Thursday, 30 June 2011

Review & Swatches: Estee Lauder Double Wear ShadowCreme

Welcome, friends, to round 2493 of my attempts to find a cream eyeshadow which doesn't immediately crease on my eyelids.  I bang on about my excessively oily lids fairly frequently, and I'm not going to do it again now - so, on to these Double Wear ShadowCremes.  Like many cream eyeshadows, they claim excellent wear, beautiful pigmentation, and a smooth, creamy application.

Top row, left to right: Buttercream, Smokey Twilight
Bottom row, left to right: Mochachino, Golden Sands

Texture wise, these are exceptionally silky.  Fingers glide over the surface of the shadows in their pots, and the resulting colour smooths easily onto the eyelid.  You get a good thirty seconds or so to blend the colour into the skin before the cream dries down.  They do apply fairly sheer, particularly if you apply sparingly to make sure the colour is fully blended, but luckily they layer up well too.

Left to right: Buttercream, Smokey Twilight, Mochachino, Golden Sands

The colours are indeed gorgeous, with a variety of finishes from pearl to matte.  The shimmering shades catch the light beautifully.

And the wear?

 Taken at around 10AM

Taken at around 11PM

Well, it's definitely not creased into a horribly patchy mess.  There are a few signs of wear around the inner corner of my eye, and a crease is beginning to form - but 13 hours of mostly creaseless wear on my eyelids is something short of a miracle for me.  And indeed, I've been reaching for Golden Sands frequently since I received it - it's a gorgeously eye brightening shade, easy to apply, and wears well even on my oily lids - definitely impressed.  I think I'll be buying Antique Gold or Pink Pearl next!

If you'd like to try Estee Lauder's Double Wear ShadowCremes, you'll find them on counter and online, where each shadow will cost you £15.50.  Well worth it for the wear, in my mind.  What do you think?  Tried these?  Found any other unbudgeable cream shadows?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Review - Urban Decay Cannonball ultra waterproof mascara

Remember when "waterproof mascara" meant "mascara that smudges a bit more slowly than normal and is harder to remove"? Well, those days are officially over. Urban Decay's new Cannonball mascara is literally, properly waterproof. It simply won't shift when wet.

I've been testing this for the last couple of weeks and have seen it endure through tears, sweat and even standing under a shower. It won't go anywhere until you decide to remove it (with an oil-based remover, or you'll just smudge it). Its smudge-proof-ness reminds me of tubing mascaras like Blinc, but it doesn't slide off under pressure.

The brush is a thin-ish helical bristle-brush, nothing outlandish or unusual. The formula is medium-weight and contains lengthening fibres. It's not too clumpy, and gives good definition (though honestly the waterproofness is the real USP here). Here's the result on the eye after 1, 2 and 3 coats.

I'm not sure where the name comes from (although I'm reminded of the Breeder's track Cannonball which, interestingly water-themed-ly, came from the album Last Splash), or what magic tricks UD have employed to make this stuff work like it does, but apparently this is an "exclusive Japanese formula"and contains "microcrystalline wax". Whatever that entails, I'm totally sold.

Urban Decay Cannonball mascara costs £15 and is available from Debenhams counters nationwide, or online at

Disclosure - PR sample

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Review & Swatches: ELF Luscious Liquid Lipstick in Raspberry & Bark

ELF, or Eyes Lips Face to give them their full moniker, are a budget beauty brand with a bit of a reputation.  The super cheap products are simply packaged, and often of a really good quality for the price.  I bought two of their Luscious Liquid Lipsticks recently to see what they were like.

First off, packaging - the liquid lipsticks are presented in clear, sponge tipped dial up pens, not unlike those used by Stila for their famous lip glazes.  Each turn of the dial gives you a decent amount of soft, juicy colour, and the sponge tip makes application a doddle.  I'd be surprised if the silver labelling lasts for very long inside a busy handbag, but the product within is well protected.

Swatched, you can see that the liquid lipsticks are actually rather glossy affairs, rather than the creamy, semi-matte finish I was expecting from the name.  They're also rather sheer; Raspberry (on the left) has a decent amount of reddish pink pigment, but it's in no way opaque.



