Monday, 30 January 2012

How Soft are your Lips? Lip Balm Reviews

You’d think a lipbalm would be one of the simplest beauty products to get perfect, but in my experience it’s most definitely not.  I tweeted asking for opinions recently and have never received such an enthusiastic response! People are passionate about their lipbalms and loyal to the core about their favourites, which included:

Decleor, Eve Lom Kiss Mix, Dr Lipp Nipple Balm, Vaseline, Crème de La Mer, Leighton Denny, Vaseline Aloe Vera, Carmex, Butter London Black Knight, Burt Bees with a hint of Colour and Marshmallow Blends (created by Nicoletta of Nicoletta’s Beauty Blog!) 

Here are some lipbalms that I’ve enjoyed using this Winter, including newbies and a couple of long term favourites…

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Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm - a long term favourite of mine, I’m on my second tube - and while not cheap, it really does last a long time. In fact the first tube wasn’t even done, I just felt a bit icky about using it for longer than two years (use by date suggests 18m).  Made with Essential Rose Wax it has a soft waxy texture, contains spf and can be applied from the tube. Although it contains rose, it doesn’t smell rosy, or smell of much at all really. It leaves a subtle glossy finish on the lips and works well under lipstick. When I use it consistently I don’t get sore lips - ever. I can’t fault it at all.

£17 for 15ml, though Escentual.com has it for £13.60 at the moment

 

Ultra Repair Lip Therapy by First Aid Beauty (FAB) - this is a relatively new brand to me and I love this balm!  It tastes/smells of sweet spearmint and I’ve used it a lot over the past few months. Paraben free, healing and moisturising, ingredients include Glycerine, Shea Butter and Colloidal Oatmeal. The soft waxy texture applies beautifully and feels so nourishing and soothing.

£9 for 14.8ml at Beauty Bay or Boots

 

Lanolips Lemonaid Lip Aid - am I the only person on the planet not in love with this product?  I was ridiculously excited about trying it, spent a stupid amount of time reading reviews, trying to choose which formula to try first… and in the end, the idea of lemony loveliness drew me in.  I liked the pretty, verging on vintage style tube, though was disappointed that the top is not slanted for direct application like most lipbalms in this style. And when I squeezed it, nothing happened, until I squeezed really hard. It initially feels slightly gritty on the lips and is naturally exfoliating.  It smelt - and felt - gorgeous and looked glossy... I was happy. But it didn’t increase the moisture levels of my lips or appear to improve their condition. I needed to reapply it often, which was a pleasure at first as it smells so damn good, but, ya know…

Anyway, 99% of people seem to adore Lanolips, so please don’t let me put you off - the same products can’t work for everyone and that seems to be truest when it comes to lip products. It comes in a range of tinted shades too… perhaps I’ll try one some day. Maybe it was just the lemon that didn’t work for me.

Lemonaid is £8.99 at Victoria Health (mine took 3 wks to arrive from Boots, though some Boots sell them in-store)

 

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Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm - The Nuxe brand is a long term favourite of mine, the first product range that made a tangible improvement to my skin. I’ve raved about it for years when most hadn’t heard of it (I got mine from Escentual at the time) - and am delighted that it’s now so readily available. This ultra nourishing balm contains honey and precious oils… it smells gently of honey (I don’t like a lipbalm with an overpowering smell), is soft straight from the cute little glass jar and does an amazing job of keeping lips beautifully soft and smooth.  I used it years ago and was very happy to be reunited again!  It’s just become available in a handy stick, priced at £5.50 for 4g.

The pot is £9.50 for 15ml at Feel Unique and you only need the teensiest amount.

 

L’Occitane Shea Butter - not strictly an actual lipbalm, this little tin of 100% Shea Butter is feather light for carrying in your handbag and has endless softening and nourishing benefits for dry or chapped skin anywhere on the hands or face.  I mainly use it on my lips, but it also feels soothing and moisturising on cuticles or any little dry patches. Retrieved from the fruit of African Shea trees it’s reassuringly natural and very unisex.  It sets quite hard in the tin, but softens quickly with warm hands.

£6 for 8ml at L’Occitane UK

 

Ultrasun Ultralip - I mentioned this in my last blog post, so won’t go into too much detail, but wanted to include it here as I love it, especially the fact that it contains spf15 - delicate lips are worth protecting from UVA and UVB rays every day of the year. The formula is soft and easy to apply.

Normally £5.50, Fragrance Direct has it for £3.99 at the moment.

