Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Clinique Clarifying Lotion

NUMBER 1!!!!11! Hope you enjoyed this. When I started the blog, I just about killed myself writing these things. Unlike my work in The Herald, these posts seemed sooooo looooong, but now I’m in the swing. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for new reviews and features this week!

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When I was in my 20s, my godmother recommended that I start a proper skin care regimen. The gist of her argument was that just because I looked amazing and youthful right then didn’t mean that I could I take it for granted, and if I wanted to extend my years of amazingness and youthiness, I had better get cracking right away.

Clinique Clarifying tonerI chose Clinique. I can’t remember why, except that their fresh and spare ad campaigns made them, in my mind, modern and suited to my youthful amazingness. I got the 3-step thingie — the soap, the yellow moisturiser, and the Clarifying Lotion 2. I had to google the yellow stuff just now (Dramatically Different!) because I stopped using it ages ago, and the soap is distant, misty memory, but I have not yet found anything that is as effective as the Clarifying Lotion in terms of cleaning and toning my skin.

Despite its slightly astringent tingle, it doesn’t dry out my face. I just don’t feel like I’ve cleaned off the day if I don’t feel that blast of icy freshness. And who can argue with the power of Clinique Bonus Days! I ask you! Even after all these years of beauty largesse, the sight of a wee collection of cunningly assembled samples in some class of clever case sends a thrill racing through my veins. I’ve still got the mini bottle from that one Bonus that one Time, that had held Clarifying Toner — I continue to decant into it when traveling, and wouldn’t be without it.

Yes, indeed: many, many years on, it’s still a go-to/must have,/unassailable element of my beauty regimen. If you must know how many years it has been, well, I remember when all this product came in glass bottles. I think the years have been pretty kind to me, so clearly Clinique has done its job well. Many thanks to them, and to Auntie Sue, too!

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€36/$46/£33

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: bliss vanilla + bergamot

The first time I posted this, I upper-cased the b, the v, and the other b, even though it is not the style of the brand. This lower-case-ness is all well and good on a shelf — not so much in a post or in anything editorial. I think it looks weird. It’s weird, right?

I forgive it, though, as I love this line entirely. Number 2 in the series; at this writing I continue to long for something for The Hair that smells of this lovely, lovely scent…

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I’ll always remember the first time I got a whiff of Bliss’ cunning combination of vanilla and bergamot: I was working as the art director of a super cool female’s magazine, and one of my colleagues pretty much thrust an open tub of the Body Buff under my nose. ‘Oh, my God!’ I sighed. ‘It smells like the beach!’*

V+BIf ever there was a hoard-worthy product line, it is this one. I couldn’t bear to not have it around, just in case — and ‘just in case’ = the possibility of sharing my fragrant, beachy, perfectly exfoliated skin with a… ‘friend’. As it is, this scent almost exists almost entirely in my memory, because I allow myself to use it so rarely. (Which either says sad things about the state of my… ‘friendships’, or implies that I choose my ‘friends’ with extreme care. Let’s agree on the latter, shall we?)

Oh, but when I do decide to break out the V+B, I do it thoroughly and completely. The Body Buff is truly superb, and one of the top five I have ever used. The Soapy Suds come next, naturally, and of course it is all capped off with the wonderfully rich Body Butter. I only wish there was a shampoo and conditioner. And a perfume. And a — a hat, or something. I wish there were clothes that smelled like this.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I am so not. The smell of the seashore is hardwired into the pleasure centre of my brain, so that, like a rat in a Skinner box, once I get a whiff of beachy goodness all I want is more. Some of the best times of my life were spent oceanside, and a tonne of unencumbered joy is triggered by the glorious scent of the auld V+B. I am a great believer in aromatherapy, and the days in which I walk around, wafting the joyful fragrance of undiluted joy and optimism, I have a very joyful and optimistic day. It is totally true.

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Body Buff £28/€39/$36, Body Butter £20/€25/$28, Soapy Suds £16/€22/$18

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*I have absolutely no idea why the combination of vanilla + bergamot smells like the beach, but it does.

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I have a line on a scent that will complement this perfectly, but is not Of The Brand. Can you guess what it is?!?

