FORMULA X - The System XCEL: Review!

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be selected for Influenster's Formula X - The System XCEL VoxBox, and boy was I excited. You see, I LOVE nail polish, but with the amount that I type, finger tap on various surfaces and constantly wash my hands, I can't seem to get a traditional nail polish to last more than a day or two. And then I just feel gross as I watch the polish that I painstakingly spent an hour applying slowly chip away, because I'm altogether too lazy to take the 5 minutes it would require to remove it.  I've tried gel polish at nail salons, but with my busy schedule and tight budget, that isn't usually a viable solution. Hence, I spend more time staring at the nail polish collection in my bathroom than I do using it.

I'd heard of Formula X, but didn't know much about it til I started researching it for the VoxBox. The System XCEL - a four-step, at-home manicure system - promises to provide gel-like results without the salon cost or time. It's also sulfate, paraben and phthalate-free (along with three-free!), so it was something I felt good about using on my nails.

In addition to the manicure system, I also received "Delete All," which is the brand's single-step polish removing system. And since I had some leftover polish on my nails when I started, let's begin the review there.


The "Delete All" product is basically a large round tub in which you immerse all five nails into a spongy-substance, leave them there for about 10 seconds, then remove. It's supposed to get all of your polish off in one "dunk," but in my experience, it not only took a couple dunks but took a bit of a back-and-forth rubbing motion to really get all the polish off. I think the way it works is that there's polish remover in the bottom of the tub and the sponge is supposed to absorb it? Even when I was able to get all of my polish off, I was pretty dissatisfied with the results. Listen, I know polish remover isn't intended to be nourishing, but this stuff made my nails (and skin on my fingers) feel SO dry and stripped that I immediately felt like I need to douse my hands in lotion. Yuck.


Once my hands returned from their prune-like shape, I started with the manicure system itself.

  • Step One is the "Cleanse" step - admittedly, this confused me a bit, because this was not actually your "base coat," but a pre-base coat step that I guess is designed to prep your nails in another fashion?
  • Step Two is the "Prime" step - basically, the base coat I thought I was applying in Step One
  • Step Three you use your actual nail polish, and 
  • Step Four is the "Shine" or top coat step

Overall, I loved the color I received - a really pretty, coral - and I did find that it dried to that hard, gel-like finish after applying all four steps and waiting about a half hour before engaging in normal life tasks. But the process DID take a while, so even though I wasn't actually at a salon, it wasn't as lickety-split quick as a standard manicure. Perhaps, I thought, the work will be worth it when this polish stays put for ten days.

Well, ten days my ass! My nails looked beautiful on day one, but by the end of day two, we were back in the familiar land of Chips-ville. And by day three, this polish had lasted in no way, shape or form more than normal. Let's all cry together.

At first I was worried that if I wanted to remove what remained of the polish on day four that I'd have to re-dunk my nails in the Delete All chamber of death, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that my standard nail polish remover worked just fine in cleaning everything off. And since then, I've used the base and top coat with non-Formula X polishes to the same effect.

Truly, I DO think there is something a little special about the Formula X top coat, because when I've used it with normal polishes, I do feel like it's stayed on at least a wee bit longer than it did with my regular Orly top coat. But sadly, I don't think there's any product that will truly stay adhered to my nail beds for more than a hot minute.

*A quick, but important note! Sephora has announced that they are discontinuing their Formula X line as of Spring 2017, so right now ALL products are deeply discounted as they attempt to sell off stock. So if you are interested in any piece of this product line, snag it now before it's gone! There are rumors that the line will be re-emerging under a new brand name or with revised formulas, but it's unclear if that's actually true.*

Tell me in the comments: Have you tried Formula X products, and what do you think? What's your favorite nail polish brand, and what do you do to keep your polishes on for as long as possible?


*I received the Formula X - The System XCEL and a Delete All nail polish remover complimentary from Influenster for review purposes. This blog post is not sponsored, and I was not compensated for any of my comments. All opinions are uninfluenced and honest!


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