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The Best Skin Finish on Autumn Colouring

The Best Skin Finish on Autumn Colouring

access_time 2012/09/30 account_circle chat_bubble_outline 36 Comments
Autumn light is long, low, and less, like in the late afternoon. The effect is to emphasize shape and depth, which looks rich and warm. The feeling is safe, cozy, secure, all the reasons why we don’t put fluorescent overhead lights in our homes.

On a face, shape and depth take on a pronounced three-dimensionality – hills and valleys. Up close, it looks an uneven surface, a grainy quality – lines, freckles, fullness in hair, thicker looking skin, a feeling of plush and pile. From a distance, this varied natural landscape depicted in such rich, low intensity tones has great resonance.

We’re going to use the quality of light and shiny colour to advance and matte and darker colour to recede. This will generate movement backwards and forwards to feel like depth and texture. We don’t want the face to look grainy, we’ll leave that to fabric, but we do want the appearance of profound strength. It looks deep, synonymous with complex, wise, and penetrating. I think our brains are much more plastic with synonyms than we know and worth unleashing. It’s amazing what floats up in the soup.

We know that wearing many layers, along with looking warm and creative on Autumn, looks 3D.

Repeating patterns are successful for reasons based in basic biology and optics. Examples are geometric (plaid), natural (leaves, paisley), or brushstrokes (Impressionist painting style). With two incoming images, one for each eye, the brain has to decided which goes with L and R. When the images are multiple and repeating, some get switched, causing us to see (or think we see) depth.

The 3 Autumns

Soft, the sunny side of Autumn

sunny autumn field

Photo: ColinBroug

True, the colours as they are

orange autumn forest

Photo: boogy_man

and Dark, Autumn in the shade, and  interesting how much temperature changes with light, darks are darker below and you’re looking for a sweater.

dark autumn woods

Photo: johnnyberg


How do these types of natural colours amplify the many gifts they were given?

Autumn is seldom smooth to look at. This is not a My Little Pony world. Spring’s wide-eyed-wonder is not the rhythm of this drum. Autumn is rope, not ribbon. Autumn is not dewy or creamy or anything that reminds us of smooth. Dewy spices, dewy chocolate, dewy rust, they don’t make sense. Expressed in Autumn’s colours, dewy somehow feels slimy. Dewy curry. I mean, I ask you.

Autumn is hot, dry, velvety thick, and metallic. You could say a rose petal is velvety, yes, but it’s not dry or thick. Worth taking a minute to think about the difference between shine, frost, and metallic. To me, shine is smooth and wet and belongs on Spring. The difference between frost and metallic may be semantic or may be about the colour they’re rendered in, where frost is cold and icy colour, meaning Winter, while metallic is hotter and medium to dark, as copper, gold, bronze, and their variations, belonging to Autumn.

So wear bronzer!  Spring’s is beige based peach-gold. Autumn’s is baked earth, dark tan, a more orange-brown type of gold and a darker colour. I like Rimmel SunBronze 02 as a good colour that’s not very shimmery.

Autumn is about low lighting. On a face, that means contour! Take the 3D in you and make it more by emphasizing the hills and valleys. Shadows go dark in Autumn fabrics, so should they on the faces.

You can use bronzer or a slightly darker powder than your perfect match. It’s interesting that you can go quite a bit darker than you think and create bold shadow emphasis and once blended, it still looks normal. Apply it at the temples, sides of nose, hollow of cheeks, under chin.

A dot of shine here and there over velvet matte layers using deep, rich colours brings more dimensionality. Keep the face suede, which makes sense. Add deliberate shine over the iris. Dimension is created better by deliberate placement of metallic over matte products, rather than large and evenly shiny surfaces. When the canvas is  velvet, coppered, tawny, metallic hints, are hot hot.

Use matte eye shadow to look like velvet. Wear a dot of shiny antique gold above the iris. A coppery, spicy lip gloss would be fabulous and gorgeous in the same face.

Do not cover up freckles ever. They’re splendid at every age. Believable beauty is always better. They look textured and young.

