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Common Mistakes And Tips: Henna For Hair


After so many years of doing henna and natural herbs for hair, and getting all sorts of questions, I really felt we could use a good post on common mistakes and errors, when it comes to henna for hair (and herbs). We’ve included some amazing tips that everyone should know.

Beautiful Rich Henna and Indigo'ed Hair

This list will never be complete, and we’ll need all of you to help add to it. Henna and natural hair care is all about being open, having a good vibe, being natural, and accepting each and every recipe as special, and unique to every person.

  • Henna is a plant, not a chemical, or ink. Henna is a natural plant, and it grows in very hot climates. As a natural plant it makes only one color: orange-reddish tones. Plants don’t give us more then one color. Typically blueberries stain blue, just as henna stains red. Commercial boxes of henna will tell us they are henna “colors”, but in fact they are pre-mixed boxed of henna that contain other herbs, and ingredients (sometimes even chemicals, additives, or metallic salts). It’s also not an ink. Henna powder is mixed into a henna paste, which can be used to dye your hair (permanent until it grows out), or to create henna body art designs (temporary) on the skin. Please read our recipes and how to’s section to find out how.
  • Henna colors, is this possible? A lot of commercial boxed henna hair dyes will have a variety of colors available. Natural and 100% pure henna only dyes orange-reddish tones. Please always read the list of ingredients on the boxes you purchase, or just purchase 100% pure henna powder from a reliable supplier.
  • Henna will not lighten your hair tone. Henna is a chemically-free all natural hair dye. It doesn’t contain chemicals, or bleaching ingredients that would lighten your hair.
  • Neutral Henna. Cassia obovata is sometimes called neutral henna, but in fact it is another plant that has a low yellow dye molecule, that can color grey, light, and blond hair. On dark hair, cassia obovata will not usually show any color. Using cassia obovata will give you all the benefits of henna, but it does have to be done a bit more often, as the results are not as long term as henna is.
  • Black Henna. Indigo is sometimes called black henna, but this is yet another plant that will color the hair brown to black tones (must be used with henna to give these results). Indigo does not have dye release the same way that henna does, so it must be mixed and used right away, or within 15-20 minutes. Please make sure your indigo does not contain PPD, which is can be quite damaging to the hair, and skin.
  • If I use henna I won’t ever be able to use chemical dyes/treatments on my hair. As long as you use 100% pure henna powder, then yes you can use chemical dyes/treatments as you normally do. You won’t have to wait months to do your chemical treatments/dyes as the hair dresser would like to tell you. Keep in mind, that the hair industry is run by major companies that push all types of chemical products. They are in no way trained, or specializing in henna, and natural hair care (for the most part). You should give your hair a break in between treatments. Roughly about 1-2 weeks.
  • How much henna do we need to use for our hair? No, you don’t need 500 grams of henna powder to color (treat) bra strap length (BSL) hair. First thing that needs to be asked is, how long is your hair, and secondly, how thick is your hair. Those are questions that need to be answered first in order to access how much henna powder you’ll need. You also don’t want to spend more money on products then you have to.
    General speaking, shoulder length hair needs about 100 grams of powder, bra strap length about 200-250 grams, hip length about 300-350 grams, and so on.
  • Should I use lemon juice in my recipe? No, you don’t have to use lemon juice as your primary, and only liquid ingredient in your henna (herbal) hair recipe. So many people would have turned away and abandoned henna and natural herbal hair care, if they thought they could only use lemon juice. Lemon juice is acidic, and can be very drying on your hair. You can add a small splash of lemon juice, if you’d like. We usually add a bit of lemon juice. The most highly recommend liquid to use is warm water. You can even use tea (any variety of your choice), or coffee brews as well (for dryer scalps be careful with these as they can also be a bit drying). Chamomile tea has become quite popular to use in henna hair recipes.
  • Is henna a temporary hair dye? No, henna is not temporary. It is a permanent hair dye. Henna alone only dyes orange-red tones. The only way to remove it is to let it grow out, or cut your dyed hair. That is why it is always recommended you do hair strand tests before making the “full head” committment.
  • Can henna, and herbs for hair be drying? Yes they can be drying. If you have a dry scalp, then you will need to moisturize. You can add moisturizing oils, yoghurt, or a conditioner to your henna recipe, or use a good hair oil after your herbal hair treatment.
  • Does henna lock out moisture? Some people believe that because henna coats the hair strand that no amount of moisturization can reach it. In fact no, henna will not lock out moisture from your hair. Oil, and condition your hair as usual, and as needed. The results will be amazing, and your hair will get all the moisturization it needs.
  • Using a metal bowl, or spoon is it safe or not? When using pure henna powder (body art quality), and herbs for hair, you can use stainless steel bowls. Traditionally, they have used iron bowls, as it has shown to bring our more dye release. We typically use a spatula to mix it. We don’t usually use plastic bowls because they are porous, and the herbs will stain the bowl. The commercial boxes of henna, and henna “colors” that contain other ingredients, herbs, additives, metallic salts, etc..would more so cause reactions with metal bowls, then 100% pure herbs would.

