Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sephora Formula X System: Review

Note: I purchased the products described myself, and this review is uncompensated. The links provided are not affiliate links, but just for information.


So, first I must confess that No-Buy February should be renamed to Less-Buy February.  I haven't done a great job of emphasizing using foods we already have over buying groceries, so I am spending just as much on marketing. I have also bought a few other things -- a cheap extra charger for my Jawbone UP, a new food scale to replace the one that stopped working, and today, with my husband out of town for the weekend, I decided it would be a good day to have fun with home manicures after reading a great review of the Formula X System on Beautygeeks. The Formula X System retails at Sephora for $32, and includes one color polish.

Unlike the self-styled Beautygeeks, I am not especially proficient in using nail polish, just average, and I thought that my experience would be a little more typical of what regular users can expect. Sephora has been doing more "system" packaging like the one above, where there are several steps pre-packaged, with a window for you to pop in the color of your choice.

I spent a lot of time choosing the color, painting the little plastic sheets supplied for that purpose with different "modern neutrals." I wanted something that would be professional and work-appropriate but also on trend. I have to say, I have a little buyer's remorse over the color I chose, "Brilliant." In the store, it seemed great, but I don't know if I love it on me. It is on trend, as these kinds of taupe-y neutrals seem to be everywhere. The color I really wanted, "Impeccable," seemed streaky.  I'd like to try "Intensity" next, or "Alive." Those clear peachy pinks are really fun for spring and I wish I had picked one.

Ignore the random shoe in this photo. Also, when did my hands start to look like my grandmother's?

The application process was really amazing. As I said, I'm not a phenomenal manicurist. I started by removing my polish with a cheap drugstore acetone remover and washing and drying them well (you can buy Formula X remover, but I noticed that it's also just acetone). I didn't do a lot of other prep work on my nails because I just had a manicure for Valentine's Day (another no-buy violation, maybe), so they still looked okay.

Then I started with the "Cleanse" step (clear blue), which removes oils from the nails to create a good base. There is a base coat (clear pink). I then used one coat of the color polish, which provided great, smooth coverage and dried very quickly with no streaks. Finally, I put on the clear topcoat. It all dried within minutes, unlike the half-hour or more for regular home manis. That alone made "The System" worth the price.

The finish reminds me of Vinylux, which is a sort of compromise between regular nail polish and Shellac.  It seems like it will wear well. And a comment by my hairstylist that the real magic in Vinylux is the topcoat makes me wonder -- could I get similar results using the Formula X system and a regular color nail polish? I have a lot of OPI and drugstore colors I could try that with.  I will report back when I have a chance to try it.

I think I will paint my own nails more often instead of shelling out money for manicures.  I still think that pedicures are worth paying someone else to do, though, unless I can be in a lounge chair by the pool.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07