On the lip, they're even more sheer than the swatches would imply.  In fact, I'd probably call these pigmented glosses rather than liquid lipsticks; they don't have the full pigmentation and opacity I'd expect from the name. That said, as glosses, they're rather lovely - non sticky, smooth and shiny, with a minty scent.  They don't last all that long on the lip, as you'd expect from a gloss- if you want to maintain the colour and the shine, you'll need to reapply every hour or so.

Whilst I didn't get exactly what I was expecting, I'm still pretty pleased with my purchase - I don't really own a lot of lip gloss, and these colours are gorgeously, comfortably wearable and a good addition to my lip product collection. And the cost?  A mere £1.50 each.  Bargain.

If you'd like to try ELF's Luscious Liquid Lipstick for yourself, you'll find it exclusively on ELF's website, at £1.50 each.  What do you think?  Tried these?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, 27 June 2011

FOTD: Summer Berry

Berry toned colours are generally thought of as more appropriate for autumn and winter rather than spring and summer.  I think they're some of the best colours for my skin, though - so I generally try to wear them year round!  My only concession to summer is to wear a lighter, more brightening lip colour.

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation, shade 2, mixed with tiny dab of shade 7
Laura Geller Balance n Brighten foundation in Fair (used as powder)
Benefit High Beam

Chanel Le Crayon Sourcils in Auburn (brows)
Urban Decay Toast (from Naked Palette)
L'Occitane Pivoine Flora eyeshadow palette (mid-pink and purple shades)

Chanel Rouge Allure Lacque in Ming

Disclosure: Items in italics are PR samples.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Paul & Joe Blue Horizon collection - photos

Here are a few gratuitous snaps of the Paul & Joe summer collection, Blue Horizon, which we previewed recently.

The theme is - of course - tropical summer getaways, and all products are designed to be applied quickly with a fingertip in relaxed holiday style. Apparently the collection was inspired by the experience of floating in Caribbean waters with a cocktail in one hand. (As you do.)

Nail polishes range from silver glitter to bright coral and pink cremes. All of them are lightly scented when dry.

Here are the two we especially loved - the one on the left (Venus) is apparently the piece that seeded the whole collection. The blue is the exact tone of the tropical summer sky. On the right, Mediterranean, the navy jelly polish with big reflective glitter, reminded us irresistibly of Deborah Lippmann's "Across the Universe".

Body Lotion B - a cooling gel lotion designed to provide maximum relief for overheated skin in humid weather - particularly aimed at the Japanese market for the sweltering Asian summers.

Eyeshadows in Le Midi (top), Adrift (middle) and Tranquility (bottom). Swirly and gorgeous.

Three eye gloss duos in Smooth Sailing (back), Depth (middle) and Fathom (front). Despite the name "gloss", these dry down into a power on the lid and last surprisingly well.

Swirly, sparkly Lip Gloss B, with moisturising jojoba oil. L-R Sailor's Delight, Swept Away, L'Horizon Bleu. The blue one makes your teeth look whiter.

Finally, here's the co-creator, Craig-Ryan French, one of the most inventive and highly skilled makeup artists we've met. He's the lead artist for the whole Paul & Joe line, and (as we've mentioned before) was also the SFX artist in charge of the Saw films. (How cool is that?)

Thanks for another fine collection, Craig-Ryan & co!

The Paul & Joe Beaute Blue Horizon collection is available now at

Disclosure - we received some samples from this collection at the preview event

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Giveaway - win 10 Mavala polishes (chosen by us!)

We love a Mavala mini, we do. So affordable (less than £4 each), so high quality, so damn cute. Mavala are Switzerland's answer to amazing nails, and they're also a dab hand with colour for the eyes, lips and face. 

To celebrate the launch of the new UK Mavala website at, we've been asked to host a giveaway of our 10 favourite Mavala polishes. One winner will receive all the colours above, handpicked by Sarah and Gemma:

Las Vegas

Acid Yellow
Electric Green
Blue Curacao 

Marine Blue
Moon Grey
Pure (glitter)

The new site is live now, and features news, a full list of all the current collections, a monthly Blogger Spotlight showcasing Mavala's pick of the UK beauty blogs, and a cuticle-oriented agony aunt, Ask Jenny, who will answer all your nail-care dilemmas (or refer them to a member of the world-class Mavala nailcare team). 