 

If I had to choose a favourite from all of these, Clarins would be first as it ticks all the boxes, except price!  FAB Ultra Repair Lip Therapy would come second - as it’s genuinely wowed me and is great value for such a high quality product.  And Nuxe would come third as it’s pure, beautiful to use - and it works.

But I don’t have to choose - yay - I enjoy using all of these at different times and keep them dotted around the house, beside the sofa, bed, kitchen sink, hall table, handbag, coat pocket, car… actually I seem to require 3 more!

What’s your favourite lipbalm?

FAB & Nuxe were samples, which shall both be replaced when empty!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ultrasun Face, Sports and Ultralip - year round skin protection

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This picture was taken one month ago today from my balcony in Singapore and looking out the window at today’s grey skies it’s hard to imagine being back there. Perhaps a strange time of year to blog about sunscreen but some of you are reading from sunny climes, others like to plan ahead and others are wise enough to protect their skin all year around.

I’ve blogged about Ultrasun Face before here - it works really well under makeup - and yes I do wear sunscreen in winter *most* days.  This one is so quickly absorbed it’s easy to apply a quick blob before moisturiser in the mornings. RRP is £18 but you can find it cheaper (see my link).

Ultrasun Sports Clear Spray Formula spf30 was a new discovery. The spray was quick and easy to apply and I know this one is particularly popular with men as it doesn’t clog hairy legs or chests and is great on thinning hair, which is a bonus as most men I know have to be coerced into wearing sunscreen!  We spent many hours in the pool on this holiday in intense heat like nothing I’ve ever known - and while this is definitely water resistant, I think a completely waterproof formula with higher spf would be better for a country like Singapore. This one is pretty steep at £26, but it’s worth weighing up the savings from a once daily application.

For children, I much prefer Ultrasun’s Family sunscreen (not pictured here) - it’s a cream formula, which I feel protects their delicate skin more deeply and makes it easier to achieve accurate coverage.  I love that it only needs a once daily application and it’s also suitable for the most sensitive of skins, including babies and eczema sufferers.

Ultralip (£5) is an excellent lip protector with spf15…  I wish more lipbalms had spf as the skin on the lips is so delicate and susceptible to ageing. This balm is fragrance free, contains moisturising blackcurrant seed oil and is effective in all temperatures as well as at altitude.  I’ve been using it at home too and it’s just as good at protecting my lips from cold winds!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… skin damage from UVA (ageing) rays is just as powerful on cloudy days as it is in summer, so please consider introducing sunscreen to your daily skincare routine.

You can see the full Ultrasun range here

Friday, 27 January 2012

New: MyFace Slinky ~ Matte Liquid Liner

 

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I’m really not a liquid liner kind of girl… in fact I hadn’t even attempted to use one before trying the new MyFace Slinky matte liner - not that I don’t like the idea of them, I’m just a scaredy cat.  I normally go for eyeliner with a bit of a sheen and tend to stick to pencils or gel liners, like Mac Fluidline or Laura Mercier Eye Caviar, which allow a lot of control. 

So I was nervous about trying this… eyeliner is definitely one of those products where practice makes perfect and I tend to practice either late at night or when I’m not going anywhere special (am convinced the other mums think I’m a nutter at the school gates).

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I love the dinky packaging and the light weight of the wand which allows for easy control. As you can see in the swatches below it’s easy to achieve a thin or thick line with this - and the more I use it, the more I think a thicker line works best. It’s great for a perfect cat-eye flick and the matte effect actually works brilliantly for a smokey eye, complementing matt shadows and contrasting well with shimmers and glitter.

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I’d normally wear this with lots of mascara and a bit more drama, but wanted to let you see how it is with a more natural look.  I find it too harsh for the lower lashline, so would use an ordinary pencil or eyeshadow as liner in a lighter colour, eg grey in this area.

MyFace Slinky Matte Liner is available at MyFaceCosmetics for £6.99

I recently reviewed other MyFace makeup here and did a FOTD post wearing them here.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Anastasia Beverley Hills Beauty Express Brow Kit ~ Blonde

US brow product specialist, Anastasia Beverley Hills is a cult brand loved by celebs such as Elle Macpherson, Madonna, J Lo and Victoria Beckham.  I’ve held off on telling you about its Beauty Express Brow Kit for a while as my extensive attempts to source the brand in the UK readers led to blanks - and it seemed unfair to shout about something that the majority of my readers can’t access.  Plan 2 was to purchase one at Sephora during my recent trip to Singapore for a blog giveaway, but it seems only US and European Sephoras stock it.  

