Formula X Lively and a K-Pop Microtrend

Yellow is an underrepresented color in most people’s makeup collections, including mine. Deservedly or not, it has a dismal reputation:

The Googlers have spoken: yellow is the most “visible” and “noticeable” color, but like many highly visible and noticeable things, including the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Lime Crime, and Donald Trump, it is also perceived as “annoying” and “depressing.” (Actually, the most visible color to the human eye is yellow-green, due to its location in the middle of the color spectrum, but let’s not be too picky.) Yellow is notorious for being unflattering to most complexions, and it’s the rare eyeshadow palette that includes even an understated mustard, let alone a chartreuse or daffodil. So imagine my surprise when I started noticing yellow nail polish in what seemed like every other k-pop girl-group video released this spring. Here’s some proof, arranged chronologically by release date:

Mamamoo, “You’re the Best”:

CLC, “High Heels” (seriously, don’t follow that link, the song is awful):

Red Velvet, “One of These Nights” (yellow eyeshadow, too!):

I.O.I, “Crush”:

AOA ft. Takanori Nishikawa (T. M. Revolution), “Ai wo Chodai” (“Give Me the Love”)

J.Y. Park ft. Conan O’Brien, Steven Yeun, and Jimin Park, “Fire”:

The trendactually, let’s call it a microtrend, since all of these videos came out in the last two monthsstarted with pale butter-yellow polish, but quickly moved into bold safety-vest yellow. I was intrigued. My only yellow nail polish was a sparkly orange-yellow from CoverGirl’s Hunger Games collection two years ago (I know), and I wondered why I’d never embraced the delicate vintagey prettiness of light yellow. As luck would have it, Smith & Cult’s spring collection included The Bee Side, a nail polish in exactly that color. I knew that pastels were hard for any brand to get right, but Smith & Cult kept Instagramming photos of pale-yellow manicures that looked perfectly smooth and opaque, and their polishes were $18 a pop—they had to be decent, right? After dithering for a few weeks, I bought The Bee Side at my local Bluemercury and tried it out excitedly. 

And, guys? It kind of sucked. 

The formula was watery and streaky, it took forever to dry, and I couldn’t get opaque coverage even after three coats. I might have done better with four, but in my view, any “opaque” nail polish that requires more than three coats is a dud. The Smith & Cult bottle was beautiful, but it was twice as wide as any of my other polish bottles, which made it difficult to store. It was basically the manspreader of nail polishes. I returned it so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to take pictures. 

With that $18 back in my bank account, I resumed my search. The next butter-yellow polish to catch my eye was Lively, a new spring release from Sephora’s Formula X collection. (That microtrend isn’t confined to k-pop, apparently.) I’d been impressed by Enigma, my first Formula X purchase, so I picked up Lively on my trip to NYC earlier this month. It was a more palatable, though still somewhat pricey, $11.

Lively is the lemon-curd-mixed-with-whipped-cream yellow of my dreams. It’s almost identical to The Bee Side, though perhaps a hair darker.

It applies more smoothly than The Bee Side and dries very quickly. After three coats, a few nails have a tiny bit of streakiness, but only if you really squint. I think this is the closest I’m going to get to a flawless light-yellow polish, though I do have one strong word of caution: DO NOT remove this polish less than a day after application, or it will stain your nails yellow even with basecoat. I learned this the hard way. If you wait at least two days before removal, you should be fine. (Honestly, I tend to peel off my nail polish, which is terrible for my nails but does help prevent staining. I can’t believe I just confessed that on my blog.)

With a basecoat and topcoat, Lively lasts 2-3 days without chipping, which is about average for me. I assume that if your nails don’t reject nail polish like it’s a faulty organ, Lively will last a bit longer on you. It also matches Watchmen:

And my favorite sunglasses:

To truly follow the k-pop microtrend, though, I think I need a bright dandelion yellow as well. Any suggestions?

P.S. In case you weren’t aware, all of Urban Decay’s Revolution lipsticks, including the matte and sheer versions, are now 50% off wherever they’re sold. This seems to confirm the rumor that Urban Decay is planning to discontinue the entire Revolution line later this year. It’s been less than three years since the lipsticks were released (the mattes and sheers are even newer), and they’ve received almost universally positive reviews, so I have no idea why Urban Decay has made this decision. In any case, now seems to be the time to stock up on your staple colors. I’ve been good and haven’t yet taken advantage of the sale, but I might end up trying Bittersweet or Jilted. Hmm.

Update, 4/28: I’ve heard another rumor that Urban Decay is planning to keep the existing Revolution colors and formulas but revamp the shape of the bullets so that they have a slanted top, which would be amazing (and would make more sense than discontinuing everything out of the blue). I’d own a lot more Revolution lipsticks if they didn’t have that annoying flat top, so here’s hoping the rumor is true!