The giveaway will run from now until Saturday 9 July at 12.00 midday GMT. Unfortunately this giveaway is only open to readers in the UK. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us the answer to this question:

What is the name of the Mavala eyelash lengthening and strengthening treatment?

(Hint - you can probably find the answer you need at

Good luck!

PS - prizes are provided by Mavala and will be sent direct from Mavala to the winner after the giveaway has ended.

Friday, 24 June 2011

NOTD: Nubar Reclaim

This, my friends, is Nubar's Reclaim, a mid-green holo, the likes of which I've never seen before.  It's gorgeous; the holographic effect is strong enough that even in low light you catch glimpses of it, and in bright daylight, it's incredibly eyecatching.

Holo aside, this polish applied like a dream - this is three thin quick drying coats - and with a bit of topcoat looked incredibly, glassily smooth.  Wear was average at about three days before it chipped; for a colour this gorgeous and unique, though, I really don't care about the wear.

If you're in love with this colour as much as I am, you'll find it at Feel Unique, where it will cost £6.80 a bottle.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Review: NuBo Voile

NuBo Voile is a silky soft fluid which is halfway between ultra sheer base and serum.  It can be used under foundation as a primer, or alone as a sheer veil for the skin.  Packaged in the usual glamourous NuBo shiny pink with studded accents, it certainly looks high end - and at £40 for 10ml, it's definitely priced for the high end market.

So, what does it do?

A small puddle of product goes a long way on the skin - this stuff is chock-full of silicone and feels incredibly silky.  It dries down to a soft, powdery finish which adds radiance and smoothness, and eliminates shine.  There's very little by way of pigmentation or coverage though - this is #1, described as "nude", aimed at pale skins.  In many ways, this stuff reminds me of Giorgio Armani's Face Fabric, which also has the silky texture, but goes a little way further to offer coverage.

If you're looking for coverage, this product would be best used as a primer.  If your skin is in pretty good nick, though, and you're just looking for a natural but polished look, this stuff is great - it leaves the skin matte but radiant and looking very smooth and healthy.  Essentially - this is probably best for those looking to improve the visible texture of the skin, rather than normalising colour or tone.

I really enjoy using this product on mornings when I miraculously wake up with skin that looks pretty fresh - which isn't all that often.  That's probably why my 10ml tube has lasted me a fair few months so far.  If I were to use it every day, though, I strongly suspect it'd run down within a month (or at most two) - and at £40 a tube, that's a fairly eye-watering prospect.  Still - if you're looking for improved texture and you quite like a luxe product, this is worth a try.

Find it at BeautyBay online, or in store at Harrods, where a 10ml tube will cost you £40; Voile is available in a variety of shades from transparent to tan to suit all complexions.  What do you think?  Tried this?  Rather use a foundation with more coverage?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Review - Clarins Hydraquench Tinted Moisturizer

Tinted moisturiser season (as I have come to think of the time between April and June) is one of the happiest times of the year for me, beauty-wise. Brands release their latest greatest formulations of light and natural looking colour, packed with sunscreens and various chemico-herbal innovations, just in time to catch the consumer before she goes off on her sun-drenched holidays.

Back in rainy London, I make do without blissed-out beach lounging, contenting myself with swatching all the TMs I can get my hands on.

I was very glad to get the chance to try the new Hydraquench Tinted Moisturizer from Clarins. Having tried and enjoyed their Hydraquench skincare, I was hoping for a killer combination of colour and care, and indeed that's what's promised - the blurb advises that in addition to SPF 6 (not going to cut it on the beach, but adequate for a dull day in London) the product delivers the benefits of a hydrating Madagascan bush called katafray, whose moisturising properties make this "the next generation of tinted moisturisers" (this from the press release).

It comes packaged in a travel-friendly 50ml tube with a screw-on lid (so it won't pop open in your bag). I really like the little design detail of the word "Clarins" written off-centre on the lid.