The Skin Textures

We did Springs previously. That went as:

Bright Spring = glass

True Spring = persimmon

Light Spring = petal


So the Autumns could be:

Soft Autumn = suede

True Autumn = velvet

Dark Autumn = leather


3 Autumn Seasons 

True Autumn:

Wear bronzer. You might as well, the skin is that way already. The True Warms look great with bronzer applied as we have heard, ‘where the sun lights the face’. On the Autumn Warm Neutrals (Soft and Dark Autumn), a little restraint may be better.

Wear jewelry near the face, both in warm golden metals and deeply coloured stones.

Autumn bone structure is magnificent and strong. Wear rich russet tones in blush and lips.


Soft Autumn:

We’ve shifted from the more delicate muted Summers to Autumn’s stronger muted colours and texture, to skin like suede. Colour is gently earthy, retaining some of Summer’s grace.

Eyeliners that you thought would be good often go on looking too dark and/or too hot (orange or red). At Shoppers in Canada, Essence liner in Teddy costs a dollar. Using eyeshadow as liner is wonderful on the Soft Seasons to avoid harsh lines, enhance the low contrast effect further, give you so much more choice of colours, and let you enjoy some of your darker tones in cosmetics.

Dark Autumn:

If Soft Autumn is Indiana Jones, then this is the Marlboro Guy. It’s a stronger, heavier, thicker look. Stronger and more defined eye liner works, though still can be very smoked.

Use more drama in contrast (Winter coming in) with eye shadow as a darker outer corner, defined brows, and a mouth that stands out from the face. Flesh tones in lips work better on Autumn than any other and for the Dark Autumn, colours are deeper than the True or Soft Autumn flesh tones. They are darker, redder, maybe a little burnt looking by comparison. (I appreciate that in our ideal makeup colours, we’re all wearing flesh tones but I mean it here as the browned colours.)

Ideal hair colour for the 3 Autumns is the eye colour or somewhere among the eye colours, an effect very few other Seasons accomplish so interestingly. Gingerbread brown eyes are truly visually compelling. These are the warm dark browns from chestnut to coffee bean.


Recap: Autumn looks great in contouring, setting up lowlights. The features are defined from the skin by colours that are warm and velvety and the judicious use of metallic glints.

Spring colours look right when the reflectivity is dewy, setting up highlights. The features are fresh, lively, distinguished from the skin by being very colourful, moist, and vibrant.



36 Thoughts on The Best Skin Finish on Autumn Colouring

  • "; ?> Gates

    As always, I feel like I just had the front seat at a seminar given by a world expert on this topic. One reading is never enough. It takes one reading just to grasp the outer edges, then with each successive reading I can hone in on the details.

    Since, as you know, I am a dark autumn ( thanks Christine!) I have more than just a cursory interest in this article. I love the word pictures, examples, comparisons and contrasts which are all part of what make you such a good teacher.

    Now I know why I never look good in too shiny fabric, even if it is in my colors. Or why I should have never invested in a salon quality ceramic hair straightener, and why I would be happy if every single item of clothing in my closet was leather, suede and brocade. 🙂

  • "; ?> Gates

    ps – couldn’t get the j.lo link to work

  • "; ?> Katie

    Fantastic article! Bronzer is proving to be so important. The Elea Blake bronzer in August Love is amazing. I, myself, am more of a Kelly MacDonald looking soft autumn… very fair with warm medium brown eyes and hair. I love the idea of suede skin. I get a little bored with constantly seeing blonde and very muted green grey eyed examples of soft autumn on other sites even though I see why they are the example of warm and soft and muted. Can I ask what your advice is for the soft autumns that have no interest in camel and buttermilk and super pale moss green because their hair and eyes are more contrasting than Gisele. I find it challenging to find the right browns when shopping. Things end up being metallic DA, straight up warm TA or to taupey grey SSu. 🙂

  • "; ?> Tracy Hynes

    Fantastic article.
    I’m having difficulty finding the Rimmel Sunbronze though – is it only USA? I can find a Rimmel natural bronze in 21, 22 or 25 in the UK.

  • "; ?> Florence

    this is another one to savour slowly. Can’t wait for the summers and winters now!

  • "; ?> Christine Scaman

    The JLo photo – try to copy and paste this link into your address bar:

    Did that work? Tell me because you just gotta see the photo. Gates, get your hair to do that and people will fall over.

