NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask

As you probably know by now, masks are major staples in my skincare arsenal. While there’s many masks to choose from, I prefer overnight/”sleeping masks” for most occasions. Additionally, for pamper sessions or when my skin really needs some help, the traditional clay masks — or the ones you wash off — are still a winner in my book. I still manage to squeeze in sheet masks every other night or so, but lately, overnight masks are so much easier to deal with. My newest is the NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask, and I’m very happy with its multitasking concept. And, by that, I mean that I use this mask in a variety of ways.

The gel-like quality is convenient — it’s easy to apply, feels cooling and soothing on the skin, and it spreads easily without catching in different parts of the face. It’s very easy to slap it on and move on!

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The NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask is an “intensive hydrating mask for smoother, softer, more plump-looking skin.” For skin that is dehydrated, dry, tired, and dull, this is the perfect way to recharge your skin. NARS claims that “this advanced treatment provides a surge of hydration anytime—day or overnight, leaving skin ultrasoft, vibrant, and more youthful-looking.” Additionally, the mask is “infused with NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™, Japonicus root extract, Wild Pansy extract, Beech Bud extract, and Sophora root extract,” which are all skin-loving ingredients that aid with intense hydration and strengthening the skin’s barrier function to lock in essential moisture.

Most importantly, the Aqua Gel Luminous Mask “saturates the skin with moisture. Skin feels comfortable, calm, and soothed. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles begin to fade from view. Lightweight and velvety to the touch, this treatment mask helps skin achieve a new level of luminosity and preparation for smooth makeup application and longer-lasting foundation.”

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As mentioned previously, I use this mask in a variety of ways. First, I use it as is — a mask that can be left on overnight. This means after makeup removal, thorough cleansing, and prepping the skin with toner, serum, and my night cream, I apply this mask as my final step on top of my night cream. Usually, I leave about 10-15 minutes of absorbing time for my regular night time products, and then I apply the Aqua Gel Luminous Mask. At first, the mask is filmy and almost sticky. But when you give it some time to absorb, it adheres to the skin well and locks in all the products you’ve applied prior. I feel that this traps all the moisture and nutrients during the night, enabling my skin to recover, recharge, and rehydrate throughout the night.

Second, I use this as a quickie wash-off mask. Sometimes in the morning, my skin is looking tired and dull. So I’ll wash my face with Cetaphil, apply the mask, and then brush my teeth. During that time the mask is working quickly to re-vamp my skin. After brushing my teeth, I wash off the mask and proceed onto my morning skincare routine and then makeup. I’ve found that this method can truly make a difference in how my skin looks before makeup applications on days when my skin really needs it.

Lastly, sometimes I swap out my regular daytime moisturizer for this. I don’t do this often since I don’t think it’s as effective as when I apply this at night. However, when my skin is feeling dry, I apply this instead of moisturizer to give my skin a quick boost. Because it feels tacky at first, I have to have adequate time for it to absorb, then apply my sunscreen, then my makeup. It can be time-consuming so I tend to not do it often. I found myself doing this while traveling, however.

Retails for $39.00 USD.
Made in USA.

REVIEW: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

I finally was able to get my hands on the newest NARS foundation — the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. This product has been very hyped but I’ve been waiting a long time for it. As a foundation junkie and a NARS fan, it was an exciting moment for me to finally get my new NARS foundation. :) This foundation is an “oil-free foundation that delivers full, natural-looking coverage with one drop, for lightweight, 16-hour wear.” Along side the highly acclaimed Sheer Glow Foundation, this is the perfect newest addition to the NARS foundation family. I heard through the grapevine that the All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation will replace the Sheer Matte Foundation.

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“Achieve full-coverage, lightweight foundation that leaves a natural finish. Highly pigmented and perfectly balanced, this breakthrough, full-coverage formula builds and blends effortlessly.” This foundation is unique — in that the texture of it is actually very light and almost watery. Even after you shake it really well, the foundation hardly feels like it would be something that delivers high coverage. In addition, I found that it’s highly adjustable as well — in fact, I can wear it as sheer as I want (with a damp Beauty Blender sponge) and pigmentation and coverage isn’t compromised. This foundation’s “Even Tone Technology” is referred to as the magic that “instantly neutralizes redness and dullness, while it works to reduce discoloration for more even, uniform skin. Perfect for all skin types, it features Long-wear Technology, an exclusive blend from NARS with flexible polymers and treated pigments that move with the skin while providing 16 hours of staying power.”

