What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Coarse Hair (2020)?

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What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Coarse Hair (2020)?

Having coarse, thick facial hair can be a good thing.

You can grow a majestic beard and even after just one or two days of growth it won’t look patchy like the facial hair of a high-school boy that just hit puberty.

But this is pretty much where the silver lining ends.

As you can see, it mainly has to do with those times when you don’t actually have to shave.

When it comes down to it, a heavy beard is more challenging regardless if you’re using a razor blade or an electric razor.

To get a close and comfortable shave you must — among other things — make sure to use the right tool for the job.

Therefore, in this article we’ll take a close look at some of the best electric shavers for coarse hair.

What qualifies as coarse hair?

An example of thick facial hair. Source: Flickr

Determining your beard thickness is pretty simple and straightforward.

A thick beard tends to have that short, dark, dense look and grows back pretty quickly.

A visible 5 o’clock shadow is also very common for men with thick and dense facial hair.

Thick facial hair can sometimes appear patchy in certain areas — like on the cheeks — and very dense around the chin, upper lip and on the neck.

Apart from the visual cues mentioned above, another indicator of heavy beard is how fast it grows back after a clean shave.

If you need to shave daily and your face feels rough to the touch after just one day, then you most likely have coarse hair.

The importance of assessing your beard type

When choosing an electric razor it’s important to have a clear picture of your needs in order to find a suitable product.

Men with thick facial hair are probably aware of this particularity. And that’s important because the coarseness of your beard should be an integral part of your search for the right shaver.

Not all electric razors are suitable for coarse hair. You could basically use any shaver to get the job done, but that won’t necessarily result in a comfortable, smooth, close and enjoyable shave.

Nobody wants to spend money on products that will cause discomfort, frustration and unsatisfactory results.

A bad shaving experience with one particular razor that wasn’t right for the job could even determine someone to stay away from electric razors altogether.

So let’s see how we can avoid this.

What are the qualities of an electric razor suitable for coarse hair?

Powerful motor.

An electric razor fitted with a more powerful motor will be beneficial in pretty much any situation, but they are particularly important if you have coarse facial hair.

The difference in cutting power between a decent, but basic razor like the Series 3 from Braun and an advanced one like a Panasonic Arc 5 is even more obvious in this case.

Cutting thick, dense stubble requires serious power and a motor that operates at very high speeds will perform significantly better and the actual shaving time will be reduced as well.

Sharp blades.

This one is pretty obvious as well. A dull blade can yank the hairs while the closeness of the shave will suffer as well.

The two inner blades of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5.

The two inner blades of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a tough beard and need to shave very often the blades and foils will probably need to be replaced sooner than the manufacturer recommends, so make sure to do it as soon as you notice a significant drop in performance.

Multiple cutting elements.

While more blades won’t always improve the shaving experience to a significant degree, they most likely will in the context of coarse facial hair.

Braun Series 9 9290cc (left) vs Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4, two foil shavers with 4 blade cutting systems.

Braun Series 9 9290cc (left) vs Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4, two foil shavers with 4 blade cutting systems.

Men with heavy beards almost always have very dense stubble, which means that during a shaving session there are literally more hairs that will need to be cut compared to a medium or light beard.

For this reason, I would say that a suitable electric razor will need to have at least three individual cutting elements.

Wet & dry operation.

This one is not a must, but I strongly recommend giving wet shaving a try, especially if you also happen to have very sensitive skin.

Wet shaving with an electric razor can be beneficial for men with coarse beards.

The addition of a quality shaving cream can improve the closeness and comfort of your shave. You can check out our tips for wet shaving with an electric razor here.

If using shaving cream with your electric razor doesn’t sound too appealing, the next best thing would be a pre-shave lotion that takes just seconds to apply and in most cases, it’s very effective.

Best electric shavers for coarse hair [updated 2020]

All of us have the same reasonable expectations from an electric razor — a close and comfortable shave.

