Our editors have all struggled with their skin in one way or another, and tried enough lotions and potions in the process to fill their own Sephora. Through all that testing, they’ve managed to scope out the best skin care products for their skin types — and now they’re sharing their secret stashes.
Scroll through to see how we keep our complexions looking flawless, plus the quick-fix products we turn to when our skin is looking less-than-stellar. There’s a product for every budget, skin woe, and laziness level. There’s even a few we thought were so nice, we name checked them twice (or thrice — what’s up, Clarisonic!).
Nude ProGenius Treatment Oil
“I love the feeling of facial oils, and this one makes my skin more luminous with less-visible wrinkles. It’s expensive, but it lasts forever — all you need are a few drops to fully moisturize your face, neck, and decolleté. I use before I apply my makeup for a glowing skin look.”
$78, available at Sephora.
Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Pore Scrub
“Exfoliation is key, and this scrub is gentle enough for my sensitive skin. It leaves my skin soft, fresh-feeling, and it doesn’t have a lot of creepy-sounding ingredients, which gives me peace of mind.”
$6.39, available at Drugstore.com.
Caudalie Fleur de Vigne Instant Foaming Cleanser
“This foaming cleanser feels so good and makes washing my face a total delight. It’s soap-free and very gentle on my skin — it makes it feel soft and really toned. I use it morning and night.”
$14, available at Caudalie.
Burt’s Bees Radiance Eye Cream
“I battle with fine lines and crow’s feet under and around my eyes, so it’s critical for me to religiously moisturize. I use this at night to hydrate and reduce the appearance of fine lines under my eyes. It’s a little bit thick, but once it soaks in it’s super hydrating and brightening.”
$8, available at Burt’s Bees.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
“Retinol is tough: It’s drying and it makes your skin sensitive in every way, but if you can tolerate it, it’s a must — especially after 35. SkinCeuticals is my go-to because it’s as active as a prescription formula but less expensive and not as drying. I use a little more than a dime size all over my face (but never under the eyes). I see a huge difference when I wake up in the morning — especially when I apply it after a good Clarisonic sesh. My pores are smaller, fine lines are a little less visible, and my pigmentation is way more even. The derms say it over and over, but the most important products to use are retinol and SPF if you’re serious about having healthy, glowing skin that looks younger than you are.”
$59, available at SkinCeuticals.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser
“I’m madly in love with the texture — it’s so creamy, smooth, and gentle. It makes me happy because it feels like a luxury French product, but at a responsible, non-401K-affecting price. When I’m not too tired and lazy, I work it in all over my face, then wet my Clarisonic and go to town. If I’m tired and lazy, I’ll remove the Toleriane with a warm water and a clean washcloth instead.”
$23.99, available at La Roche-Posay.
Kahina Giving Beauty 100% Organic Argan Oil
“On the weekends, I wear this as a moisturizer before applying my SPF. And at night, if I’m really dry, I’ll use this on its own without retinol. You can tell this is a very high-quality oil based on the texture and nutty smell. In sinks right in, so I don’t have ‘sticky tree frog face’ — what my husband and I call it when I’m working too many products! I’ve spent lots of money on ultra-expensive facial oils and I like that you get a big bottle of this stuff for $80 — it lasts for months and you can put it in your hair, too.”
$82, available at Kahina Giving Beauty.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Moisturizer
“Right before I get into bed, I apply a few pumps of this on top of the retinol. Like the Toleriane cleanser, it’s got a luxurious texture. It’s perfect to layer on top of the retinol, because it’s highly moisturizing with no other active ingredients. I use it as an eye cream, too, and during the day, I mix it with a littleLaura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude.”
$37.09, available at Target.
Sentara All Weather Cream
“I can’t quite describe it, but this face cream is the lightest, driest product I have ever tried. I have breakout-prone skin, and this is the perfect all-the-time cream for it. It leaves my face feeling completely hydrated without ever feeling even a little bit oily.”
$65, available at Woodley & Bunny.