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I’m never dissatisfied with NARS foundations, and I’m so pleased with the performance of the new All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. It’s super light weight and glides onto the skin effortlessly. Most of the time I like to use a Beauty Blender Sponge, but other times, I use a dense synthetic buffing brush and it blends out beautifully no matter what. The great thing about a buildable foundation is that you can add additional product onto places where you really need it the most. For me, I add a few extra dots to my cheek areas when they’re irritated or red; everything is instantly concealed with this foundation — and, in the most natural way possible.

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I got my usual shade “Mont Blanc” which is a light shade with pink undertones. It balances my pinky, Asian skin really well and hasn’t irritated it in any way. Additionally, I found that even without a setting powder, this foundation holds up well on its own. Oil-control is surprisingly good, and even after oil breaks through, the foundation remains uncakey. I like that this foundation is really natural and feels light on the skin. It’s great for mornings I wake up with issues with my skin because this will cover it right up. However, I also like it for days when there’s nothing wrong with my skin since I can apply it so naturally and sheerly on my skin.

Overall, I recommend this foundation. I think no matter what skin type you have and what you initial skin concerns are, this foundation will continue to work for you. A little bit of product goes a long ways — I use barely half a pump and I’m happy with that. At $48.00 USD, I find that it’s a fair and reasonable price for a high-end product that performs well.

Retails for $48.00 USD.
Made in USA.

NARS Eyeshadow Duo in “Tokyo”

I’ve written about NARS eyeshadows in the past — my favorites being the NARS Duo Eyeshadow in “Cordura” and the NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie.” Recently, however, I’ve been really into the NARS Eyeshadow Duo in “Tokyo.” Best of all, I love how the duos come with a sturdy mirror and modern, complementary shades.

The duos consist of a “long-wearing, crease-resistant formula [that] is uniquely paired in dazzling and creative color combinations, expertly coordinated by François Nars. Worn together or alone, these shades are richly pigmented and can be applied sheer or built up for a more dramatic effect. Used wet, these shadows also double as eyeliners.” I’ve been gravitating toward the “Tokyo” duo because it’s been great on a every day basis with its “silver shimmer/ lavender shimmer” shades.

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The best excuse for this duo is that it’s unique. While I own mainly neutral tones and eyeshadows that are “every day” and “wearable,” I found that the “Tokyo” duo is a great way to integrate something different with my usual every day looks. In the pan, I feel like it looks quite drab; but, on the skin, it’s reflective in a nice way without looking like it’s too much. Another great thing about these two shades is that it adds a little something extra to dark, smokey eyes, so in a very true sense, it’s quite multi-tasking.

Made in Canada.
Retails for $35.00 USD.

NARS Matte Multiple in “Anguilla”

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When the new NARS Matte Multiples were released, I read a lot of mixed reviews because of its controversial size. In size, the Matte Multiples are 0.26 oz. each while the The Multiples are 0.50 oz. each. However, despite the size controversy, I like the new Matte Multiples because they are a “modern matte multipurpose makeup stick for lips and cheeks that may be used wet or dry.” Marketed as a multi-functional product, my hopes and expectations were high — especially since these were much smaller than The Multiples for the same price.

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“This innovative formula—the next wave makeup artistry for lips and cheeks—delivers vibrant pops and sensual sunkissed modern matte hues for lips and cheeks. Used dry it delivers a burst of high-impact color; used wet, color melts into skin with an imperceptibly smooth, sheer finish.” The formula is super soft and creamy and blends like a dream on the skin. It’s got enough slip so that application and blending is easy, but it does set nicely without looking wet or glossy. The waxy texture is almost mousse-like, but glides on the skin easily and looks pretty without any shimmer or glitter.

The shade “Anguilla” is a pretty “ginger pink” that looks great on my skin. The warm pinky shade is a great pop of color without looking too bright; and, it’s great because it provides a great look without looking too done up. The color also looks pretty on the lips — almost a nudey-pink shade. But, I found it to be a bit drying on the lips.

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For the price, this product is expensive for what it actually is. And, like most people, I found that the regular The Multiples was a much better deal. Like all NARS products, this product is extremely pigmented so a little does go a long ways. But, despite that, I think a price range of $26-$28 would’ve been more sufficient in my opinion. For me, the only shade that I really liked was “Anguilla” since the other ones were just too much for me. It’s really not a must-have, so it’s not a product that you need to run out and get. The quality is nice, but for essentially a cream blush, there’s other options out there (honestly speaking).

Retails for $39.00 USD.
Made in USA.