Naturally Curly Hair

  • Can henna loosen my curl pattern? Yes, a lot of people have seen loosening effects of their curls when using henna and/or cassia obovata. There is a small percentage of people that don’t get any loosening of their curls. If you prefer to maintain some of your curl, then add amla powder to bring them back. Keep in mind, that amla powder also tones down the red of henna. You can also use amla powder in your henna/cassia recipe to maintain the curls in your hair, in case you don’t want to lose your curl pattern.
  • So many henna powders. How do I choose? Keep in mind that some henna companies do re-name their henna powders, and this causes more confusion then necessary. The basic, and most important information would be which country is the henna from, how fresh is it (current crop year is best), and how well sifted is it? Please read: How to Choose the Right Henna Powder. There is no henna for a particular race or culture. Henna doesn’t discriminate. It is for everyone to use. If you were to say that a particular henna powder is very well sifted and therefore better to use on curly or african hair, then that we’d understand. But giving a henna powder a new name, is just for marketing purposes. If your henna comes marked with Jamila henna powder in red writting in any format on the foil packaging, then that henna is Jamila henna powder, not any other generic name that it has been re-named. Please read more on Jamila Henna.
  • Body Art Quality: What does that mean? This is another marketing term that basically means 100% pure henna powder. This pure henna powder is safe enough to use for body art, and most likely finely sifted. Body Art Quality can’t apply to any of the other herbs we use on our hair, because that would mean we are using these herbs for body art, and we aren’t. They are being used for hair usage. Make sure you get yourself 100% pure henna, and herbs. Getting organic herbs is even better because you are guaranteed that the company/farm has gotten proper certification, and inspection that there are no pesticides used, and is an overall healthier, and safer product.
  • My katam/indigo didn’t work for me. Indigo and Katam should be mixed seperately from the henna paste, in a seperate bowl. They are fussy herbs, and need to be started out in their own bowl. Allow it to sit 15-20 minutes, and then put the indigo/katam paste into the henna paste (bowl).

Sarah smiling with deep rich henna'ed hair

Tips that work!

  • Putting henna (and any herbs) onto damp hair really helps it go on much easier. Also applying indigo onto damp hair (with a dash or so of salt) has gotten the indigo to absorb better and give even darker, richer black color results.
  • Adding sugar to your recipe makes the henna paste smoother.
  • Pre-oil your hair, if you tend to get really dry when using henna, and herbs in your hair. This will give you the moisture boost you need. This also helps prevent dripping when dyeing your hair. Some of the best hair oils to use are olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and camellia oil.
  • In order to get deeper, richer red results use a good, fresh henna powder that is known for giving rich red results (such as yemeni henna). After 2-3 applications, the color will deepen further.
  • Wash your henna, and herbal hair treatments out really well. Use a lot of conditioner to help with the process. If you don’t wash it all out well, then your scalp will feel itchy, and gritty.
  • Rmemeber to always be opened minded, and if needed, adjust your recipe to suit your hair. Just because someone else does it, doesn’t always make it right for you.
  • Keep your recipe simple. Don’t get overwhelmed with a lot of the other ingredients that are added to recipes.
  1. Hi Laurie, thanks for posting.

    Our Red Raj is a really good choice. This one would work well for what you’re trying to achieve:
    This won’t give you any orange undertones.

  2. Jeirryann says:

    Does henna make your hair longer ?