    Katie – for me, the magic of the Soft Seasons is felt more in how the colours combine than in single big blocks. Their mixtures have a very particular melody, like a note that no other group can strike. I’ve talked myself out of believing that contrast within Seasons matters to anybody but Winter. Everyone else can mix and match freely. I’ve decided that we can’t know our contrast level any better than we can know our eye colour. If the drapes measured you into a Season, it’s because you contained that particular span of lights to darks. Wearing part of your palette shortchanges what you could achieve and should achieve based on a false assumption of what you look like which is still stuck back in the I-know-what-looks-good-on-me realm, just a different spin on it, i.e. : I-know-what-I-look-like. We only know what we think we look like but our eyes and brains see more than we know. I’ve got a post about this in a week or so.
    So don’t skip your soft greys and moss greens unless you want to look more dark than you should, which could end up just being serious and dull. If you’re a Soft Autumn, then you were painted on the sunny side of Autumn. Embrace all it can be by embracing all that the palette IS. Use all the colours – how you make them sing is up to you but their song will be most beautiful and true in their mixtures.

    Tracy – just don’t know about the UK but Rimmel is London-based, isn’t it? You could email them and ask. Many companies like to spice up consumer lives by changing product names in different countries. Because we all need a little more to do.

  • "; ?> Kayla

    Such excellent details here! Thank you Christine! You’re so right about the sueded label for Autumn skin. On me it extends to my hair too(kinky-curly & matte with a slight sheen/glow as opposed to any type of shine.)

    With jewelry I’ve had to go with antiqued, hammered, matte, brushed etc instead of ‘bling’-y super reflective(I wish I knew all of this before I started collecting jewelry but oh well, LOL). I’ve also been having a lot of luck with Tiger’s Eye(nearly my skin and hair colors mixed),

    …& brown Smoky Quartz(close to my eye color) for jewelry as well. With the SQ I have be careful that it’s not too grey or clear.

  • "; ?> Gates

    Christine – finally saw the J.Lo pic. Sometimes the English language is SO limited!!! There are only so many times one can say ‘WOWWOWWOW’ in a row…

    Gotta get me those curls! And obviously I need to work on my makeup contouring abilities. I’ve always shyed away from it. At the very worst, I’ll look like a character from CATS 🙂 I’ll just say I’m auditioning.

  • "; ?> Cynthia L. Lott

    Do not know what season I am been done all of them

  • "; ?> Melinda

    Great articles. I like this series, it gives a really interesting view of makeup application. I find for myself that I like to mix different makeup effects so I am really interested in seeing what the Winter and especially the Summer articles will reflect. Being analyzed by JK the way that I have, (by his color scale – mostly Summer, but also a quarter Autumn and almost a quarter Spring) will be interesting to see how the makeup suggestions apply to me. I know that the 12 seasons are different, which we have talked about Christine, so I am really looking forward to the Summer one to see if many of the techniques I instinctivly follow are listed and what I might do to give variety and new ideas to my current makeup process.

    Thanks for the time you take to write these Christine, they are very insightful!

  • "; ?> Emma

    Excellent article! I am a bit confused on how much contrast is needed on a Dark Autumn. As it flows in to Deep Winter I understand that we need more contrast than the other Autumns but how much is too much?

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      Emma, your palette has figured this out for you. The span of lightest to darkest is right there in the fan – because you wouldn’t be a DA unless the drapes had identified those colour dimensions in you. I’m beginning to think contrast gets over-thought. There’s a post coming about that.

  • "; ?> Emma

    Thank you for you response, Christine. I was referring to the amount of contrast needed in makeup. It’s confusing. I look forward to your post on contrast.

  • "; ?> nadine

    Hi Christine, I was wondering what you thought about Mac’s Half and Half lipstick. Do you know what season it would be good for?

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      I don’t have that one among my hundreds of swatches for some reason. As I recall, it’s muted but I don’t remember the heat level. And I don’t get to a MAC counter often. I can look next time if you really want to know, Nadine?

  • "; ?> Katie

    As a soft autumn I just wanted to add –

    I stopped trying to make eyeliner pencils work for me. Using an eyeshadow and an angled eyeliner brush – gives me a much better look. No more attempts at cat eye flicks with liquid liner or just waxy pencils that transfer to my crease.

