December 20, 2023 18 min read

The average salary of a makeup artist in the UK is £15,000 to £35,000 per year. 

Of course, this will depend on the location, experience, type of makeup artist and a whole lot more factors.

That is why we put together this comprehensive makeup salary guide.

If you are curious about how much makeup artist make, want to get into the career and wondering where to start or simply intrigued by the industry, then you will find this guide interesting.

 

 

 

Makeup Artist Salary Guide

The makeup and beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry as we reported in our beauty industry statistics that has been around for decades and is only just getting the fame and recognition it deserves.

But aside from manufacturing makeup products to sell, the actual art of makeup artistry is something that can be turned into a career. And yes, it pays from as little as £10,000 a year to over £40,000. 

On average, a makeup artist in the UK is expected to earn a median salary of £24,730. This result was achieved from two sources Indeed.com and Glassdoor with a total of 363 reported salaries taken into consideration. 

Working as a makeup artist in the UK offers a very competitive career and how much you earn will depend on your location and the type of makeup you plan on getting into. 

Based on location we'll look at the salary range for makeup artists in the three major locations in the UK

 

1: South East: This large region is home to many big cities such as Portsmouth, Oxford, and Canterbury. A career as a retail makeup artist in this region will fetch you £17,673 per year and £19,675 yearly as a freelancer. Although this is less than what you'd earn in London and the Southeast region, you can still grow your skills and increase your income as the years go by.

 

2: London:A metropolitan area such as London boasts of more job opportunities for makeup artists and course better pay, with an average annual salary of £26,773.

 

3: Northwest:Places like Liverpool in the Northwest region of the UK can fetch freelance makeup artists an annual salary of £33,967.

 

Other high-paying cities for makeup artists in the UK include:

 

  • Luton:£34,430 per year based on 5 salaries reported.
  • Edinburgh:£27,487 per year based on 6 reported salaries.
  • Sheffield:£22,871 per year based on 6 reported salaries.

 

Some top companies for makeup artists and their average pay include:

 

  • N2O Limitedpays their makeup artists an average salary of £45,139 per year judging from a total of 11 reported salaries and 22 reviews.
  • Blow Ltdpays makeup artists who work there an average of £35,359 per year. So far there have been 74 reviews and 7 salaries reported.
  • MAC Cosmeticspays their makeup artists an average salary of £21,000. With a total of 23 reported salaries.
  • Charlotte Tilbury:£21,114 per year based on 10 reported salaries.
  • Bobbi Brown Cosmetics:£9 per hour based on 10 reported salaries.
  • NARS Cosmetics:£9 per hour based on 9 reported salaries.
  • KIKO:£10 per hour based on 7 reported salaries.
  • Estée Lauder Companies:£15,012 per year based on 6 reported salaries.

 

 

Note that these salary ranges based on locations are not fixed. They're mostly reflective of what entry-level makeup artists may likely earn and can be influenced by factors such as the makeup artist's qualifications, level of experience, skills, and field of expertise.

So for example, a bridal makeup artist with 4 years of experience will earn more than a beauty counter makeup artist with just 1-year working experience. The same goes for celebrity makeup artists, who can easily snag 6 figure makeup deals compared to fashion makeup artists.

 

That being said, let's take a look at the top 7 makeup artists' jobs you can find out there and their annual salary range.

 

  1. Bridal makeup artist
  2. Fashion makeup artist
  3. Film and TV makeup artist
  4. Theatre makeup artist
  5. Special effects (SFX) makeup artists
  6. Beauty Counter makeup artist
  7. Celebrity makeup artists

 

 

Bridal Makeup Artist

 bridal makeup artist

Bridal makeup artists specialize in providing makeup services, particularly for weddings.

As a bridal makeup artist, you'll work closely with brides to create customized looks that enhance their natural beauty and match their wedding theme. 

The average salary range for bridal makeup artists in the UK can vary widely, depending on factors such as reputation, experience, and location.

Entry-level artists may earn around £15,000 to £20,000 per year, while experienced and highly sought-after bridal makeup artists can earn anywhere from £25,000 to £50,000 per year or more.