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion
“A few years ago, my friends got me a facial with the terrifying-but-amazing Christine Chin. It was terribly painful, and to be totally honest, my face didn’t recover for 72 hours. But then, it was magical. All of that is to say that I believe anything that woman tells me, and she swears part of the reason I see breakouts is because my pores are dry, deep down, because I’m skipping toner. So…I’ve recently succumbed and splurged on this toning lotion (I may or may not have bought it at the Tokyo airport in a moment of complete delirium). And it does prevent that dry forehead thing that I hate. So, I’m thinking it’s working…”
$60, available at Nordstrom.
Proactiv Renewing Cleanser
“I have a love/hate relationship with this stuff, because I really do think it keeps my skin clear. But unfortunately, it also bleaches most of my towels in spots — and I really like my linens! That said, I haven’t found anything else quite as effective as this, in terms of keeping breakouts at bay, so I’m staying faithful.”
$19.95 for 3-piece set, available at Proactiv.
Tatcha Aburatorigami Blotting Papers
“Generally speaking, I think blotting papers are stupid. I get them, I put them in my bag or wallet, and then I forget about them, and rediscover them a year later, in tatters, thanks to the abuse that the contents of my handbags tend to suffer. But these are different. They’re legitimately effective in a way I can’t quite understand. Basically, I now use these instead of reapplying pressed powder when I feel oily, mid-day, to the same effect.”
$12, available at Tatcha.
Dove White Beauty Bar Soap
“It’s old-school, and I absolutely adore it. I’ve been using it morning and night since college, and don’t see myself ever changing.”
$6.88, available at Walmart.
Caudalie Eau de Beauté Beauty Elixir
“I spritz my face with this God-sent hydrating mist probably eight to 10 times a day. It’s wonderful, and also perfect for setting your makeup!”
$18, available at Sephora.
Eau Thermale Avène Retrinal +0.1
“I apply this to my skin (under moisturizer) a few nights a week to help ward off fine lines. I don’t do it every night for fear of drying out my skin, but I do see noticeable results the morning after.”
$69, available at Dermstore.
“A friend told me about this wonderful moisturizer years ago, and it’s been my go-to ever since. It’s light enough to wear under foundation or sunblock, and my skin feels hydrated all day long. Perfection!”
$16.50, available at Theraplex.
SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum
“I assumed I’d outgrow acne before fine lines started showing up, but…nope. This serum is phenomenal if you’re simultaneously dealing with breakouts and signs of, shall we say, maturity. It fights clogged pores, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines all at once. It’s not inexpensive, but it keeps me from looking like the picture of Dorian Gray, so I’ll be forever loyal.”
$80, available at SkinCeuticals.
SkinSalvation Hydrating Cream
“I’m truly not kidding when I say that everything breaks me out. (Changing shampoos for just two days led to a rash on my neck and cheeks, for instance.) So, I use a non-comedogenic hydrating cream and SPF from my aesthetician — and I never break out from either. On that note, I’m a sunscreen fanatic. I wear it every day, no matter what the weather’s like, no exceptions. If you aren’t protecting your skin from the sun, there’s little point in doing anything else for it.”
$30, available at SkinSalvation.
Vivant Green Tea Antioxidant Cleanser
“This is an acne-safe cleanser, and I use it with my Clarisonic. The formula is slightly milky and extremely gentle, and it doesn’t leave my face feeling stripped after I use it. It doesn’t make any crazy whiz-bang claims, but considering how many cleansers leave my skin red and angry, that’s more than enough for me.”
$29.50, available at Vivant.
Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
“I’m a big believer in the power of peels — a good one is the fastest way to get a brighter, more glowing complexion. When my pores start to look oversized or my skin looks dull, I use this mask. It uses fruit acids to remove dull, rough skin. It doesn’t burn or sting, and after 10 minutes, my skin is brighter, smoother, and softer. What’s not to like?”
$55, available at Sephora.