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Too Faced Caribbean in a Compact, Snow Bunny

Whoops! Here’s the number ten product in my revised Top Fave All-Time Products, which I should have posted last week. D’oh! Just as well, really, because there was a dead link within, and I tweaked this accordingly, with information as to how to order Sephora from Ireland, which is v v spendy. No wonder everyone goes bonks when in NYC or abroad…

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People often ask me, ‘Sue, do you ever buy beauty products anymore, and if you do, what would they be? ’The first one that always springs to mind is this cutie-pie compact from Too Faced: Carribean in a Compact Snow Bunny Subtly Sun-Kissed Bronzing Powder {which is now known in Sephora as Too Faced Snow Bunny Luminous Bronzer -ed}.

TOO FACED snow bunnyThat looks very ‘yum’ to me, like Neapolitan ice cream, which, as I suspected, is almost entirely an American construction. Here, you’ve go the bonus fourth flavour, which is probs the one far right, to swirl all over your face in order for it to look sun-kissed and glowy.

I was a bronzer loser when I started down the slippery slope of self-tanning, and this one was my salvation. Even I couldn’t mess this up. A perfect combination of lowlight and highlight, of gold + white + pink + fawn, this flows over the face like the sun itself, and during the Tanning Times, I never walk out of the door without it.

Imagine my distress when I began to run out of my trial version. It didn’t seem to be available anywhere in Dublin, and the brand no longer seemed to be represented by anyone in the PR world. So, on a trip to NYC, I lunged into a Sephora and grabbed up two. This number now seems optimistic: I’ve gone through the first one, and occasionally look at the other one in my drawer, with relief and trepidation.

At the time of this writing, I’ve rung all round town, to see whether a shop in town is carrying the brand, to no avail. Ah, well. There’s always online shopping, and as Sephora don’t have a store in the UK, much less in Ireland, you can order from France. Here’s a handy link, if you happen to read French; if not you can google-translate it.

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€26 from sephora.fr, plus shipping, which is — wait for it — €18 {merde!}/£22/$30

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

I keep losing track of — hang on — right, okay, this is number 3 of 10, and it is all I can do, on a daily basis, to not lash a bottle of this in my handbag so that I can re-apply it with the same regularity as I do with lip balm. This is delicious, and also so great for me pelt. And I absolutely can spell prodigieuse without looking.

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I am sensing a trend.

I really like things that smell nice.

Here’s another extraordinarily lovely-smelling thing, and it is also a thing that comes in another version with sparkle in it. Can it be more perfect?

I love it so much, I can actually spell Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse without looking it up.

NUXE-06This is a multi-use dry oil, which means it is not greasy, which means you can use it all over your entire self without worry> Hmm, yes, well. I used it once in my hair because there was a Nuxe shampoo that didn’t have an accompanying conditioner; it was recommended that I use this, and the result was not happy. I may try it again as an intensive scalp treatment yokie bob, because what else do I have to do with my time — but I also like to give things their fair dues.

Otherwise, using this everywhere else is highly recommended. The scent is delicious, and I suppose it is the result of the perfect alchemy of its ingredients: Borage, St Johnswort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut, Macadamia Plant Oils. Now, I wouldn’t know what borage smelled like if it crawled up my nose, but I do know the smell of almond as used in product, and suspect that the Huile errs on the side of this natural element.

Does it? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. This stuff is great first thing in the morning, as applied on damp, shower-fresh skin and massaged in deeply; all the way to last thing at night after you’ve cleansed and toned.

As if that’s not enough, there’s a Huile Prodigieuse Or that is a summertime essential. This is the one that brings the golden sparkle; I’ve decided not to wait for June, and will be dousing myself in this, liberally, to beat the January* blues.

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For 100mls: €30/£33/$45

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*Or the March blues, as apparently yees are up to your oxters in the horrible, cold white stuff.

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Jo Malone Body Crème

Into the final four! I had a hard time picking the top top of my Top All-Time Faves For Now, so, I don’t know, I think from here on in, they are all number one. I adore number 4 the way I adore my loved ones, no lie. May I acquaint you with a beloved member of the Conley family?

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Everything about Jo Malone feels rich: the beautiful cream-and-black branding, the boxes, the ribbons, and most particularly, the heavy glass tub that contains the luxurious body créme.

There is absolutely nothing like the Jo Malone Body Créme. I don’t like all the scents — and frankly, I wouldn’t blame you feeling completely suspicious of me if I did — but the ones that I do, I adore. Unconditionally. Without reservation.

