some reason I do tend to suffer from hangnails. Cuticle nippers are perfect for cutting these away as they can get as close to the base of the hangnail as possible. They're also good for any little flaps of skin you may get on the skin around your nails. Be very careful when using these though as it's easy to nip skin that you don't want to cut. I can't be without these and am lost when I forget to pack them for staying at my boyfriends house.

Manicure essentials
 
I tend to use several different products on my cuticles and the skin around my fingers depending on how dry they are and often use a few products one after the other. One of my favourite products to use is Leignton Denny's Expert nails Slick tips touch & go cuticle pen, which is a little bit of a mouthful! This is a lemony scented oil in a pen format with a brush. I apply this around and over my nails before leaving it to sink in for a while. I usually then massage around my nails to encourage any remaining oil to be absorbed. Other products I currently use include Dr PAWPAW multipurpose soothing balm, The Body Shop's Wild argan oil solid oil and also whatever hand cream I'm using at the time. I tend to have a lighter cream to use in the day, such as The Body Shop's Almond hand and nail cream, and a heavier cream to use at night, such as Elemis Spa home pro-radiance hand and nail cream. Each of these products I just massage around and into each nail for a minute or so.

If I'm painting my nails I'll actually use oils, balms, moisturisers etc after my nails have dried as using them before can mean that your nail varnish won't last very long if there's any residue left on your nails. Although I have several different base coats I use the only one I have that might provide any benefits to my nails is the Nail HQ Protect & Repair base coat (not pictured). Although my nails are in quite good condition I am planning to invest in some OPI Nail envy soon to try and get them into the best condition possible.  

One of my favourite brands of nail varnish is currently Soignè. They're five free with 85% plant-sourced natural ingredients, are a pleasure to apply and last well on my nails, which is unusual. I've recently added a few new shades to my collection (two of which are pictured here) that I'll be posting about in the future. Despite it's ability to transform into a gloopy, spider web producing mess half way through the bottle my favourite top coat is definitely Seche Vite. I haven't had a bottle for a while now but after discovering several in TK Maxx for just £3.99 each it's back in my life and I couldn't be happier. It's fast drying, tough and provides a super glossy mirror like shine. I'll definitely be investing in a nail varnish thinner so I can try and make my way through the whole bottle.

What are your manicure essentials?

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Vichy Purete Thermalè Beautifying cleansing micellar oil and Fresh cleansing gel

Do you ever want to try a product just because it has pretty packaging? This was me with Vichy's Purete Thermalè range. I knew I definitely wanted to try the Beautifying cleansing micellar oil and then I was lucky enough to win both this and the Fresh cleansing gel from Escentual.

Vichy Purete Thermale Beautifying cleansing micellar oil and Fresh cleansing gel
As I've already mentioned the packaging of this range really appeals to me. I think it's the pale aqua blue coloured bottles and white tops that gives me a case of the heart eye emoji. Both bottles come with a different kind of pump that I find work well with the type of product inside.

I'll start with my favourite product, which is definitely the Beautifying cleansing micellar oil. So we've had micellar waters and cleansing oils and now we have a combination of the two in the form of a micellar oil. In terms of micellar water micelles are tiny molecules that float in the water that attract oil, dirt, makeup etc away from your face so they can be swept away leaving the skin clean. I'm assuming that a micellar oil means that these micelles are suspended in oil rather than water. 

This is a very light oil that is so beautiful to apply. It glides over my skin with ease and feels so silky smooth, I love spending time massaging this around my face dissolving away every scrap of makeup, including eye products. Add a few drops of water and it emulsifies to a milky texture that rinses away leaving no oily residue and silky soft moisturised skin. Prior to trying this my favourite cleansing oil was The Body Shop's Camomile silky cleansing oil, but I think this has now bagged the top spot. 

I was a little hesitant about trying the Fresh cleansing gel as this is a foaming cleanser and I've had a bad experience with a foaming cleanser and my dry skin. For the first few days I carefully monitored my skin to make sure it wasn't making my dehydration problems a whole lot worse and I haven't experienced any problems with it. This one is billed as the perfect cleanser for city living as it's designed to protect the skin from pollutants and the effects of hard water.

This does foam up well so I find I only need around half a pump for my whole face. As it does create a foam I like to use this with my Magnitone Lucid. Be warned though, if you do use this with a cleansing brush it will flick everywhere, including in your eyes and mouth, so it's probably best to keep them both closed! This does leave my skin feeling really clean and fresh but it can occasionally leave my skin just the tiniest bit dry, usually if I've used it on its own rather than with my Magnitone. I'm not as keen on this one as the micellar oil but I do still like it. 