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque
“Since I don’t wash my face all that often (I know, I know…Mom, cover your eyes!), whenever I feel like I need to really suck the grime out, I spend some me time with this mask. It’s luxuriously thick and cool, dries without flaking all over the place, and isn’t gritty like most mud masks are. Plus, it’s this really satisfying gray-greenish color that, at least for me, makes me feel like I’m at a spa. Afterward, I swear I just glow.”
$23, available at Kiehl’s.
Dr. Jart+ V7 VitaLaser 2.1
“There was a week this winter when it seemed like there was a fire burning underneath my skin, and it took everything in me not to scratch at my already red, raw cheeks. Annie Tomlin gave me a tube of Dr. Jart+ V7 serum, and after two days and four applications, my skin felt back to normal. It’s a gel, but feels super-velvety, and took away all of the red. As with many Korean skin care products, it also promises to brighten your skin, inhibit melanin formation, and even out freckles and spots, which is kind of frightening since I don’t really want to mess with my skin tone. However, after a month of use, I haven’t noticed anything but smoother, more even-looking skin — no apparent skin-lightening happened, at least as far as I can tell!”
$48, available at Sephora.
Lucas’ Papaw Ointment
“The active ingredient in this Australian-made cream is fermented papaya, but it doesn’t smell like it (for non-papaya fans like myself). And yes, there’s petroleum jelly in it, and thanks to you diligent readers, I’m now aware of all the drawbacks of it, but I haven’t been able to find anything that instantly moisturizes, soothes, and fixes a problem patch quite like Papaw Ointment, so I’m sticking with it.”
$12.99, available at New London Pharmacy.
Jurlique Soothing Day Care Lotion
“If I wash my face too often, my skin starts looking like a mummy’s, so I’ll only wash it when I shower, and then only with water. Afterward, I’ll slather on this cream. For me, it’s the perfect combination of creaminess and lightness. It’s scent-free, dye-free, and feels totally relieving, especially when my skin feels irritated.”
$36, available at Jurlique.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cleanser
“I’ve been using this for the past two years — it’s refreshing and not too drying, plus it fights acne with salicylic acid while combatting lines with alpha-hydroxy acid. Because it’s not a pure anti-acne wash, it isn’t too harsh on my skin, and it makes my pores look healthier.”
$6.49, available at Neutrogena.
Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
“This stuff is a miracle in a bottle — I rub in a generous amount and apply it all over my face and neck. It’s an instant brightener ‘n’ tightener and gives me a quick glow that makes it seem like I got way more sleep than I actually did.”
$45, available at Sephora.
La Prairie Anti-Aging Anti-Wrinkle Eye Line Filler
“As I’ve passed my mid-twenties, stress and lack of shut-eye is immediately apparent around my eye area. This has a transformative effect the second you apply it, plus it helps smooth the entire area over time without making you look like a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills.”
$135, available at Nordstrom.
La Prairie Cellular Power Serum
“Yes, it’s pricey, but La Prairie delivers the goods every time, and its Cellular Power Serum is no exception. It actually helps your skin defend against daily stressors and damage as it stimulates antioxidants that are natural free-radical gangbusters.”
$475, available at La Prairie.
Kate Somerville Dermal Quench Liquid Lift
“This stuff is magic. It goes on like a foam, sinks in instantaneously without leaving behind any sticky residue, makes my skin feel velvety soft, reduces redness, adds a glow, and I swear it even makes me break out less. This little beauty visibly transforms my skin for the better after just one application, so I don’t care if it’s oxygen or microscopic leprechauns that give it its power — I’m buying a lifetime supply.”
$95, available at Sephora.
Shu Uemura High-Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil
“I was initially skeptical about this so-called liquid gold everyone raved about — I mean, the last thing an oily, acne-prone girl wants on her face is pure oil. But, now that I’m approaching my 30s and my skin seems to get dry when I even look at a bar of soap, I’ve seen the cleansing oil light. This gets off every single trace of makeup, and dirt without stripping my face of moisture, so I can cut down on my nightly skin regimen and have baby-soft skin without any extra effort. Bless you, Mr. Uemura.”
$31, available at Shu Uemura.
