Ijeoma Chimezie

Product ReviewSkincare

Why I’m Obsessed with the Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner: Product Review

If you know me, you know that I’m a huge fan of the Bolden skincare brand. I randomly discovered their brightening glycolic acid toner) in  late 2016/ early 2017 (can’t remember exactly), but I’ve never looked back since then. For this product review, I’m sharing why this toner is part of my daily beauty Rx and some beauty science to keep you skin savvy.

Let me start by saying #naijanodeycarry last. If you’re not Nigerian, ask one of your Nigerian friends to translate (lol). If you don’t have Nigerian friends, then I’m judging you a little bit (totally joking). Founded by two Nigerian sister (well sisters-in-law), Bolden is a black-owned, indie skincare brand that:

aims to EMBOLDEN women to confidently embrace their natural beauty and help shape the global conversation about inclusive standards of beauty.
Sooo, Ok these are not my words, but I love it and I’m here for all it!!

If I could bathe in this toner daily,  I probably would– that’s how much I love this toner. Of course there are other great toners out there (in fact, I’ve shared some with you on my “To Tone or Not to Tone” post, but the Bolden glycolic acid toner is a personal favorite and staple in my daily skincare routine. After seeing such great results with this toner, I decided to try Bolden products and I only have great things to say.

Contrary to the misperception about toners,  this toner is actually very hydrating and I love how it sets my skin up for the rest of my routine. And I can always guarantee that my skin will feel refreshed every single time. I will say, I have one small confession— I have a habit of washing my face, toning, and then waiting a bit long to apply the rest of my routine. Whenever I find myself doing this, I just re-apply the toner.. and without a doubt my skin flourishes like… VIOLA! 


The key ingredients that made this product stand out for me were: niacinamide, glycolic acid, licorice root extract and panthenol. When it comes to skincare, my advice will forever be to skip the product claims and go to straight to the ingredient label

Here’s a quick dose of beauty science on these ingredients:

 As I shared on my previous post on toners, the right toner is prep for your skin. With skin-boosting and hydrating active ingredients, this toner DEFINITELY will help you reap the benefits of the rest of your skincare routine. I always have an unopened bottle on my skincare shelve at all times. So, if you’re trying to win and take your skin to the next level (not just for the spring time glow but all year round), I highly recommend this Bolden brightening glycolic acid toner as part of your daily skincare lineup.

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3 Ways I’m Refreshing My Skincare Routine This Spring

spring skincare routine by The Beaute Script

The days are warmer and longer, the flowers are in bloom, and spring is officially here! And with that comes another reason to purge a little in the name of a spring overhaul. Of course, some major purging will be done, but right now the focus is reviving my skin and my glow (after the harsh winter). And on this post, I’m sharing 3 ways I’m refreshing my routine for the spring and the products I’m using to elevate my glow. Of course, this is not the entire spring refresh… there’s more to come but I’m pacing myself. For now, this is the start of my springtime bloom.

Adding an eye cream to show my eyes some extra TLC

This step in the skincare routine has always been controversial-some experts say you don’t need it because your moisturizer with SPF should be enough, others swear by it. Personally, I’ve been a very inconsistent eye cream user, but this spring I’m switching it up. I’m committing to showing my eyes some extra TLC. Maybe it’s the wisdom of 30, (well it’s really because I tend to rub my eyes a bit too much and it’s starting to show). With the skin around the eyes being much thinner and sensitive (40% thinner than the rest of the face), I’m being more proactive about reducing puffiness and bags under my eyes. Now, I’m not saying eye cream will instantly transform every eye concern under the sun, because there are so many factors to consider and a dermatologist can help identify these factors. But…  the right product may help prevent your concern from worsening.

Here’s my personal wish list of exceptional eye creams with effective ingredients that address dryness, puffiness, dark circles and fines (all at different price points). I want to be enjoy the wisdom that comes with maturing, feel AND look forever young and confuse the masses.

