Beauty / Beauty Feature

36 of the best skincare brands of all time – and the products we buy on repeat

What is the best skincare line

Skincare has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past five years. As beauty fiends, we love to see it. The science is the best it's ever been and there are more options, especially in the clean and natural space, than ever. A side effect of this is that one can easily get bogged down in industry jargon and new brands cropping up all over the place. What ingredients actually yield results? And which brands live up to the hype? Having asked these questions ourselves, we've done some digging and have surfaced with this handy guide to the best skincare lines and the products we buy on repeat.

 

Best luxury skincare lines

Augustinus Bader

 

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You don't need to part with a week's pay to secure skincare that works. But if you're going to do it (the heart wants what it wants) don't go past Augustinus Bader. Named after its founder, a biomedical scientist and physician who in 2008 created a wound gel to help heal severe skin trauma like burns without the need for surgery or skin grafts, each product in the line is powered by the patented TFC8. After 30 years of research, Dr. Bader crafted this ingredient to harness the body's natural ability to heal and reawaken the cells that became dormant through ageing or damage.

Hero Product: The Cream

Start your Augustinus Bader journey with the cream featured in thousands of beauty shelfies. Sure, $390 for a 50ml product is enough to raise anyone's blood pressure, but if you're in the business of treating yourself or simply have the cash, it's worth it. Especially as it can replace all other products – save for cleanser and SPF. Texture-wise it's closer to a serum and smells kind of like fresh milk in the best way possible. According to its clinical trials, you'll begin to notice differences after 27 days.

La Mer

 

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A very specific kind of person uses La Mer. They are refined, live by the sea, have never forgotten their house keys or their mother's birthday and are always on time. If you're channelling this energy, or simply prize skincare driven by the intersection of science and nature, then La Mer is for you.

Hero Product: Crème de la Mer

At the heart of La Mer is the moisturiser that started it all. Astrophysicist Dr Max Huber was working in his lab one day when he sustained chemical burns from an experiment gone wrong. From this point he redirected his research, and thus La Mer was born. Harnessing its Miracle Broth, an ingredient made with sea kelp harvested out of the clear waters off Vancouver Island, and paired with antioxidant-rich Lime Tea, Crème de la Mer provides instant relief to stressed skin and with persistent application minimises lines and plumps skin.

Dr. Barbara Sturm

Maybe you've come to Dr. Barbara Sturm via the German founder's soothing Instagram facials and tutorials, or perhaps you've heard of its science-based results and effective ingredients, either way there's a reason that this skincare line is a favourite of Bella Hadid and models globally.

Hero Product: Glow Drops

While Dr. Barbara Sturm has formulated a lineup of products to make your skincare-obsessed heart leap, if you're impatient like myself, it's the Glow Drops that stand out for immediate results. Crafted from purslane, panthenol, hyaluronic B5 and Polygonum bistorta, which evens out texture and improves radiance, Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Drops brighten skin and can replace makeup, if less is more.

Susanne Kaufmann

 

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Just as you turn to luxury fashion for clothing made ethically, from quality materials and with tailored cuts, the same applies to luxury skincare. Susanne Kaufmann hits this brief; a handshake between top-of-the-line natural ingredients and the safety of science, this Austrian-born brand is sustainable too.

Hero Product: Glow Mask

While any product that makes our skin tingle would be slam-dunked into the trash bin immediately after spot-testing, Susanne Kaufmann's Glow Mask is an exception to the rule. Calling on herbal actives like papaya powder, ginger, coffee and raspberry extract, together they work like an enzyme peel leaving your skin feel refreshed and bright after 15 minutes.

Sisley

 

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When payday comes and you're looking to treat yourself in a big way, Sisley is one avenue to do so. It's a family-owned French luxury beauty brand that utilises the best ingredients to blend the most coveted formulations.

Hero Product: All Day All Year

From days spent chained to the work desk to summer vacations in the South of France, when Sisley says All Day All Year, they mean it. This anti-ageing day cream protects from two of the biggest outside aggressors for your skin: the sun, and that pesky pore-clogging pollution. The first is combated through micro-encapsulated filters blocking 90 per cent of ageing UVA and UVB rays from the sun, while anti-free radical agents (namely Vitamin E, Apple Skin and Rice) reinforce the skin’s protective barrier to shield it against pollutants in the air.

