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ALU’s 365 of Untrieds – Revlon Vixen

By on June 17, 2011
in 365 of Untrieds, Revlon, Vampy with 65 Comments
revlon vixen nail polish a known chanel vamp dupe 365 of Untrieds is my personal challenge to weed through the polishes in the ALU stash that I’ve been wanting to try but just haven’t gotten around to.

Back when the Makeup Alley Nail Board first started, one of its members started a list of “known dupes.” Revlon Vixen was one of the first on the list as a twin for the original Chanel Vamp, not the shimmery version that it became.

Now I had been wanting a bottle of Vamp ever since it first appeared on Uma Thurman’s nails in Pulp Fiction but, at the time, Chanel was not in my budget. So I ran out and bought a bottle of Vixen and it has literally sat in my collection ever since. At the time it wasn’t necessarily a color I was into, it was more that I just needed to own it. Since then, I guess I’ve just forgotten about it. So much for that “need” I thought I had.

Outside of its dupe status, Vixen is a staple shade in its own right. One of those classics that most nail fanatics have. Here’s the deal though. My bottle is probably seven years old but since it’s unopened you would think it would be fine to use. Um, not so much. What a disaster of bubbles. I actually went out to buy a new bottle of Vixen just to see if it is worthy of stashing. So if I say “share” that will be two bottles worth of money I’ll have wasted.


Formula & Application: Revlon nail polish is 4-Free (including Formaldehyde Resin) and free of camphor which can be an irritant. The classic Revlon bottle with its signature gold chrome label on the cap come with a long, thin, flexible brush. While the bristles are flexible they don’t fan out well which made the application more tricky than a standard 3 stroke process.

Now I’ve heard people rave for years about the Revlon formula and honestly, I don’t get it. It’s nice and thin and well pigmented but the brush doesn’t do it justice. In fact, I blame the brush, in part, for my unimpressed attitude. In spite of the brush issues, after three coats, I got the color opaque and glossy. I was satisfied and then about an hour later, after I had photographed it, the bubbles and lumps came.

All in all I applied Vixen four times in the past day; two from the old bottle, two from the new bottle and they all ended up in bubbles. I even tried different base and top coats on each nail to see if it was a chemistry issue and I can’t get this polish to look good. I feel like a crazy person because so many people love Revlon, more specifically Vixen. Clearly this is not a polish for me.

Revlon Vixen is vampy browned berry creme. It’s the high gloss version of dried blood. Sorry if that sounds creepy but I’ve got True Blood on the brain as I’m all amped up for the premiere next week.

revlon vixen nail polish swatch a known chanel vamp dupe

Bottom Line: I’m now really ticked at myself for never buying Chanel Vamp as this formula does not work with my nails for some reason. I know Rouge Noir is the old Vamp but when is that coming back to the US? The only upside is I saved the receipt so I can take the new bottle back to the store.

365 of Untrieds Stash/Share Verdict: Neither! I’m taking the new bottle back and sending the old bottle to the box I have set aside for a haz mat pickup. Remember, you can’t throw out nail polish in the regular trash. It’s a hazardous material and must be disposed of properly.

Revlon Vixen is available at drugstores nationwide. Revlon nail polishes retail for approximately $5/ea for a .5oz bottle depending on the retailer.

Are there any Vixen defenders out there? What base and top coats do you wear with it to make it work? Did anyone else have major bubbling issues like I did? Or am I the only crazy person on the planet who can’t get Vixen to work?

Disclosure: I purchased this product. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 65 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Andrea says:

    meee want this one is pretty really the wine color i like

  2. Ice Queen says:

    I had Vamp. Loved the colour. That was about it. First coat was a mess. Second, a little less so then the third coat offered perfection. Until it dried and turned into a bubblefest.

    I ended up frankening my Vamp. When mixed with other polishes, it suddenly began to straighten up and fly right and works beautifully in the mix. :)

  3. terry says:

    OMG i hate revlon with a veangeance. apart from bubble city, the polishes never dry/set properly. so i usually get a hella sheet-marks too. good to know i’m not crazy…=D

    • Sarah says:

      You know, I had trouble with this too, but not with a Revlon polish. I was using a revlon base and it turns everything I wear it with sticky. Boo.