Natura Bisse The Cure Sheer Cream
“This color-adapting cream blends in seamlessly to my Casper complexion, provides a natural defense barrier against UVA and UVB rays, detoxifies, hydrates, reduces the appearance of acne scars, and helps boost collagen production. I apply myDr. Dennis Gross Skincare Active Vitamin D Serum-Oil in the a.m., followed by this and my skin is protected, glowing, and flawless — or at least it looks that way.”
$170, available at Barneys New York.
Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask
“I recently had a facial with celebrity facialistJoanna Vargas, and I’m pretty sure she’s responsible for the current awesome skin month I seem to be having. I love her Daily Serum for everyday — it’s like a green juice for your face — but her Exfoliating Mask may just be that product that I tell my great-grandkids about when they ask my why my skin looks so good at 102. The all-natural exfoliant has Vargas’ signature ingredient, galactoarabinan, plus lactic acid and kaolin clay to help slough off dead skin, leaving behind a glowing, clear complexion. You can also put a dab of it on a blemish overnight to help get rid of that zit lightning-fast.”
$75, available at Joanna Vargas.
Oxy Spot Treatment
“When little spots pop up, I dab a little bit of this on them and they get a little smaller by the next morning. However, when I go overboard with it, I’m dealing with a red and somewhat irritated face the next day.”
$5.99, available at Drugstore.com.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer
“I like that this has a little SPF protection in it and sits nicely under makeup.”
$11.39, available at Target.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
“This milky stuff is super-gentle and keeps my skin not too dry and not too oily.”
$9.19, available at CVS.
Aesop Damascan Rose Facial Treatment
“This is a new product that I’m trying to help fill in any impressions made by acne over the years. So, I can’t quite say if it’s working yet, but the rose oil is supposed to be applied three times a week, overnight. We’ll see how it goes!”
$73, available at Barneys New York.
Caudalie Eau de Beauté Beauty Elixir
“This falls under the category of ‘not sure why I use it, but I can’t stop.’ It promises a smooth and glowing complexion, and while the mist definitely helps give me the glow, I really use it to help perk me up. I spray it on before I put on my makeup and then again afterward to help set it. Then again a few times throughout the day. It smells great and wakes me up, and as for that glowing thing, well, that’s just a happy side effect.”
$18, available at Caudalie.
Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circle Cream
“I hate the dark circles under my eyes, but this Shiseido cream instantly brightens them up. No, it’s not a magic wand, but I can see the difference immediately. I use it in the mornings before I put on my undereye concealer, and I take it everywhere.”
$55, available at Macy’s.
Bliss Lid and Lash Makeup Remover
“I hate (read: HATE) taking my makeup off. It’s just such a hassle. But this Bliss remover is totally gentle and doesn’t hurt when you get it in your eyes, which, believe me, I do often — because I’m just trying to get it over with already. It’s a great alternative to wipes, which I also turn to when traveling.”
$18, available at Bliss.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
“This moisturizer is the best. It’s not too heavy, it’s long-lasting, and it’s become a total post-shower staple. I’m trying to make more of a habit of using it before bed, too.”
$26.50, available at Kiehl’s.
Clarins Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate
“Hands down, the very best product I’ve recently introduced to my regimen is this Clarins wand. You glide the gel-like applicator over any dark spots, wrinkles, and pesky oversized pores, throw on some makeup, and you’ll seriously look like you’ve been retouched in Photoshop.”
$34, available at Clarins.
Renée Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum
“My skin is too sensitive for Retin-A at night, but the next best retinol bet has been this serum. I let it set in, then apply her Glow Enhancing Cream for a heavy hit of moisture. When I wake up in the morning looking less haggard, I know the duo has done its nocturnal work!”
$82.50, available at Renée Rouleau.
Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel
“No matter how poorly I’ve treated my skin, I can always count on this to bounce it right back. I always feel like I look brighter and tighter after that quick 10-minute treatment twice a week.”
$49.50, available at Murad.