 

Best drugstore skincare lines

The Ordinary

 

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Beauty doesn't need to break the bank nor does it need to travel from the Austrian Alps to be worth your time. Sometimes one just needs to head to their local Priceline, which is all that is required to track down cult favourite The Ordinary. It's truly a godsend, hinging on the simple premise that one should be able to access high-performance ingredients in the simplest form on a budget.

Hero Product: Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

When it comes to retinol, the key is to start small and work your way up at a snail's pace. Good thing The Ordinary has doses ranging from 0.2% to 2%. You'll want to know the names of ingredients and their properties too as there's no cutesy names to cling to instead. Personally, I also always have a bottle of its Hyaluronic Acid 2% B5 on my shelf too. But your own cocktail of ingredients will depend on your skin type and conditions.

La Roche-Posay

 

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Behind every French girl with clear skin is at least one La Roche-Posay skincare product. The brand may sit at the steeper end of your drugstore beauty favourites, but it's worth every dollar. Designed to include active ingredients that target specific skin problems like acne, rosacea and eczema, with corresponding lines for each, watch it form the workhorse of your beauty routine while trendier products come and go.

Hero Product: Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+

At this point we all know that SPF should be a non-negotiable in all our skincare routines. La Roche-Posay make one that's non-greasy, non-stinging, affordable and leaves no white cast. It's easy to see why it's become a cult favourite. A special mention to its Effaclar Anti-Acne Salicylic Acid Serum too. A must try for anyone contending with irrepressible acne and breakouts.

CeraVe

 

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A staple in the bathrooms of your grandparents, dermatologists and beauty-obsessives on TikTok alike, CeraVe is for everyone. Don't be fooled by its nondescript packaging, it's packed with ceramides and lipid molecules, giving everything and stripping nil. It's normcore and it has our hearts.

Hero Product: Moisturising Lotion

Free from fragrance, hypoallergenic, oil free and non-comedogenic (meaning it won't clog your pores), we're randy for CeraVe's Moisturising Lotion. It's affordable and can be pat onto your body or face, both will be all the better for it. Not convinced? Get on TikTok and spend an hour swiping through reviews.

Weleda

 

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Weleda makes the fashion industry go round. A silent workhorse, catch the brand and its many products in the bags of makeup artists and models alike.

Hero Product: Weleda Skin Food, duh.

When we talk about drugstore favourites, nothing has been offered up as often or with as much reverence for our RUSSH 'In the Bag' series as Weleda Skin Food. Thick and emollient, it can be used for slugging or as a nourishing barrier for parched skin, especially during winter. With a roll call of ingredients like sunflower oil, wool wax, beeswax, sweet almond oil, rosemary leaf extract, chamomile flower extract and calendula flower extract, there's a reason this formula hasn't altered since 1926. Proving skincare doesn't need to take a chunk out of your paycheck to be effective.

 

Best natural skincare lines

Fresh

 

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Born in Boston and raised in New York, fresh was born out a want for skincare products that were both natural, effective and luxurious. Back by rigorous research, each addition to the fresh range is built with purpose and heroes one natural ingredient – from rose, kombucha, black tea, soy and lotus. Because of this, each product is also trailed by a cult following.

Hero Product: Soy Face Cleanser

People with sensitive skin can wax lyrical about the evils of cleansers that strip the skin of moisture, thus drying it out. This cleanser from fresh does neither. A bestseller, it in fact maintains the skin's natural pH balance, calling on the properties of upcycled soy proteins to deeply cleanse and hydrate.

Youth to the People

 

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Born out of California, it's easy to conceive of Youth to the People as a natural skincare brand. Basing its products around the properties found in plant matter like antioxidant-rich berries, leafy greens, and black teas, it's a go-to label for those who believe that mother nature already offers up all we need.

Hero Product: Superfood Cleanser

Two pumps of this bad boy you'll notice your skin instantly refreshed. It digs out the muck in your pores, and is something of a green juice for your skin. Packed with cold-pressed antioxidants like kale, spinach and green tea, it's a cult favourite for a reason.

Biossance

 

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Biossance is a brand that started somewhat of a clean beauty revolution. After a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gate foundation, biotechnology company Amyris had a goal: to clean up the realm of beauty. So Biossance was born, a brand with a mission to stop waste, protect endangered animals and to end deforestation, all while creating luxury skincare that works.

Hero Product: Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

Squalane is a core ingredient of Biossance's beauty line. This is because it's a leader in formulating the ingredient ethically from sugar cane rather than harvesting the liver of sharks. Incredibly hydrating, squalene occurs naturally in the skin but disappears over time, so it's a must for any beauty routine. The addition of vitamin c is perfect for anyone with dark spots from acne scarring or those prone to pigmentation.

