Despite a somewhat high price, we recommend Thesis to anyone looking for a nootropic subscription they can tailor to their specific needs. The formulas from Thesis provide tangible benefits with minimal ingredients, and each formula is available with or without caffeine. Thesis also offers stellar customer service and delivers their product in individually packed doses you can take just about anywhere.
If you’re misplacing keys, having trouble finding just the right word, feeling like your mind is clouded and unfocused, or forgetting names here and there, you’re not alone. Given that our minds don't perform quite as well as we age, let alone cope with high stress, investing in a product like Thesis is appealing and seems sensible on the surface.¹ Thesis is a nootropics company with a lineup of formulas they've blended to target specific cognitive, emotional, or wellness goals. They make it easy to get started with a helpful quiz and a starter pack that lets you try four of their six combinations.
Nootropics in general offer the potential to improve cognitive abilities and regulate mood without the need for a prescription, and they consist of ingredients that research says are mostly safe and effective. However, Thesis isn’t the only provider of high-quality nootropics, and they don’t have especially low prices, either. In this review, we'll compare and contrast Thesis’ six formulas and see how they stack up against a growing field of competitors.
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Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. As nootropics have become more important players in the supplements landscape, we’ve taken a serious look at the key players to see which ones are worthwhile.
Thesis exists in a class of nootropics that combines multiple nootropic ingredients to achieve specific goals. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing various nootropics, including both individual ingredients and combinations like Thesis offers. In researching Thesis and their competitors, our team has read more than 100 clinical studies examining the efficacy and safety of nootropic ingredients, and we’ve combined all of that knowledge with our experiences to create this review.
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
To evaluate Thesis, we studied the sea of available research on each of the ingredients the company uses and compared them to a growing marketplace of nootropics, many of which our testing team has tried over the last few years. Specifically, we looked at how well Thesis’ formulas work, how safe they are, how much they cost, and how convenient it is to acquire and take them.
Ultimately, we found Thesis to be one of the more reliable companies in terms of product quality and customer care, even if they are also among the more expensive nootropic brands. For any nootropic, you’re looking to create a noticeable effect in brain performance, and altering anything to do with that sensitive chemistry likely warrants a fair investment. The bargain bin is not typically where you want to shop for mind-enhancing substances.
We’ll get into a more direct comparison between Thesis and its competitors a little later, and you’ll see that the balance between its price and its overall value is quite reasonable. For now, let’s look at each criterion in more detail.
Nootropic companies have a plethora of ingredients at their fingertips when they formulate their products. Some companies take a modern approach, focusing on the latest research into established Western medicines. Others look to the past, where ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic practices employed various botanicals to achieve cognitive effects. The best companies combine these approaches, using potentially beneficial ingredients that science supports.
Thesis takes this combined approach, employing just under three dozen ingredients from amino acids to ancient herbs across their six products. The company scores highly in effectiveness thanks to the ingredients they choose and the doses they offer for each, making it likely that you can notice their combined effects.
Individual results will vary due to everything from sleep patterns to diet, but most people should find benefits in at least one of Thesis' six formulas. Caffeinated formulas generally have more pronounced effects than stimulant-free versions, but the value in Thesis offering every formula with or without stimulants cannot be overstated.
One minor knock against Thesis is that, unlike some of their competitors, Thesis does not have a nootropic blend designed for improved sleep. Better sleep supports cognition and mood, so some companies offer formulas designed specifically for sleep promotion with ingredients like melatonin. That said, some of Thesis formulas contain lion’s mane or Zembrin (a branded form of Sceletium tortuosum that’s been shown to reduce anxiety² and promote sleep).³
Good nootropics are, unfortunately, a bit expensive. You can find less expensive options than Thesis, but their $79 monthly rate is right in the middle of what the market demands. You could also argue that the ingredient quality, customization options, and overall efficacy Thesis offers make it a superior value to many less expensive alternatives. Still, the price remains a sticking point for some.