Osea Eyes and Lips
“For my undereyes and crow’s feet, I apply this vegan eye and lip formula from under-the-radar Malibu brand, Osea. I don’t know if I’m reversing anything, but I definitely feel like it helps me fight the good fight!”
$56, available at Osea.
Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System
“I never leave home without my Clarisonic. It gives me super-deep cleansing that I just can’t get without it. I use the acne bristle brush, which adds extra support for my troubled skin.”
$119, available at Clarisonic.
Murad Clarifying Cleanser
“I definitely have trouble finding a working cleanser that actually prevents my breakouts, so I’m always on the hunt. But, I seriously saw my skin clear up after a few weeks of using this star cleanser. It’s a must!”
$26, available at Murad.
Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer
“I’m obsessed with this S.F.-based brand! The smooth, luxe moisturizer is full of great ingredients — including alguronic acid, which helps restore and rejuvenate my skin. Plus, it’s relatively light, so I don’t feel like I am over-saturating my face.”
$90, available at Sephora.
Lancôme Pure Empreinte Masque
“Any time my skin is starting to feel like it needs a refresh, I take 10 minutes and relish in this pore-cleansing goodness. It reduces the oil in my skin and I can see results immediately after.”
$35, available at Lancôme.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
“I’ve tried a bazillion eye creams, but none have ever successfully treated the oddly flaky skin under my eyes. This old-school remedy might be too much for some skin types, but when I apply a little Aquaphor under my eyes before bed, I wake up looking more refreshed.”
$13.59, available at Drugstore.com
M61 Perfect Cleanse
“I’ve gotten hooked on M61, the in-house line from Bluemercury founder Marla Malcolm Beck. The Perfect Cleanse formula is incredibly gentle, even on my dry skin, and doesn’t leave my face feeling parched afterward.”
$26, available at M61.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
“This is one of the few products I evangelize to everyone — it’s not too heavy, but still powerful enough to conquer dry skin, and I don’t think twice about shelling out for it. I’ve gotten several friends, girls and guys, hooked on it.”
$26.50, available at Kiehl’s.
Natura Bisse C+C Vitamin Scrub
“I usually swear by my Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, but now that I’m training for a half-marathon and exercising a lot, it’s crucial to make sure my pores aren’t getting clogged. This has the same effect as a gentle peel, and it easily blasts away any sweat-induced bumps that form along my hairline.”
$65, available at Natura Bisse.
Decléor Life Radiance Energising Vitamin Cure
“This is a 10-day treatment made with essential oils, fruit extracts, and vitamin C. It works to correct a dull, tired complexion, and it’s my go-to whenever special occasion is lurking around the corner!”
$37, available at Decléor.
Glymed Plus Retinol Restart Rejuvenation Cream
“As long as it’s not the summer and I’m not out in the sun, I love this retinol cream. It satisfies my desire to have a great anti-aging product, but it also really keeps my skin hydrated and free from any occasional breakouts.”
$83, Glymed for skin care professional locations.
Kinara Red Carpet Facial Kit
“The system comes with a two-step peel that, well…let’s just say you can really feel it! Next, you apply a soothing, hydrating mask. In less than twenty minutes, your skin looks as though you just had a serious facial. It’s amazing.”
$145, available at Kinara.
Shu Uemura Fresh Pore Clarifying Cleansing Oil
“I love it because it dissolves all of the makeup and leaves my skin silky-smooth, not greasy. I also feel as though it helps keep my skin’s hydration levels in check, especially through a Chicago winter.”
$67, available at Shu Uemura.
Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Stripes
“I’ve been using these strips since high school and I still always keep them in my medicine cabinet in case I want a quick refresher. They instantly and easily sweep away anything that my regular face wash can’t quite get, i.e., blackheads. Ugh. I get kind of self-conscious about clogged pores, but these babies really get the job done.”
$9.49, available at Drugstore.com
Alba Botanica Sea Mineral Cleansing Gel
“In a search for a natural product that wasn’t too pricey, I picked up this face wash at the health food store a few years ago and have never looked back. It’s gentle, removes all dirt and makeup, and doesn’t dry out my skin. And the fact that I feel good about the ingredients in the product is a huge added bonus.”