Tata Harper

If you're looking for luxury skincare that's completely natural, run don't walk to your local Tata Harper stockist. Packed with as many ingredients possible at their highest concentration, more is more for this brand that aims to deliver maximum results. Even still, you won't find anything synthetic, artificial – be it fragrance or colours – either. Only the best.

Hero Product: Resurfacing Mask

The Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask is a favourite of RUSSH Content Director Elyssa Kostopoulos. Apply a thick layer and watch it form a shiny film, lifting all the grit from your pores and leaving a smooth, bright surface.

 

Best refillable skincare lines

Emma Lewisham

We're drawn to Emma Lewisham for more than its refillable packaging – it's efficacy and status as a B Corp certified business deserves praise all on its own – but it's this feature that adds joy to the beauty process. Born across the ditch, this clean brand is truly committed to sustainability, and reducing waste is a large part of that, offering refills for every product.

Hero Product: Skin Reset Serum

A powerhouse serum that evens skin tone, improves pigmentation and restores radiance, basically everything my eczema-prone skin craves. It's light and smells fresh, and is a regular favourite amongst the RUSSH team.

Foile

 

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Bondi-born, Foile was dreamt up to transform and reimagine the way we consume, experience and connect to skincare. A central element of this is enabling and empowering people to be a part of a more circular model that lessens the impact on our environment and natural resources. Centring a singular oil that would be refillable, the idea snowballed into a concept store, which is an important facet to create a rapport with its customer base and create a space to experience the brand.

Hero Product: Marula Face Oil

A regular in the luxury beauty world, Marula is a lush oil that acts as a barrier to pollution and environmental stressors. Offered up in its basic, most powerful form, it's non-comedogenic and is high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids 6 and 9. Yum.

Fluff

Fluff may have started with its viral refillable and multitasking lip oil, but it's simple approach to skincare that has kept us coming back.

Hero Product: Face Oil #1

Released in small batches and crafted up locally, it's Face Oil #1 is a homage to the power of Jojoba Oil, offering it up in its purest form. Although, we do find ourselves gravitating towards Face Oil #3 featuring Hemp Seed Oil, Frankincense, and Bakuchio.

 

Best skincare lines for sensitive skin

Rationale

 

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If Australian skincare functioned as a hierarchy, Rationale would be atop the throne. The Melbourne-based skincare brand has become the apple of most beauty editors eye’s and has collected a cult-like clientele for its scientific, non-invasive, results-based approach to good skin.

Hero Product: #3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+

The product itself is a thin beige-coloured liquid, that when applied to your face, evenly blends, smooths and perfects your complexion – and offers 50+ SPF protection. Think of it as an all-in-one. The final step in your skincare routine and the first step in your makeup routine.

SkinCeuticals

 

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If you have sensitive skin, then it's always best to refer to the the brands loved by dermatologists. SkinCeuticals is first on the list. Crafted up by a dermatologist itself, it pioneered topical use of antioxidants from the beginning and is best known for its myriad formulations of Vitamin C.

Hero Product: C E Ferulic Vitamin C Serum

We weren't kidding about the Vitamin C thing. As one of the best and most powerful antioxidants, its incorporated in its most potent form to protect skin against atmospheric ageing and free radicals.

Josh Rosebrook

Working with a team of industry-leading natural cosmetic chemists and herbalists, Josh Rosebrook creates formulations that aid the skin with its natural ability to regenerate and heal.

Hero Product: Vital Balm Cream

RUSSH editor in chief Jess Blanch has this to say about the product: "This balm is like a big drink for dry skin like mine. Because I spend a lot of the time out in the elements I love the way it works like a barrier cream, giving really strong protection, and how it doesn’t seem to slide off my face like so many creams. I’m always looking for all-natural products that are active and this has Indian senna seed which is a natural alternative to hyaluronic acid (used for encouraging regeneration) and some blue tansy which I like in everything as it is so calming to my skin."

Cetaphil

When we've wandered into hellish beauty territory, Cetaphil is the haven we return to. Basic in the best way possible, its cleanser and moisturisers are gentle and with time, can resuscitate even the most traumatised skin back to its former self. Our Aunts and sceptical doctors had it right.

Hero Product: Gentle Skin Cleanser

There's a reason why this cleanser was a reference point when Glossier was making its beloved Milky Jelly Cleanser. It's a universal favourite and our dermatologists won't stop banging on about it. You don't even have to wash it off if you don't want to.

