Formula X in TGIF + Comparisons | Formula X System XCEL

Direct sunlight

Last month I was sent some products from Sephora's Formula X line. I've been testing out the Formula X System XCEL against my favorite products, and today I'm going to show you the results.
The System XCEL features 4 products: CLEANSE XCEL Nail Cleanser, PRIME XCEL Base Coat, SHINE XCEL Top Coat, and the polish of your choice - I received TGIF. This set retails for $32, which Sephora lists as a $44 value, but the value can be higher or lower depending on which Formula X polish you choose (the price is $32 no matter the polish). I was also sent the Delete All 5-Finger Nail Polish Remover, which retails for $15.

DISCLOSURE: These products were sent to me by Influenster for my honest review.

First, I have to say that I am probably not the person to test a nail polish system for wear, since I don't have any issues with longevity. But, I did put these products to a rigorous test! You can see the product claims below.

The polish included with this system was TGIF, a bright light coral creme. It's super bright but not neon - it's a color I would never have picked for myself, but I liked it on me. Application was pretty good. I did 2 medium coats because the formula had a tendency to drag and form ridges if I didn't float the brush.

So, on my left hand, I used the Formula X System XCEL. The first step in this system is removing excess oils with the CLEANSE XCEL. I can't find the list of ingredients for this product, but the scent really reminds me of the Cutex Remover I used to use in junior high - I think it was a non-acetone remover. The ingredients Sephora's website highlights are witch hazel, cucumber extract, and safflower seed oil. Personally, I don't find this to be a necessary step, I just wash my hands and scrub my nails with a nail brush before polishing. And, I know some people with drier, more brittle nails find that oiling their nails actually preps them best for long wear! So, YMMV as to how useful this step in the system is.

The second step in the system is PRIME XCEL Base Coat. Again, I couldn't find an ingredients list, but Sephora highlights Keratin and "Advanced Bonding Agents". It didn't seem like a sticky base coat, which I prefer, but it worked, and it didn't stain my nails (like Orly Bonder does).

After using TGIF, I topped with the SHINE XCEL. Sephora has two different SHINE top coats listed on their site, but neither are XCEL, so I don't know if this product can be purchased separately. This is a fast dry top coat, and it is nice and thin, but it bubbled on me. I get bubbling from any nail polish if I don't wear quick-dry top coat, but the quick-dry top coat usually prevents the bubbles from forming, so I was surprised to see this. I had done a fairly thin coat of top coat since it was so thin, but when I saw the bubbling I went over with a thicker layer of top coat to see if that would get rid of them, but it didn't. You can see the bubbles on my index and middle fingers (if you can't, click the picture to enlarge). From a distance, I don't think they were noticeable, but from my arm's distance I could see them, and it annoyed me.

Direct sunlight

Indirect natural light

On my right hand, I did my normal routine, washing my hands with soap and scrubbing my nails quickly with a nail brush. For my base coat I used my go-to CND Stickey; for top coat I used my favorite, Seche Vite. You can see that there were bubbles on these nails - and I was using a past-halfway-empty bottle of Seiche Vite, so it had gotten a bit goopy and thick.

Direct sunlight

Here is my left hand (the Formula X System XCEL hand) after 10 days. You can see nail growth and a bit of tip wear, but it's nothing really noticeable. These pictures are not color-accurate because I was taking photos as the sun set, so the lighting was quite harsh.

Direct sunlight - sunset

And, here's my right hand (the Stickey & Seche Vite hand) after 10 days. I will mention that this is my dominant hand, so it undergoes more rigorous wear than my left. Among routine tasks, I also picked off a bunch of labels from some items I bought - why? WHY do they make it so hard to take labels off!!! Again, these are not color accurate pictures.

Direct sunlight - sunset

I'm afraid, I didn't see a difference in wear between the two "systems." If you have trouble with wear, I don't know if this will increase your wear time, since it didn't for me. On the other hand, polish wears very well on me (I ended up getting busy and wearing this manicure for 20 days total, with no additional significant signs of wear aside from nail growth), so it could help you. On Sephora's page, they list a 33 person (extremely small sample size) study that found 
- 100% preferred The System XCEL to other traditional at-home mani sets they’ve tried - 100% said they would want to buy The System XCEL - 100% said they would like to continue using The System XCEL - 100% said nails felt protected - 100% said nails were not stained after removal - 97% said nails were not damaged after removal - 94% said the Xpert Strokes Brush provided an easy, fast, even application
Just for the sake of more context, here is another manicure I did with Stickey & Seche Vite on day 7 of wear (the polish is Chanel in #500 Rouge Essentiel).

I just don't get much wear. I think the price is pretty good for this set, so I would recommend it for those who are trying to get better wear out of their polishes, if you haven't found cheaper options that work. But, is this a revolutionary must-have product for me? Unfortunately, no. I do really enjoy the Formula X polishes, though!

The final product I was sent is the Formula X Delete All 5-Finger Nail Polish Remover, which is a piece of foam in a jar, saturated with nail polish remover. This makes for very quick removal, and I know many people prefer this product to remove glitter polishes. I don't like to soak my fingers in acetone, so I prefer to use felt and Zoya Remove, and I use the foil method for glitter removal because that doesn't get acetone on my finger pads. This product is also not travel friendly. You must store it base-down because if it's placed on its side it will leak remover everywhere. You can get similar foam removers at drugstores, but I've included a picture of the ingredients list in case you want to see if there's anything special in this remover formula.

Finally, here are comparisons for TGIF. I didn't have a polish similar (it is crazy how it seems this is what always happens even though my collection is far too big). China Glaze in Pink Plumeria freaked my camera out, so it is not color-accurate, but the other polishes are, excepting Chanel in #549 Distraction and Essie in Cute as a Button (both have more orange).

Chanel in #549 Distraction is darker and has a pink subtle shimmer. Essie in Cute as a Button has more pink and is deeper. Chanel in #307 Orange Fizz is darker and more orange. China Glaze in Pink Plumeria is deeper and much brighter (neon) with pink shimmer. Chanel in #203 Miami Peach is a bit deeper, more of a jelly finish, and has gold shimmer. Essie in Ball-timore is more pink and has a white pearl. Chanel in #535 May is a bit deeper and much more pink.

DISCLOSURE: These products were sent to me by Influenster for my honest review.

Have you tried any imitation gel polish systems? Do you find they wear better than your normal base and top coats?


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