Fab or flub? Revlon Parfumerie scented nail polish

In a beauty world filled with nail polish brands (and now nail polish strips), it can be hard for makers to set themselves apart. Not surprisingly, some have gone the route of gimmicky products meant to catch the consumer’s eye.

Case in point: Revlon’s Parfumerie Scented Nail Enamel. Described on the company’s website as a “new way to experience color,” the nail polish line features 24 colors that, when dry, smell of various fragrances. Ranging from China Flower to Italian Leather, the scents are broken up into the categories of fruits and florals, sweets and spices, and freshes.

This is not Revlon’s first step into the world of scented polish. The brand already has a line of basic scented nail enamels, on the market since 2010.

One of the interesting things about Revlon’s scented polishes is that they are obviously marketed for grown women — not little girls or teens. With sophisticated names and packaging, these polishes are an adult step up from the versions you might have seen at Claire’s during your tween years.

Wanting to try them out for myself, I headed to Walgreens, where the nail polishes cost $5.99 each. It was hard to select a color. From edgy metallics to soft neutrals, the line has colors that are great for transitioning throughout the seasons. I chose one color from each scent “family” and two more that caught my eye.

When I got home that night, I narrowed my choice to a gorgeous wine-colored polish called Bordeaux.

First impression

My first instinct on opening the bottle was to sniff the wand. Turns out scented nail polish smells just like regular nail polish when wet. The Bordeaux applied beautifully (no streaks!), and I could have left it at one coat. But I opted for a double coat for good measure.

Once I was finished, I couldn’t help but sniff my still-wet fingernails to see if there was any hint of Bordeaux. Again, the strong nail polish odor. My fingernails would need to dry first.

The formula dries rather quickly, but I allowed a full 30 minutes. Upon first smell of my fingertips, I couldn’t deny that the polish smelled nothing like French wine and everything like Bubblicious gum (perfect for those seeking childhood nostalgia). Not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what I thought I’d paid for. Also, the scent was so faint that the only way to get a good whiff of it was to hold my nails up to my nose.

Another tester applied the green Wintermint shade to her toenails and the orange-red China Flower to her fingernails. Wintermint had a super-trendy glittery-metallic sheen. Her boyfriend called it a “third-grade shade”; she said she felt more like Elphaba, the green witch from Wicked.

Neither it nor China Flower had much of a detectable scent, and she noted that during these dry winter months, a) she slathers on so much lotion, she’s not sure she’d want competing fragrances on her hands, and b) she covers her feet with socks and boots nearly every hour of the day, so who cares whether toenails smell good? (Now, if Dr. Scholl’s invents a version that really does combat “foot stank,” we’ll talk.)

Fab or flub?

Flub sort of. If a scented nail polish is what you’re looking for, save your pennies. After applying the nail polish the night before, my morning shower erased almost all trace of scent from my fingertips. By the third day, it was completely gone.

Not ready to give up just yet, I added another variable to my experiment by reapplying the polish and following up with a clear top coat. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the top coat did not mask the fragrance completely. In the end, though, the results were the same — the scent was gone by the third day.

Looking back at the Revlon website, I realized that in the description, it says the scent is guaranteed to last all day. I guess when they say “all day,” they literally meant it would only last one day. But then, why bother? Who has time to change their nail polish every day (as opposed to spritzing on a perfume every morning)? Isn’t calling it “Parfumerie” overselling the fragrance aspect just a bit?

While the quest for a scented nail polish might have gone bust, it’s important to note that the nail polishes on their own are quite decent, especially for a drugstore brand. After a week of wear (with and without a top coat), the polish did not chip or peel.

Despite these positives, though, one thing is undeniable. While these might be good nail polishes, they don’t really do what you expect them to do when you hand over the money for them. And that’s a stinky deal.