  3. Jeirryann, thanks for posting. It doesn’t promote hair growth but overall healthier hair. If you want to promote growth and longer hair, then amla should be part of your regimen:

  4. JoLindy Daniels says:

    Hi Khadija,
    What are the benefits of adding brahmi to henna? I see it in a lot of recipes on hair blogs.

  5. JoLindy: Brahmi is an herb that grows in India. It is used in both ancient chinese, and ayurvedic medicine.

    Brahmi is used for:

    Strengthening the roots of your hair
    makes the hair denser, long, shiny, and dark toned
    controls dandruff
    reduces premature greying
    reduces the amount of hair loss
    perfect herb to add to the natural hair regimen of someone who has chronic hair problems
    treats eczema and psoriasis.
    From our site here:

  6. JoLindy Daniels says:

    Thanks, Khadija. So does brahmi darken the henna tone, similar to amla?

  7. Jo Lindy, yes brahmi can darken the hair some.

  8. I think I am going to add brahami to my routine also when I order my amla an henna,and minio butter.

  9. JoLindy Daniels says:

    Khadija, how much brahmi do I add per 100 grams of henna?

  10. JoLindy you can add 3-4 tbsp.

  11. how hot should be the water, when I use a mix of henna, indigo and other herbs?

  12. Stamand says:

    Long post incoming..

    I have thick, dense all natural salt and pepper (dark brown with the odd auburn strand) hair that is between 1.5″ and 2″. The salt portions are wide temple streaks at 98% but the remaining are random throughout at maybe 5-10% saturation. I have hennaed in the distant past with horrible results. Main issue was the orange hair result and extreme dryness afterward. I would like to try again while my hair is very short but am uncertain which brand would be best given that I have sensitive facial skin that is fair toned (not pale but not olive) that sunburns easily and always has a red flush. I am worried that my red face will not suit the orange base of henna. I have had a medium shade of (chemical hair dye)copper auburn that looked okay. Is it possible to obtain a similar shade using just 100% henna or would it need to be reduced with the addition of a different herb? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

  13. Ann, the water should be hot to touch max, not boiling. Or warm at least.

    Stamand, A rich red would be yemeni and Red Raj but with some indigo so it’s not too bright either. At least 75% henna and 25% indigo but to get your recipe just right I may recommend you do hair strand tests as well before all of your hair if you can.

  14. Stamand says:

    “A rich red would be yemeni and Red Raj but with some indigo so it’s not too bright either. At least 75% henna and 25% indigo”

    Would it have to be indigo to reduce the brightness? Or could I use amla or brahmi or a similar herb? I would like to encourage my scalp to be happier, and my hair to be healthier, stronger and grow longer if possible, combining the herbs into a one paste application? Yes, I am a little confused still even after reading the posts about recipe combinations and ratios.

  15. Yes indigo would reduce the brightness or red tones, and amla can tone it down slightly more so. Amla is usually a less stronger choice. Yes you could combine all of the herbs you just mentioned in one recipe. You can use mainly henna but at least a few tbsp of each other herbs like brahmi or amla to tone it down slightly. I hope this helps!

  16. Stamand says:

    Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it truly.
    I purchased the Sukesh Ayurveda a few weeks past and I am thinking of trying that along with the indigo and the henna combined into one paste. Just need to decide between the two henna brands that you recommended I try. :)

  17. Hi,
    I am really hoping you can help…
    About a month and half ago, by mistake, instead of using “neutral henne” on my hair I used “black henne”. I am a real blond (although also regularly help nature with getting highlights at hairdressers) and my hair turned bottle green!
    I immediately went to the hairdressers but after after spending 2 hours applying and rinsing, applying and rinsing, specific treatments to lighten hair, he told me that the only solution to hide the green was to turn me into a brunette. I hated myself as a brunette… and anyway, with every shampoo, little by little the brown washed out and the green returned!

    Some of my hair (thinner, more fragile ones at front) also started to go gummy and melt away! On the advice of my longtime trusted hairdresser from my hometown, I treated it everyday to stregnthen it and then went to her. She made me highlights to try to get my blond back. It helped but the really dark green parts are now blue. She told me that the only thing to do that MIGHT help, was to go in the sun and to try some highlights again in a couple of months.
    It turns out that the sun does help but I cannot go on a 2 week beach holiday right now!
    Another piece of advice i heard a few times was to apply Ketchup – it is said to work! What do you think, is this true? and if so, how long to i apply for?

