Nude lipstick is as tough as it is ubiquitous, challenging you with what appears to be simple elegance that can only be achieved by complex color-matching via mastering your own skin’s undertones — it’s more difficult than it sounds. I’m convinced that only people with witch blood can hawk-eye a flattering nude lip color in the tube before first swipe. (In all my years as a beauty editor, my success rate with that is probably around five to one.) The nude lipstick rules may apply insofar as your willingness to oblige them, but there’s a certain triumphant feeling of finding a nude you really like on yourself. That’s not to say that there’s just one shade for you, but rather than drowning in an overwhelming sea of beige options, it helps when the options are pared down and curated for you, which Bond No. 9 has done with its newest lipstick collection, The Neutrals.
Bond No 9’s first lipstick launch paid homage to New York City’s famous streets with a collection of red lipsticks, and now the brand’s second coming of luxurious lipsticks is upon us with The Neutrals: a collection of six nude lip colors also named for Manhattan neighborhoods. At this point, Bond No. 9’s map has a lipstick for every place worth visiting in the city.
Known as a house of luxury fragrance, Bond No. 9 takes the same thoughtful care and attention to detail that’s applied to its fragrances and channels it into a luxury lipstick that goes several ticks beyond fancy. The formula is long-wearing, comfortable on the lips, and has a satiny finish. One swipe gives you a full coat of color that feels moisturizing, but it doesn’t slide around anywhere (there’s a bunch of hydrating ingredients like mango and shea butter, argan, meadowfoam, murumuru, and grape seed oil, as well as squalane and sodium hyaluronate). Vegan and cruelty-free, the formula checks off most boxes that one would have when in the market for an elegant and modern lipstick formula. “We call it a smart lipstick,” says Bond No.9 founder and president Laurice Rahmé. “It glides on in one stroke, it knows where to go, and it lasts. It is the true essence of what a modern lipstick should be.”
Of the six nude shades, it’s funny to note how each name denotes someplace you’d take a stroll on a summer day in New York City — well-timed for its late-spring launch. Greenwich Village is a “brownstone brick” shade, Madison Square Park is a terra-cotta, High Line is a peachy-pink, Central Park is a ruddy sepia, Hudson Yards is a muted pink, and Gramercy Park is a cool camel. Looking at them all together, I appreciate how they’re all a bit on the warm and rosy side of nude, which I think makes the shades more versatile overall.
Each lipstick comes in a gold, refillable case that feels like a bar of gold and looks like a fancy weapon or perhaps a talisman of some sort. A gold coin pendant hangs from a chain on the end like a polished relic from the time when the New York City subways took token coins. And not to be overlooked — the lipstick bullet snaps into its case with a magnetic pull. Like I said, luxury.
Luxury, as the name would imply, does not come cheaply. The gold keepsake case and lipstick together are a cool $105. If you buy that with an additional lipstick refill, it’ll be $130, and a lipstick refill on its own is $45. The refills are packaged in biodegradable cardboard tubes that you pop the bullets out of to place in the gold case (though, ostensibly you could just use the refill as is). The whole thing follows the concept of having very nice things that you cherish, as opposed to owning more things that maybe you don’t hold as dearly. (There’s a Mari Kondo reference to be made here, but I refuse to make it.)