And the first step in achieving this is to choose an appropriate shaver.

Now that we know what to look for in a razor suitable for coarse hair, let’s check out some of the best you can currently buy.

1. Braun Series 9 9290cc

Braun Series 9 9290cc

See the price on Amazon

The Series 9 is Braun’s premium line of electric shavers and they currently represent the best that the company has to offer.

An evolution of the iconic and extremely popular Series 7, the Series 9 is a beefed-up, more powerful and more advanced razor that should satisfy even the most demanding users.

Available in both wet & dry or dry only variations, the Series 9 can also come with an automatic cleaning station.

The Series 9 9290cc Silver during the automatic cleaning cycle.

The Series 9 9290cc Silver during the automatic cleaning cycle.

My personal pick is the Series 9 9290CC for its wet & dry capabilities and Braun’s excellent cleaning system.

It also seems to cost lower than other similar Series 9 models.

You can check out a comprehensive comparison of all Series 9 variations here.

So what makes the Series 9 suitable for coarse beards?

The powerful motor and an advanced 4 blade cutting system make the Series 9 one of the best electric razors you can buy at this moment.

The 4 cutting elements of the Braun Series 9.

These features work together to provide an incredibly smooth and enjoyable shave even if you have a very though beard and two or three days of growth.

I personally don’t think there is any other shaver at this moment that can outperform the Series 9 as a whole; the comfort, speed, and effortless operation are second to none.

If you are “blessed” with sensitive skin and a thick beard like I am, the Series 9 would be a perfectly suitable choice.

As for the downsides, the Series 9 is definitely not cheap, so if you’re looking for a Braun shaver that offers better value for money and still works well with tough whiskers check out the Series 7 or 5.

Also, while the Series 9 should be good enough for most men when it comes to closeness, it’s actually not the best in class, being edged Panasonic’s Arc 5 shavers.

2. Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5

Panasonic es-lv65-s Arc 5

See the price on Amazon

Just like the Series 9, the Arc 5 is Panasonic’s high-end line of electric shavers.

While there are several variations available here as well, my personal pick would be the Panasonic ES-LV65-S from the second generation Arc 5.

In terms of shaving performance, all Arc 5 razors are similar, so the difference comes down to design, price and the inclusion of an automatic cleaning base.

Since a cleaning station is not really necessary in the case of Panasonic shavers as they’re very easy to clean manually, it makes sense to recommend the ES-LV65-S over other models.

If the cleaning base is a must-have for you, there is the more expensive ES-LV95-S Arc 5 variant that includes one; other than that they are exactly the same.

The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is fitted with an extremely fast 14 000 CPM motor and very sharp blades that are honed at an aggressive 30 degrees angle.

The Arc 5 from Panasonic is one of the best shavers for men with coarse facial hair.

This allows them to cut thick hairs extremely close, fast and efficiently.

The massive shaving head with the 5 blades can cover very large surfaces with ease, reducing the number of strokes and the shaving time to a minimum.

Personally, I would place Panasonic’s Arc 5 line in the first spot with regards to the closeness of the shave.

While Braun’s Series 7 and 9 are more comfortable out of the box, in my own personal and subjective experience, the Panasonics are marginally better at providing a closer shave.

Again, this will vary among different users and in some instances, it can very well be the other way around.

But generally, if you are mainly concerned with getting the closest possible shave, I recommend the Arc 5 over Braun’s Series 9.

3. Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige

See the price on Amazon

Rotary shavers also fare very well with thick stubble and according to some, they are even superior to foil shavers.

I think this can be the case with entry-level foil shavers; advanced razors like the ones in this article will probably perform just as well.

One of the best rotary razors in terms of performance the Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige.

It is an evolution of Norelco’s former premium line, the Series 9000 (with models like the 9300 and 9700).

The new Prestige line features new cutters and combs and comes with a premium brushed aluminum body.