Let's compare the monthly and per-dose costs with some of Thesis' closest competition. The prices below reflect subscription savings where available.
|Monthly cost||Servings per month||Cost per dose||Free shipping|
|TruBrain (medium strength capsules)||$119||30||$3.97|
|Focus Factor Original||$19.79||30||$0.66|
|Mind Lab Pro||$69||30||$2.30|
|BrainMD Brain-T Max||$76.46||30||$2.55|
Three of the seven competitors included in the chart above are more expensive than Thesis, revealing its wholly average cost. Focus Factor — consistently our top budget pick among nootropics — costs considerably less than the field and includes many ingredients with associated clinical research. The downside is that increasing the number of ingredients (even when they seem to work) increases the odds of an adverse reaction.
TruBrain is the only company that truly compares to Thesis from a quality and variety standpoint. Other companies offer only one or two formulas, whereas Thesis and TruBrain each offer several more targeted products. TruBrain allows you to spend just $69 on your first jar when you subscribe — $10 less than Thesis — but that price shoots up to $119 every month after that, making Thesis the superior value.
When we consider the safety of any supplement, we look at available research into individual ingredients and compare those dosages with what the supplement offers. Whenever possible, we also try the product ourselves to see how it makes us feel. Additionally, we look for safety standards in manufacturing that can provide added peace of mind, like third-party testing and compliance with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Thesis manufactures their products in GMP-compliant facilities and has third-party testing performed to assess the purity of each ingredient and formula. And the clinical research involving the lion's share of their ingredients reveals minimal risk profiles with few-to-no adverse effects reported. That said, ashwagandha can stimulate thyroid activity, so anyone on medication to regulate thyroid function should be careful.
Thesis also limits their formulas to a handful of ingredients, which reduces the odds that any one of them would cause an adverse reaction. This is pretty typical of nootropics in Thesis’ class, but less expensive nootropics might try to convince you of their value by stuffing a single blend with several dozen components. That might increase the chances you feel some positive effect, but the side effect risk goes up by the same token.
Our convenience rating considers various aspects of a user's experience. It usually starts with the quality of a product's website design and whether or not their pages are easy to navigate. We also consider the presence of subscription systems that make reordering easier and money-back guarantees that protect your investment. A company's customer service is another vital aspect of convenience, especially if you need questions answered. The quality of an FAQ section, the availability of representatives via chat or phone call, and the responsiveness to email inquiries all play a part here.
Our convenience rating is also informed by the steps required to actually take the product. Nootropics often consist of large capsules, and doses can contain anywhere from 1-7 capsules, which is awful for anyone with difficulty taking pills. Smaller capsules, fewer capsules per dose, and simple dosing schedules are ideal. Thesis’ capsule count varies per formula, ranging from 2-4 mid-size capsules you can take 30 minutes before you might want or need their effects.
To summarize some important aspects of nootropic company convenience, let's look at which companies have large capsule counts, good money-back guarantees, and subscription systems.
|Capsules per dose||Money-back guarantee||Subscription option|
|Qualia Mind||7||100 days|
|TruBrain (medium strength capsules)||3||None|
|Focus Factor Original||4||None|
|Mind Lab Pro||2-4||30 days|
|BrainMD Brain-T Max||3||60 days|
Thesis also provides a service that few other companies offer: free consultations with in-house nootropic coaches. These experts can help you figure out the best time to take specific Thesis formulas and guide your experience so you can tell whether or not they're working for you. Follow-up consultations are also free as long as you subscribe to the product.
Nootropic is a term most people use to refer to any non-prescription supplement that can boost brainpower.⁴ The technical definition is a little more nuanced — encompassing prescription medications like Ritalin and Adderall — but the supplement industry has largely co-opted it to categorize the new class of non-prescription products. The word loosely translates from its Greek origins to mean mind-changing, and the majority of ingredients in a given nootropic seek to alter the brain’s cognitive abilities, as well as its governance of mood and energy.
Most nootropic supplements contain botanical ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that boast at least some clinical research connecting them with improvements in any of the following:
Compared to their prescription cousins, nootropic supplements aren't particularly strong. Still, clinical research indicates a tangible benefit to taking them.
Thesis is a supplement company with a focus on nootropics. Their founders each had experiences growing up with what would today be considered learning disabilities, and they credit nootropics for changing their lives. They make six distinct nootropic formulas, each with a specific ingredient profile.