Happy days, I found out this week (via the Pixiwoos) that Cult Beauty now stocks Anastasia in the UK and while they don’t have this specific kit, they have similar items. Sorry about the long winded intro… now onto the product, which I LOVE!

Beauty Express for Brows and Eyes comes in a pink mock croc embossed case and includes full directions for use.

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The above swatches from L to R are: 1&2 - brow shades on top of wax (darker tones), 3&4 - brow shades without wax and you can just about make out 5&6 - the eyeshadows. You can clearly see what a difference it makes to the intensity of colour when the powder is applied on top of the wax. The more wax used, the more intense the colour.  Sometimes I rebel and mix them together, though it can get a bit messy…

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The kit includes:

  • brow wax
  • 2 shades of brow powder (this is the blonde version)
  • 2 eyeshadows - natural skin shade and a shimmery highlighter for browbone and inner corners
  • brow stencils ranging from petite to full arch
  • brow brush
  • magnifying mirror
  • directions

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The angled brush bristles are firmly packed yet soft, making application a dream.  The idea is to select the best stencil for your natural (or desired) brow shape, shade it in with the product, then remove the excess hair around it.  Instead I got my brows waxed by a beautician (Clarins at Debenhams Belfast, who I love!), then used the closest stencil to my new shape.

Blonde brows are a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest.  Mine are so pale and reasonably fine that I ignored them most of my life, plus I had a full fringe for quite a while and they were rarely seen.  The realisation of what a difference they can make to my face is quite a new one… they definitely give an illusion of lifting the eye area, frame the face and help break up my rather large forehead!  Now that I’ve got used to having them ‘done’ I can’t believe I ignored them for so long.

I’m digressing a bit again… here’s the effect of the lightest blonde powder with the medium arch stencil.  When I took these pics I had only used the product a couple of times and have since had my brows done in a nicer shape, but at least it gives you some idea of how it works…

One eye done (using stencil & mix of the 2 blonde powders)…

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If you cover the made-up eye and brow the other half of my face looks wishy washy and my eye looks a bit lost.  Defining the eye (including the brow) defines the whole face more than any other feature.

Light brow powder and eyeshadow duo, freehand…

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I should have used more product on my brows here, but like I said - it was only my second attempt and I’m now more confident in the application.  I enjoy the eyeshadows as much as the brow powders… they’re so simple yet perfect for daytime use… the pic above left shows them best - they just look like natural skintone yet give a little bit of definition to the eye and browbone, without looking overly made up.

Dark brow powder, applied with stencil…

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Sorry for the blank/fed-up/squinty expressions here… I had to take so many of these shots to try and capture the brows in a good light and was in serious need of a coffee fix by this point! ;)

The darker of the two powders (or a mix of both) is my favourite look… although the added definition took some getting used to for me, it’s still quite subtle and I now wear it bolder again, as you can see here in a more recent pic.

I’m having fun discovering the art of brow defining and this kit has definitely ignited that, so if you can get your hands on some Anastasia, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it and will definitely be trying some of their other products myself.

The Beauty Express kit is available at Anastasia.net for $39.50

Anastasia products are available in Sephora US and European stores and in the UK at Cult Beauty, where you’ll find a similar brow kit, though personally I’d opt for the brow powder duo which comes in an impressive 6 colourways,  Brow Wiz (which MUA, Kenneth Soh assures me is foolproof!) or tinted brow gel.

Elysian Brows in Dublin also uses and (as far as I know) stocks Anastasia products.

The products come in a wide range of colours, but I’m personally delighted to find such a great option for blondes!  Do you ‘do’ your brows?

Sample

I added the links in the last couple of paras for your convenience. I have recently installed Skimlinks which may result in additional auto-links.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nude LOTD ~ Mac Honeylove, By Terry & Collection 2000

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I hadn’t planned to blog about this - just happened to be wearing these colours and liked them so decided to take some pics… this is the combination I use the most to create a natural looking ‘nude’ lip, using Mac, Collection 2000 and By Terry.

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The products applied in shade and direct sunlight: liner, lipstick, then gloss.

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These are the products I used: 

  • Mac Honeylove
  • Collection 2000 Lip Definer in #02 Cappuccino
  • By Terry Lip Expert Gloss

When I first got Mac Honeylove (in a blog sale) I was really unsure about it - I’d never worn such a pale nude and felt like it washed me out. It’s a matte lipstick, and I personally only feel comfortable wearing it defined with liner and a slick of gloss.

You could use any lipliner but I love the Collection 2000 as it has no orange/red tones and is cheap as chips!

