Let Us Now Praise Formula X Enigma

Until recently, teal was one of my least favorite colors. It unsettled me in the same way that fuchsia used to: both are amphibious, ill-defined colors. But one swipe of fuchsia lipstick in the summer of 2011 banished my unease forever, and I’ve just experienced a similar conversion to teal. It started when I looked at swatch photos of Essie’s Spring 2015 collection and found myself drawn to Garden Variety, a bright, blue-leaning teal creme. I almost bought it, but I decided to look for a cruelty-free version instead, despite my usual aversion to dupe-hunting. Serendipity, in the form of Teresa’s Instagram, put Sephora Formula X Enigma on my radar, and I bought it during a brief trip to New York last weekend. As a bonus, it matched the dress I was wearing that day:

I have no idea how this polish got its name, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it resulted from an intern picking sexy-sounding nouns out of a hat, but there really is something enigmatic about Enigma. In some lights, it’s a bright, juicy color; in others, it’s more subdued. In natural light and in photos, it leans more blue; in artificial light, it leans more green. Like its owner (me), it’s perpetually suspended between Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

I expected a color this bold to be powerfully pigmented, so I was dismayed when the first coat of Enigma revealed a semi-sheer jelly texture. It was a dream to apply, though: self-leveling and quick-drying. Two coats produced near-total coverage, but being a stickler for opacity, I applied three.

These photos make the color look a bit softer than it actually appears. Try as I might, I couldn’t capture the brightness that Enigma takes on in natural light. Equally enigmatic was Enigma’s ability to draw other teal objects into its orbit. R. C. Bald’s biography of John Donne, for instance:

And the rental car that my friend Megan and I used to go grocery shopping:

I’m afraid I didn’t think to take a classic fingers-wrapped-around-bottle blogger shot of Enigma, but I can testify that the color doesn’t change from bottle to nails, as other polishes occasionally do.

What really impressed me about Enigma was its longevity. I applied it on Monday evening, and it didn’t chip until Friday afternoon. There was some very minor tipwear before then, but nothing noticeable at a glance. By my standards, this is insanely good. I’ve mentioned before that polishes usually chip on me within two days, so wearing a polish that lasted twice as long was a revelation. Is this how normal people experience nail polish? Because it’s pretty great. (By the way, I’ve noticed that my deep blue polishes tend to be longer-lasting: Zoya Neve and OPI Eurso Euro also have good wear time. I wonder if this is a coincidence, or if some component of the blue pigment contributes to the longevity of the formula?)

Enigma is my first Formula X polish, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to the brand’s good reputation. Will I branch out into teal eyeshadow next? I confess, I’m tempted.

11 thoughts on “Let Us Now Praise Formula X Enigma

  1. 'perpetually suspended between Ravenclaw and Slytherin'May I just take a moment to say how much I appreciate your posts and how much they consistently contain kernels of great truth to my own existence?On a vaguely related note, I bought a polish from the pharmacy last week exclusively because it was called 'Berry Potter and Plumbledore': irrespective of how infrequently I'm likely to wear the colour, my powers of makeup resistance crumbled in the face of a good pun and one of my favourite fandoms.Proposed new polish naming protocol: provide the intern with two hats- one filled with colours, the other popular fandoms- and demand said intern produce a pun with the combination.


  2. I'm fond of the Formula X nail polishes that I own. I've found they're pretty strong across the board so far as the ease of application. I'm afraid I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to longevity, because nail polishes just don't last long on me and I get bored easy so they come off within a day or two anyway. That is a really pretty color though, and leads me to wonder if I have room in my collection for another blue/teal nail polish. As for eyes, I find teal is easier to wear in liner form then it is in eye shadow form. I'm rather fond of lining my lower water line with a bright teal liner as a finishing for a neutrally eye. It's subtle but boy do my eyes pop. I look forward to seeing your attempts with teal eye make up.


  3. I was reading this so intently that I missed my bus stop! The colour is enigmatic indeed. I find that I'm often drawn to colours that straddle the line between this and that. It provides endless entertainment when I'm sitting on public transport and have run out of things to read. Back home in NZ I had Butter London Artful Dodger in my collection, and it was one of my favourites — a darker version of Enigma, and maybe leaning more green.


  4. Enigma looks beautiful on you.I haven't paid attention to this Sephora Formula X since I was very disappointed with the OPI Sephora nail polish collaboration. I guess Sephora is better on its own! ;)Teal is my \”cheat\” color for St. Patricks day. I like it as long as it's not a bridesmaid's dress. ;p


  5. I'm glad you appreciate my ambivalence re: Hogwarts houses! I recently came across a tumblr post that read \”Do you ever get frustrated with someone because their understanding of Hogwarts houses is not as nuanced as yours,\” and I was like, yeah. IT'S VERY COMPLICATED, OKAY.The brand that made that polish clearly went to great lengths to avoid charges of copyright infringement, and I applaud them.


  6. I actually bought a teal eyeliner last year–one of those Rimmel shadow/liner sticks. Unfortunately, it was so unblendable and so hard to remove that I didn't wear it more than once. Are there any teal liners that you'd recommend?


  7. Oh no, I'm sorry to have made you miss your stop! Though that's very flattering, of course. 😀 And yes, enigmatic nail colors like teal are excellent distractions during bus and train rides. Chartreuse, coral, and mauve also fall into that category, I think…


  8. I hadn't heard about the Sephora/OPI collaboration! But yes, I've been impressed with all the Sephora-brand products I've tried so far. You wouldn't expect them to be as good as they are…or maybe you would, I don't know.


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