Thesis differentiates themselves from their competitors in several critical ways:
By providing you with a mix of formulas, Thesis gives you the ability to enhance the aspects of your cognitive and emotional life that need it the most on any given day. Maybe you know you have low energy levels on Mondays and Wednesdays, so you can take the Energy formula on those days. Maybe you want to devote your weekends to artistic pursuits. You can use the Creativity blend for that. Or you might find that one of their six blends works well for you in any situation. In that case, you can adjust your order to receive only that formula.
Thesis' customer service — particularly over the phone — is outstanding. While many customers might find chat support more convenient, our testers rarely waited more than a minute to speak to someone, and Thesis employs phone operators who are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the product and nootropics in general. Their email support is fine, and their chat support often redirects to an email inquiry. But that phone support is some of the best our testing team has experienced.
Most of the ingredients that Thesis uses in their nootropics exhibit minimal side effects in clinical research, so there’s a good chance that Thesis' various formulas will be safe for most people. But Thesis has nearly three dozen ingredients in its catalog, and not all of them will be safe for all users. Of course, the most important thing you can do is talk to your doctor before taking Thesis.
The most common side effects to watch out for when you start taking Thesis nootropics include:
Thesis recommends that you stop taking their nootropics if you experience a headache or an upset stomach that won’t go away.
Some Thesis products may present contraindications with certain prescription medicines. For example, ashwagandha has been shown to normalize thyroid hormone levels in people with hypothyroidism.⁵ This has led some to believe that it could conversely cause thyrotoxicity in people with hyperthyroidism, though it’s worth noting that the study in question employed double the highest ashwagandha dose you’ll find in Thesis nootropics.
Still, this should make abundantly clear the case for speaking with your doctor prior to taking Thesis. This is especially true considering the lack of research into the specific ingredient combinations you’ll find in Thesis products. There is also very little research looking into the risks of combining nootropic supplements with prescription nootropics like Ritalin or Adderall.
Some side effects, such as jitteriness, can be attributed to the caffeine in Thesis formulas. The fact that you can elect to remove caffeine from any formula expands the company’s reach to anyone with caffeine sensitivities and those who really don’t want to give up their morning cup of coffee. If you want caffeine in your Thesis formula, we recommend trying it without having had any coffee first, so you can see how it affects you.
Insider Tip: If you’re not sure whether to get your formula with or without caffeine, we recommend getting it with caffeine. Thesis isolates its included caffeine in a single capsule separate from other ingredients. Caffeinated formulas cost the same as uncaffeinated ones, and you can always elect not to take the caffeine capsule (often the smallest capsule in any formula, containing a white powder).
Thesis uses an impressive set of ingredients, many of which have been part of respectable clinical research. Not all of the effects they hope these ingredients provide have been proven with sufficient statistical significance or over multiple studies in different populations, but what we do know strongly suggests efficacy.
Here's a look at several Thesis ingredients that have encouraging research behind them:
Several studies show that dihydrohonokiol-B (DHH-B) has potent anxiolytic effects.⁶ That means it can combat anxiety, with results in as little as one hour after treatment.
Saffron offers multiple benefits, including increased levels of dopamine and glutamate, that are dose-dependent. Human studies have also shown positive effects on Alzheimer's patients.⁷
Derived from a South African plant, Zembrin provides cognitive and anti-anxiety effects in clinical trials that used the same 25mg dose found in Thesis Creativity.⁸
Synapsa is a patented form of Bacopa extract, a traditional Ayurvedic memory enhancer. Studies resulted in statistically significant improvements in cognitive tests administered throughout the trial.⁹
7, 8 DHF is a small molecular TrkB agonist that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. It can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that improves neuroplasticity, learning, and memory. BDNF deficiencies are connected to numerous cognitive ailments as well.
Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a powerful neurotransmitter in the peripheral, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems.¹⁰ Various studies conclude that choline supplementation can strengthen cognitive performance.
While studies suggest that people with higher levels of DHA are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, clinical trials indicate that its effects are almost exclusively prophylactic.¹¹ That means it won't necessarily improve cognitive function but can protect it.