Lime Basil & Mandarin. Pomegranate Noir. Amber & Lavender! Oh, I forgot about that last one. I went to swap the places of LM&B and PN, but I can’t. I don’t think I can. Can I? No, not possible. Even though I layer PN with pleasure, and everyone knows what it is, and I don’t mind everyone recognizing it, because it is so delightfully sensuous, and something of a signature scent for me … I still can’t put it first, because it wasn’t my first.

JO MALONE LBMLime Basil & Mandarin. I had no idea that this Sweet Sixteen was going to be so nostalgic, but I have just gone off into a mental video memory of the first time I got a whiff of the stuff. I had been hanging with some pals, enjoying the bubbling hot tub at the SPORTSCO Leisure Centre in Ringsend {why do I remember it as the ESB gym?} and then after repairing to the changing room, one of the women passed around the body crème. Its heavy glass jar immediately communicated its splendour, and an obsession was born.

I had to have it. I had to have it for myself. I didn’t care that I was suddenly smelling that scent everywhere I turned; rather, it became the clarion call of a little club of ladies who knew what was what when it came to self care, and about splurging a mad amount of money of a thing that didn’t last for an appreciable amount of time.

Ah, now! That last bit is not so true. Because it so well-crafted, you need less than you think to enfold yourself in the fragrant goodness that is a Jo Malone body crème. So all of us who were amongst the vanguard were less annoyed at smelling ourselves coming and going {oh, dear, that sounds nasty} and more keen to appreciate the savvy of our fellow Malonistas.

It’s like being a member of a club whose only agenda is to smell gorgeous. I consider myself to be a lifetime member, with honours.

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€63/£48/$75

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt

The criteria for choosing the ten out of sixteen all-time faves was: do I wish I had it on me, right this second, away from home? Number 5 fits that guideline like a glove — a deliciously fragrant and indulgent and luxurious glove…

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Here is my recipe for the perfect home-spa experience: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt.

That’s it. That’s all you need.

I’m delighted to be able to make this recommendation in typed-out words, because confidence in my articulation abilities takes a terrible dip when I try to speak the word ‘frangipani’; ‘monoi’ is not so bad, but following hard on the heels of the preceding fail, it just makes the whole situation worse that it needs to be.

mmm elemis{I say fraangeepannee, as opposed to the more American way, which because of the longer, fancy ‘a’ sounds, would be frahhhhngeepahhhhhnee. Both sound equally awkward to me, in my actual voice.}

Linguistics aside, this stuff is the stuff of dreams. Fill your bathroom sink with hot water. Set the bottle — the lovely smoked glass bottle — in the water so that the solid material within softens into a luscious oil. Run a bath. You could even run the bath and meltify the Melt in the tub! Whatever: at some stage, shake in a few {million} drops. Enter; recline; relax.

Dunk your head under the water, then proceed to shake a few {million} drops of the Fraheheheheh on your head. Massage into your scalp. Sigh with pleasure.

Language, and pronunciation therefore, will cease to be an issue.

Get out of the bath before you, yourself melt. Shake the previously recommended number of drops of oil on your wet skin, massage. Pat yourself dry with a towel. Maybe rinse your hair out if you’re going out that evening — although why you would is utterly beyond my comprehension. You’ve just given yourself an amazingly self-nurturing treat! Stay home! Put your feet up! Get someone to make you your tea!

The only caution I have is that I’ve heard from pals who are as in the know as I, that the Fraheheheheh yokie can tend to discolour white toweling robes. Not that you’re not going to wrap yourself up in one regardless, but know that you may have to give it a spin in the washing machine sometime after your Melt event. Or you may close your eyes to this, because your robe is going to smell gorgeous — almost as gorgeous as you do.

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€32/£29.70/$50.00

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Voya Lazy Days

Wish I had one of these on me right now. Still the best, most relaxing bath I have ever enjoyed. This is Sweet Sixteen Minus Six, number 6.

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I have always loved seaweed products. I used a powdered version for the bath {Seavite? I think so} that really required a strong drive to use, as it made a complete and utter mess of the bath after it was done. I mean, like, total ring-around-the-tub mess, and talk about a buzzkill, having to clean it up almost immediately after having sent all your tension down the drain. [Or else you have an argument with your live-in-fella-at-the-time because you let the mess go for a day or two, also a buzzkill.]