 

Best skincare lines for dry skin

Tatcha

 

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After struggling with dermatitis, Tatcha founder Victoria Tsai went on a journey for considered and effective skincare. Along the way, by chance she had an encounter with a modern day geisha and the brand was born from her beauty rituals. It's for this reason that you'll find a threesome consisting of green tea, rice and algae integrated into most of Tatcha's products.

Hero Product: The Dewy Skin Cream

As far as moisturisers go, this one from Tatcha is on the pricier side. But if you've got terminally dry skin like me, this little jar keeps your face looking glossy all day long, unlike others that absorbed in seconds. Plus, I like the handy little applicator and its holder too.

Kiehl's

 

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Kiehl's is beauty with heritage. What began as a family apothecary has bloomed into a global skincare brand loved across generations, from Andy Warhol to Zoe Kravitz.

Hero Product: Ultra Face Cream

When I've been exposing my skin to too many new products, this is the base I bring it back to. Fragrance free, ultra rich without being heavy or tacky and set at an affordable price, this has become the workhorse in my beauty routine, and my parched skin laps it up every single time.

Furtuna Skin

 

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Italians do it better. Madonna knew it and so do we. At least that's how we feel about Furtuna Skin, which uses organic, wild foraged botanicals from Italy that are packed with nutrients. Sitting on the luxury price end, it's chic packaging drew us in while the science behind us holds our attention.

Hero Product: Due Alberi

Based around olive oil infused with botanicals that have been hand-picked from Furtuna Skin's certified organic farm in Sicily, a great deal of care has been taken at every stage of production. The oil aspect creates a long-lasting barrier while the use of nutrient-rich olive leaf water hydrates the skin. It's an indulgent option for anyone battling dry skin.

Sunday Riley

 

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Sunday Riley founded her eponymous brand with an almost non-existent budget and a passion for change. Now, 12 years on, the brand has gone from strength to strength, transforming the skincare regimes of people around the world – and leading the pack on the path to sustainability as it's B Corp Certified.

Hero Product: Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment

Exfoliants is dicey territory for anyone with dry skin. Sunday Riley do a good one. It's chemical exfoliant, powered by lactic acid, gently buffs away dead skin cells while the presence of arnica soothes and liquorice adds radiance and reduces dark spots.

 

Best skincare lines for oily skin

REN

 

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REN has maintained a solid presence in the beauty world for over two decades, formulating clean products and working only with naturally derived ingredients to create effective products for all skin types.

Hero Product: Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk

When you want something with a bit more grunt than Cetaphil but need its gentle approach, this is the cleanser for you. Its crafted with soothing Calendula extract and can be dabbed on and off, to avoid as little irritation as possible. A godsend for the times when you're skin is feeling particularly tender.

Omorovicza

 

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The earth's crust is thinner in Hungary, which is just to say that its thermal springs have unique healing properties due to the minerals present. It's for this reason that Budapest, with its many natural springs, has been dubbed the "International Spa City", a claim Hungarian skincare brand Omorovicza pivots off. Leaning into this history, the founders behind Omorovicza wanted to find a way to deliver these properties deep into the epidermis.

Hero Product: Balancing Moisturiser

Arriving in a gel-like formula, this moisturiser from Omorovicza has a cooling effect and is anti-shine for all oily girlies.

Alpha H

 

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Made on the Gold Coast, in the 25 years since Alpha H has been operating it's become somewhat of an authority on the use of glycolic acid in skincare, delivering a range of corrective solutions.

Hero Product: Melting Moment Cleansing Balm

A cleansing balm just has a certain ring to it. From the outset you're made aware that it won't strip your skin, instead it will leave it feeling clean and supple. For those of us with oily skin, there's nothing else you can ask for. This one from Alpha H melts away dirt, pollutants and the more stubborn SPF.

Caudalie

 

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In the 1990s, when Caudalie was conceived, creating skincare from ingredients meant for taste was not the norm. ‘Clean’ or ‘natural’ were not ideas that had made their way into the wellness zeitgeist. With natural-origin ingredients and organic essential oils, they're at the forefront of this beauty movement,

Hero Product: Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

According to Caudalie, one Vinoperfect Radiance Serum is sold every 30 seconds around the world. So yeah, you could say this one has garnered a reputation as the brand's hero product. It's oil free and dermatologically tested.

 

Best Australian skincare lines

Go-To

 

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At the helm of Australian skincare is Zoe Foster-Blake's millennial pink beauty brand Go-To. The former beauty editor and author is in no rush to load up the line with random products all claiming different results. Go-To is no nonsense and straight-talking, cutting through the often jargon-heavy marketing of the beauty world.