Like choline, Alpha-GPC acts as an effective acetylcholine precursor. Studies also show that supplementation with Alpha-GPC can stave off exercise-induced reductions in choline levels.¹²
In addition to being an effective treatment for neuropathic pain, agmatine appears to have potent effects as an antidepressant. A five-year safety study concluded that there are no long-term side effect risks.¹³
Research into epicatechin indicates that it can enhance cerebral blood flow, delivering more oxygen to the brain to ensure it operates at its highest efficiency.¹⁴
Lion's mane has been shown to increase nerve growth factor and promote neurite outgrowth of specific neural cells. It's a safe and reliable neurotrophic, but studies have debunked claims of neuroprotective properties.¹⁵
Hyperphenylalaninemia, a severe deficiency in phenylalanine, results in reduced dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline levels in the brain.¹⁶ It can also alter cerebral myelin and protein synthesis. Supplementing with phenylalanine should provide neuroprotective benefits.
Thesis has six nootropic formulas in their lineup. Several other nootropic companies like TruBrain and BrainMD boast targeted lineups, as well, but Thesis is the Goldilocks of the bunch. Where BrainMD’s hyper-specific formulas rely on perhaps too few ingredients to make them worthwhile, many of TruBrain’s complex blends lack real specificity. With Thesis, you get targeted effects from numerous ingredients in moderately complex and reasonably priced combinations.
Each Thesis formula has a blend of ingredients that addresses specific needs. Their names give you a pretty big clue as to what the company intends each to do, but a closer look at their ingredients will help you understand how they achieve this.
Their formulas are:
Interestingly, the company thinks of its formulas as working well in pairs. You don't have to utilize them as such, but it's helpful to know how they view their most effective combinations.
Enhances focus, eliminates brain fog, and lets thoughts flow naturally
Gets you going, keeps you going, and never crashes
Sparks new ideas, inspires extroversion, and revels in openness
You'll usually only take one formula at a time, but these pairs act synergistically for specific personality types or cognitive needs.
Note that your first shipment of Thesis will contain six individually packed doses for four of these six formulas. Thesis chooses these formulas for you based on the results of an intake questionnaire, but you can make adjustments to that shipment on the customer dashboard before the shipment leaves their warehouse.
Let's take a closer look at each formula as they would appear with caffeine included.
Thesis Clarity relies on 7,8 DHF, Alpha GPC, epicatechin, and lion's mane to increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate the production of acetylcholine, a powerful neurotransmitter associated with learning, memory, and attention. It's particularly adept at cutting through brain fog.
Here's a look at Clarity's full ingredients list:
One dose of Clarity consists of four capsules for the caffeinated formula, and three capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
Thesis Logic contains triacetyluridine (TAU), which caters to the health of the entire central nervous system. It also uses phosphatidylserine to help facilitate communication between and protection of brain cells.¹⁷
This is Logic’s complete ingredients list:
One dose of Logic consists of four capsules for the caffeinated formula, and three capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
Thesis Energy uses cysteine and tyrosine alongside caffeine to deliver a steady energy supply. It also includes TeaCrine, a branded form of theacrine, which partners with caffeine to affect adenosine signaling and prevent fatigue.
Here’s a full list of Energy’s ingredients:
One dose of Energy consists of three capsules for the caffeinated formula, and two capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
Blood flow and cellular function are at the core of Thesis Motivation. It employs artichoke extract, forskolin, and B12 to achieve these goals, with a healthy dose of phenylalanine for added focus and motivation.
Here's Motivation's full ingredients list:
One dose of Motivation consists of three capsules for the caffeinated formula, and two capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
Thesis Creativity realigns you with your inspiration by removing barriers caused by stress, anxiety, and depression. It contains ingredients with powerful anxiolytic properties and 5-HT reuptake inhibition.
Here's a look at Creativity’s ingredients list:
One dose of Creativity consists of three capsules for the caffeinated formula, and two capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
Thesis has yet to advertise a new formula called Confidence as of this writing. It's designed to work hand-in-hand with Creativity, using saffron and DHH-B to increase dopamine levels and decrease anxiety. One fascinating ingredient in this formula is sage extract, which studies show can help with various memory tasks, including name and face recognition.¹⁸ It’s worth noting, though, that this study employed a 600mg dose compared to Thesis’ 333mg dose.