  4. carmen says:

    Revlon vixen has been my go to vamp color for years! Never had any troubles with bubbling etc. I rarely use any kind of base coat, maybe that’s the issue?… :)

  5. Scienter says:

    @terry, you’re not alone about the Revlon formula not setting properly. The last time I wore a Revlon polish out in the sun, it got sticky! And I’d been wearing it for a few days at that point. O.o

  6. Leann says:

    Uh oh! I didn’t know bottles of nail polish couldn’t go in the trash. I haven’t thrown any away in a long time, but I have done it. I learn something new everyday. Thanks! :)

  7. Maribeth says:

    I love the color, but it sounds like a nightmare! I do like your True Blood reference though ….I canNOT wait for next week!!!!!

  8. CupK8 says:

    So it’s not just me getting crazy bubbles from Revlon polishes! What a shame. Some of the colors are really fab. :(

  9. Cecilia says:

    I love this color on you! But if its that much trouble its just not worth it. I hate bubbles!

  10. Aww, that’s too bad. But on the brightside…yay, True Blood!

  11. meme says:

    Oh my gosh…I wore this shade when Pulp Fiction came out – I was all over these vampy shades. It was a break from the pinks and frosts that dominated before – along with the ‘grandma’s red’ polish shades you saw everywhere and on everyone back then.

    I have often thought about this Revlon shade as the trend moved to the dark blacks with the touch of red to them or the touch of deep blues to them that I loved so much and still do..they look far better on me than an OPI plain black – what’s it called? Don’t recall the name – but I cannot wear plain black – it’s got to have some red or blue to it for me to pull it off. But these original vixin reds were HOT, HOT, HOT! What a funny story that you have held on to it all these years. I think you have me beat for holding the oldest bottle of polish maybe! And yes, don’t toss your polish to the reg. garbage. Treat it like a paint can. You are lucky you have a routine pick up for this kind of stuff in your area. We don’t. We have a place to take it but it’s only open 2 hrs a week on Sat mornings and is a 40 mile drive to get there…really makes folks NOT want to dispose of hazardous stuff correctly right?

  12. meme says:

    Follow up to my above post: I don’t know what today’s Revlon Vixen is like – as I don’t buy Revlon polish because it does not last – it chips – and does everything that could possibly drive me nuts over a polish. It must not sell well in my area as most drugstores have maybe 10 shades of Revlon polish when used to be they were the go to drugstore brand for polish! What a great shade this was – historic! And back then, I could have afforded the maybe $12 price for the Channel – but I got the $1.50 Revlon knock off!

    • Jillian says:

      On the Revlon chipping issue…AGREED!! Last weekend I snagged a bottle of the 60-second Revlon color “Emerald”. I did my nails Thursday night, and even with my trusty Out The Door on top, it chipped BY FRIDAY AFTERNOON… now granted, I’m on a computer ALL day, typing a lot. But still .. 12 hrs? Ridiculous. Still, the color is amazing and reminded me of a watermelon rind, inspiring me to go Friday evening for a watermelon pedi– all toes done in OPI’s “You’re a Pisa Work”, and on my big toe, a “french tip” of the Emerald, with little black “seeds”.. Adorable! Here’s hoping it will wear a bit better on my toes!

  13. Jill says:

    I can’t wait to see what mani you do for the True Blood Premiere. I’m thinking OPI Big Apple Red with Black Shatter on top.

  14. emma says:

    I have that bubble issue too (that they appear after a while) but with EVERY polish. It started somewhere in april, all of a sudden. I really have tried EVERYTHING, but the problem is still there… I don’t know what to do :( I don’t feel like doing my nails anymore, because they all end up in moonlandscapes.
    I do not shake, store them properly, they are not old (some even brand new), I have not changed any products in my nailcare routine, tried different basecoats/no basecoat at all, clean my nails properly, let the coats dry long enough, tried thick coats, thin coats, tried from very cheap to high end (Chanel) but it doesn’t matter. I have been doing my nails for well over a year now and have read a lot of blogs so I’m not a “noob”.
    My nails are fine, I do not see anything wrong with them.
    I have never had any bubble issues in the past. Like, never. Even when it was scorching hot in here and had the fan blowing while my nails were not properly cleaned.
    Does anyone know what this could be? I’m really desperate :(

    • Kim says:

      Thin coats and wait until each is fully dried. Keep away from heat and sun while drying. Don’t shake the bottle, roll it between your hands to mix it well so the chemicals are evenly distributed. If it still doesn’t work, go to a nail tech and ask them if your doing it right.

  15. Susie says:

    I still have my Vixen (I probably have the matching tube to lipstick around too…ew. Same era as Revlon Coffee Bean and Raisin Rage, no?). It still goes on my toes on occasion in autumn. My sister once referred to it as ‘dried blood’. I also still use from that era Red After Dark and Dragon Red (true red-love!). They’ve stayed thin and no bubbling. I’ve never had a problem with bubbling from Revlon. Regarding the formula and brush, at the time I was using a lot of Revlon, there wasn’t a whole lot out there that was any better, so I guess I didn’t know enough to complain.