$10.99, available at Alba Botanica.
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
“Besides reading our own beauty stories, I had heard that charcoal is amazing for your skin. And while I may look a little scary with dried-up gray goo slathered across my face, this mask is amazing at thoroughly cleaning pores and leaving skin soft. I’ll usually apply this mask on Sunday nights and follow up with a nourishing night cream right before a little beauty sleep — it’s a great way to start the week.”
$16, available at Origins.
Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer
“I instantly ditched my old moisturizer and switched to this one after discovering it in my mom’s bathroom (thanks, Ma!). The formula is gray-ish in color but gives your skin a slight tint when it’s applied. Think less ‘tinted moisturizer’ and more ‘even skin tone.’ Plus, the formula applies smoothly, dries quickly, and make my face feel amazing.”
$35, available at Sephora.
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
“I don’t like to spend a ton of money of skin care, so the main thing I like about this lotion is the price. But, it also offers SPF, and I can lather it on without ever feeling oily.”
$11.99, available at Drugstore.com.
St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub
“Again, I love the affordability, but I also love the full-on deep clean I get. I’d be lying if I said I wash my makeup off after every late night, so this scrub really makes me feel better the next morning.”
$3.79, available at Walgreens.
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
“Yes, SK-II products are pricey, but they work! I put on one of these bad boys every month — I wish I were like Cate Blanchett and could afford one every morning — and it instantly makes my whole mug feel smoother.”
$90, available at SK-II.
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3
“I use this every night before I go to bed. It takes away all the stuff that sticks to my skin during the day.”
$13, available at Sephora.
Dove Moisturizing Beauty Bar
“I’ve been washing my face with this and warm water ever since the 5th grade — once in the morning and once at night. If it ain’t broke…”
$12.35, available at Soap.com.
Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel
“Whenever I get a zit, I just dab this on and by the morning that sucker’s less noticeable.”
$16, available at Clinique.
Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment
“This is the only spot treatment that I’ve ever used that can actually zap a a zit overnight. It also doesn’t have anything too harsh in it, so pimples disappear without leaving dry patches or redness.”
$18, available at Kiehl’s.
Eau Thermale Avène Hydrance Optimale SPF 25 Hydrating Cream
“This makes sure I’m protected from any and all elements and offers deep moisture, without creating any unsightly pimples or making my pale, sensitive skin look angry and red.”
$34, available at B-Glowing.
“Aspirin is just the best. Not only is it something I like to keep around for the occasional headache, a few pills crushed up and it is a skin-clearing miracle powder that I use once a week as a mask. My skin glows after and feels insanely soft.”
$8.49, available at Drugstore.com.
Eau Thermale Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser
“It smells good, it feels good, and it cleans everything — including mascara! — off my skin without being harsh. I use it twice a day with my Clarisonic Mia – love that thing!”
$20, available at Drugstore.com.
Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
“My worst beauty gripe is puffy, tired skin — sometimes I don’t even recognize myself first thing in my morning. My plan of attack: Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, applied under my moisturizer. This stuff gives me the effect of slapping cold water on my face, but it feels like a spa treatment rather than a punishment.”
$45, available at Nordstrom.
Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion
“I love this because it’s rich, but it sinks right into my skin — making it a great matte base for makeup — and the smell is like the cleanest-smelling soap of all time.”
$17.99, available at Ulta.
Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser
“I’ve loved this cleanser since high school. I use it every day in the morning — it wakes me up and cleans the ‘blah’ off my skin without stripping it. The smell has always reminded me of a spa, which is especially nice when I’m feeling groggy and cranky, which is how I feel most mornings.”
$10, available at Philosophy.
RMS Beauty Oil
“For an extra dose of moisture in the evenings, I’ve been loving this organic, super-nourishing blend of oils that also happens to be completely non-greasy. Take that, indoor heating!”
$74, available at Spirit Beauty Lounge.
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