    Thank you fro your help, any advice would be greatly appreciated…

  18. Hi Blue. I’m not sure about ketchup at all. Sorry. But I really recommend Long Hair Community forums for further assistance so we can all get input in this. I don’t hear a lot about this at all. I typically try to catch anyone using indigo (black henna, it’s not really henna but it’s indigo) to use henna with it too and it’s rare that I’ve heard of someone using cassia with it as the results of green can happen and then sometimes even blue.

    When you decided to use them were you going for black tones as it sounds like you were trying to use henna first and then the indigo second step for black tones.
    Let me know if I can further help.

  19. Looks like the indigo reacted with the bleach. Indigo will always go green if one bleaches to remove it. Ketchup may work to neutralise those greenish tones without overpowering, as your hair is lighter. In my experience, going brunette after something like this does not get rid of the green. :/ I had to use a red dye which neutralised the green for me…but red+green= brown. Still better than dying over with brown, though. Even a little tiny dab of red manic panic/food colour/koolaide (to tone down the greens) or orange MP/food colour/koolaide (to town down the blue) in lots of conditioner may do the trick (think opposites on the colour wheel). Do test on a few strands first.

    You mentioned your hair going gummy. I strongly recommend that you do a protein treatment pronto to save your hair ! Kpak, aphogee…anything that has ‘reconstructing’ in the title — especially look for products that contain hydrolized protein as this protein can enter the hairs shaft to repair within. Hair that is lacking in protein will become gummy and stretchy as bleach/peroxide alters the hairs internal structure. Please try and not process your hair again..since it is at the stretchy stage, extra processing will break your hair.

    Cassia (aka neutral henna) after the protein may be a very good start. Good luck!

  20. Hi there! I sent an email to the general “contact us” email before I realized that people can comment here and get answers! My apologies for repeating myself! :)

    For the first time in about 15 years, last week, I did a henna. (I used to do them back in high school all the time!!) Since my old source for henna was long since gone, I went to a local store and purchased a henna and applied it. (I mixed it up, applied, wrapped it in plastic-wrap then with a towel, and slept on it for 8 hours.) I’m not really happy with how it turned out. The colour isn’t very vibrant, in fact it’s darker than I had hoped. AND it really didn’t take well on my roots. SUPER disappointing.

    (The product I used was LUSH Cosmetics Caca Rouge.)

    My hair is naturally a medium brown; I’ve chemically dyed it red for years. I’m always looking to achieve a natural red shade (more towards the copper spectrum) and NEVER with purple/mahogany/cherry-red/garnet tones.

    In fact, the colour I was hoping to get was the same as the girl in the picture on this post… the third one down, “Sarah”, as it’s labelled! :)

    So, after that long-winded explanation… two questions:

    1) Which of your henna colours should I order to get “Sarah’s” colour from the picture above?

    2) If I were to try another henna right now, would my hair just end up going darker?? I definitely don’t want darker. So, does that mean I should wait a while before trying again?

    Thanks SO much!!!

  21. Hi Kim
    You could use Yemeni henna and cut it with cassia to get it to be a bit lighter or jamila henna which is a cool red. I’d also recommend hair strand tests just to be certain of the color results.

  22. Hi, I’m planning on purchasing some henna and Im not quite sure which one would be best for me. Tell you a little about myself. I have bra strap length African American hair. It is very thick and dense. I would like to take my dark brown (mistaken for black sometimes) hair into the spectrum of the 3rd picture down on this post. This would be my second application as i previously have tried using LUSH Caca Rouge with a little success (my brown length is subtly highlighted but looks a little chestnutty overall. My previously chemically dyed ends turned a beautiful red). I know that a second application would not likely produce the results i seek that i’ll probably have to do more applications but if you can put me in the right direction of which one to use to get the rich red i desire. preferably with no orange undertones. I dont know if i should use the Raj Red (as i thought i’d made my final decision until reading your post) or the Yemini or the Jamilla. Can you help???

    Also do you think that 200-250 grams would be enough for my hair length i was thinking i might need 300-400. Can you help me with that as well?

    I believe that is all. Your other tips have given me a great sense of direction as far as how to handle my henna process. Thanks in advance!