Here is Confidence's complete ingredients list:
One dose of Confidence consists of three capsules for the caffeinated formula, and two capsules for the stimulant-free formula.
While every formula is different, you'll notice that each contains caffeine and L-theanine. The nootropic properties of caffeine are well-established.¹⁹ L-theanine — a non-stimulant derived from green tea — has been shown to smooth out the jittery effects of caffeine. You can easily have caffeine removed from any Thesis formula for no extra cost, which is unique in the nootropic market. The L-theanine will remain, as it has its own set of cognitive benefits in addition to its ability to tame caffeine.²⁰
Thesis keeps their price structure decidedly simple. This is refreshing, considering the range of nootropics they offer. You don't have to worry about one formula costing you more than another. However, Thesis doesn't make a non-subscription approach economically feasible.
Every Thesis shipment — including the starter pack — consists of four small boxes, each containing six doses of a single formula. That’s 24 doses/month.
Here's how it works:
Subscriptions require an account with Thesis, which gives you access to a well-designed customer dashboard. This is where you can easily make formula adjustments, alter your shipping schedule, or cancel your subscription entirely.
Shipping from Thesis is free in the U.S., and the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Thesis' website is easy to navigate, but it is inconvenient that you must complete the signup questionnaire before accessing formula-specific pages. There are ways around this — like direct searching or just knowing the formula URLs — but we think reviewing formulas should be a little easier when you first get to the site. And you won’t be able to place an order for anything until you complete the questionnaire.
The user interface for managing your subscription is exceptionally intuitive. You can quickly adjust your formula combinations, specifying whether or not you want specific formulas to contain caffeine.
Setting up a subscription with Thesis is a straightforward process. Here are the basic steps:
When you subscribe to the starter kit, you will continue receiving that kit every month until you customize your order. Thesis divides their boxes into four six-dose supplies, and you can mix and match those supplies to suit your needs.
For example, you could boost energy on the weekdays and creativity on the weekends by getting a one-month supply with 18 servings of Energy in three packages and six servings of Creativity in a single package.
When you take the quiz on the Thesis website, you'll get personalized insights comparing your results to other quiz-takers and a data set developed from nearly 500 scientific studies. The parameters in your results cover don’t completely line up with their formulas, but include:
These results inform the system to make recommendations for your starter kit. After you order, you can set up a consultation with a Thesis coach. These consultations are free, and you can have as many follow-up sessions as you like. Other companies have apps or online resources like blogs or courses to help you on your nootropic journey, but Thesis’s personalized coaching is unique in its approach and execution.
Consultation calls last around 15 minutes, though some of our testers had their sessions go longer as their coaches' schedules allowed. We received best practices information about taking nootropics that covered dose timing, formula application, and more. Some of our testers also received diet and exercise advice that coincided with their formulas.
There are generally two tiers of products in the nootropics landscape. The lower tier consists of products that cost between $20 and $40. Many of these nootropics contain proprietary blends that obscure the exact quantities of ingredients, presumably so companies can use more of the least expensive components. Some companies in this tier disclose their ingredient quantities but may not source them from the highest quality suppliers or perform third-party testing of any kind.
Top brands in this tier include:
The second tier — where you'll find Thesis — consists of more expensive nootropics that spell their contents out clearly, use high-quality ingredients, and often perform third-party testing to ensure safety and potency. Top brands in this tier include:
We have a comprehensive breakdown of our top nootropics, but here's a concise breakdown of Thesis' most comparable competition.
TruBrain offers one of the widest varieties of nootropics of any company — one of the few catalogs that rivals the variety Thesis offers. They also have some novel and beneficial delivery methods for their nootropic ingredients. Those include energy bars and liquid shots that are outstanding for anyone with difficulty swallowing pills.
TruBrain offers their nootropics in a targeted fashion, not unlike what you get from Thesis. They formerly offered their targeted blends in shot form only, but now you can get any of these targeted blends in capsule or liquid shot form. The shots come in small 1oz pouches that make them easy to take anywhere.