VOYA Lazy Days Seaweed BathI wasn’t sure about this when I got the box. I mean, it’s a box. How’s seaweed supposed to fit in a box? I knew the Voya line very well, and have even had their seaweed baths, based in Strandhill, Co Sligo, on my to-do list almost since I moved to Ireland. I knew that the entire product line was organic, and that the seaweed itself is harvested by hand. I didn’t know that you could get it freeze-dried into a roughly rectangular bundle.

Well, it is possible. The hunk of seaweed has been helpfully inserted into a mesh bag; there is, in addition, a wee bag of dead sea salt. <I wasn’t sure whether to captilise that or not, but Voya haven’t. Is ‘dead sea salt’ a thing that is separate now from the Dead Sea? Anyway: as instructed, I ran the bath full of hot, hot water and dropped the brick of weed in. I left the room to let it sit — I had to, because almost immediately the pure, salty scent of the seaweed began to waft around the bath. As I didn’t want to lose a layer or two of skin, which I would have done had I immersed myself, I went and did some email.

When I could bear it no longer, I went back and ran the water cold, sprinkled in some salt, and got in. Now, I love a good bath, and I go the full whack, with candles and a glass of wine, or when the circumstances demand, a short glass of Laphroaig, and appropriate musical accompaniment. Even then, I tend to get bored long before the water begins to cool. Not this time: I kept topping up the bath with as much hot water as it could handle without overflowing. I squeezed the now-football shaped net of weed to release even more of the gel that had infused the water. I was in there for almost 45 minutes.

If you take good care of it — I put mine in a large mixing bowl and covered the top with cling film — you can get another bath out of the ball. It’s not as transcendent as the first, but it is still pretty boss.

The re-hydrated bag of seaweed was pretty impressive, and also pretty: it bore no resemblance to the stuff that washes up on a beachy strand, and looked as if each… frond?… had been groomed to reveal its jagged beauty. I felt as relaxed as if I had visited the Strandhill baths themselves. This is a sublime treat for body and mind. Bonus: a cursory swipe of the bath the next morning was as hard as I had to work to clean up. In my book, there is no higher praise.

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Voya Lazy Days €16/£15.50/$32

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Lush’s Karma Line

Number 7! Still love this, and people always, always comment when I wear this. The good class of comments, of course!

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When I first received Lush’s Karma perfume, several years ago, it came in a kind of… well there’s no way to say it nicely. The bottle was ugly. It was squat, the label was unappealing, and its presentation was very, very ‘meh’. I gave it a cursory spritz, somewhere around my breastbone, and promptly fell in love.

I don’t know that much about perfume, except that I love it, and that it has always figured largely in my life. I love smelling good, and I love good smells; in an effort to KARMA FAMmaybe learn something, I went over to the Lush website, purveyors of Karma, and took a look at the ingredients.

I don’t feel much the wiser. I don’t know why six of the elements have asterisks, although I suppose I could make an educated guess or two {discretionary as regards the maker, perhaps? Because all their stuff is made by hand?} Eh, what do I care really, if it is fragrant?

And it is fragrant. Fresh, long-lasting, sweet without being cloying, Karma is great when you’re in the mood to really wear a scent. Meaning, you have so many elements to the line, you can layer and know that you are going to be exuding sweetness and freshness all day long.

I totally went to town on this one: I washed my hair with the solid shampoo bar, I moisturised with the… moisturiser, and then I doused myself in the scent, which is in a redesigned package. Still not sure they’ve got it right, as the opaque, black, squat bottle looks like something you might find in a goth apothecary rather than on the vanity table of a sweet and fresh-smelling lovely being.

There’s a bath melt, which is nice to use in an end-of-the-day soak. There’s soap, which I didn’t try, a more practical application of the fragrance at the beginning of the day, for me anyway; I can’t imagine trying to start the day with a bath…

There is not a conditioner*, which I lament.

There is also a solid version of the perfume, which for me is a fail: the product is red, and it stains my skin, and my clothes.

Clearly, this last is easily avoided if red wrists are not your thing, and the perfume will do the trick more comprehensively, anyway. Must get my hands on the soap, though, to truly experience the layering of Karma. The good kind, that is.

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Karma Komba Shampoo €7.90/£5.00/$10.95
Karma Kream Body Cream €16.15/£12.45/$27.95
Karma Bath Melt €5.90/£3.20/$6.95
Karma Perfume €24/£20/$42.95

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*As far as I know, from a quick google.