  23. Hi Sharon. I’d recommend with Red Raj or Yemeni henna powder as your best choices. The red will have to build up though and with your hair being so dark not sure if would ever become that red as henna is a translucent color and binds to your hair naturally and works with your natural hair tone. But those are our most vibrant henna powders and you can add hibiscus to deepen the red.
    But for your hair length at least 200 to 250 grams should be fine. If you’re hair is very thick maybe 300 grams and you could freeze any leftovers. Enjoy! I hope this helps

  24. I wonder if you might be able to help me with a henna question. I have thick curly BSL virgin hair that is medium to dark golden brown. I have about 6 inches of silvers sprinkled lightly throughout my crown, at my ears and above and they are especially evident at any parting of my hair. I would say it is about 10-15% silver but increasing all the time. I am 33 and do not mind their presence at all so I am not trying to “dye” over them.

    I have liked cassia but now I am interested in the glossing, coloring (subtle coloring) and conditioning benefits of henna. However, as I like my silver hairs i do not want to cover them and subsequently begin the task of maintaining their coverage every 2-4 weeks as the silver base grows back in. Is there a way I too can use henna without having the grey become orange? Thank you!

  25. Hello Rivkah. Thank you for your post.

    With henna your hair would become red-orange tones. Cassia would be a good choice or our amazing Sukesh Ayurvedic which you’d really like. Please see here:

  26. Out of the Red Raj and the Yemeni, i know that the Raj has the highest dye content but according to one of the blog posts it said Yemeni produces the best red out of all. That’s why i got a little confused, which one would you say would be my best choice. I plan to add hibiscus and use red zinger tea after oiling my wet hair a bit. do you think that is too much and will dilute the color process?

  27. The Red Raj does have the highest dye content, which causes it to go darker from its initial dusky rose tone, but the Yemeni does produce the brightest red and stays medium red without darkening too much like the Red Raj.

    Pre-oiling does not affect henna’s dye uptake.. however, it is easier to oil the hair while it is dry, then to dampen it prior to hennaing.

  28. koko radford says:

    I have just applied the Red Raj for the first time on my naturally medium dark brown hair and it turned a deep dark majogany color. It is a pretty color but too dark for this summer, I look pale and washed out. Is there a way to lighten up the henna with another product or herbs? Or is there another henna I could do right now to lighten my hair up for the summer? Thanks so much!!

  29. Ahhh! Thanks so much for the info. I think in that case the Yemeni it shall be since I’m already dark haired. I really appreciate the help you guys!!

  30. Welcome Sharon,

    Hi Koko, thanks for your message on our blog.
    If it’s too dark then cassia will lighten it some and just do organic cassia with honey and that will definitely lighten it up some. Let us know how it turns out.

  31. Hi, all you wonderful helpful souls! I ordered 100g of Red Raj a few months ago and am finally going to go for it for the first time. :) My main question is about dye release time. So I’m planning on mixing my Red Raj with lemon juice – do you recommend this, or do you advise mixing it with other stuff? I’m also curious about dye release time. My house doesn’t have A/C, so I know it’s going to get pretty warm soon enough. Should I plan on only waiting a few hours if the house gets above 75F degrees? Also, and this might be really silly but I can’t really find an answer for it, but where’s the best place to store henna in between the dye release and application? I was planning on doing a strand test, so can I just stow it in the fridge? This is silly, I know, but I don’t want to risk ruining a batch of beautiful henna!

  32. Hello Holly

    The instructions should be on the back of the box and the dye release is 3-4 hours.

    Lemon juice is fine as long as you don’t think it’ll dry your hair out. Or you can also use ACV or herbal tea or just water.

    The best way to store it is in a cool dark place, like freezer or fridge.
    Yes a strand test is fine :) Enjoy!

  33. Okay! I’ve heard before that the henna needs some sort acid for dye release, which is why I was waiting on lemon juice. So that isn’t true?

    Thank you!

  34. Hi Holly

    Yes using an acid does help with dye release which ACV has and lemon juice so you can add a bit. if you’re hair is on the dry side, if not you can use all lemon juice for your recipe. I hope this helps!