The texture is light and smooth, without a hint of SPF greasiness. It dries down to a light siliconey-powdery finish. The scent is gorgeous. "Parfum" is among the ingredients, but the smell could easily be naturally derived. It's clean, fresh and slightly floral.

One major drawback for pale-skinned people is the colour range. I have 01 Naturel, the lightest shade, and as you can see it's quite stridently orange on my pasty white skin. I could conceivably use it as a sort of liquid bronzer, but only in the summer months. I tried a few testers out in the wild, just in case my tube was mis-labelled, but found that this is an accurate representation of 01, and the other shades are progressively darker.

If you have a tanned or naturally deep skintone, I recommend giving this product a try as it's luxurious, practical and smells gorgeous. If you're anything like me, you'll probably have to wait a bit longer to see if Clarins bring out any paler shades.

Hydraquench Tinted Moisturiser costs £27 from Clarins 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Stila Sparkle Waterproof Eyeliner in Electric

Glitter liners.  I love them.  Nowadays, though, I just don't wear the all out glitter-suspended-in-clear-or-coloured-base type of liner all that regularly - it takes a party or glamourous night out for me to break them out of my liner stash.  A bit of subtle sparkle, though... I'll definitely go for that.  These new Stila Sparkle waterproof eyeliners are just that - not absurdly, evening-wear glittery, but sparkly and shiny and eyecatching nonetheless.

They apply smoothly and with rich, opaque colour - no second coat required.  The eyeliner brush is more firm foam than it is bendy brush, making it super easy to draw a quick line of colour atop the lashes.  Which is exactly what I did.

As you can see, the finish is shiny and almost wet looking.  It's also worth mentioning that these photos were taken after 15 hours of wear - and the line is still strikingly smooth and well defined.  No flaking, no smearing, no budging at all.  Very impressive.

In the context of my whole face, the liner gives a great shot of colour, and the glossy finish lifts and highlights the eye.  My only complaint would be that this particular shade actually stained my lashline a little - after removal (with oil, of course), I was left with a slightly green tinged lashline.  Nothing that couldn't be covered with shadow or primer the following day, but still, a stain's a stain.  For the perfect wear and beautiful finish, though, I'll put up with a little staining.

Find it at Boots, both in-store (from July) and online, where it will cost you £14.  What do you think?  Gorgeous or gaudy?  Could you bear a stain for impressive lasting power?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 20 June 2011

Etat Libre d'Orange - Archives 69, Tilda Swinton Like This and Secretions Magnifiques

With giving us the exciting news that they're now offering a range of scent sample packs, now seems a good time to review three fragrance samples they sent me from the avant garde French fragrance line Etat Libre d'Orange ("free orange state"?). "Avant-garde" is putting it mildly. "Anarchic" might be more on the money. The philosophy is unbounded creativity, and the breaking of olfactory taboos. Needless to say I was very keen to try them out.

The first (I'm going from the sublime to the... well, you'll see) is Like This, an award-winning ginger bouquet designed in collaboration with actress Tilda Swinton. This is beautiful. It's rich, indulgent, showy, but crisply precise in its notes, the foremost of which is a nostril-bracing ginger that fanfares out on application but gradually dries down to a gentle, soft whisper that's both comforting and sensual. The bright orange packaging features quotes from the Sufi poet Rumi. Notes; yellow tangerine, ginger, pumpkin, immortelle flower, Moroccan neroli, Grasse rose, vetyver, heliotrope and musk. Like This, £74 for 50ml EDP at

Next is Archives 69. This is perhaps Etat's signature fragrance, and is named after their HQ at 69 rue des Archives, Paris. It opens with a medicinal sharpness, a bit like TCP, with a sour, almost bitter citrus smell running alongside, very much at odds with it. Then there's a sweeter smell, a fresh, minty edge, and the warring factions are overlaid (but not united) by something quite floral. It's a paradoxical thing. It's compulsive - you keep sniffing in the hope of understanding it. The chances are you won't - it never quite resolves its inner conflicts. Perhaps that's what the perfumer was aiming for. Notes; tangerine, pink berries, C02, pepper leaf, orchid, prune, incense, camphor, benzoin, patchouli, musk. Archives 69, £105 for 100ml EDP,

