Here’s an easy way to gauge what works for your skin tone, says New York City–based makeup artist Melissa Silver: Rather than swatch colors on your hand, dab on a fingertip and hold it up to your lip. When in doubt, it’s better to buy a shade that seems slightly too bright, because you can always blend it or blot it to make it sheerer and more wearable. For red lipstick, consider a “universal” shade, one with either violet or yellow undertones, which blend with any skin tone.
Doesn’t seem possible? In the photo below, Elinor Carucci (left) and Emily Heser, the photographer and hairstylist, respectively, on a recent RealSimple.com shoot, are both wearing MAC Lipstick in Russian Red ($15, maccosmetics.com):