  16. Lina says:

    I’ve had problems with Revlon bubbling as well, no matter how long I waited! They take forever to dry as well, I ended up getting sheet marks even though I waited forever. I much prefer the formula of China Glaze

  17. Elana says:

    I had been wondering about Vixen for a while as i like dark reds but its not to my taste color wise i prefer Valentine. Where i live we don’t have access to all the great polishes that you can get in the USA and Revlon is one of the few we can get. I used to think the bubbling issue was due to heat so i used to put my polish in the fridge before using it in the summer, that helped a bit but not much, then i thought it was because of the thickness of layers of polish, i found if i did the fridge trick plus did thin layers that helped. However what i’ve found works is Seche Vite, i put that on and the polish doesn’t have time to bubble or go soft and you wont get sheet marks either. Luv the blog, though i find it very dangerous, lol i have 60 polishes on my want list right now and this was after i got boxes of goodies from Nfu Of, Ozotics and Nubar!!!! hehe

  18. Pam R says:

    I had Revlon Crushed Crimson before I got rid of it in the last Zoya exchange. It was very similar, but a bit warmer. I knew that it was a horrible formula before I knew anything about polish. It didn’t bubble, but never seemed to cure all the way.

  19. Emmy says:

    I have been looking for a color that looks like dried blood! LOL, sounds icky, but that is the best way I could think of to describe what I wanted! I want that color! But I am skeptical because most people are not liking Revlon….hmmm, what to do? Single mom, limited nail polish budget…and nail polish is my girly weakness!

  20. Diane says:

    You can count me as one of the Revlon nail polish haters. Not all of their colors have problems, but I’ve had enough issues with the bubbles, drying issues, colors drying to a different shade than bottle shade, etc., that I tend to steer clear of them. I don’t have these problems with other brands, and I’ve got a gazillion of them.

  21. olga.maximov says:

    Actually I quite like the color against your skin tone, but if the application is such a pain-in-the-bum why bother?!

    I have a serious question though – what if your favorite bottle is less than half-full and the brush doesn’t reach the polish?

  22. Lauren says:

    When you first wrote that if you said “share” there would be two bottles, I thought that was weird. I was thinking why would she give someone a 7 year old bottle of bad nail polish? So glad you said neither! haha

  23. JDV says:

    Anyone know how this compares to Zoya Norra?

  24. Katie says:

    It looks like merlot :)

  25. Melany says:

    Even though I have a couple, I’ve never really cared for Revlon polishes. “Vixen” is a very pretty color, though.

    Along with Leann, I’ve learned something new, too!Will you do a post/give tips on how to properly dispose of nail polish?

  26. Naz says:

    I have that problem too. It’s sad, because Vixen is quite literally my favorite type of red ever! I find that it behaves if I apply VERY thinly, and give it time to dry in between coats. Very high-maintenance, but such an awesome color..

  27. Chris says:

    For a drugstore polish, Revlon is not bad at all. I bought Vixen at a bargain cosmetics store for $2. I owned a bottle of this when I was 13, and at 26 I had to own it again. For $2, the formula is not bad. I like the color, and I always buy DS products at a discounted price or when it goes on sale, so I don’t feel like I wasted a lot of money. For me, Revlon n/p is “you get what you pay for”.

  28. Sarah says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry you don’t like Vixen! It’s my absolute favorite red and has been for a few years now… I’ve never had problems with the formula. I use whatever base coat I have handy (it’s usually the L’Oreal base coat, trying to get through that) and top it with Seche Vite. Two thin coats of Vixen… I don’t know what to say, I’ve always had good luck with Revlon’s formula, Vixen included. Sometimes I just have to chock these things up to chemistry.

    As for comparing to Norra, Norra leans more purple, less red than Vixen, and has shimmer, while Vixen is a true cream. Hope that helps!

  29. Rachel says:

    I only have one Revlon polish. It’s a periwinkle shimmer, blueberry scented (I think it’s called ‘Not So Blueberry’). I think it bubbled, but the finish masked it. It was the smell though. Oh, man. Sickly sickly sweet and gave me a headache.

  30. Rachel Kurtz says:

    I LOATHE Revlon polishes. I have tried them off and on and ALWAYS am disappointed. My latest one was the pretty pale mint green they came out with a while back. Beautiful color–horrible application. NO MORE!!! I am done with Revlon. It doesn’t matter what color they come up with, I am not biting! I am glad to know others have the same problem, though, and it is not just me!