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Yes to Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask

Number 8 is a classic for all the right reasons: it is a mud that gets your face just the correct degree of squinchy, and yet it doesn’t get all cake-y and gross. Sadly Princess Marcella Borghese did not take the hint re: her Fango, so whateverrrrr, Your Highness!

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I can be a real snob when it comes to product. Growing up, I read too many magazines, and started to get a bit sniffy about cheapy cosmetics at an early age.

I couldn’t afford to be as posh as I wanted, but it didn’t stop me from dropping some serious dough whilst in art college: I had found a special something at a fancy Manhattan shop, on the Upper East Side {which is saying something, since I went to Pratt in Brooklyn} and — holy cow! early onset is pre-empted as I just remembered the name of it. I was struggling to remember what it was called and I couldn’t bring it up for the life of me until I started writing. The special something was a mud mask by Princess Marchella Borghese, who is still around. I would welcome any samples of her Fango: Active Mud for Face & Body for a future review, just to see if it is still as good as I remember it to be. The container was similar to what it is now, a luxuriously heavy glass jar; the mud was scented to just the correct degree, and it was my first experience of true self-care indulgence.

Whoops, down the rabbit hole! The point of the above was that having been exposed to a serious mud mask, anything else wouldn’t do. I like to keep an open mind, and have found several non-muddy masks to be effective, but to me, there is nothing like having my face squinched. I am sure there are anti-ageing arguments against this experience, but feck ‘em. I love a good squinch {TWSS} and in these modern times, I have found something that satisfies this need entirely.

yes-to-carrots-c-the-difference-exfoliating-and-soothing-mud-maskThe Yes To line has branched out to include Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Blueberries, but to me, Carrots will always be the cornerstone of the brand. These all-natural, crap-free products care for every part of you, and in general, they work as well as crap-laden products — and come on, let’s be honest, in general, most natural products simply don’t work. The cleansers don’t cleanse, the moisturisers don’t moisturise, or else they require so much more product to effect change that it’s not cost effective.

Or maybe our standards have become too laden with crap, and they work just fine, and we have only to adjust our expectations.

Expectations need not be adjusted when it comes to YTC’s C the Difference: Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask. It’s made from Dead Sea mud, and it’s rich and thick, yet applies smoothly — it’s not like you’ll be trowelling this on. Fragrance-wise, it is pleasant without being too perfume-y, and in this regard is one up on the Borghese, as far as memory serves < and it serves pretty darn well, considering. I tend to leave it on for way longer than the 5 minutes prescribed, but that’s me, the squinch-lovin’ beauty blogger, so take that with a pinch of Dead Sea salt.

Ooh, I’d love a dose of this right about now: I’ve just woken up and my face feels like it’s flaking off. The post-mask Carrots skin feels shiny and clean and new, and I’d love that right now. I’d also love to run around the house scaring my nephews with my crazy mud face. Ah, well, there’s always next time.

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€12.99/£12.35/$17

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: The New Top Ten of All Time {This Time}

Back in December of 2011, when I started this blog, I had the bright idea to do a series of essays to kick things off. I wanted to talk about my top ten products of all time — at that particular time, anyway.

This was the idea: to kick off my new blog about all things beautyfull with a Top Ten All-Time Fave Beauty Products as decided by me, someone who has not only been using make up and other assorted pampering products almost all her life (I count the Mr Bubble from my very early years to be evidence of self-care precosity) but has also been paid to opine about their relative merits and demerits for a number of years. Let’s say that, hmm, five new products a week x 52 weeks in the year = holy cow, 260 products a year.

Multiplied by how many years? Eek.

Right. Then I started counting up the Faves, and hmmm, yeah, it turned out to be a rather more than ten, but not enough to be — God help me — twenty-five. So then I decided that Sweet Sixteen had a definite editorial flair, with a soupçon of girly, and a splash of Americanism, so my blog was born.

I send my very best regards to any followers who were here to read all that, in the beginning. In the beginning I almost killed myself doing all the words for those posts, and I’ve learned a few tricks since then. Over the next several days, we’re going to take a trip into the wayback machine because, you know what? There really are only ten that have stood the test of time.

Well, that time, anyway. I wonder what my top ten products of all-new-time would be now?

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You can cut me off at the pass and search the category SWEET SIXTEEN — or you can just watch this space!

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Nary a lip balm in the lot! Nor anything for The Hair! Disgraceful!

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