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Calling Shenanigans on the Sephora Formula X Press Pods

By on January 8, 2015
in Formula X for Sephora
Formula X Press Pods swatches & review via @alllacqueredup

Formula X Press Pods Gift Tags

When Sephora announced the Formula X Press Pods last year, all I could do was roll my eyes. 24 individual use .03 oz pods of polish for $39??? Are you serious? That’s $54 an ounce! To compare, Louboutin is $125/oz and you get that gorgeous bottle. OPI is $19/oz.

Then I saw all these raves on major beauty and fashion outlets for the product and it piqued my curiosity but not enough to buy them. Since that time, the price has dropped to $24 and they are currently on sale for $19.50. However, on Black Friday I was able to pick up a set of the Gift Tag Press Pods for $7.50 and, I was already placing and order so, I couldn’t resist.

If my post title didn’t clue you in to how my Press Pod test went, keep reading!

Now, I’m not so delusional that I don’t understand that mini packaging or individual packaging, like the Press Pods, would mean they cost more. We see that all the time. The larger the quantity you buy, the better the deal. I get that.

However, the point behind this product is that they claim to be portable, easy-to-use and carrying a mani/pedi’s worth of polish, which would be great for travel, and that’s mainly where my issue lies.

Formula & Application

Formula X Press Pods are 3-Free (Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP). The .03 oz plastic pod has a twist-off plastic cap that keeps the polish fresh until you use it.

The stiff, round brush needs to be massaged to break an invisible barrier holding the bristles together. Being that the bristles are so stiff, they don’t easily spread out over the nail which results in a messy application.

The polish itself has the smooth feel I’m accustomed to with Formula X but, the brush seriously derails the application. You have to squeeze the pod to dispense the polish and instead of coming out at the tip, it bubbles near the top of the brush which is a real problem.

Not only that, if you squeeze too hard, you end up with a giant blob that is too much for one nail. If you squeeze too light, you don’t have enough polish to cover the nail so it streaks and lumps.

Sephora Formula X Press Pod Brush via @alllacqueredup

Formula X Press Pod Brush

I ended up using three coats on each nail and it still looked awful. The brush makes it very hard to get a clean application and, if you’re traveling, you would need some serious clean-up supplies, which defeats the point. Not to mention, I was squeezing so hard near the end of painting my fifth nail, that I have no idea how I would do a full manicure, let alone a pedicure, with one pod.

Formula X Press Pods Swatches

Now I know it looks like a crime scene on my nails but I wanted to show you what the application was really like. You’ve seen my manicures in the past, you know I can polish my nails. I do very little clean-up on a regular basis. Yet, this was the result.

I’m sure, given enough time, I could get a decent looking manicure with them but, again, that’s not the point of this product. The learning curve should not be that big. I can’t even really review the colors because this is not a good representation.

Formula X Blazing

Formula X Press Pods Blazing via @alllacqueredup

Formula X Press Pods Blazing

Formula X Pedal To The Metal

Formula X Press Pods Pedal To The Metal via @alllacqueredup

Formula X Press Pods Pedal To The Metal

Bottom Line: I can not, in good conscience, recommend buying these. I’m just glad I’m only out $7.50. If it had been $39, when they first came out, you better believe I would have marched them straight back to Sephora. Press Pods… a big, fat NOPE!

I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews but seeing a slew of rave reviews from beauty editors has me confuzzled. Granted, maybe they are Press Pod wizards who can work them like a pro. Though, knowing what I do about the beauty industry, it makes me wonder if that is a result of not really testing the product or editors scratching PR’s back.

Yes, Press Pods are clever and a great concept but the execution was wrong. Based on the fact that they are on sale, I’m assuming Sephora agrees. I just wanted to put my experience out there before you get tempted by sale prices and waste your own cash.

Have you tried Formula X Press Pods? I’d love to hear your experiences with them.

Disclosure: I purchased the Press Pods myself. For more info view my Disclosure Policy
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There Are 51 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lisa N. says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these with us!

  2. I was never tempted, but now I’m certain I’m not missing anything! Thanks Michelle!

  3. Jessica says:

    From the first moment I saw these, I thought they’d be a hot mess. Thank goodness you paid under $10 for them, to be honest, I don’t even think they’re worth what you paid!

  4. Ooh Girl! Press Pods you just got TOLD! I have been curious about trying these but didn’t want to shell out the money. Part of the appeal of nail polish for me is getting to keep the bottles for a while, and listen to them clack together like billiard balls. When it comes to this mini innovation (min-novation), I’m guessing you pay for the sample effect–the thrill of variety without commitment.