I’ve had this By Terry gloss for a couple of years (I know but I love it!)… it’s a lip plumping formula which I bought on sale in Sephora in Paris.  I’ve just found a link to it (reduced) at Space NK - I think it’s the Crazy Nude shade, but am honestly not sure as it’s worn off my tube, but any peachy gloss would work - I just wanted to add a bit of warmth and shine.

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Here is the look in the context of my face… I wasn’t wearing much other makeup as hadn’t planned to take pics that day, so it’s just Liz Earle Skin Tint, Daniel Sandler Watercolour blush in Goddess and a slick of mascara.

I recently posted about a Bobbi Brown darker ‘nude’ lip {link here} and will soon share some pics and swatches of my favourite pink toned nude lipsticks.

I can’t find the Collection 2000 lip definer on Boots or Superdrug websites, but you can get it in both places - I got mine in Superdrug and it’s about £3-4.  Mac Honeylove lipstick is £13.50 at mac online. By Terry Lip Expert Gloss is reduced to half price, 12 euro at byterry.com and a similar price at Space NK.

What’s your favourite nude lip colour?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Boo! Makeup & Lashes FOTD ~ MyFace MyMix Lashaholic

I promised to come back and post a face of the day featuring the Myface Cosmetics I blogged about earlier this week {link to review}

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So here I am wearing Myface Cosmetics Mymix foundation in Fair 01 and Myface blusher in Paradisio Pink. I *was* wearing Myface Slinky Matte liquid liner, but you can’t really see it behind this fabulous new mascara… ok, ok so they’re not my natural lashes! I’m wearing Addictive Glamour false lashes by Lashaholic, which I’ll tell you more about below. 

I defined the lower lashline with a pewter Laura Mercier eyeshadow and filled in my (normally invisible) brows with Anastasia of Beverley Hills Beauty Express Browkit in Blonde. My lipgloss is Calvin Klein Taffy Pink {reviewed here}.

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So what do you think? I love the Myface makeup but felt really odd wearing these lashes - they just felt a bit too big, like they took up my whole face! They are beautiful quality, really soft and the glue that came with them is the best I’ve ever tried (any lashes I’ve worn before took ages to stick and fell off shortly after).  I just think I might suit a more natural style better - or is it just because I’m not used to them?

One final image in my (not so shiny) mirror to show how flash affects the makeup…

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Lashaholic - Addictive Glamour

So these are the bad girls - pretty lush aren’t they? I love the shape of them and am impressed that they are 100% handmade (in a little village a few miles from where I live!).

They come in 9 different styles and are reusable…  the pair I was sent is perfect for a night out - maybe I just need more guts to wear them - but I’d like to try a more natural style next time!

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The packaging is simple but pretty, convenient for storing them in and includes a tube of glue and full instructions. Application tips:

  • Apply full makeup and mascara (if required) as normal
  • Remove lash strip gently with tweezers, apply a thin layer of adhesive to the band and wait 20-30 secs til it becomes tacky
  • Apply to the upper area of the lash line and press gently for a few seconds until the adhesive adheres
  • To remove, dab a little eyemakeup remover along the lash line and gently lift off

I didn’t bother with the eyemakeup remover (as I took them off in the middle of the day) and they came off easily, but it’s probably best to to this to maintain the quality of the lashes and avoid ripping them.  While I’m usually quite good at fiddly things, I find it *really* hard to apply false lashes, so if I can put these ones on, anyone can!

Lashaholic Strip Lashes cost £7.00 at lashaholic.eu

You can see my review and swatches of the Myface products here {link to review}

NB I have recently installed Skimlinks on my blog, which means I could receive a small % from purchases via certain links. Any link I include in the text is purely for your convenience.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Body Beautiful ~ guest feature

Sam Donald of beauty website, Makeup Advice Forum recently launched a beauty Alphabet Game, providing tried & tested reviews of beauty products and treatments from (abc to xyz, literally!) by women of all ages and from all walks of life. 

I was super chuffed when Sam asked me to be the first beauty blogger to contribute to her feature, by sharing my favourite products to help achieve the Body Beautiful.  You can check out the Body Beautiful feature here and have a wander around the site, where you can pick up professional beauty tips and post your own queries on the forum.

Sam is on twitter @makeupadviceforum

Chanel giveaway winner

Thank you to all those who entered my Chanel giveaway and especially to those who shared their lovely stories about why they love the brand so much.  I wish I had about 10 glossimers to give you all but sadly there can only be one.