20 thoughts on “Formula X Lively and a K-Pop Microtrend

  1. Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Mellow Yellow is a pretty decent bright yellow. It's more on the dandelion scale of brightness if I remember correctly. I don't think I kept it in my collection though, because yellow is not a flattering color for me.


  2. There seems to be something about yellow and white pigment that makes it streaky, but this looks pretty good! I like the color. I also peel off my polish, at least the stuff that peels easily. I know it's taking some of my nail with it, but honestly, it doesn't seem to do that much damage. And it's so damned satisfying. I actually trained myself to stop biting my nails about a decade ago by painting them and peeling off the polish instead. Maybe if I didn't wear my nails so short it would be an issue.I didn't realize that the UD lipsticks were on sale everywhere! Huh. I wasn't really tempted, but now I am, if they might be discontinued. I really like the mini of Bad Blood that I have.


  3. I love the idea of a butter yellow polish, but when it comes down to it, I've always ended up buying bright yellows. My favoourite one was a Sally Hansen Fast Dry (or whatever they were called) one. It was surprisingly very opaque. I used to wear it to work when I was a lowly self scan attendant, and one time, a little girl reached out to touch my nail while I was helping her mother. \”Bird,\” she told me an her mother. The single-most adorable nail polish moment.And of course the UD lipsticks are still full price on Sephora Canada.


  4. I have a bright sunshine yellow from OPI back in New Zealand, but I can't recall the name. That's such a shame about the Smith and Cult one. They didn't have any brights in the store I went to, but the light nudes I tried were streaky as fuck… Think their darker colours probably perform better (and I like the one I ended up getting!)


  5. I kind of like this buttercup-esque shade.. nah who am I kidding, I hate yellow. I resent my Post-It notes for being yellow. I love chartreuse, though, and almost bought a sickly yellow-green Essence polish the other day. It was $2, so I might go back for it. UD doesn't have the Revolution Lipsticks for sale on their own site, otherwise I would be all up on this shit. I took a fancy to Sheer Beso a couple of months ago but it's a site exclusive, alas.


  6. The Revolution lipsticks are definitely for sale on the UD site! When you first look at the \”Lipstick\” page, you'll see the regular price of $22, but when you click on the actual product (Revolution, Matte Revolution, etc), the next page will display the sale price. Chartreuse is one of my favorite colors, but I bought a Topshop chartreuse polish two years ago and it just looked disgusting on my hands, like I had some sort of nail fungus.


  7. They have a lot of nerve charging so much money for streaky polishes when it's easy to find a good nude polish for under $10 here. The dark colors are beautiful, though! I might buy Bang the Dream this fall.


  8. That is really pretty! Damn, I have a lemming now. Don't worry about the peeling, I PEEL POLISH ALL THE DAMN TIME. I love it when they come off in one big cohesive strip, less so when it's chip chip chip. It's a great destresser and better than peeling my lips. Btw that pair of sunnies is GORGEOUS. I NEED ONE. Do cheap sunnies still have UV protection? I'm always kinda wary that they're tinted but don't actually offer UV protection :/


  9. Man, I love yellow. Yellow and red are my favorite color combination, just behind red and green. Yellow and red together is apparently a fashion don't as it makes you look like a McDonald's mascot but I'm going to wear a mustard colored traditional kebaya with deep red lipstick to a cousin's wedding later this year so whatever….I have a sample of Jilted and on me, it looks like how NARS Angela looks on you. Knowing that, I'd suggest Bittersweet but we have different complexions so Jilted will probably look different on you anyway.


  10. Maybe there's something wrong with my nails, but it's really easy for me to peel polish off them. I was a lifelong nail biter until a few years ago, so I tell myself that this is a slightly better (and certainly more sanitary) habit…The sunglasses are from Urban Outfitters! I bought them last summer, but they might still be available. I *think* they have UV protection? I know I should get a more effective pair, but I honestly can't trust myself not to lose sunglasses. That said, I've had these for nine months without losing them, which I think is a personal record. Maybe it's time for an upgrade!


  11. Ooh, I actually love mustard and deep red as well. I used to have a mustard paisley top that I'd wear with dark red and plum lipsticks. It's harder for me to wear bright yellow, though.I decided against buying Jilted, actually. I have a really hard time applying my tube of 69 because of the flat top, and Jilted would no doubt present the same problem. It's a pretty color (I think it would look a lot redder than Angela on me), but the bold Revolution colors are unworkable for me without a lip brush. I just need to accept that.


  12. I'm also a former nail biter who transitioned into peeling polish. I guess it's a natural progression. I just can't stand how my nails look when a couple of them are chipped and I don't have polish at hand to touch them up, so I often end up peeling off all my polish. Maybe I'll stop one day.Bad Blood is a beautiful lipstick! It looks quite similar to NARS Mysterious Red, my favorite matte red.


  13. BIRD!!! That is the cutest nail polish story I've ever heard. My first word was \”bird,\” actually…When I check the US Sephora website now, the lipsticks are showing up as $26, which is more than they cost originally! Weird.


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