REVIEW: NARS Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide”

I’ve been eagerly reading review posts of various Spring/Summer limited edition collections being released, and I’m sad to say that nothing really tugged at my heartstrings. While the FINAL CUT collection by NARS was available on Nordstrom’s website for weeks, I decided to wait to see the collection in person before making any kind of commitment. Though the blushes looked beautiful and were all very tempting, I stopped myself from getting them because I have so many blushes that look just the same! Instead, I got the Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide” and skipped the lip products entirely.

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NARS Illuminators are marketed as items that will “light the skin from within.” They are designed to be worn as a highlighting product for the face, or applied to the skin before makeup, and can also be mixed in with foundation for the ultimate glowy effect. Previously, I featured the NARS Illuminator in “Copacabana” and it’s still a favorite item in my collection.

In general, the Illuminators are a range of highlighting products that are described to be “light-reflecting liquids that glides on to refresh and enhance the complexion.” The Illuminators promise “to create a shimmering incandescence” on the face and body. Despite the color in the tube, “Adelaide” is “deceptively sheer [and] decidedly luminous” all at the same time. NARS claims to “magically transform your skin from ordinary to extraordinary” with these products.

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“Adelaide” is a bright, cool-toned pink with shimmer in the tube, but blends out sheer and pretty on the skin. As you’ve probably already guessed — a little goes a long way. I found that “Adelaide” was the only unique item in the FINAL CUT collection and I’m very happy with the purchase. So far, I’ve worn it as a highlighter on the face after blush, alone in place of blush, and mixed in with my foundation — and, I found that “Adelaide” can really bring your blush to life. The glow is undeniable, yet it’s still subtle and natural without going too overboard. Surprisingly when mixed in with foundation, it doesn’t change the tone of it. I was afraid since it was so pink, the color of my base makeup would be altered — however, since my skin naturally leans a little pink anyway, I found it to be no problem.

My favorite way to wear this is in place of blush — just on my cheeks like a stain. The texture is creamy but not thick and not too thin. It blends out beautifully without drying too fast like the Benefit tints. The effect is pretty and I recommend the Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide,” for sure. In my opinion, the other items can be passed up if you already own various shades of pink blushes. If not, this collection would be a great place to start!

Made in USA.
Product contains 1.1 oz.
Retails for $30.00 USD.

NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie”

I’m a big fan of NARS and their eye shadows. Their shadows are great to have in your collection because the colors are unique — even if they don’t look special in the pan initially. I own several that I try to put in regular rotation, even though, I admit sometimes they go unnoticed when I’m playing with other colors/brands. Recently, I came across some eye makeup looks catered towards neutral lovers in a Japanese fashion magazine. The shade that seemed to be used multiple times was the NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie”. Naturally, I just had to see this and swatch this in person.

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Upon first glance, this shade looks like nothing special — almost like one of those filler shades in palettes. In fact, even when you swatch it, it seems like a shade that you could pass up. However, in natural light, this shade is the most flattering for the lid as an all-over base color, contour color, and even eyebrow color. While the tone of this color comes off as a flat matte, there’s something about this shade that comes to life once in contact with skin. For me, I like this color best when I pair it alone with some winged eyeliner. For fancy makeup, I like to use this when I apply a smokey eye to blend the harsh darker colors along the crease. Even in neutral looks, the shade is great to contour the crease — giving your lid a subtle definition that you would otherwise be missing.

For those with blonde, medium blonde, dirty, and even light brunette hairs, this shade would make such a flattering eyebrow color as well. For me, since my hair is a medium brown color, this shade is too light. But, in a pinch, I’ve made it work when used in conjunction with a darker eyebrow pencil. This shade is worth getting to experiment with; and, comes in handy as the ultimate blending shade.

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NARS shadows are smooth and buttery — almost creamy, even though they’re powder products. The pigmentation is insane, so it’s best to use a light hand and a good blending brush when applying to the eyelid. I recommend NARS products in general; and, would recommend the shadows as well. The Duo Eyeshadows are definitely worth looking into for the price. Other NARS products I would recommend are the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, the Sheer Glow Foundation, and the Satin Lip Pencils.

Made in Canada.
Retails for $24.00 USD.

REVIEW: NARS Lipstick in “Niagara”

While feeling bold and expressive on a routine trip to Nordstrom, I came across this NARS Lipstick in “Niagara” and fell in love before swatching it. This line of lipsticks is described as catering to a wide range of “captivating shades designed to provide the look and style the color dictates.” The formula claims to be “exceedingly long-wearing,” “nourishing,” and “non-drying with vitamin E.” NARS lipsticks come in three different formulas: satin, sheer, and semi-matte.