The Vichy Purete Thermalè Beautifying cleansing micellar oil is £13.75 and the Fresh cleansing gel £12 and both are available from Escentual and Boots stores. 

Have you tried anything from the Vichy Purete Thermalè range?

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YSL Pop water glossy stains

I was lucky enough to win all six of these YSL Pop water glossy stains (and three Full metal eye shadows) in a Dave Lackie competition. If you've not come across Dave Lackie before he's the beauty expert for a programme in Canada called Cityline, which appears to be their version of This Morning or something along those lines. Dave has a number of competitions running at a time, usually for high-end brands like Chanel, Dior and YSL, that require you to RT to enter. I know some people do get fed up of his competition tweets being RT'd into their timeline, but I'm quite picky about the ones that I enter, only going for ones I really would like to win. He's also started running some giveaways on his blog instead and that's how I won these, by just leaving a comment.

YSL Pop water glossy stains
YSL Pop water glossy stains
YSL Pop water glossy stains
YSL Pop water glossy stains

As you can probably tell it was these photos (actually it was the one on my Instagram that started it off) that inspired my new blog header. I sent the picture off to the amazing Carly and described the sort of thing I had in mind and she bought the image in my head to life perfectly. Thank you Carly! I'm sorry these photos are a little dodgy quality wise. My poor old camera really is struggling to focus in it's old age and it's so old it's pretty low on megapixels too. I'm hoping to be able to pick up a new (cheap and cheerful) one soon as I don't think I can stretch to the more expensive one I have my eye on.

Anyway, I have digressed. I received shades 501 through to 506. They don't appear to have names, which I think is a shame, but they would be French so I probably wouldn't be able to pronounce them anyway. I find these to be like amped up glosses, I wouldn't go as far as saying they have the pigmentation of a lipstick (like the Bourjois Rouge Edition velvets) but have more than a standard lipgloss (similar to the Bourjois Rouge Edition Aqua Laques). As the name suggests they have a formula closer in consistency to water rather than traditional thick and sometimes sticky glosses. 

They come with furry type applicators and these are slightly titled which I think makes it easier to apply them. I don't find that it holds enough for both lips though so I do dip in again to do my top lip. Although you don't have to be quite as precise with application as you do with a lipstick I like that you can use the tip of the applicator to help line your lips with a precise line. 

I haven't tried all of them yet but the ones I have tried I've found to have a nice formula that is light and water like and maybe just the tiniest little bit sticky. They become a little stickier the longer you wear them but this is far from sticking your lips together sticky. They're comfortable to wear and I don't find that they dry my lips out at all. Considering they are just glosses I find they last quite well and they do leave a stain behind on the lips. 

At £26 each I don't think they're something I would buy myself, as for that money I would much rather have a proper lipstick, but I'm glad I have them and can see me using at least half of the shades regularly. Especially if the heat we've been having recently sticks around as lipsticks have just felt too heavy.


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Smartsun UK UV indicator wristbands

I really wanted to try and test these out so I could provide a review for you, but due to the weather doing what it wants whenever it wants and personal circumstances I haven't been able to test them out successfully. So this is a post just to let you know about the product rather than review it. I do have one left so hopefully I might be able to test that one out soon.

Sunsmart UK UV indicator wristbands

I'm ashamed to say that I have been burnt several times in the past, both on my face and body. I think this was a combination of my mum not realising just how easily my skin can burn and me being too young and unaware of how to protect myself properly. Now I'm really quite obsessive about making sure I apply sun protection products if I'm going to be outside for any length of time as I don't want to add to any damage that may have already been done to my skin.

When I was contacted to ask if I'd like to try out the Smartsun UK UV indicator wristbands* I thought it sounded like an interesting and possibly very useful product. The idea of the bands is that you wear one around your wrist and when you apply your sun protection you also apply some to the band. The band starts off yellow and then turns to a beige colour when it's time to reapply your sun protection. It then turns pink to let you know you should stay out of the sun for the rest of the day.

The bands are the type that you might be given at theme parks or on holiday if you're all inclusive. One thing I would say about them is that they're almost impossible to put on yourself, it's far easier if somebody else puts it on for you. Both times that I did put one on it took ages, and I'm quite good at putting bracelets on myself, and the first one was pretty mangled by the time I got it fastened. The first time I tried one was on a bike ride we had to abandon because my boyfriends bike broke, and the second time was while I was driving to my in-laws (a three and a half hour journey minimum) but I put it on my gear change wrist rather than the one near the window. So that's why my attempts to test them so far have failed!

