For the last several weeks, Sephora has sent me emails reminding me… or rather, taunting me, that I’m ONLY $39 away from VIB status. Just two more lipsticks, the email whispers and shows me flashy colors I probably don’t have in the tray of lipsticks overflowing in my bathroom.  Just another eye shadow palate… look at all these shimmery shades you don’t quite have in the six palates you have now. How about this anti-aging serum?

Just spend $39 more dollars this year and unlock even more benefits.  Monthly gifts and a makeover is awaiting my $39 purchase.  I’m a sucker for marketing and Sephora knows it.  It’s what their business model depends on… that I will simply give in to nostalgia and get that Urban Decay Basquait eye color set because I have a weakness for street art.  That I will have to have that OPI nail polish color Girl Without Limits which isn’t even a description of a color but rather a self-identification… plus, I mean, that shade of pink is killer.  And yes, I did at least click on the link for the Nars “Orgasm Collection” lip color… if only because I was curious as to the colors they think represent orgasms (note: orgasms are never peachy pink—though they most definitely can, and should, have a shimmer finish).

The temptation is real—but not in the sense that I want to get to the VIB status but rather I am avoiding it. My last must have make up purchases have been at Ulta and one emergency lip gloss stop at a CVS.  That I’ve spent almost 350 dollars at Sephora in the first six months of this year gives me pause. Don’t get me wrong, Kat Von D will unleash something I feel compelled to have, or I’ll need eyeliner or mascara and will be tapping back on the door. And we all know I’m weak when staring down a tube of lipstick.

Recently I asked a few groups of women friends and writers about wearing make up—and why they do or don’t.  The question didn’t come to me from the panic I had at the amount of money I’d spent this year already on products (and to clarify not everything was on make-up—some things were gifts or other products), but rather my former trainer.  He said he didn’t understand why women wore make up.

Many of the women I asked responded they didn’t wear makeup—they didn’t like the feel on their skin, or they weren’t good at applying it, they didn’t care enough to bother, they felt comfortable without it, there was no one they were wearing it for anymore.  Others responded that it gave them confidence, it was a way to hide perceived flaws, it was part of a job (acting, modeling), or they simply liked the way it looked.  I really didn’t ask any men—and that’s my bad; but I just don’t know a lot of men who wear makeup anymore.

As for me, I answered the question that day in the gym the same as I answer it today. It depends.  Some days, I wear makeup because I know I will be on webcam for meetings and like a stage actor wears makeup to draw the audience in and notice their face/features while they are not up close, I make sure most days I’m on video I’m wearing some make up.  Other days, I wear it because I work from home and it feels less isolating and more like I did something before logging into my laptop.  Make up is also an extension to my outfit for the day—especially if I plan to go out. I give a lot of careful consideration to what I wear when I go out. What I wear often reflects my mood, or how I want to feel, it reflects my personality; it’s self-expression and the makeup I wear is an extension of that.  And then, there are days I wear none.

Ultimately, I view makeup as a form of art I choose to participate in. My ability to be pulled into clever marketing, however, is a post for another day.