 

 

Fashion Makeup Artist

 fashion makeup artist

The job of a fashion makeup artist is to collaborate with photographers, stylists, and models to create striking makeup looks for editorial shoots, runway shows, and fashion events.

To thrive in this field you'll often need to follow the latest trends and have a keen eye for creativity. 

Most fashion makeup artists work on a freelance basis, and their earnings can fluctuate significantly depending on the projects they undertake. On average, they may earn between £18,000 and £40,000 per year.

High-profile fashion makeup artists who work with renowned brands or celebrities can earn substantially more.

 

 

Film and TV Makeup Artist

film makeup artist

Makeup artists in the film and television industry are responsible for creating makeup looks that suit the characters and meet the requirements of the script.

Here you'll work closely with directors, costume designers, and production teams to achieve desired visual effects and bring to life the writer's visual image of a character. 

Salaries for film and TV makeup artists can vary greatly depending on the scale and budget of the production, as well as the artist's experience.

Entry-level makeup artists may start around £18,000 to £25,000 per year. More experienced artists can earn between £25,000 and £45,000 per year, with top-tier professionals earning even higher salaries.

 

Theatre Makeup Artist

theatre makeup artist

As a theatre makeup artist, you'll design and apply makeup for stage productions. You'll create looks that enhance actors' features, help portray characters, and ensure makeup durability under stage lights.

While theatre may share some similarities with Film and TV makeup, the major difference is that for theatre makeup, you'll have to work in real time as there are no cutbacks or edits. 

Theatre makeup artists often work on a freelance or project basis. The average salary range can be around £20,000 to £35,000 per year, with experienced artists earning more. Pay rates may also vary depending on the size of the production, theater company, and location.

 

 

Special Effects (SFX) Makeup Artist

special effect makeup artist

If you love the idea of doing makeup on other body parts or just something that doesn't have to the with regular makeup then this is for you (eg halloween makeup)  SFX makeup artists specialize in creating realistic prosthetics, wounds, scars, and other special effects using makeup techniques. 

People who venture into this type of makeup, often work in the film, television, or theater industries to bring fictional characters or creatures to life.

SFX makeup artists who work in the film and television industry often earn higher salaries compared to other makeup artists.

Entry-level SFX makeup artists may earn around £18,000 to £25,000 per year, while experienced professionals can earn between £30,000 and £60,000 per year or more, depending on their skill level and demand.

 

 

Beauty Counter Makeup Artist 

beauty countet makeup artist

Beauty counter makeup artists work at retail stores and beauty counters, offering makeup consultations, product recommendations, and makeup application services to customers.

They may work with a specific brand or represent multiple brands. 

Beauty counter makeup artists typically earn an hourly wage or a combination of base pay and commissions on product sales.

The average salary range can be around £16,000 to £25,000 per year, depending on factors such as the brand they represent, location, and sales performance.

 

 

Celebrity Makeup Artist 

Celebrity makeup artists work with public figures, including actors, musicians, models, and influencers. They create makeup looks for red-carpet events, photo shoots, music videos, and other public appearances.

While this job does not come in regularly many celebrity makeup artists often have varied income sources, including fees for services rendered, contracts, and brand partnerships. 

Their salaries can range significantly depending on the artist's reputation, clientele, and the frequency and scale of their work. High-profile celebrity makeup artists can earn well into six figures annually.

 

 

Makeup Artist Job Descriptions

 

Before you get carried away by the glitz and glam of the industry, you need to understand that being a makeup artist is a lucrative career you can pursue and not just a hobby.

People and even companies are willing to pay for your skills, but just knowing how to do makeup alone isn't enough to land you a well-paying job. 

This is why we've dedicated this section to show you templates or samples of job descriptions for each type of makeup artist's position.

You'll see the responsibilities and requirements for each role and hopefully, it will help you make a better decision on which path you should take.