The new Philips Series 9000 Prestige shaving heads

As a result, its performance is among the best you can expect from any rotary shaver. It’s particularly impressive at how well it can handle longer hairs, being very effective at catching and cutting them in fewer strokes.

So if you are a rotary shaver type of guy, definitely check this one out.

Unfortunately, the S9000 Prestige doesn’t come with a cleaning station and the price is pretty high compared to the other shavers on this list.

For all the details, make sure to also check out my in-depth review of it.

4. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4

Panasonic ES-LA63-S

See the price on Amazon

The older ES-LA63-S from Panasonic’s Arc 4 line is a personal favorite of mine and a razor I recommend quite often

The reason for this is pretty simple: it’s a very capable, versatile and solid shaver that offers excellent value for money.

The ES-LA63-S includes some of the features found on more expensive Panasonic electric razors like the Arc 5.

It has the same 14 000 CPM motor, 30 degrees nanoblades and 4 individual cutting elements.

The 4 cutters of the Panasonic ES-LA63-S.

These features ensure excellent results even when dealing with very coarse stubble.

With a competitive price, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S represents a very compelling and cost-effective option for men with coarse facial hair.

For more details, you can check out my detailed review of the ES-LA63-S.

An equally good alternative to the ES-LA63-S would be Panasonic’s ES-LF51-A from the same Arc 4 line (if for some reason you cannot get the ES-LA63-S).

5. Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S

The Panasonic ES8103S, an affordable shaver that offer excellent performance

See the price on Amazon

Finally, the (arguably) best option for the budget-conscious user is Panasonic’s entry-level Arc 3 line.

Basic electric shavers usually can’t match the performance of the more advanced and much more expensive razors.

However, the Arc 3, at least some variations, manage to punch way above their price.

And if you have a tough beard you’ll definitely want a more capable shaver.

There are a lot of models in the Arc 3 family, old and new, most of them still available for purchasing. When choosing one you should be looking at two things: power output and price.

The Arc 3 models that are fitted with the powerful 13 000 CPM motors are the ones you’ll want.

The difference compared to the less powerful shavers that come with the 7 600 – 10 000 CPM units is night and day.

The ES8103S Arc 3 is one of the best options out there at this moment.

It’s reasonably priced, comes with the punchy 13 000 CPM motor and features the same high-quality blades as the more expensive Arc 4 and Arc 5 shavers.

As a result, its performance is outstanding at this price point.

An equally good alternative would be the Panasonic ES-LT41-K Arc 3. While the design is more modern (and comes with a travel lock), the performance is pretty much identical, so I recommend you to simply buy the one that costs less.

In my opinion the 13 000 CPM Arc 3 shavers are the ones to have in the entry-level segment if you have a coarse beard.

The offerings from the competition, like Braun’s Series 3 or Norelco’s Series 5000 just aren’t as good.

In order to get the best results, I recommend using the Arc 3 more often (daily or every other day).

Final word

Before wrapping up, I want to point out that in order to get the most out of your shaver, the single most effective thing you can do is to set up an appropriate pre-shave routine.

A few simple and easy to implement steps can significantly improve your results.

And since coarse hair makes things that much difficult for an electric razor, prep work should not be skipped.

If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.

30 comments on “What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Coarse Hair (2020)?

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  1. Cherise

    I want to buy the Braun series 9 shaver for my husband. He is of indian descent and has very coarse hair that grows in different directions and sensitive skin. His hair sounds similar to yours based on what you described in the article. What shaving gel or lotion etc would you recomment i also buy for him to use with the shaver?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Cherise,

      Based on your comment I think the Braun Series 9 would be a suitable shaver for your husband. Regarding your question, any quality shaving cream or gel will work. I would however stay away from the ones that come in pressurized cans, they are pretty nasty. You can check out some of my recommendations here. Another option would be a pre-shave lotion that must be applied prior to a dry shave. Williams Lectric Shave or Afta Pre-Electric Shave are two of the most popular products of this type.