  5. marjorie says:

    Quick note to say THANK YOU for the honesty. I don’t read beauty mags anymore because I don’t trust recommendations from those so beholden to beauty companies for their living, and even bloggers who take a ton of freebies often make me nervous that they pull their punches or only cover things when they have something perky and upbeat to say. I’m really glad you call ‘em like you see ‘em.

  6. Chantel says:

    Pretty colors. I have never heard or tried these before. Thanks for sharing your honest opinions.

  7. Thank you for the honest review. Very refreshing considering all the scratching of backs, as you called it. Glad you were only out $7.50.

  8. Helen says:

    Oh my goodness. I got these as a gift and took one with me for a polish change while traveling. Hot mess is right. The brush was awful, there wasn’t enough product, and the biggest issue I had was squeezing the bottle! I had to squeeze super hard to get any polish out and at one point smudged a couple nails because of my squeezing! That’s precious polish wasted when there’s so little in there to begin with! The most disappointing thing is that they really are great shades. Any suggestions how I should use the rest of these?

  9. Nicole says:

    Thanks for doing a blog/swatches on the press pods. I admit I paid almost full price, tried them and had a bad experience. I am not nearly as talented with polish as you are and you had issues. Do you like the concept? I do, maybe Sephora can make them bigger and improve on the brush.

  10. Craftynail says:

    yikes, good thing you didn’t pay 39! the brush is important to me too so i hear ya!

  11. Ed Anon says:

    I’m an editor at a big national magazine, and just wanted to offer some industry insight: Sephora is a big-ticket advertiser, and I’d bet that the beauty-editor raves were the cost of doing business. I doubt that anyone was happy about putting Press Pods on the page, but editors have to pick their battles, just like in most professions. On the plus side, it’s easy to keep most big-ticket beauty advertisers happy because they regularly release innovative or at least on-trend products that are legitimately worth getting excited about. You can trust most things in print, but when something seems like a hot mess, as Jessica so aptly said, start looking for reviews from authoritative blogs like this one :)

    • I really appreciate the insight. That makes a lot of sense though I still can’t say I trust the majority of things in print when it comes to product suggestions. At least not when it comes to nails. I’ve been burned too many times. That’s part of why I started this blog in the first place. There was no trusted source for consumer nail info 8 years ago.

    • Dina says:

      Thank you for that unique insight, it is very much appreciated. :)
      And a huge thank to you Michelle for posting, testing, and suffering for this product for us.

  12. Jess Scull says:

    Totally with you on these! I tried one and it was AWFUL. I returned it immediately back to the store!

  13. Sydney says:

    I have heard so-so things about these pods, but I personally wouldn’t ever get them, and after seeing this, I wouldn’t recommend them to people either. I have the full size of Blazing and it’s hard for me to believe it’s the same polish on your nails, haha!

  14. Liz A-Mani-Maniac says:

    These looked like a bad idea from the beginning. I’m not a fan of mini bottles (7ml or 5ml) from some indies because of brush issues…but these? No way, no how.

    I’ll go through the first-world problem of deciding on a couple of nail polish colors from my stash to take on vacation before I waste any money on gimmicky products like this. Thanks for the honest review.

    • Ha, right? I’ve never had an issue packing nail polish for a trip. Or I just take a remover wipe and a pack of Sally Hansen strips if I get a chip or want a change. Much easier.

  15. Nicole says:

    I am glad you did a blog/swatches on these pods. I have to admit I paid almost full price for the pods in the paint can. I had a difficult time using the pods and I am not nearly as talented as you when it comes to nail polishing. So your bad experience with these pods reassures my ego. I like the concept. Do you think if the pods were a little bigger and had a better brush would that help?

    • I’m happy you found it helpful and, you’re not alone with how challenging they are to us. I do think the brush is the major issue. Though I just don’t know how you would ever guarantee the polish would come out the end. That’s an issue with lipgloss and cuticle pens with similar brushes.

  16. Arathael says:

    I thought the cost was too high and I didn’t have any use for the portability claim. After reading this, I went to Sephora site to scan the reviews. I didn’t have to read far for the mostly negative reviews, but was surprised to see the few positive ones.

    It reminds me of nail polish pens from the past. Your picture showing the polish coming from the top of the brush is the root problem with all these types of packaging (pardon the pun)…

    • You’re so right. I’ve tried many nail polish pens over the years and it’s always an issue with the brush and how the polish flows out. I just don’t think it’s a feasible concept

  17. Sanne says:

    This really sounds like a stupid idea. If I haven’t read your review I wouldn’t have bought it anyway. But I suppose it is hard to come up with new ideas in the polish world. Have a nice weekend. :)

  18. Rita says:

    I would still buy it for $7 if it sells in my country. So many colors and size is enough for Mani+Pedi+Mom Mani. I would just use any nail art brush instead.