  31. stript says:

    About 12 years ago I bought a bottle of MAC Media. That bottle is still my go-to vamp shade.

  32. Eloisa M. says:

    I love this color. I don’t have it, because I live in Brazil, and Revlon is very expensive here.

  33. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Revlon, mostly because of that skinny brush. I’ve never had the bubble issue, but I HAVE had the stickiness; the only thing that seems to kill it is a quick dry topcoat.
    How does Vixen compare to Essie Wicked color-wise?

  34. Perri says:

    How exactly do you arrange for Haz Mat pickup. I really need to get rid of A LOT of polish but tend to hold onto it just because I don’t know how to get rid of it.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      My city is great with that stuff. Recycling, large item removal, haz mat pickup. I just call the waste removal department and arrange it. I would call the company who handles your trash and see if they can arrange a special pickup or if you can bring it in. Some cities have certain days each year where you can drop off old electronics, batteries and haz mat items.

  35. Tammie says:

    I hate Revlon polishes with a passion. I have a few but the formula and wear time is awful.

  36. JJ says:

    I love love love revlon and I have seen the bubble problem with certain colors (their blues and yellows) but I found with the reds and browns that if you skip the base coat and let the polish dry between coats, you will be fine.

  37. Angela says:

    I have this nail polish, well from years ago. I can honestly say I never ever had bubbles when wearing it (and I’ve used half my bottle).
    Sorry it bubbled on you though :(

  38. Donalene says:

    I own Vixen and Vamp.I haven’t had any major problems with either. Haven’t worn Vamp for awhile but I periodically check my enamels. I agree with Diane that maybe some Revlon colors are better. Raven has always been excellent-had my bottle for years! It’s still great! I have ALOT of enamels that’s why I have them for years-can’t get to them all!

  39. Cindy says:

    Back in the 70′s Revlon was the ‘go to’ polish for me, yes from the drugstore, but also from the dept. store. There were problems with it then as well, as you have mentioned from current use.
    There was a color that I used then, that was really the precursor of Vamp, Revlon ‘Russian Caviar’ that I think was more of a dupe for Vamp than this. It was a very black plum and was my favorite shade then. I wish it would come back but, I have no real affection for Revlon polish. I think there were always application problems.

  40. mayzie says:

    i swatch my polishes on acrylic tips and all my revlon colors get this strange powdery buildup on top after a few weeks. all their formulas do it! i’ve never seen that happen with another brand of polish. i don’t recall any issues with bubbling, but maybe that has something to do with it?

  41. Donalene says:

    Actually there was a shade by Creative Nail Design called Bewitched(a fair bit darker) but very nice. I think the best polishes I’ve personally used are by Creative Nail Design, OPI, and China Glaze. At one time Wet’n’Wild was excellent for drugstore product. Being a hairstylist I mostly tend to buy the afore-mentioned pro ones, now.

  42. Kristina says:

    Hi. About Rouge Noir by Chanel…last Christmas I got a bottle of it in a trio set at Nordies. It included Gold Lame and Coromandel in a small black patent Chanel cosmetic bag. It’s an awesome trio…love it! Some websites may still have it available but, it’s a little pricey. It was a Christmas present.

  43. tessabella76 says:

    I too have the bubbling issue with Revlon. Love some of their colors but I always pass because the formula is crap for me.

  44. Karen says:

    So glad you posted this, perfect timing! I’m very soon headed off on vacation to the UK and am already thinking about which Chanel polishes to buy in the Duty Free shop. One of the shades I’d like to get is Rouge Noir but I was wondering if maybe I could skip it and just be happy with Vixen instead… apparently not!

  45. yannie says:

    That looks an awful lot like my china glaze ravishing dahling…

  46. Kate says:

    Just hear to represent the minority opinion with a little love for Revlon. I had never owned any of their polishes until two weeks ago, when I was able to use CVS bucks + coupons and get four colors, plus a base coat and top coat, for about 50 cents a piece. I used one coat of base, two coats of “Cherry” from the Top Speed color collection, and one generous coat of their No Chip Top Coat and 1 full week later, I still had a completely perfect manicure. I type all day at work and I didn’t even have any noticeable tip wear, with the exception of like 1 finger. It was still so perfect I contemplated wearing it for another full week, but I wanted to go back to a blue shade, so now I’ve got on some Essie :)

  47. Gina says:

    My issue with Revlon polish is cuticle flooding. I have Perplex, and wow, it couldn’t be a more flawless dupe for Paradoxal. I mean it’s identical. But the application is a pain is the ass, to put it bluntly. I also bought the shimmer pale blue from the spring line that I think is trying to be Chanel Riva. Same thing. Cuticle flooding. Once it’s on, it’s fine, but the process is a pain.