  35. Can anyone tell me what happens if I use walnut dye as the liquid to mix henna? I am dark with a lot of white and am now allergic to the health shop dyes. Going back to henna is, of course healthier, but the henna doesn’t really take on the white roots. I don’t want red roots and dark mass as it will look odd. So I am trying to darken the roots without risk.
    I tried the walnut dye (I used shells and boiled water) on the roots and it makes them a very pale brown at the moment. Again, not a look I want!
    Anyone out there tried to mix henna with walnut?

  36. Hello Julia. Good morning.
    We don’t use walnut husk personally nor sell it. I’m sure one of our clients or bloggers might chime in. Have you tried adding indigo to your henna recipe to darken it naturally?

  37. Julia, have you checked out our colouring greys with herbs on Greys can be pesky, but the henna and Indigo does stick to them eventually! I always recommend that one do at least 3 applications if they are going for black tones. At one point, I was painting left over henna on the greys only to darken them, now I have dark red streaks where the greys used to be.

    For brown tones, have you tried a blend of henna and Indigo/katam or use less of these?

    As for walnut liquid in henna, it will just tone down the orange just like Indigo and Katam would, but to a lesser degree. If you’re in doubt, why not do a strand test?

  38. Hi I just got some henna, I have little longer shoulder length thin straight dark brown hair with a few greys.
    I got Moroccan, amala, indigo, argan and camellia oil. My hair gets dry very easily and oily at the scalp. I would like a natural brown color with some red, hopefully more body and stronger, healthier hair(is that too much???). Would you please recommend the ratio and amounts of products to use, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. how much oil to use and when?? how to prepare the paste and when to add the different components.

    Thank you

  39. Lakshmi says:


    I have grey hairs. Could you please suggest me henna, indigo, brahmi & amla proportion to apply.

    I would like to know the brand name for all these products above mentioned & suggest me the details for online purchase or purchase at shop.

    I would like to know the side effects of these 4 products combination if apply on my hair.

    Please guide me.

  40. Hi, I was on the search for Red Zinger tea to add to my henna mix but unfortunately i can not find any on the ground (I’d have to order it online and if i do it’ll cost alot more than it would in the store). Is Raspberry Zinger ok to use mix with hibiscus powder and Yemeni?

  41. Can I continue to relax my hair after using Henna/Indigo? I usually go for Japanese straightening.

  42. Hi Phoebe, absolutely as long as you use 100% pure henna and indigo especially from Henna Sooq as they aren’t mixed with another other additives nor ingredients. Enjoy!!

  43. Sharon, a red tea like the red zinger would work fine to achieve redder results or red liquids as well even beet juice but I believe that possibly darkens it a bit. Red teas are more red toned without being dark.

  44. JoLindy says:

    Hi Khadija,
    I used 2 TB. Hibiscus powder and 3 TB. Brahmi powder with room temp water in my Jamilla henna today. I noticed the dye release was not as great as with using Amla powder. Should I add another acid to the next batch, like 1 TB. of ACV? I am trying to give Amla and lemon juice a break for a while.

  45. Hello Kaja. Use 50% of each henna and indigo and maybe only 1 tbsp of amla powder. You can use ACV as it’s very gentle.


  46. Hello Lakshmi, we carry all of these products here at Henna Sooq:


  47. JoLindy adding some acid would give it a nice boost, and ACV is a good choice.

  48. JoLindy says:

    Hi Khadija again! I was about to place an order for the new crop of Red Raj and noticed your new Sukesh Ayurveda. This sounds interesting will all the great herbs in one pack. My usual questions (lol!):
    1. If I try this as is, how often do I use it and for what purpose? Weekly deep conditioning? Do you recommend mixing with water or tea?
    2. What is the advantage of adding to henna? How much? Would I need an acid, or is the Amla enough for dye release?

  49. So excited to try henna on my hair! I have lost a lot of my natural red in recent years and would love to find a natural way to put it back.

    Concerned about my grey (or really white) hairs going pink though. Do you have any tips to avoid this?

  50. Kirsten says:

    Hi Khadija!!

    I’m so excited!! I am 16 and have never considered dyeing my hair with chemicals even though everyone else is already bleached. I’m looking to dye my hair a rich, medium strength red more than coppery. I have dark blonde hair.

    Would you recommend using Jamila (I have heard it is a coppery red) or Yemeni henna (a bit redder maybe?)


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