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Originally, I’d say that the shade “Niagara” is out of my comfort zone, for sure. However, this “satin pinkish coral” shade is the perfect watermelon-coral-pinky shade that flatters. In some ways, it can be a very summery color; yet, at the same time, it could also translate to being festive for the holidays. So, in my book, this color wins for versatility. The formula is creamy and hydrating — and the color is sheer enough to be comfortable to wear in public; and, pigmented enough to feel like you’re getting color without it looking like a marker. The texture is smooth on the lips — kind of like your lips are naturally drenched with such a pretty color. The glossy finish is nice with a shade like this, and I love how shiny it is without looking too wet. It wears nicely and fades beautifully too. Win, win.

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This is my first NARS lipstick and I’m quite happy with its performance. The range is worth checking out, but for me, since I already have so many colors and brands to get through in my collection, I purposely picked a bold shade to make it worth purchasing. The reviews are very high for these lipsticks, so don’t forget to check these out next time you’re at a counter. I’d recommend “Niagara” because it’s incredibly girly and feminine, yet really sophisticated at the same time. The problem with nude-pink lips is that I feel like I can’t always wear a lip like that to work or school; and, it can look a little harsh and unnecessary during the day — even though it’s my favorite “lip look.” I think using “Niagara” will re-inspire me to play with lip colors during the day.

Retails for $26.00 USD.
Made in USA.
Item contains 0.12 oz.

The 5-Minute Face

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NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
To begin my 5-minute face, I start by applying my trusty Anessa Perfect Essence Sunscreen and then apply the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in “Terre Neuve.” This is a re-purchase item for me and I got a the newest lightest shade 00 “Terre Neuve” this time around. Applying a tinted moisturizer as a base for a 5-minute face is perfect for natural coverage and evening out of the skin. Because it applies so easily and quickly with minimal blending action, it’s great for when you’re on-the-go or in a hurry in the mornings.

Benefit Ooh La Lift
To brighten the under-eye area, I applied the Benefit Ooh La Lift and blended it in using a small synthetic buffing brush. I have a separate review coming up on this product, and I highly recommend it for brightening and prepping the under-eye area. You can see it in action in my recent Full Face of the Day post.

Illamasqua Powder Blusher – “Katie”
For blush, I’ve rotated out of my usual blush “Well Dressed” by MAC and am back to my Illamasqua Powder Blusher in “Katie,” which is just another cool-toned baby pink shade. It’s smooth and buttery and doesn’t take much effort to blend. Every time I take a long break from these blushes and I come back, I’m reminded how great it is. Totally recommend.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in “Demolition” & Random Japanese Eyebrow Pencil
For some definition along my lashline (lower and upper), I used Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in “Demolition” and smoked out the ends to make it look more natural. For my brows, I used a random eyebrow pencil that I bought at the Asian market. It doesn’t really have a name but claims to be able to hold for 24-hours. It’s very long-lasting, but I can’t say that it lasts for 24-hours since I don’t ever leave my makeup on for 24-hours! The pencil is just waxy enough to give me color and keep the eyebrow hairs in place. So far, I really like it.

Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash Bone Black Fiber & Kiss Me Heroine Volume and Curl Mascara
It’s pretty self-explanatory what my eyelash routine normally is. I curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, which I like much better than the Shiseido Eyelash Curler. The Shu curler fits my lid shape better without pinching and pulling. The Shiseido curler is too flat and I find it uncomfortable to use. For the lips (not pictured), I just applied the La Mer Lip Balm and headed out the door. :)

What do you wear when you’ve got 5 minutes?

NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder

I wanted to take a moment to rave about my new powder purchase: the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder. Previously, I wrote about the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in “Diffused Light.” The NARS powder has similar effects and performs similarly in terms of erasing imperfections and giving the skin a poreless look, BUT the final effect on the skin is entirely different.

Remember how when I say a product is “a necessity in life” I really mean it? Well, this is one of them. :)

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This product comes in one shade: translucent crystal, which looks white and glimmery in the pan; yet, when swatched, it’s barely anything at all. The glimmer melts into your skin — providing a poreless, wrinkle-less, and pigment-less finish. This is a “weightless, translucent powder for all skintones that creates a soft matte finish that looks luminous in any light.”