So if you’ve been thinking about adding an eye cream, I say start with one that’s going to address your concerns and use it consistently. As for me, I’ll be starting with Sunday Riley for the next couple of months, and of course will you posted with a review. But please, comment below if you want a more extensive review on why I choose each of these products. Also, let me know some of your favorites.

Elevating my glow with a daily vitamin C serum

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the buzz around vitamin C–if you haven’t, I’m judging you (lol). What’s the big hype?  Back by a wealth of scientific research, the evidence is pretty clear: vitamin C is truly a powerhouse ingredient for your glow-up. It’s a naturally occurring ingredient that helps to even and brighten skin tone to reduce hyperpigmentation and also boost collagen production. As an antioxidant, it shield your skin from free radicals (from UV exposure and pollution), and thereby boosts the protection offered by your sunscreen. When it’s well formulated and at an optimal concentration, vitamin C, especially in combination with other powerful antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid, is a like a skincare magic in a bottle!

There are so many great vitamin C serums to choose from–two of  my favorites include Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (it’s a bit more on the pricey side but worth the hype) and the Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%, which I love to use during the winter weather. While I love those two products, I’m always look to try something new and I’m pretty excited to try this Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster because it’s been on my skincare wish list for a while (and I’m on a budget)! The price point is pretty awesome and you get a concentrated blend of 15% stabilized vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E.  Also, I love the idea of being able to simply mix it with other serums before applying my moisturizer with SPF. If you want to use it on its own as a separate step, you can do that too- it absorbs into the skin pretty well and is super lightweight!  

There’s a lot of science behind vitamin C formulation (which actually deserves an entire post), but really quickly, here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to add a vitamin C serum to your routine (click each tip for more info).

Vitamin C comes in a lot of different forms and they are not all equal in stability and how well it absorbs into the skin. Ingredients to look for on product labels include L-ascorbic acid (which is the most common form and also used in the C15 booster), tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, magnesium-L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate (MAP),  ascorbyl palmitate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, among others.

For some people, L-ascorbic acid might be too harsh on the skin especially if you have sensitive skin. In this case, you may want to opt for a MAP-based vitamin C serum or look for ascorbyl palmitate in the ingredient label. Additionally, MAP is shown to have a hydrating effect and decrease transepidermal water loss (another major plus).

Packaging matters. Exposure to air and light destabilizes the vitamin C. When selecting a vitamin C product you want to make sure it’s packaged packaged in opaque tubes, air-tight bottles, or single-use, individually wrapped products or pumps that help keep their ingredients you want to go with products.

If you’ve been thinking about it (or finished reading this post and want to add a vitamin C serum to your routine), here are few other vitamin C serums on my wish list that exceptional! 

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum
Obagi Professional Vitamin C Serum
Obagi Professional-C Serum
Leveling up my night-time routine to say Goodbye To Dark Mark

Just when I’m soooo close to getting rid of the dark spots from my random breakouts, life gets real and the stress shows up on my face.  This spring I’m giving Urban RX’s Even Tone Night Treatment a try! This product has received so many raving reviews that I’m excited to give it a try and experience it for myself.  With all honestly, I tend to go for the dark spot treatment that do not contain hydroquinone (I’ll explain later). However, I’m more than willing to give this product a try because it has a great blend of other effective ingredients for hyperpigmentation, like kojic acid, retinol, and alpha-arbutin.

Another major plus that caught my attention with product is fact that all these skin-brightening ingredients are at the top of the list, along with other hydrating and moisturizing ingredients– squalane, hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil. Remember the general rule of thumb when it comes to selecting skincare products for targeted concerns– if you don’t, here’s where I talk about that.

SO MY NEW NIGHT-TIME BEAUTY RX  (IN AN ALTERNATING PATTERN) CONSISTS (more details to come on a future post): 

A chemical exfoliant 3x a week, my over-the-counter retinol 1-2x a week (on the days I’m not exfoliating), and then this even tone night treatment on the remaining days. While I’m happy to share this new routine, please don’t paste this routine for yourself. Everybody’s skin is different and has different needs.  For optimal results (and to avoid overdoing it), you really want to build up the use of the different products any product you use to treat specific skin concerns.