    A medium dark brown eyeshadow smudged at the lashline is all that’s necessary to emphasize the outer corner of my eyes and to fill in the gaps between my lashes. It’s a softer look but still defined.

    Also – I am done with shimmer/glitter eyeshadows.

    MAC Era and Sable – though the color is a match to the fan – do not fit the description suede, velvet, satin or matte textures. There is no comparison. Shimmer is out -never to be seen on my face again.

    I used to try to pull off highlighter on my cheekbones… with things like Becca shimmering skin perfector and MAC Pearl cream color base —- nope. Gives those to the springs.

    MAC Retro lipstick is stunning. Quiet possibly the most perfect soft but still rich peachy red ever. Try it. It might be the only version of red that doesn’t make you feel self conscious.

    Bobbi Brown Tawny Blush is amazing… good by blush with glitter!

    I said before the Elea Blake August Love Bronzer is fantastic and I will make sure to never run out of that bronzer. EVER.

    Dior Iconic Mascara in Chestnut Brown is amazing. The best brown mascara I’ve ever used. I like it better that black brown which is too dark.

    Dewy foundations – no thanks. I don’t want matte/dry looking – but wet – moist – doesn’t look right at all.

    I have already come back to re-read this article a dozen times…

    You really nailed it with the suede comparision. PERFECTION Christine!

    Now I just need to find some more SA eyeshadows….
    Nars Portobello does nothing for me… I need to find some better and interesting medium dark browns! 🙂

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      Fantastic, Katie, thank you! Not fond of Portobello? Hm, I thought it would be good. Please let us know when you find better ones. I was just looking at MUFE eyeshadows – very creamy powder and good colours. Try there?

  • "; ?> Sarah

    I’ve always used eyeshadow as liner too, couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t! Now I understand 🙂 I use eyeliners on the waterlines, not on the lid. Some SA matte eyeshadows that I have and love:

    Ben Nye – Au Naturelle and Brownberry
    MAC – Omega and Smut

    Smut is my liner colour, I only wear makeup at night, so I like a darker liner.

    I have some eleablake samples and I like the eyeshadows a LOT ( I love Passive and Dubious), but I wish more of them were matte. Same with the lipsticks, too much shimmer.

    I agree about the contouring, I can do loads of contouring and I just look better and better, whereas on some people it looks crazy. I don’t ever use bronzer to contour though, it looks wrong to me. Bronzer is warmer and brighter than natural skin tones, shadows are cooler and softer.

    Pro contouring products are not that hard to find, but you don’t need them because there are perfect colours in eyeshadows. Light complected SAs like me – try Omega. AMAZING contouring colour, looks like a natural shadow, not like colour. You can go to town with it and it still looks natural.

    Katie – do you know which swatch in the 12 tone fan Retro matches?

  • "; ?> Nadine

    I’m new to color analysis and have never been draped . I’m not sure how I found your site, but I’m guessing it has something to do with trying to figure out what makeup colors look good on me. I’ve been loving all of your articles, and have probably read through your entire site. I’m not sure what my season is, as I feel comfortable in a few ( probably leaning warm because I think fuschia lipstick looks terrible on me). I have dark brown hair, brown eyes that have green in them surrounded by a gray ring, and light to medium skin, maybe olive. I look great in soft or light peachy pinks and corals. Navy is also great on me. I think I can wear black (my leather coat looks good on me) and I’ve been complemented on wearing a red dress. I stay away from most greens and don’t wear brown near my face. I love aqua blues and warm pinks. I don’t own anything yellow. I wear white, but never really noticed if it was a great color for me.

    I think I have come close to prefecting my makeup, as I’ve started getting many compliments. This is what I’ve been wearing:

    Laura Mercier mineral powder in natural beige
    Mac groundwork paintpot as a base on my lid
    Mac grain and all that glitters mixed in the crease
    Mac cork in the outer edge
    Stila golightly softly blended on lid
    Mac pro longwear Make your mark to smoke out the edges
    i use Lancome black lapis(blue aqua) on the top lid (liner)
    Lancome waterproof in cafe (brown) lower lid (liner)
    I then smoke out the liners with a mixture of Mac club and a metalic charcoal which ends up making it look a little teal.
    I use black mascara

    On my cheeks i contour with mac harmony and use clinique mocha pink for blush. If I need more color I layer mac peachtwist on top or milani baked blushes in luminoso (coral) or berry amour (golden pink). Sometimes I add a little bronzer (Lancome bronze solaire).Smetimes I add a little highlite to tops of my cheecks.