 

 

Bridal Makeup Artist Job Description

 

Responsibilities

  • Consult with brides to understand their desired makeup look for their wedding day.
  • Create customized bridal makeup looks that enhance the bride's natural features and align with their wedding theme.
  • Apply makeup using appropriate techniques and products to ensure long-lasting and photo-friendly results.
  • Collaborate with hairstylists and other beauty professionals to coordinate overall bridal looks.
  • Provide pre-wedding makeup trials to finalize the desired look.
  • Stay updated with current bridal makeup trends and techniques.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a bridal makeup artist.
  • In-depth knowledge of different skin types, makeup products, and application techniques.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills to effectively collaborate with clients and other professionals.
  • Creativity and attention to detail to achieve flawless and personalized bridal looks.
  • Professionalism and a positive attitude.

 

 Further Resources: How to Become A Bridal Makeup Artist

 

Fashion Makeup Artist Job Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with photographers, stylists, and models to create makeup looks for fashion shoots, runway shows, and other fashion events.
  • Stay up to date with current fashion trends and translate them into creative and visually appealing makeup looks.
  • Understand and follow the creative vision and requirements of the project.
  • Apply makeup with precision and artistry, ensuring that the final result aligns with the desired aesthetic.
  • Work efficiently and manage time effectively to meet project deadlines.
  • Stay informed about new makeup products, techniques, and tools in the fashion industry.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a fashion makeup artist in editorial or runway settings.
  • Strong knowledge of makeup application techniques, color theory, and different skin tones.
  • Understanding of fashion trends, styles, and aesthetics.
  • Creativity and ability to think outside the box to create unique and captivating makeup looks.
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills to work effectively with photographers, stylists, and models.
  • Attention to detail and ability to work under pressure in fast-paced environments.

 

 

Film and TV Makeup Artist Job Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with directors, costume designers, and production teams to create makeup looks that suit the characters and meet the requirements of the script.
  • Analyze scripts to understand makeup needs for different scenes, periods, and character development.
  • Apply makeup for actors, ensuring continuity between scenes and maintaining the desired visual effect under different lighting conditions.
  • Create special effects makeup, prosthetics, and wounds as required by the script.
  • Stay updated with industry trends, techniques, and safety standards related to film and TV makeup.
  • Work efficiently and manage time effectively to meet production schedules.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a film and TV makeup artist.
  • Strong knowledge of makeup application techniques, including special effects and prosthetic makeup.
  • Familiarity with different makeup styles and historical periods.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with directors, costume designers, and production teams.
  • Knowledge of on-set protocols and safety procedures.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to work with different actors, scripts, and production requirements.
  • Attention to detail and ability to achieve consistent makeup continuity.

 

 

Theatre Makeup Artist Job Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with directors, costume designers, and actors to create makeup looks that enhance characters and convey their personalities on stage.
  • Analyze scripts and character breakdowns to understand makeup requirements.
  • Apply makeup to actors, ensuring it withstands stage lighting and distance while highlighting key features.
  • Create special effects makeup, aging effects, and character transformations.
  • Assist with the maintenance and hygiene of makeup products and tools.
  • Stay updated with theater makeup trends, techniques, and products.
  • Work efficiently to meet production schedules and makeup change requirements during performances.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a theatre makeup artist, preferably in professional or community theatre.
  • Strong knowledge of makeup application techniques for stage, including contouring, highlighting, and shading.
  • Familiarity with different makeup styles and historical periods.
  • Ability to understand and interpret character breakdowns, scripts, and directorial vision.
  • Proficiency in creating special effects makeup, aging effects, and character transformations.
  • Excellent collaboration and communication skills to work effectively with directors, costume designers, and actors.
  • Attention to detail and ability to achieve consistent makeup continuity throughout performances.
  • Flexibility to adapt makeup looks for different stage sizes, lighting conditions, and performance requirements.
  • Professionalism, creativity, and a passion for theatre and storytelling.