Ok, so back to hydroquinone before I close out….

Hydroquinone  is definitely a potent and highly researched ingredient for hyperpigmentation. In fact, it is one of the key ingredients in a prescription ONLY product for melasma, called Tri-Luma® cream but at a higher concentration. However, there are some skin-related concerns with misuse over a long-term like ochronosis and skin irritation.

Nevertheless, this is why formulation matters along with appropriate use. I’m looking forward to seeing the results from consistent use of this treatment over the next couple of months before trying  other dark spot treatments. 

Ok so these are SOME of the skincare I’m using to level up this spring…. key word “some”. Parceling it out in small chunks. My question for you is…. how are you overhauling your skincare to transition from winter to spring? Share below.

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7 Tips To Make the Most of Your Skincare Shopping

Skincare Shopping, SpaceNK

New Year, New You! And of course, new skincare goals right? Well if you’re looking to do it right, you’ll need a solid plan to navigate the zillion products available without being too overwhelmed about where to start. Before you hit the aisles or surf your favorite online store, here are 7 tips to help you shop like a skin-savvy native.

As with everything else, it’s always nice to have a goal in mind when shopping for skincare. Are you looking to create a daily routine or do you need to update what you’re currently using? Having a specific focus always make the process a lot easier and will help you avoid over-spending. Once you have your goal in mind, be sure to set your budget before you enter any store or shop online. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always start with a Google search before going to the store. Alternatively, you can also make multiple trips to your store of choice: visit #1–figure out which products you may want to buy based on your goals, write it down the name and price of each product, and create your budget accordingly. Visit #2 (or 3)–make your purchase. 
Read the Ingredients List
Reading Skincare Product Labels
Reading the label and checking a product’s ingredient list will help you determine if you’re really getting your dollars’ worth. The general rule of thumb is ingredients on product labels are listed in order of their concentration. The first 5 ingredients or so are usually the bulk of the formula, but there are certain ingredients that do not have to be at the top to demonstrate its effectiveness like antioxidants. Remember, it’s all about a balance when it comes to skincare. So be sure to read the ingredients to the end.  
Keep in mind, just because an ingredient is hard to pronounce doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. The notion that “if you can’t pronounce something, you should not put it on your skin” is misleading because it paints everything in black and white– and we know that’s usually NOT the case. Often times, such complex names describe the chemical structure of an ingredient. Let’s also forget that water is also a chemical, and if it were listed as its chemical name “dihydrogen oxide” it would not be as easy to recognize. 

Knowing your skin type is KEY when shopping for skincare because make better decisions about the products you should be using. Not only will this help you stay focused and targeted when buying products, it will also go along way in saving your money, time and frustration. Many people often use the wrong type of moisturizer or cleanser for their skin type and as a result, they don’t see results and get disappointed with skincare shopping. If you’re not sure, here’s a quick guide to help you determine your skin type: 

Skin Type
Once you know your skin types, you want to focus on the concerns next. Make sure that the ingredients in your products will either help to address the concern or avoid making it worse. For instance, if your skin tends to be a bit more sensitive, you want to avoid fragrances and irritants like drying alcohols,  sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) to name a few. If hyperpigmentation is your primary concern, you want to look for products with ingredients that will help address the dark spot, such as licorie root extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacinamide, and kojic acid. If dehydrated skin is your concern, you want to look for ingredient that will help you retain or attract moisture to the skin. 
Whatever do you, do not get caught up with the marketing lingo and claims. Let the ingredients speak for the product. Find out the role and benefit of at least the first 5 ingredients— this will help you understand why they’ve been added to the product. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also seek out the manufacturers for more specifics. 
You also want to seek out unbiased sources– whether it is this blog (of course) or other reputable blogs, websites or social media sources. If you’re dealing with concerns that are medical conditions like acne or rosacea, I highly recommend getting professional advice to optimize your shopping and results.  If you plan to ask a friend for a reco, make sure you also find out if you both have the same skin type or similar concerns as you because their result will vary based on these factors as well as other things. Find out WHY they like the product and HOW long they’ve used it (or have been using it). This will go a long way in helping you figure out whether you should try this product or not. 