      The Series 9 is already very comfortable as it is, so a shaving cream won’t make that much of a difference in this case, so it’s up to the user to decide on this matter. For example, I use shaving cream with most of my shavers, but with the Series 9 I really didn’t feel the need to do it. Please keep in mind that if you go for a Series 9 that comes with a cleaning station, the razor must be dry and free of any foam residues before using the station.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
      1. cherise

        Thank you so much for all your help. Your article in itself was a huge help. I researched some pre-shave lotions for the dry shave. I will definitely purchase one of those. I’m leaning more towards the Aramis Lab Series pre-shave mainly due to the fact that it has a faint scent. Thanks again.

        Reply
        1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

          You are very welcome, Cherise. The Lab Series is an excellent pre-shave lotion. I actually consider it superior to the other two popular options. However it’s not as easy to find (at least in Europe) and it’s also pricey. But again, the quality is top notch.

          Reply
  2. cherise

    Also, do you think the Series 7 would be able to tackle the hair growing in different directions as efficiently as the Series 9 (bearing in mind I would be buying the pre-shave lotion) or should I just stick to purchasing the Series 9?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      The Series 9 is definitely superior when dealing with hairs that grow in different directions. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s the best foil shaver in this regard. A pre-shave lotion will help, but only to a certain degree. If it fits within your budget, the Series 9 is the one to buy.

      Reply
  3. cherise

    Thanks so much for the quick response. I’m just hoping the foil head doesn’t spoil prematurely. I read a lot of reviews on Amazon where people said it failed after 3-5 months. I really hope that does not happen but I guess only time will tell.

    Reply
  4. Stanley Erwin

    I read your recommendation regarding the Series 9 Braun shaver. I am 67 years old and have a thick stubble beard. Some days it seems to grow out faster than others. I have been shaving recently with a Norelco 4100 for ultra sensitive area and blade shaving others taking about 1 hour each day. Many years ago I had a foil shaver and destroyed the foil in about a week. Any suggestions on how to use a foil shaver to avoid the problem and get a shave in a reasonable amount of time? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Stanely,

      Thank you for your comment. One hour is way too much for completing a shave, so your current setup — a basic rotary shaver and a razor blade — clearly isn’t working as it should. The Philips Norelco 4100 is a decent shaver, but far from ideal in this situation (sensitive skin and thick facial hair). I would say that a more advanced and more powerful foil shaver is the way to go. They are also more comfortable and gentler to the skin compared to most rotary razors. The ones mentioned in this article should be a very good starting point.

      I’m pretty sure that the foil of your previous shaver that broke after one week was an isolated accident. This doesn’t normally happen unless the part was defective from the beginning or it wasn’t properly handled.

      Speaking of which, as long as you clean and lubricate your shaver according to the user’s manual and you don’t subject it to mechanical shocks the foils should last for a long time. Regarding the technique, I wrote an in-depth guide here that may come in handy.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  5. John

    Hello,

    I have a thick beard, and I’ve tried a few Philips shavers, but I take too much time to shave. First I use a hair shaver, then the Philips and finish with a Gillette razor blade.

    Once, I was travelling and I went to a barbershop, the guy used a rectangular shaver that shaved my beard (one and a half week grown) in seconds.

    He told me the name a few times but I didn’t understand. It wasn’t Brawn.

    It was probably a professional grade equipment, but I’d never know which one he used.

    Thanks,

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi,

      From what I can tell rotary razors don’t seem to work very well with your beard and you should maybe consider a high-quality foil-based shaver.

      Wahl and Andis electric shavers/clippers are often favored by professional barbers.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  6. Ali aryan

    i have braun series 9 it has TERRIBLE performance overall … i had high hope for it i am former philips user 🙁 also my skin is very sensitive …

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Ali,

      I’m really sorry to hear that. The Series 9, while it doesn’t excel in every situation, is considered to be one of the better shavers out there. It is particularly good with sensitive skin, so I was a bit surprised by your experience. I understand that you previously used a Philips shaver; foil-based razors require a different technique and it may take some getting used to before seeing better results. This article may be of help.