My skin absolutely feels velvety soft after I use this, and it doesn’t hurt that it gives the slightest luminescent glow to the skin. As for oil control, I can’t really say since I’m always going to be oily by the end of the day no matter what product I use. However, it looks that despite oil production, my makeup is intact. The texture of the powder is so light, it’s hard to tell you’ve got any product on the brush; it feels like nothing and it looks like nothing. Nonetheless, I swirl my brush around and apply my invisble powder to my ski — and, it’s like magic. No joke.

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This setting powder “enhances the look of foundation without a trace of color, extending makeup wear thanks to the NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™, which optimizes light-reflection on the skin. Its silky powder is infused with Photochromic Technology, which diffuses light and adjusts to new sources of light throughout the day.” Unlike the Hourglass Ambient Powder, this one universal shade is undetectable so it doesn’t alter anything you’ve already applied onto the skin. The “weightless formula applies evenly and blends effortlessly,” and “fine lines, wrinkles, and pores optically fade as skin is visibly smoothed.”

Additionally, “revolutionary microfine mineral powders are loaded with glycerin and antioxidant vitamin E to help guard against dryness and keep skin comfortable all day. Ideal for touch-ups, it helps regulate shine throughout the day and seamlessly sets foundation.” Also, bonus points for a nice, well-made pouch that doesn’t attract dust — another element that the Hourglass Ambient Powder did not have. :)

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This powder isn’t drying, yet it keeps the skin smooth and poreless — everything is blurred — imperfections, lines, bumps, pores, oil, etc. Makeup really does last all day and I love how smooth it makes my skin feel and look. Although there aren’t any high claims about creating the perfect lighting, it’s a great setting powder to use to give your skin some extra oomph. Normally, as a person who doesn’t really like setting powders, I’d say give this a go and I recommend it to everyone, no matter what skin tone you are.

Retails for $34.00 USD.
Made in Italy.

NARS The Multiple – “Luxor”

I’m a sucker for highlighters and that’s no secret. Even on no makeup days, I’ve got to use some kind of highlighter. Normally, I’m all about the powder highlighters because I trust them more than liquid or cream ones. However, I purchased the NARS The Multiple in “Luxor” and I’ve been truly satisfied since!

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The Multiple, in general, is “an all-in-one, cream-to-powder, multipurpose makeup stick.” You can use it to beautifully “highlight, sculpt, and warm the eyes, cheeks, lips, and body in an array of shades, from sheer accents to mauve and bronze.” I like multi-functioning products and I like products that look pretty, most of all.

NARS is a trusty brand that I go to often, and if you’re looking for a convenient highlighter, then I’d give The Multiple a try. There’s different shades for different purposes, but currently, I’m only interested in the ones that will highlight the skin naturally. I have my eye set on “Copacabana” next. :)

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The packaging is sleek and slightly rubbery, so much like all the other NARS products, it will get dirty and finger-printy. However, it’s easy to use and carry around if you need to because it’s so compact. In my experience, it’s best to layer this product after liquid/cream foundation/BB cream application so that it has something to slide on top of. You can swipe directly from the tube, use your finger, or use a brush. I like to swipe it along the tops of my cheeks and then use my fingers to blend it in.

When layering on top of a powder product (like powder foundation), I like to use a foundation brush or a buffing brush to swipe the product on with. I apply this last after all base products and blush.

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“Luxor” is an iridescent pink and it’s a shade that you can’t go wrong with — no matter what your skintone is. It’s flattering, illuminating, and glowy without looking like your face is oily. The slightly pinky-white tone is brightening, but isn’t stark or harsh. The pearlescent sheen blends into your skin beautifully and stays that way, even when you’re sweating. Be careful to NOT set this with powder because it will look dull and patchy if you do that. That’s why, even if I apply powder blush over a liquid/cream base, I still apply The Multiple last, as my final step.

You can use this wherever you’d normally highlight: the tops of your cheeks, your cupid’s bow, along the brow bone, and down the bridge of your nose. Use a brush if you’re in a hurry, and it will act just like a powder highlighter.

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This shade seems to be universally flattering and provides such an angelic effect on the skin. It instantly helps you look awake and healthy, and paired with a glowy foundation/BB cream, it’s the perfect combination of looking natural, yet pretty. It’s truly an all-in-one. This has become a staple in my makeup bag and I feel that I won’t be returning to my powder highlighters for awhile! Most of all, I like how it’s so easy to use. Other non-powder highlighters are hard to use because they’re hard to blend or they don’t look natural enough for me.

What do you think? :)

0.50 oz.
Retails for $39.00 USD.