Samples are a great way to see how well products work before you commit to a purchase–Don’t be shy about it. This is the part of skincare shopping that I love! If it’s possible to get enough to last you two good weeks,  go for it because you’ll need time to see results. Do keep in mind certain products require a longer duration of use before one see tangible results. Either way, stock up on samples of moisturizers and cleansers for sure–this is also part of your research.


PAO stands for “Period After Opening,” and many skincare (and beauty) products carry a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol like the one below. 

This “expiration date” is based on tests conducted by the brand/manufacturer.  It tells you when the product expires or how long after opening a product it should be thrown away. For example, a “12M” means a product should be thrown out 12 months after you’ve opened it. This information is usually on the box, so keep that in mind when you make your purchase. 

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What is hyperpigmentation? (Part 1: The Causes)

We’ve all experienced the post-blemish scarring from a stubborn breakout that you probably picked at ( even though we know better). Perhaps you’ve started to see increased sun spots or patchy discolored areas that never existed before. Well, these all fall under the umbrella term of “hyperpigmentation.” 

And if you asked many women of color (myself included) about their greatest skincare concerns, majority of the time the response will be hyperpigmentation, aka the nemesis of flawless skin–well one of them. Personally, I wouldn’t mind passing on the dark spots that linger every time I experience an unpleasant breakout. Because this is a hot topic, I decided to make it a two-part post. First, let’s first understand why it happens and what’s going under the surface of the skin before you see the darkened areas

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the medical term used to describe the darkening of the skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin as a result to some type of stimuli (which we describe in a bit more detail below). Hyperpigmentation occur as result of an increase in melanin production or the number of melanocytes. Hyperpigmentation can affect the skin color of people of any race. Check out the MELANIN 101 Instagram post for a bit more info. 

What causes hyperpigmentation?

There are many different factors that can trigger melanin overproduction, leading to hyperpigmentation. Some factors include sun exposure, inflammation or skin infection, injury to the skin and hormonal changes. The factors listed here only touch the surface of what contributes to hyperpigmentation—this is why it is important to consult with a dermatologist or trained skincare professional for a thorough assessment before trying all the million products out there. 

Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by certain medications and medical conditions—but we will just stick to the following examples since they tend to be more common: age spots (or sun spots), post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and melasma. Nevertheless a trained eye will help accurately diagnose and characterize the underlying medical cause of the hyperpigmentation, beyond those that are acne-related. By the way, Dr. Google and WebMD are not sufficient, because all hyperpigmentation marks are not handled the same.  

Sun Damage and Age Spots

Age spots are darkened spots that develop as a result of the cumulative effects of sun damage inflicted on our skin overtime. The spots are pale brown or gray in color and have a clearly defined edge. They typically develop on the areas of the skin most frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face and back of the hands.

Sunlight triggers melanin production, and to protect the skin, it acts like a barrier that scatters ultraviolet (UV) rays, and as an absorbent filter that reduces the penetration of UV through the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. In more simple terms,  melanin actually acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by protecting us from harmful UV rays. However, overexposure can disrupt this protective process. So… yes basking in the sun comes with a price that may not look as good in your 50-60s as it did during your 20-30s. Additionally, the number of sunspots that can be seen tends to increase with age.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)…aka the nemesis of even skin tone, as you can guess from the name refers to darkening of the skin caused by an injury or inflammation. For instance, PIH is how your body reacts when you decide to pick at that breakout even though you knew you had no business doing so and now you have a mark to remember it by (haha).  Acne breakout is just one example—essentially any injury or trauma to the skin [whether it’s from a skin condition like ezcema, burns, allergic reactions, infection, insect bites, pseudofolliculitis barbae (aka razor bumps), or inflammatory skin conditions like psorasis] can trigger excess melanin production and cause PIH.  Darker skin tones usually are most commonly affected since we have more melanin.