The time in the car I'm not entirely sure that the band didn't start to change colour because on the guide on the leaflet the yellow and beige colours aren't too dissimilar. So this would be something to keep a close eye on if you do try them. The colour might be obviously different when it does change, it might just be that my band hadn't actually started to change colour at all.

I think these bands are great for helping to protect children from the sun if you're spending a day, or even just a few hours out and about. They are of course just as useful for adults because despite being in my 30's now I'm never quite sure when I should be topping up my sun protection. The only issue is they're quite expensive at £4.99 for a pack of just five. If you're on holiday for a couple of weeks in a hot destination you could easily get through a high number of packs if you use them everyday to protect your family. 

The Smartsun UK UV indicator wristbands are available through the Smartsun UK website and also on Amazon.

Do you think UV wristbands are a good idea?

*PR sample

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Original Source Skin quench moisturising body lotion

During a recent wander around Boots looking to see if they had the new Original Source dry oil thingy I stumbled across the new Original Source Skin quench body lotion. As this was cheaper than the dry oil, and as I tend to prefer body lotions over oils, I decided to try this out instead. There are four flavours available, watermelon & jojoba oil, peach & apricot, pineapple & moringa oil and lime & coconut oil. I really couldn't decide between watermelon & jojoba or lime & coconut, but in the end watermelon came home with me and lime & coconut will definitely be my next one.

Original Source Skin quench body lotion watermelon and jojoba oil

I'm very fussy about my body lotion. It has to keep my dry skin moisturised but it also has to sink in quickly and leave nothing behind. I want to be able to get dressed pretty much as soon as I've finished applying my lotion and there's nothing worse than touching your arm or leg later and discovering it's sticky or tacky. My boyfriend often puts his hand on my arm and responds with 'Ugh you're sticky', often even when I don't particularly think I am. 

I've been using this for a week or so and so far I think it might just be my perfect body lotion. It keeps my skin moisturised (although I'm not sure how it'll stand up in the winter when my skin gets much drier), it sinks in very quickly and it leaves absolutely nothing behind, so there's not even a hint of a sticky feeling. It has a lovely scent, although this isn't particularly strong and doesn't appear to hang around after application. But I'm not really bothered about a scent that hangs around for long. I'm really enjoying using this and can't wait to get through it so I can try the coconut one!

The Original Source Skin quench body lotions are £4.49 each and are available at Boots.

Have you given any of Original Source's new products a try?

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The Body Shop Smoky poppy body lotion and body butter here  

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Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating serum

I have actually reviewed this product before but the reason why I'm writing a new review for this is that it has since had a name change. I originally received this as a sample from Escentual when it was the Soothing Hydrating serum and I really enjoyed using it. I recently decided to purchase this and had a little panic when I couldn't find it anywhere. A quick tweet to Avène revealed this had been changed to the Hydrance Optimale Hydrating serum, possibly to fall in line with the Hydrance Optimale line.

Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating serum

The Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating serum is for dehydrated, sensitive skin, making it perfect for my skin. It relieves tightness, sensations of discomfort and fine lines caused by dehydration. It contains Avène thermal spring water for optimal hydration and intense soothing. 

As you're probably aware if you've been with my blog for a while I suffer from very dry/dehydrated skin that struggles to absorb heavy products and much prefers lighter gel type formulas and serums. I've only started using serums in the last couple of years, in fact I've only used any kind of skincare in around the last four years, and I've discovered serums are ideal for my skin. Serums are absorbed deeper into the skin than moisturisers so they help to keep my dehydrated skin hydrated for longer.

As a serum this is very light and easily absorbed into the skin. It feels really cooling and soothing on application and disappears almost instantly leaving behind soft, smooth skin. I suffer with redness across my cheeks and this helps to visibly reduce this, which is exactly what you want before applying makeup. Depending on the weather and how dry my skin is at the time this is often enough for my skin in the morning in the summer if I'm in a bit of a rush, but I currently like to team it with The Body Shop's Vitamin C Glow boosting moisturiser.

I was concerned that the bottle looks a little tiddly for £17 (it contains 30ml) and that I would get through it very quickly but one pump is enough for my whole face and so far it's lasting reasonably well. The popular Vichy Aqualia Thermal serum (which I've got my eye on next!) is £22.50 for the same amount, so this is over £5 cheaper.

The Avène Hydrance Optimale Hydrating serum is available on Escentual and in Boots stores.

Are you a fan of using serums?

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The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow boosting moisturiser here
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP here 

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