    For lips I like natural colors like Mac half and half. In the summer I was enjoying Lancome Rich cashmere. Lately I’ve been experimenting with Mac velvet teddy. I think I like the terrecotta peachy pink look.

    At first I thought I was light spring, but then I looked at the soft autumn makeup colors and then thought autumn. Lately I’ve been thinking dark autumn because I can wear dark colors and smokey brown makeup. Any guesses? I’l let you know the outcome if and when I am able to be properly draped.

  • "; ?> Denise

    Soft autumn here. I really like the suede label. Suede has a sort of sheen that I find necessary on my face. Matte looks dry and powdery, very dewy looks slimy. Even lips sheen is is the highest level of sparkle I can go with otherise it starts looking porn starish. I was a little surprised that fellow Katie is anti highlighter I’m all about it. Must be super blended and the right color but certainly gives that sheen I’m talking about. Jouer luminizing body glow is great as is Revlon age defying face illuminater in golden. Really it’s all about making sure it’s golden as opposed to icy in tone. Elf shimmer whips has a golden shade too but I don’t know the name. Only a dollar to try. I do however totally second the shadow as eyeliner or actual cake eyeliner. I actually use an eyebrown powder by Sorme the shade is walnut. For you Christine and other sa’s trying to find liners that aren’t too grey or too red might I suggest eyebrow powders.

    A few lipstick drugstore lipsticks to try. My number one muter and all around favorite Wet N Wild 902C bare it all. A base layer of this makes almost every lipstick more Soft autumnish. Also a good my lips but better Whipped Caviar matte lipstick by NYC.

  • "; ?> Nadine

    Denise- I too like wet and wild 902C as an everyday natural nude color. I’ve been trying to match it to other brands, which is why I’ve been trying Mac Half and Half and Mac Velvet Teddy. I don’t yet know what season I am, but I’ve been experimenting with makeup to try to figure it out.

    Christine- I wear Clinique’s mocha pink blush often as it melts into my skin. I usually layer another blush over it . I know that is for soft autumn. Today I found a sample of Clinique Fig blush and tried it. I looked in the mirror and said “wow! Is that really me?” It brought life and strenghth to my face, and I glowed. So now I’m going to play with the
    Dark autumn colors and see how that goes. I tried Revlon Fig Jam, and although I can carry it, i don’t love the purple tones in it. I’ve been experimenting with Revlon’s matte color sensational in Mauve it Over, which looks nice on me. It’s not mauve, but more of a peachy coral on me. Do You know what season that is? Do you think it might lean Spring? Also, Stila eyeshadow in Golightly looks beautiful on me. I get complements often when I wear it. Is it an Autumn color? It seems like an antique gold with a hint of khaki. It looks better on me than Mac’s woodwinked (which is a drop too warm so I have to mix it with Mac’s Patina).

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      I’ll have to look at those, Nadine. Post it on the facebook page, many of the women know these colours well.

  • "; ?> Ashley

    Interesting what you say about using bronzer for contour. Some of the ladies are nudging me toward trying out DA again, and I’ve found that the DA bronzers do jack squat for cheek color. They just sit there and look vaguely dark and foggy, maybe slightly golden. I’ll bet they would actually function better as contour colors.

  • "; ?> Ursula

    Christine, one thing I’ve never seen addressed in colour analysis is those of us with very ruddy skin. I’m not talking about rosacea, just ruddiness. I believe I’m a Soft Autumn (peachy/golden skin) but have been “misdiagnosed” as a Summer in the past because of my high colouring. Thanks so much.

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      It’s a good point, Ursula. I’m not sure how much I have to add. High colouring occurs in any Season. I’ve seen in True Summer and True Winter and probably many others that don’t come to mind at the moment, but I know I’ve heard clients mention this quality in their skin many times.