PIH is often classified by dermatologists based on the depth of the hyperpigmentation, as either epidermal (top layer of skin), dermal (deeper layer of skin) or mixed. Epidermal PIH responds the most topical treatment. The affected areas of the skin can be darkened (even more) with sun exposure (hence the importance of sunscreen) and certain medications. 


Melasma (also called “chloasma” when it’s associated with pregnancy) is characterized by dark brown patches of irregular shape and skin. It’s often seen on the face but can occur anywhere else on the body. Although it is commonly associated with pregnancy and hormonal changes, melasma can also be drug/chemical-related or UV-related. Additionally, since melasma can be a symptom of another medical condition, it is very important to have a professional evaluation before trying to tackle it on your own (and possible make things worse). Unlike PIH, which responds to several OTC products that have skin-brightening ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, hydroquinone, and azelaic acid, melasma is a bit more difficult to treat and requires professional attention. (sidebar: you see how I just shared a sneak peak of the part 2 on the treatment options)

So what’s the key takeaway from Part 1?
  • There are a number of factors that contribute to excess melanin production defined by hyperpigmentation.  These factors include acne, sun damage, hormonal changes, other inflammatory skin conditions, etc.
  • Professional evaluation is highly recommended and will definitely save you a lot of money, as the different types/causes of  hyperpigmentation do not necessarily respond to treatment the same way.

If you’re looking for a deeper dive, @brownskinderm and Dr. Simela along with an all-star group of practicing dermatologists are hosting an informative, educational series on hyperpigmentation for the IG community. I’m almost 1000% sure they’ll answer every question you’ve ever had about hyperpigmentation. You definitely want to check it out.

References used:

  1. Kang, H. Y., & Ortonne, J. P. What should be considered in treatment of melasma. Annals of Dermatology. 2010; 22(4), 373-378.
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Using a toner is a skincare step that has been debatable for some time, which may have been attributed to the old school alcohol-based toners that were too astringent or extremely drying!! No Bueno, if you’re aiming for a glow-up.  As a result, toners have had a bad rep and are often neglected in skincare routines…until now!! The options available are endless!! Keep reading if you’re still on the fence about the benefits of toners.  I answer some questions that may help change your mind and guide you to product options as well. 

Why should you be using a toner?
Think of using a toner as the final step of your cleansing routine–it’s going to remove any dirt or makeup that did not get removed by your cleanser. Toners come in very handy especially if you’re using a cleanser that’s overdrying your skin and disrupting the skin’s acid mantle. [BTW: this means you’re not using the right cleanser for your skin type]. In this case, using a toner will help restore your skin’s pH balance (check out the post where I discuss why skin pH matters).
The right toner is prep for your skin, helping you reap the benefits of the rest of your skincare routine. With the right active ingredients, toners help soothe the skin, gently exfoliates to remove dead skin cells, reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, as well as regulates oil production.
One more reason–hydration, hydration, hydration to transform dehydrated or dull-looking skin.
How should you use toner?

Some people prefer to use their hands to apply the toner to their face; however, you can also use a cotton pad to apply your toner. Instead of using swiping motions, you want to use circular motions, focusing primarily on the forehead, nose, and chin areas. Be sure to avoid the eyes and mouth. Since skincare products penetrate the skin better when it is wet, you want to apply the toner immediately after cleansing for the best results (don’t wait more than one minute). Be sure to allow the toner to dry before continuing with the rest of your skincare routine. 