 

 

Special Effects (SFX) Makeup ArtistJob Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with directors, production designers, and special effects teams to create realistic special effects makeup, prosthetics, wounds, scars, and other visual effects.
  • Interpret design concepts and translate them into practical and visually impactful makeup applications.
  • Use a variety of materials, techniques, and tools to create desired effects.
  • Conduct research and experimentation to develop new techniques and innovative approaches to special effects makeup.
  • Ensure the safety and comfort of actors during the application and removal of special effects makeup.
  • Collaborate with other departments, such as visual effects and costume, to ensure seamless integration of makeup effects.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a special effects makeup artist, preferably in film, television, or theater.
  • Strong knowledge of special effects makeup techniques, materials, and prosthetic application.
  • Proficiency in sculpting, mold-making, casting, and painting techniques for prosthetic creation.
  • Familiarity with makeup effects software and digital design tools is a plus.
  • Excellent problem-solving and communication skills to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team.
  • Attention to detail and ability to work under pressure in fast-paced production environments.
  • Knowledge of safety procedures and protocols related to special effects makeup.

 

 

Beauty Counter Makeup Artist Job Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Provide personalized makeup consultations and demonstrations to customers at beauty counters or retail stores.
  • Assess customers' skin types, undertones, and desired looks to recommend suitable makeup products.
  • Demonstrate proper application techniques and educate customers about makeup tips and trends.
  • Offer product recommendations and upsell relevant cosmetics, skincare, and beauty accessories.
  • Provide makeup application services to customers, such as for special events or makeovers.
  • Maintain the cleanliness and organization of the beauty counter, ensuring products are well-stocked and visually appealing.
  • Stay updated with product knowledge, industry trends, and new launches.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a makeup artist, preferably in a retail or beauty counter environment.
  • Strong knowledge of makeup application techniques, different skin tones, and cosmetic products.
  • Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills to engage and connect with customers.
  • Sales-oriented mindset and ability to effectively promote and recommend products.
  • Up-to-date knowledge of makeup trends, techniques, and beauty industry developments.
  • Professional appearance and demeanor.

 

 

Celebrity Makeup Artist Job Description:

 

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with celebrities, actors, musicians, models, and influencers to create makeup looks for various high-profile events, including red-carpet appearances, award shows, photo shoots, music videos, and public appearances.
  • Work closely with clients to understand their preferences, desired looks, and specific requirements for each event.
  • Stay updated with the latest beauty and makeup trends to provide clients with innovative and fashion-forward looks.
  • Design and execute makeup looks that enhance clients' natural features, suit their style, and align with the event or brand aesthetic.
  • Apply makeup using high-quality products and techniques to ensure long-lasting and camera-ready results.
  • Provide touch-ups and makeup changes as needed during events or photo shoots.
  • Collaborate with hairstylists and wardrobe stylists to create a cohesive overall look for clients.
  • Maintain professionalism and discretion when working with high-profile clients, respecting their privacy and confidentiality.

 

Requirements

  • Proven experience as a makeup artist, with a focus on working with celebrities or high-profile clients.
  • Strong knowledge of makeup application techniques, including contouring, highlighting, and precision blending.
  • Familiarity with a wide range of makeup brands, products, and tools, and the ability to select the most suitable for each client's needs.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills to build rapport and effectively collaborate with clients, stylists, and other professionals.
  • Up-to-date knowledge of beauty and fashion trends, with a passion for staying informed about industry developments.
  • Creativity and ability to adapt to different client preferences and event requirements.
  • Professionalism and the ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines in fast-paced and high-stakes environments.
  • Discretion and the ability to maintain confidentiality and respect clients' privacy.
  • Flexibility to accommodate irregular and demanding schedules, including working evenings, and weekends, and traveling as required.

 

 

The Makeup Artist Career Path

 

To become a makeup artist, you don't need to follow a specific route or have a specific degree.

Most makeup artists are self-taught and go on to work with A-list celebrities while some others attended professional beauty schools where they bagged certificates.

Like in the case of special effects especially for film and theatre, you'll need to have undergone some form of training. But in general, you don't necessarily require a degree to become a makeup artist.

 

Typically, here's what a career path as a makeup artist will look like.

 

Step 1: Acquire the skill

You cannot become a makeup artist without knowing how to apply makeup. Depending on where you want to work, you'll need to acquire the required skills. Whether it's bridal makeup or SFX, you'll need to spend some time learning and honing your skills before you can start rendering them as a service.