And the winner of this little beauty, due to launch in the UK at the end of this month is….

 

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Laura! 

A pink sparkly Chanel Glossimer will be winging its way to you tomorrow! xx

Laura’s gorgeous blog Live Laugh Love is well worth a visit, so go say hello!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Myface Cosmetics ~ Mymix, Pink Paradisio & Holiday

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I love discovering makeup brands that are new to me, especially when they turn out to be even better than I expected.  Myface cosmetics are cleverly divided into fair, medium and dark categories, with each product slotting in to one of the three - from lipgloss to foundation. This makes it really easy to choose which would work best with your skintone, though obviously you are free to mix and match and a pale person is free to cross over to ‘the dark side’!

Mymix Foundation - Fair 01

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There are 3 foundation shades within the fair/medium and dark categories… I was sent the lightest 01, which luckily suits me perfectly!  It comes in a slim lightweight, squeezable plastic tube, which makes it really transportable and user friendly.

“Myface Mymix Foundation is designed to be in sync with your skin tone and has been professionally mixed and matched by experts according to skin tone. This lightweight formula delivers a modern, retouched finish for an instant image upgrade.”

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Although well pigmented, the formula is quite liquid as you can see in the above swatch, so it applies really quickly and easily.  I’ve been using a cream foundation lately and while I love the finish of it (Laura Mercier Crème Smooth), I’ve been longing for something like this for when I’m in a hurry and have less time for application, or just want a more natural look.  This product works well applied with fingers or my Real Techniques stippling brush (which I’m loving!). 

The colour looks lighter in real life than it does here, so don’t be put off if you think it looks dark.  It’s probably the lightest foundation I’ve worn, though I do tend to lean towards lighter shades and prefer to warm them up with bronzer and blusher if necessary.  Foundation is not for adding colour to your face and lighter tones definitely make my face look brighter and more radiant.

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Above, MyMix Fair #01, fully blended in direct sunlight and shade.  I’d describe this as light to medium coverage.  It made me think of a rich tinted moisturiser in terms of application… it does give a very natural look and less coverage than I’d normally go for, but it’s very buildable. The finish is dewy and quite luminous, which suits me well as my skin is quite dry at this time of year.

mymix foundation - £9.99 (Fair, Medium, Med/Dark)

 

R&B Rouge Blusher - Fair

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Next up are these blushing beauties, which I think are just so cute! The packaging isn’t like anything I’ve seen before - it’s contemporary, slim and stylish - and really nice to hold. Like the foundation, it’s easy to store in your makeup bag and  the resemblance to an iPhone is quite quirky! I also like the large mirror inside, which you can see in the first pic at the start of this post.

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Paradisio Pink is a bright babydoll pink, which is much more vivid in real life than it appears here.  It came out quite dusky in the pics and it’s not at all, as you can see in the swatches below. Believe it or not, both of the above pics are of the same colour! The brush that comes with the compact isn’t brilliant - there’s a lot of fallout when using it (above right), which doesn’t happen with my stippling brush or ELF blusher brush.

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Holiday is a coral/orange toned blush with gold shimmer.  I expected it to look a bit like NARS Orgasm on the skin but it doesn’t at all. It’s much more vivid. I also expected it to be very bright and quite difficult to wear, again no - and the gold glitter is very subtle when applied - in fact most of it seems to just fall away.

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Heavy & blended swatches of Paradisio Pink and Holiday in sunlight (top), and blended in natural light.  Aren’t they pretty?  They are very pigmented - I literally just touch the blush with my brush, tap or blow off excess and apply… this is enough for both cheeks.  I especially love the pink, maybe because it’s what I’m used to, but Holiday is surprisingly wearable too and would probably look even better on darker skintones.

R&B Rouge blusher - £9.99

Overall I think these products are great value for money. The look, feel and performance is much higher quality than I expected at this price point.

I’ll post a face of the day wearing these products this week so you can see what they’re like when worn. Hope you enjoyed this and if you have any other myface recs I’m all ears!

Ohhh I’ve just googled to check where these can be purchased and there’s 1/3 off at the moment at Boots!

Mymix foundation is £8.66 instead of the usual £12.99 and Myface Rouge Blusher is £6.66 instead of £9.99 - get shopping girls!

 

ps just to let you know I’ve recently installed Skimlinks on my blog, which means that if you purchase via certain links I get a small percentage of the value. I’m honestly not exactly sure if it works on every link, but just wanted to let you know and be open about it! I’m not trying to pull a fast one & only ever post links to help you source a product! xx

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