      However, if you still don’t see any improvements I would recommend you to go back again to using a rotary shaver; in some cases one type simply seems to work better than the other.

      Reply
  7. G. S.

    I have a very coarse (individual hairs are very thick), moderately dense (hairs are moderately more closely spaced) beard. [As far as I can tell your article doesn’t make much distinction between the two aspects of the problem, but then again, I suspect that from the razor designer’s perspective they are not very different to handle.]

    Alas, I also have some fairly sharp facial contours around the jaw, including some fairly tight concave areas — difficult for any shaver. How do your recommended shavers do vs. sharp, complex jawlines?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment. Facial hair particularities come in many forms, so it’s difficult to cover all the possibilities. Usually coarse, thick hairs are also quite dense as opposed to moderately dense in your case. This should actually make things easier for an electric shaver. Rotary razors are usually recommended if you have very prominent facial features, but in my experience with a bit of extra work, a foil razor can work just as well. Using your free hand to stretch and tighten the skin is probably the most effective tip I could give. An electric shaver with a very bulky head like the 5 blade ES-LV65-S will however be more difficult to maneuver compared to one with a slimmer head.

      I would recommend you to check out the Braun Series 9 or the Panasonic ES-LF51-A, they seem like a good fit. I don’t really get along with rotary razors, but if you’ve ever used one with good results, the Philips Norelco 9300 or even the 8900 are among the best you can currently buy.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  8. Sally VanValkenburg

    Hmmmm…
    I’m confused. You recommend a rotary shaver for course hair…but you don’t like it for your course hair?
    I’m torn between the rotary you recommend and the foil you suggest.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Sally,

      Rotary shavers are definitely suitable for coarse hair — some may even argue that they are the best for this situation. However, I do not personally enjoy shaving with rotary razors because I never get the same excellent results compared to using a capable foil-based shaver: closeness, comfort and how long it takes me to complete a shave. Again, this is just a personal preference and others may find rotary razors to be better. For first time users, I tend to recommend foil shavers as I think they are a safer choice in most cases.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  9. Lluvia Hoste

    Hi, I’m looking for a durable shaver for my Dad’s very coarse hair, he lives overseas so I need something that is going to last for a long time and doesn’t need replacements. What would you recommend?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi,

      All electric shavers will eventually need replacements. The blades will get dull with use and the foils/combs will wear out. How fast that happens will depend on many factors, among them being the coarseness of the hair, frequency of use and how well the shaver is cared for (cleaning, lubrication). Any of the shavers recommended in this list should get the job done, the more expensive ones also providing better performance. Choosing one should come down to your budget and availability.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  10. Romain

    I really don’t mind investing in a great electric foil razor as my skin is very sensitive and I’m forced to shave everyday. However, every model you have presented do not work while plugged in, they’re all cordless and I have had the worst experience with lithium battery products. Can you recommend any good foil razor useable while pluggied? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Romain,

      I actually wrote a guide that addresses precisely that topic (and also recommended shavers). You can check it out here. As I mentioned in that article, the options are limited and that’s the reason why I couldn’t include any of them in this list. Since you also have very sensitive skin, you should consider one of the dry only Braun Series 7 models (for example the 790cc or the older 720s). Those will work while plugged in as well.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  11. Mary Beth