  • "; ?> Meredith

    After a year trying to understand this and find where I fit, I’ve listened in awe to you express yourself in my language, metaphorically, clearly and understandably. You speak my language (thank God) at last! Where I fit I don’t know, I’ve been told dark winter, cool winter, dark autumn and I’ve wasted money trying to squeeze into what I was told! I know ageing changes something, something indefinite, just something; a road block to what once worked. But I aim to buy your book. I really hope it’s going to help mr nail it because I’ve spent over $500 on mistaken make up and I’d hate to calculate the clothes loss. Do you ever think ignorance is bliss? I used to just wear myself naturally without really thinking about it, then 45 hit and ignorance doesn’t work anymore. Quizzes online confuse me further so I’ll try before I buy and get the book.
    Your drawing contrasts between nature and how a woman works her look is really clear. My sisters are all soft, conservative blondes and I’m dark and striking in family photos (always got told I was the postman’s daughter) and I suffered years being told I was too bold and vain but I loved red, leather, wooden bits that dangled and hats and it worked. Sometimes you have to fight to allow the you to be seen. Well done for raising that in your talks too.

  • "; ?> Katie

    You know what Christine — I take back my earlier post — Nars Portobello is lovely for SA — it looks like nothing swatched on the hand – but on the eyes it’s lovely — but I love Nars Blondie even more. Oh my goodness – Nars Blondie — It is perfection and works for my eyebrows too! I also like Mac Espresso e/s — it is lovely pushed on the lashline for daytime eyeliner.

  • "; ?> Melissa

    Good lipstick for DA is Lancome Aubergine Velvet. Definitely on the cooler side of the season, but a good fan match.

  • "; ?> Alvionne

    I’m a Soft Autumn as well, on the warmer end of the season and with lighter colouring. I thought I’d share what has worked the best for me. If you like long wearing lip colour, try Maybelline Super Stay 24 in Timeless Toffee (on the pinker side, a little bit metallic), Maybelline Super Stay 24 in Forever Chestnut (about as dark as I can go–a deep red equivalent that would likely be pretty on a Dark Autumn as a light neutral), and especially CoverGirl Outlast in 626 Canyon, which is this beautiful warm rose and is totally sparkle-free. I wear these all over Jordana lip pencil in Rock’n’Rose which is a good budget neutral lip pencil. For eyeshadow, I have used L’Oreal Colour Riche New Essentials in 839 Cupa Joe for years, with a little smudge of L’Oreal HiP Gilded over the iris. Using a moist angle brush with the darkest brown in the Cupa Joe palette creates a good soft cat eye. For eyebrows, Prestige’s BrowPerfection kit in “Light to Medium” and the “Brow Building System” works best of all the the brow tools I have tried and is in a good very neutral dark blonde. Maybelline Mega Plush waterproof mascara in “brownish black” is the best mascara I’ve ever used but of course could be lighter. It is still a very good browner waterproof mascara and doesn’t generate those itchy particles that irritate the eye as it is a gel formula.

    I wonder if anyone has found a lighter brown liquid eyeliner at a drugstore? I can get away with using Wet’n’Wild h2o Proof liquid liner in brown if I pat medium brown shadow into it while it is moist but it still creates quite a dramatic look. It would be nice to find something one-step and better for daytime.

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      You might look at Sephora liquid liner in Copper. A client had it about 2 years ago, gorgeous. Not sure they still carry it.

  • "; ?> Linda

    As part of my recent experiment in living as Soft Autumn (I haven’t been draped but suspect SA might be the right answer), I realized my liquid eyeliner was too harsh but couldn’t find any lighter. So I adapted it. I seem to do well with putting it on first, waiting for it to dry, and then smudging a line of thick, soft, steel-blue pencil on and just above it. If I don’t wear any liner at all, even though I have dark brown eyes I just look half-awake in many colors.

  • "; ?> Sofia Kjellsson

    Thanks for this great article, Christine. Very interesting and educational.
    That thing about TA + dewy = slimy makes sense. But what about nail polish? Should I avoid using a glossy top coat on a warm red, russet, chocolate brown or bronze color?

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      Nail polish is a small surface area away from the face. What matters is just to get the colours to belong to the palette so they look good with the clothes and head, when you hold your phone for instance. Like sunglasses that we all expect to be dark, and wedding dresses that we expect to be white, shiny nails are fine. Metallic shimmer would even be great, my preference greatly for gold/bronze over pink/blue on Autumn.

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