 

You could start watching tons of tutorials on YouTube and practicing on yourself and others. At least that's how most self-taught makeup artists started their careers. Next, you may want to take short vocational courses in makeup artistry. They are no longer than 3 to 6 months.

 

If you want to take it a step further you can go for a three-year BA in any of the following subjects:

 

  • Media makeup and special effects
  • Hair, makeup, and prosthetics for performance
  • Fashion, theatrical, and media hair and makeup

 

Step 2: Apprenticeship/ Internship 

To help build your portfolio while you train, getting a paid apprenticeship or internship should be your next line of action. This brings us to the first level in your career as a makeup artist. At this stage your working as an assistant makeup artist or a beauty counter makeup artist.

 

Step 3: Freelance

Once you have worked for a while as a makeup assistant or beauty counter makeup artist, it's now time to venture out on your own. You can render your services as a freelance makeup artist, but you'll need to collaborate with hairstylists, photographers, and movie directors.

You should have built up a solid network during your internship or while you were working at the beauty store and use this as a foundation for your first clientele base.

 

Step 4: Apply For Jobs 

If you figured that the freelance lifestyle isn't for you, you can decide to apply for jobs with big salons and spas,  beauty parlors, and fashion homes as their chief makeup artist or makeup designer.

 

Step 5: Become a beauty educator or launch your product line 

The height of every makeup career always ends with either of these two options. Most makeup artists who have worked for years end up opening up their makeup academies where they pass on their knowledge and skills to younger generations and some also partner with cosmetics brands to launch their makeup brand. Think of it as more of a retirement option for makeup artists.

 

Now to bring everything we've just said together, here's a pictorial representation

 

 

 

Popular Makeup Artist In The UK

Before we wrap up this article, allow us to share with you some of the popular makeup artists in the UK and their inspiring journey in the makeup industry.

 

 

1: Lisa Eldridge 

First on our list is the iconic Lisa Eldridge. With over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, this 48-year-old is not only a makeup artist but also a YouTuber, businesswoman, and author.

Lisa was born and raised in New Zealand but later moved to Liverpool where she kick-started her career as a professional makeup artist. In her early years in the beauty space, she was booked Elle magazine where she had to work on the famous model Cindy Crawford.

But that was just the starting point. Lisa went on to become the Creative Director for Boot No7 from 2003 to 2013 and in 2015, she published her book titled Face Paint: The Story of Makeup. 

Currently, Lisa is the global creative director for Lancôme and where she works in product development, advertising, digital strategies, and campaigns. She is also the presenter for the 'Makeup History Documentary' a TV series shown on BBC. But that's not all, she also has a beauty line named after herself, LisaEldrige.com where she creates and sells various beauty products ranging from foundations, skincare, lipsticks, and eyeshadows. 

When she's busy running her business empire, you can find Lisa working with celebrities like Dua Lipa, Emma Chamberlain, and Eva Green, just to mention a few.

 

 

2: Pat McGrath 

Nicknamed the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue Magazine, Dame Patricia McGrath is one makeup artist to be reckoned with. Adding to that in 2019, Time magazine listed her among the 100 most influential people in the world. With a whopping 5.3 million followers on Instagram alone, we have to agree that she does deserve both titles. 

Pat McGrath was born in Northampton, England, and moved to London in the 1980s to pursue her makeup career. There she worked with famous designers such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. She later caught her big break in 1999 when Giorgio Armani hired her to collaborate on a new range of cosmetics products which made her the recipient of the Pantene Pro V Makeup Artist Award in the years 2000 and 2001. 

In the 2014 New Year Honours, she was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) and Dame Commander of the Order of the  British Empire (DBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours. In 2015, she launched her own brand Pat McGrath Labs, which by 2019 was worth $1 billion and became the fastest-selling beauty line at Selfridges. The 52-year-old has gone on to win multiple awards while working with iconic brands like British Vogue and celebrities like Taylor Swift.

  

3: Charlotte Tilbury 

Charlotte Tilbury born in London English is a makeup artist and businesswoman. She attended the Glauca Rossi School of Makeup. She began her makeup career as an assistant to Mary Greenwell. In 2012, she launched her YouTube channel and blog dedicated to posting advice on skincare and makeup tips. Not long after that in 2013, she launched her beauty line Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd and since then has been selling out in all beauty shops across the UK and US. 