    I am trying to buy an electric shaver for my 21 yr old son, who has mild cerebral palsy. He has sensitive skin and very course facial hair which lays completely flat on the soft skin of his neck and Adam’s apple. He does have a little trouble with fine motor tasks, so at times he pushes too hard on his razor and scratches himself. It’s very frustrating for him as he wants to be independent but often needs a little help to finish up. I have found that using a rotary shaver to start and a foil to finish up works, but only with help (the rotary does not pick up the hair that lays flat and tugs on his sensitive skin). Do you have a recommendation for us for one shaver that would work for him? I have also never heard about a pre-shave lotion (as mentioned in your article above) for electric shavers, and would appreciate any recommendations about that as well, as it might help with the sensitivity and maybe help the flat hairs stand up.
    Thank you for your article on this…it’s so helpful! Any further information is so greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!
    Mary Beth

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Mary Beth,

      In my experience rotary shavers are not ideal for sensitive skin, I find them a bit too harsh (even the high-end models). They do seem to be more effective at catching longer, flat-lying hairs (at least when compared to a basic foil shaver).

      In this situation, I would consider a Braun Series 9 as it’s really good with flat-lying hairs, but also very comfortable and forgiving. As for which model to choose, it really comes down to your budget. The performance will be the same throughout the entire Series 9 range. The models that come with a cleaning & charging station are more expensive than the solo models.

      Pre-shave lotions are alcohol-based products that must be applied to the skin (massaged into the beard) prior to a dry shave with an electric shaver. The solution will evaporate completely within 20 seconds or so, then you can proceed to shave as usual. In most cases there should be an improvement in comfort, closeness and the time it takes to complete the shave. It can help with flat-lying hairs too. My personal favorite is the Speick pre-shave, but it’s not always easy to get. I wrote a detailed guide and also share other alternatives here.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  12. Clayton

    I’m African American male who is looking for an electric razor that I can use for my face as well as my head since I am losing up there as well. My hair is a traditional coarse curly hair can you recommend one for me or is it best to stay with the standard razor?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Clayton,

      Both traditional razors and electric shavers have their pros and cons, so it’s not a one size fit all solution. A blade will get you the closest shave, but also with the associated risks, particularly ingrown hairs and razor bumps being more common among men with coarse, curly hair. An electric shaver could be a better alternative in this case. I would go with a Braun Series 9, it’s arguably the best foil shaver for dealing with this type of facial hair and it’s also very comfortable and forgiving. You can use it on your head as well provided that the hair is reasonably short.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  13. Melissa

    Hi! I was looking at getting my boyfriend the Panasonic Arc 5. How often would he need to replace the shaver part on it?

    He tends to dull a disposable blade after a couple of shaves and needs to be cleaned shaven for work so he shaves 5-6 days a week. He hasn’t been using a pre shave but will definitely use one w a nice electric shaver.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Melissa,

      That depends on quite a few factors, so it will be different from one user to another. Things like the coarseness of the hair, the frequency of the shave, how well the shaver is being cared for (cleaning, lubrication) will have an influence on the wear. However, I’d say that when used properly, the blades and foil should last for at least 6 months (worst case scenario). Personally, I’m easily getting more than a year from my Arc 5, but I do take care of it. And by that I simply mean cleaning it after every use and using some oil or spray lubricant for electric shavers.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  14. Brian

    I have a Braun Series 5. I dull the blades quickly maybe a month. I shave every other day. Shaving takes about 40 minutes and I must keep the razor plugged in to get best motor speed. It takes many passes to eventually get to the skin. Will the 9 really change the amount of time shaving?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Brian,

      While the Series 9 is a better shaver than the 5 (and it should be considering the cost), if you need to change the cassette monthly and it takes 40 minutes to complete the shave, something’s definitely not right. Even if you have a coarse beard, you should be able to easily get more than a month from a new head. Cleaning and lubricating the shaver should prolong the lifespan of the blades and they will also perform better.

      The Series 9 with an extra cutter and more torque should allow you to finish your session faster, but I would also try to determine the reasons why it takes so long. A pre-shave lotion could also help. By the way, if you go for a Series 9, all models currently available are wet/dry, meaning they will not work with the razor plugged in. Only the older models like 9090cc work corded, but they’ve been discontinued for quite some time.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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