Finally, Secretions Magnifiques. This scent is infamous among online perfume enthusiasts, who make "reaction videos" of themselves smelling this odour (I'm not going to call it a perfume). Here's Katie Puckrick "enjoying" Secretions Magnifiques. The stated aim of the fragrance is to call forth impressions of blood, sperm, sweat, saliva and milk. Not to say that it contains those, or smells of them as such, but that's the vibe the perfumer Antoine Lie was going for. As is evident from the artwork - a drawing of a gushing phallus. Cute. Secretions Magnifiques opens with deceptive subtlety, a wispy "meh" sort of floral note. Then it gears up. A stomach-turning medley of sour milk appears, and a screechingly, cloyingly metallic odour, very like the taste of blood when you bite your tongue while chewing. The smell reminds me of the horrible odour I get from certain lotions when they react with my skin - a really "off" smell. I've yet to pin down the ingredient that does this on me but Secretions Magnifiques definitely has it in spades. Notes; Iodised accord (fucus, azurone), adrenaline accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood, opoponax. Secretions Magnifiques, £52 for 50ml EDP,

You can try all of the fragrances from Etat Libre d'Orange in the Discovery Set. It costs £24.95 and contains a voucher for £24.95 off any fragrance in the collection (so the samples are effectively free).

Disclosure - 10ml vials of each fragrance received as PR samples

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Excellent: Boots Clean Off Nail Polish Remover

I quite like a bit of glitter nail polish.  In fact, that's a bit of an understatement - I absolutely LOVE glitter nail polish.  What I don't love is the pain in the arse that is removing glitter polish - so I tend to go for nail polish removers which have tons of acetone in them.  All the better to dissolve the glitter from my nails.

The most recent bottle I picked up was a cheap one from Boots - Clean Off Nail Polish Remover.  At £1.33, it's very cheap indeed, and it definitely fulfils my glitter-dissolving requirements.  This stuff is very potent - it stinks to high heaven, and used cotton pads with even a bit of this on them fill an entire room with that overpowering nail polish remover smell.  So much so that my husband has insisted that I put used cotton in the bathroom bin instead of in our bedroom.

Anyway - the potent scent sits alongside a very strong action - this lifts normal polish off the nail incredibly quickly, and with a tiny bit of soaking, makes short work of glitter polishes too.  After use my nails are a little dry, but used with a decent strengthener (as I do every time I paint my nails), I've not noticed any long term problems with using such a harsh remover.  I'll definitely be buying another bottle.

If you'd like to try this one for yourself, you'll find it in store and online at Boots, where a 150ml bottle will cost a very reasonable £1.33.  What do you think?  What's the best remover you've ever tried?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Swatches: OPI & Serena Williams: Grape Set Match + Servin' Up Sparkle

Did you know Serena Williams is a qualified nail tech?  No?  Me neither.  Not content with being a superstar tennis player, manicure loving Serena has recently qualified as a nail technician and released a selection of shades in partnership with OPI.

This duo is Servin' Up Sparkle, a silvery holographic glitter with a selection of differently sized glitter particles, and Grape Set Match, a shimmering purple with blue and red microsparkle.  Whilst Servin' Up Sparkle is undoubtedly dupe-able, if you don't own a silver holo glitter topcoat, it'll be a fine addition to your collection - but for me, Grape Set Match is the standout here.  Again, it's not the world's most original colour, but the complex, deep shade is beautiful and has incredible wear - I wore this for a full seven days with only minor tipwear before chips started appearing.  For such a bold colour, that's impressive.

Released at the end of June, these are likely to cost you around £20 for the two.  What do you think?  Gorgeous, or too easily duped?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Friday, 17 June 2011

Juliette Has A Gun £10 sample set from

You can currently buy a limited-edition sample set of Juliette Has A Gun fragrances from at the bargain price of £10. The set includes 2ml vials of all JHAG's fragrances - Citizen Queen, Calamity Jane, Lady Vengeance, Miss Charming and Not A Perfume. Plus, the set includes a £10 voucher to use when you buy a full size bottle of any JHAG perfume.