TruBrain's targeted blends include:
This is TruBrain's original blend. It contains seven nootropics, including Noopept, a branded form of N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester. This blend is caffeine-free.
The Strong blend is identical to the Medium formulation in contents and doses, but it also contains 100mg of caffeine.
The Extra Strong formula builds on the Strong blend by adding 150mg of adrafinil (2-(diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl-N-hydroxyacetamide).²¹ This wakefulness-promoting substance may also help with weight loss and athletic performance.
TruBrain's Sleep formula contains just four nootropic ingredients: GABA, melatonin, 5-HTP, and a blend that TruBrain calls "functional oils."
Mellow is identical to the medium strength formula, but it adds the functional oil combination used in Sleep.
This formula contains Lion's mane, a mushroom that may promote neural growth. Its other nootropic ingredients are rhodiola, guayusa, and rosehips.²²
A 30-day supply of TruBrain nootropic shots costs $69 or $79, depending on the formulas you choose. That's $10 less than the subscription cost for a one-month supply of Thesis. However, some of their shots contain caffeine, and others don't. If it already contains caffeine, there's no way to alter a TruBrain formula to be stimulant-free.
The first month of TruBrain capsules runs the same cost range, with Medium and Strong costing $69 and the other formulas costing $79. After your first month, however, those prices go up to $119 and $129. That makes Thesis the better value, but if you want the best possible nootropics for sleep support, it might be worth the extra money to check out TruBrain.
Qualia Mind is a brand under the Neurohacker Collective, a company that offers several products to address things like sleep quality, skin health, and vision. They have three nootropics available:
Their original blend is comprehensive, consisting of nearly 30 ingredients in high doses. That means it's liable to provide you with noticeable effects. It also means you might not know which of those effects are coming from which ingredients, and some of the less beneficial components in your body may also have side effects you'd rather avoid.
The caffeine-free version is identical to the original formula but leaves the caffeine out. Qualia Focus is a more streamlined offering with only seven nootropic ingredients, including caffeine, L-theanine, and L-ornithine.²³
Initial shipments from Qualia Mind are significantly discounted, but after the first month, the price makes theirs one of the most expensive nootropics we've tested. For example, the first month of a subscription to Qualia Mind costs just $39. After that, it costs $119/month. And a one-time purchase is $139.
One inconvenient aspect of Qualia Mind is that a single dose consists of seven capsules, which can get tiresome even for people who don't have trouble swallowing pills. On the bright side, Qualia's 100-day money-back guarantee allows you to try it for a little over three months to determine if you can handle that kind of daily dosing.
Hunter Focus is one of three supplements in the Hunter stack alongside the company's Test and Burn supplements. The stack is intended for male use — Test is a testosterone supplement — but Focus and Burn are suitable for men and women.
Like Qualia Mind, Focus has a long list of ingredients in generous doses. In fact, one serving of Hunter Focus is like taking all six of Thesis' formulas at once. That said, the serving itself is difficult to swallow, as it consists of six large pills.
Another knock on Hunter is that they don't offer a subscription system. That means you can't get an extra discount, and you must remember to reorder when you're running low (theoretically, a nootropic like this should boost your memory). There's also no money-back guarantee to speak of, only a return policy with a relatively short window that only applies to unopened products.
One bottle of Hunter Focus costs $80, and shipping is $7.95 unless you buy more than one bottle at a time. The company will throw a fourth in for free if you buy three bottles at once. That's the only way to get any savings through Hunter.
Many companies offer combinations of nootropic ingredients to perform specific brain-related tasks or even provide globally positive cognitive benefits. But the scientific research behind most of these ingredients almost always includes just one rather than a combination. Some people prefer to try one at a time to minimize the potential for side effects and determine if one particular ingredient works for them. A few companies offer single-ingredient nootropic supplements for this specific purpose.
Our favorite company dealing in individual nootropic components is Nootropics Depot. They offer a wide variety of single-ingredient supplements and a few targeted blends. The prices are generally fair, with an average range running from $16-$70. A 30-day money-back guarantee covers every purchase, and you get free shipping on orders over $50.
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