What should you be looking for in a toner for your skin type?
As with all other skincare products, it’s important to select a toner based on your skin type and whether it has the right active ingredients to address your needs/concerns
  • If you have acne-prone or oily skin: you want to look for ingredients that going to exfoliate the skin and regulate oil production. Look for alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid and also beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid. Another greate ingredient to look for is niacinamide, which has a lot of great skin benefits like helping pores regulate excess oil. If you prefer more natural active ingredients, look for tea tree (to help with oil control) and willow bark (for its natural exfoliating benefits) in the product ingredients.
  • If you have dry or dehydrated skin: you want to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!! So look for humectants -these ingredients hydrate the skin by preventing water loss and protecting the stratum corneum, the outer layer of skin, from becoming dry or dehydrated. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera are examples of such ingredients— they hydrate, moisturize and soften the skin. Rose water is also great for its hydrating benefits. Sodium PCA, which is naturally derived from plants, fruits, and coconut oil helps retain moisture, protect the acid mantle, and reduces inflammation in our skin.
  • If you are concerned with hyperpigmentation: you want to look for ingredients that will help to even out your skin tone like licorice root, kojic acid, ellagic acid, arbutin, and mandelic acid (a natural substance derived from strawberries, cherries, and pomegranates). Of course, AHAs and BHAs are essential to help increase skin cell turnover. 
  • If you have sensitive skin: you want to look for skin-soothing botanicals like aloe vera, cucumber, thyme and green tea and others that will help with moisture, hydration, or have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Other great ingredients that you want to look for regardless of your skin type include niacinamide to help maintain an even skin tone and texture. You also want to look for skin-replenishing ingredients that enrich the skin and keep it functioning properly like ceramides, glycerin (which I mentioned already), hyaluronic acid, and caprylic/capric triglyceride. Antioxidants like vitamin C (ascorbic acid), CoQ10, vitamin E (tocopherol), or hibiscus flower help to fight free radical damage contributes to premature skin aging and protect against skin aging caused by pollution. 
A toner with antioxidants alone IS NOT enough to prevent skin aging from sun damage or pollution. To get adequate protection, daily use of serums with antioxidants, moisturizers and most importantly sun protection are must-haves in any skincare routine.
What should you avoid in a toner?
 Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol!!  While products with alcohol give immediate attractive results (like making your skin look and feel more matte which can be appealing if you’re prone to oily skin), it tends to be counterproductive and causes more issues in the long term. Ok so let’s be clear, there is “good” and “bad” alcohol for your skin. The good ones are called fatty alcohols which act as emollients–on ingredient labels they include cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol. The alcohol we don’t want are SD alcohol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol to name a few.


Sooo, I know you’ve been waiting for this part. Here are some of my top recommendations after reviewing product lists and reviews for over 50 toners (via Sephora and Dermstore for now….a very tedious task but I did it with love… and don’t worry I didn’t do it all in one seating… it took me quite a bit of time).  I’ve also included several of my personal tried-and-true toners like BOLDEN Brightening Glycolic Toner,  Lancôme Absolue Premium Bx Replenishing Toner, and Caudalie Beauty Elixir. 

If you’re wondering about my criteria for selection: I shop for skincare based on the product label. Because I cannot possibly try everything (I only have one face hahaha), I focus on the ingredient list, and pay less attention to the marketing claims and what the brand wants me to think (this is how you select great products and get your money’s worth). I also compare the ingredient list to who the label says it’s good for to make sure the right ingredients are included for the appropriate skin type/concerns.  (Thank goodness for being a pharmacist and knowing where to go to find answer to any question that’s science related!!)

For the recommendations below, I only selected results-driven products, researched ingredients listed to better understand its use and role in the product (and outcome) and avoided products with alcohol within the top 10 ingredients listed. (I must say I was slightly disappointed to come across many toners from reputable brands containing the “bad” alcohols at the top of their ingredient list). 


Shop for skincare based on the product label. Focus on your needs and what's listed on the product list. Pay less attention to the marketing claims and what brands wants you to think.

This list is by no means a comprehensive list, rather it’s a guide to help you identify ingredients and products to consier as you shop for a toner to complete your cleansing routine. 

So, to answer the question—TO TONE!! And now you also have products to consider!  Let me know below if you see toner on here that you’d be interested to try. I’d love to hear from you. 

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