Charlotte has worked with many prestigious magazines like Vogue, V magazine, Love magazine, and Vanity Fair, and also with famous photographers like Mario Testino. When she's not working on cover shoots or editorial pieces, you'll find her working with celebrities such as Kate Moss, Giselle Bûndchen, and Kim Kardashian. She also works for Fashion Week in London, Paris, Milan, and New York, acting as their makeup director for brands such as Cavalli, McQueen, Prada, and the list goes on.

 

Tilbury also has multiple awards to her name, the most prominent being the Member of the British Empire (MBE) which she received in 2018 as part of the Queen's Birthday Honour's list for that year. Her beauty brand itself has won over 300 awards globally since it was launched and continues to sell out to date.

  

4: Sam Chapman and Nic Haste (Pixiwoo) 

 

Samantha Chapman and Nicola Haste are two sisters who founded the Pixiwoo channel on YouTube dedicated to answering common questions about different makeup looks and sharing helpful tips.

They are one of the very first makeup YouTubers to start sharing tutorials online. Before that, Sam had been a makeup artist for more than 10 years at the MAC pro team and decided to start pushing out tutorials online after a friend asked her how to do a smokey eye. Nicola helped out with the videos and together, the Pixiwoo channel was born in 2008. 

In 2011, the sisters partnered with PPI Beauty and launched the Real Techniques brush collection which has since won a handful of awards from Influenser and Allure for their high standards and continues to sell out globally to date.

 

 

5: Mary Greenwell 

Mary Greenwell is one name you just have to mention when it comes to popular and influential makeup artists in the UK. This London-based makeup artist's career began when she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked with the legendary makeup brand || Makiage. The owner took a liking to Greenwell and soon she started accompanying her on photoshoots. 

In 1980, Greenwell moved again, this time to Paris and while there, she worked with notable photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, and Paolo Roversi. She has also worked with some big publications including Vogue Italia, UK and USA.

A defining moment in Greenwell's career is when Liz Tilberis introduced her to Princess Diana. After working with the Princess, Greenwell has continued to be the go-to makeup artist for many royal events and celebrities. She has worked with the like of Megan Markle, Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Repace, Jennifer Lawrence and so many more. 

More recently, Greenwell has ongoing collaborations with Estée Lauder, Chanel, SK-II, and Sisley. She has also launched her fragrance line called PLUM and LEMON.

 

 

6: Alex Box 

Out of all the makeup artists listed here, Dr. Alex Box stands out with her surreal and unique style of makeup. Her Instagram bio describes her as an identity designer, beauty futurist, beauty tech expert, and beauty academic. 

Alex Box was formerly the creative director of Illamasqua, a cosmetic makeup brand from 2008 to 2015. Her unique way of blending makeup to create different artistic expressions earned her an honorary doctorate of the Arts From Solent University in 2011. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Numéro, Stylist, AnOther, i-D, Dazed & Confused, and W

Box has also created runway looks for Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Gareth Pugh, and Vivienne Westwood. She has also worked with musicians such as Frank Ocean and Lady Gaga. In 2025, she gave the famous Tedtalk titled "Learning Unlearning: Who told you you couldn't draw". And in 2016, she was made beauty editor for King Kong magazine.

 

 

7: Val Garland 

Last, but not the least, we have Val Garland. A London-based makeup artist, who was initially a trained hair colorist before diving into the makeup industry. In 2019, Val became a judge in the popular BBC TV series, Glow Up, a competition for makeup artists, and also she's currently the author of the book titled "Validated: The Makeup of Val Garland".

 

Val also currently holds a position as a contributing beauty editor to British Vogue and global makeup director for L'Oréal Paris.

 

 

 

Conclusion

While many people venture into makeup artistry because of their passion, it's still worth considering as more of a career than a hobby. Granted not all makeup artists can start by earning 6 figures but with time and your skills, you could end up being the next most influential makeup artist in the world.

 


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