Hero Product: Face Hero

Beauty editors have been singing the praise of face oils for some time now. Face Hero is a testament to their staying power. It's lightweight – and so should be applied first, counterintuitive I know – and made from 10 different plant and nut oils. If you're wearing makeup, this makes application a joy, and will leave your skin glowy and glistening.

Aesop

 

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Aesop has set the gold standard for body care. The Melbourne-born brand is instantly recognisable with its chic packaging and herbaceous, earthy scents, a mainstay on the bathroom vanity's of celebrities and regular folk alike. It's skincare is no different, developed with reputable ingredients and scientific processes, each product dreamt up as a result of a genuine response from Aesop admirers.

Hero Product: Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum

If you're new to Aesop skincare, there's plenty of hidden gems to unearth. We suggest starting with its Parsley Seed range, specifically its much-loved serum. Use it daily for best results. Lightweight and arriving with a fresh floral scent, it fortifies skin and guards it against the many pollutants we encounter on a daily basis.

Lesse

 

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Founded on a philosophy that less is more, through rigorous research and thoughtful consideration Lesse offers up a discerning edit of five products it deems essential, with mindful packaging and quality ingredients.

Hero Product: Regeneration Mist

A soothing mist that combines chamomile, aloe vera, jojoba and mushrooms. It's hydrating, offering relief for flustered skin and has become a grounding ritual in our self-care routine.

Sodashi

 

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A Sanskrit word, Sodashi means wholeness, purity and radiance. Cruelty free and formulated with total transparency, each product is hand-formulated with cold-pressed botanicals.

Hero Product: Brightening Marine Mineral Mask

Spotlighting the power of spirulina and rosewood, this mask manages to deep cleanse and hydrate. Load it on on a Sunday night when you want to glow for the week ahead or as a hack when you're feeling rundown or tired.

 

Best Korean beauty lines

Laneige

Not for nothing, this cult favourite brand has most of beauty TikTok in a chokehold. It's Lip Sleeping Mask is one of the highest selling on the market for a reason. But it doesn't stop there, Laneige serums, laden with goodies like niacinamide, are a genuine skin saver and the K-beauty brand has built a reputation as hydration experts.

Hero Product: Lip Sleeping Mask

Considering that Laneige specialises in in water science, it makes sense that the cult favourite Lip Sleeping mask, boasting more than 11,000 reviews on Sephora, sweeps the top spot as a hero product. Arriving in five saccharine flavours – Vanilla, Berry, Gummy bear, Mango and Sweet Candy – as well as limited edition options, it plumps lips, and you'll honestly end up just using it as a lip gloss. You've been warned.

Sulwhasoo

Pronounced “Suhl-ha-soo," this skincare brand was founded on the philosophy of balance. Utilising Korea's finest natural ingredients, Sulwhasoo is one of the best selling Korean brands on the market. In keeping with the brands holistic approach, you won't find any nasties or overpowering scents.

Hero Product: First Care Activating Serum

A bottle of this baby is sold every 10 seconds. The data speaks for itself. Penned as an "indispensable, anti-aging essence" this serum contains a potent cocktail of five Korean herbs that hydrate, nourish and visibly firm, as well as prepping the skin so that it can better absorb the products that follow. A teamplayer if you will.

Glow Recipe

 

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After working together for L’Oreal, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee founded the fruit-infused brand in 2017. What started as a Korean skincare market place has evolved into what is now referred to as Glow Recipe. Highlighting a singular fruit as the star of each product, your skin is in for juicy, nutritious pampering, all from the cutest packaging.

Hero Product: Watermelon Glow Mask

Korean beauty brands are the reason trends like glass skin hit the mainstream. So, if you're seeking out hydrated skin and a lit-from-within glow then try this bad boy. It's an overnight mask infused with hyaluronic acid and AHA to soften your face while you sleep, squeezing the most out of those idle hours.

innisfree

 

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What can we say? Any brand inspired by a Yeats poem can only be poetry in motion for us. Innisfree is a holistic skincare brand, using the natural ingredients found on the island of Jeju to enhance skin in the cleanest way possible. With an array of moisturisers, clay masks and serums, they truly have everything covered.

Hero Product: Green Tea Seed Serum

Spotlighting the powerful antioxidant properties of green tea, innisfree has surfaced with this serum. It has a pleasant scent and is an affordable option for those like myself with thirsty skin.

 

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