If you're like me and love to collect samples of high end fragrances, this will be very good news. But hurry if you're interested, as I'm sure these will sell out fast.

Juliette Has A Gun sample set from

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Lip of the Day: Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick in Crystal Rose

I've waffled endlessly about how great these Pure Color lipsticks are in the past, so I'm not going to do it again.  This is Crystal Rose, a beautiful neutral pink, which is totally a MLBB (my lips but better) shade for me.  I love it.  It looks moist, is neutral and unobtrusive without being boring or dead-lip looking, and it wears beautifully.

Find it (and many other shades in the same gorgeous formula) at Estee Lauder counters and online via the Estee Lauder website, where it will cost you £18.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Free with Purchase: Nails Inc Fall Off The High-End Radar

In the past six weeks, we've had four press releases about free bottles of Nails Inc polish being given away with purchases of glossy magazines, newspapers, and even jeans.  Add this to the now oft-repeated Diet Coke freebies, and that makes a rather large number of free polishes available to collect - can we really still say that they're worth £11 a pop?

High end products are a funny old thing.  In some cases, they are genuinely of higher quality than their more competitively priced cousins.  In many cases, though, high end products command their more expensive price points based on the aspirational element; we buy them not only because we perceive them to be better quality, but also because the brand identity is something we aspire to ourselves.

In the past, we've talked about how freebies might alter consumer perception of a product's value.  Having seen so many free polish promotions going on in the past few weeks, I can't help but feel that Nails Inc have devalued their products to the extent that my entire perception of the brand has shifted - losing that aspirational edge.  Once, the Nails Inc brand meant fresh, interesting colours, professional, high-end manicures, and cute, distinctive packaging.  Now, I'm afraid, it just equals free giveaways and overvalued product, and for me, no longer counts as a high end brand.

What do you think?  Do you still buy Nails Inc products at full price?  Do you collect every free polish available?  Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

L'Occitane Pivoine Flora EDP and palette - girly beauty with a twist

I must confess that when I first saw the marketing campaign for Pivoine Flora I didn't think the scent would be for me. It's very pink, very girly, and very sweet. The campaign art is themed around ballerinas, represented in gauzy, washy watercolour. This is not usually my sort of thing - I prefer packaging designs that are sleek or edgy, fragrances that have a kick or a quirk to them. However I could absolutely see the romantic, elegant appeal of Pivoine Flora, and the scent itself (which is carried through the whole collection - even the cosmetics are lightly perfumed) surprised me with its complexity and depth.

Pivoine Flora EDT has been part of L'Occitane's range for some time, but the line has been extended with a new EDP and a limited-edition makeup collection. We've mentioned a few items from the Pivoine Flora line already, and generally our impression is of a well-put-together, high-quality range that speaks highly of l'Occitane's capabilities in the colour cosmetics area, into which they seem to be branching out.

Here's the Pivoine Flora eyeshadow palette (£22) - probably the star of the cosmetic line-up. It features 4 soft pink and plum shades in a magnetic textured cardboard casing. Each ballerina corresponds to one of the shades, which is rather nice.

There's also a pull-out mirror in the lid of the compact, which can be used independently (and has its own Pivoine Flora logo on the back).

The colours are lightly pigmented and soft, shimmery and in the case of the palest pink, slightly glittery.

The EDP comes in a cerise-pink tinted round bottle that reminds me slightly of the apple-shaped Nina Ricci "Nina" bottle. The cap and sprayer are shiny, silver-toned, embossed metal - very pleasing to uncap and use.

I'd class Pivoine Flora as a fresh floral - of course, the Peony flower which inspires the line is present, as are rose, and a deep dusty violet. There's a hint of musk and cedarwood in the base note that give this fragrance the kick it needs to lift it out of "generic pretty floral" territory. There's also a definite bite of citrus in the top-note too - I was pleasantly surprised at this when I first sprayed it, and it kept me sniffing my wrist in anticipation of what would develop next.

At £39.00 for 50ml EDP, Pivoine Flora is very reasonably priced for an eau de parfum. If you prefer less of a commitment, there's also an adorable 10ml travel-size roll-on of the EDT available at a more accessible £14.00.

Disclosure - PR samples
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