  19. Kim says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Very informative!

  20. Crystal says:

    So glad I read this. I have to travel a lot for work and I hate having to travel with my nail polish, but my trips are always a minimum of 3 days and I am extremely hard on my manis. I seriously have tip wear after 24 hours no matter which polish/base coat/top coat combo I use. So I have to travel with nail polish. I was hoping this might be a solution, but definitely will steer clear now!

  21. Laura J. says:

    Seriously, this looks like a 5-year old tried to paint your nails. Awful product, and even 7$ are to much for this.
    I always put my beauty products into a ziplock bag when travelling and I’ve never had problems with that.

  22. Monica M. says:

    woah! That’s a pretty bad mess on your nails. I’ve not been drawn to these. Lots of bad reviews on Sephora. Not sure why they continue to make them. So happy you were able to get some to review..I’d still take the unused portion back and get a refund, LOL! You can buy an entire bottle of something you’ll love instead ;-)

    Thanks for the review!

  23. kel says:

    absolutely love this review. “a crime scene on my nails”. LMAO. this is the first time i’ve ever seen a bad manicure on you:) love that you rate the good and the bad. thanks for alerting your followers that the bottom line on this stuff is that it sucks.

  24. Lisa Marino says:

    I can see based on the photos why they wouldn’t work properly. It’s a good concept, in theory, but clearly isn’t going to be around long since it’s been reduced down from full price to next to nothing. Those prices are outrageous.

    I travel with a few back-up bottles of polish in case I am going to switch colors while I am away, or need a touchup on what I am currently wearing. I usually mail the polish home ahead of me to avoid it being in my luggage or carry-on, but usually because I am also mailing other things home to help lighten the luggage load any way. I definitely don’t see how those pods are enough for a full mani/pedi.

  25. Amanda says:

    I don’t know if you know this, but roughly 15 years or so ago Avon had little nail polish samples that looked pretty similar to these Sephora pods. I was a new rep, and thought it was an awesome idea, so I bought a bunch to hand out. To keep it short, it ended up being a waste of money in my opinion and I never did hand them out, because the polish gathered at the top of the brush just like these. Ever since, I’ve steered clear of any pod type polish lol

  26. Jo says:

    I purchased the little gift tags for $7.50 as a novelty. They were cute on the package and were “oooh’d” and “aaah’d” over on Christmas morning but no one took them that seriously. Now I know not to purchase more. Thanks!

  27. Kim says:

    thank you so much for your honest review. Had I not read this and a post on MUA, I would have been tempted by the sale price. I have a hard time with Sephora cremes on a good day, lol, and dont need ANY extra frustration. :)

  28. I think I’ll stick to my gel polish before a big trip tradition – even if I would pay $40 at least I’d have rockin’ nails for 2 weeks instead of this mess. Love the honest review!

  29. Cait says:

    Glad I avoided these now- I had a suspicion that they were more gimmick than travel polish breakthrough! Negative reviews are no fun, but thank you for reviewing them anyway!

  30. Urby says:

    I thought about getting some of these to try out more of the Formula X colors, but this post made me really glad I didn’t try them. Glad you got a deal on them!

  31. Thank you so much for this honest review! That is one of the reasons why I love your blog. No beating around the bush or sugar coating! I trust the wise and first nail blogger Michelle! :)

  32. Natalie Brown says:

    Thank-you for your honest review. I didn’t think they’d be that great and you confirmed it for me. I guess I’ll save some money. lol

  33. Chelsea says:

    Nail polish just doesn’t travel well and a manicure is something that shouldn’t be done on the run. Even if the pod concept worked out, you’re still forgoing a base and top coat, causing everything to look sloppier and last far less long.

  34. Esther (@cornmuffinsmama) says:

    Thank you for posting this. This is why you’re usually my first stop when I’m considering a new nail polish, I love having a blog that I can trust to tell the truth instead of just saying nice things to make people happy. You rock.

  35. Debbie says:

    I knew these were a waste of money the second I first saw them. Seriously, how hard it is to just pack one polish to take on vacation? A mini OPI would be better than this!

  36. Wen says:

    i knew this was a hot mess as soon as i see it at sephora, it just look like it would be an EPIC FAIL. lol. now if i want travel-friendly manis, i’d just bring my mini polishes (or zoya pixiedust ones) and top/base coat. ;-)