  48. Ira says:

    Every single one of the Revlon polishes that I have tried bubbles like crazy – the worst out of all brands for me. It is very annoying since they are the same price as Essie in my country.

    The only way I fix it is use Seche Vite on top. It dries it out before it has a chance to bubble.

  49. shaz says:

    To emma @ June 18, 2011 at 5:37 am

    I have the same problem with the bubbling. I read somewhere to wipe white vinegar on your nail bed before applying base coat and nail polish. It works for me.

    I like revlon but I find it hard to apply because of the brush… but it lasts long on me. I am wearing revlon midnight affair, it’s the 6th day and no chip and I even file my nail even it is still on haha… it is still on. I am not sure if it is the top coat I use.

  50. Julia says:

    I’m currently wearing Revlon Top Speed Jaded and it’s full of bubbles too!

  51. Julie says:

    IM from Argentina and here’s everybody loves Revlon! its no very cheap either. I got Golden and Candy fron Top Speed and i use them with Revlon Top Coat Extra Life and never had any issue. Im surprised for all your comments

  52. Pam U says:

    I’ll stand up and defend Revlon too, lol. I’ve been a polish junkie for the better part of 40 years and for a LOT of those years Revlon and L’Oreal were what I used because there wasn’t much else around. Although my stash is Revlon-light anymore because I discovered all those OTHER wonderful polishes out there, I still buy it now and then if I like the color. I’ve never had bubbling problems with Revlon any more than with any brand (it’s really infrequent for me), and when I did it was always because I either went out in the sun before it cured or cooked right away. The formula doesn’t give me any problems – maybe because I’m so used to it? I’ll tell you whose formula drives me insane: Essie. Yes, really…to the point I rarely buy it any more even if I love the color.

  53. Jess says:

    I’m 3 months late to the party, but I just put on two effortless coats of Vixen with plain SH basecoat and SV topcoat. It’s absolutely beautiful, no bubbles. I also hate that brush though.

    I think it’s also a dupe for the LE Clinique Black Honey Velvet.

  54. Kinsey says:

    I’m also late to the party, but I just used Vixen again today and looove it. It went on relatively easily (although I hate the brush too)…I used 2 coats over a ridge filler basecoat with a SV topcoat. I was shocked that it didn’t bubble or do weird stuff (my bottle is at least 3 years old) but I’m super happy! Glad to see that you featured it–your photographs are the BEST out there.

  55. kmac says:

    i’ve just used vixen again today after a long hiatus. two coats on bare nails. no bubbling; no issues at all. i’ve been wearing this colour off and on for five years now and i have never had any issues with this – or any other revlon polish.

    (pam u – essie drives me nuts, too. weeeeeeak coverage.)

  56. brandi says:

    I DESPISE Revlon’s formula. It’s always either too thick or too thin and doesn’t spread well. I can never get it even. I’m with you on this one–I just don’t see what everyone likes so much about Revlon polish. I refuse to buy it!

  57. tamra says:

    I have about six bottles of brand new revlon that I have used once! it’s the ones with the black lids and good band around the bottom. every single one of them bubbled up after and hour and even worsen after about four hours. if it takes four hours for 1-2 coats of polish to dry then no thank you. I used SH base coat and opi top coat.

  58. Anja Spangenberg says:

    Ok just to let you know NYC in a New York minute Lincoln Center is a glossy jelly identicle -well I think dupe for RougeNior the original Vamp , it cost me about 2$ .

  59. Danielle says:

    I wish I had stumbled upon your review before purchasing a Revlon nail polish. Like you, I don’t understand the hype of it either.
    I thought, considering the brand, and how popular it was–that the Revlon polish would be amazing. I bought “Mysterious” the dark metallic blue (because it was the same colour as my car) … and every single time I put it on … BUBBLES! I try and try and try, over and over and over again, but bubbles show up every single time (and on EVERY nail!)

    As beautiful a colour, I’ve just gone and given it to a friend who likes to mix polish colours to create her own. After the Revlon, I tried Rimmel–which isn’t so bad (I get bubbles every once in a while) and the colours are pretty. Finger Paints are similar to Rimmel in quality and in the random bubbles it sometimes gets.
    Then, I decided to splurge on OPI … and I was hooked. It’s the best nail polish I’ve ever used–goes on easily, dries quickly, the colours are gorgeous, and I have never gotten bubbles from it!

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