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I started wearing makeup in high school to cover my skin issues, but once the skin issues cleared up, I was hooked. I honestly felt that if I left the house without makeup, that I was a slob. As I got old, putting on makeup became as routine as brushing my teeth. I stopped enjoying it, but felt I had to wear it to be an acceptable lady in society. I mean, what would people think if I left the house looking like I had crawled out of bed?

I currently live in New York. I work 6 days a week to pay rent on my tiny apartment in Brooklyn. Most of my mornings I can be found hitting snooze 20 times before running out the front door with my hair still wet from the shower just so I could snag a few extra minutes of zzzz’s before a long day of hitting the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. Recently, I started to give up my precious makeup routine out of a desperate need for more sleep.

I would tell myself, ‘Don’t worry, Erika, you can put the makeup on when you get to work.’ My makeup routine would get pushed to later and later in the day. I was negatively reinforced almost every time I went without makeup, because coincidentally these were days when someone would comment, ‘Are you OK?’ or ‘You look tired.’ I would want to shout, ‘I’m not tired, I just didn’t wear eye liner today!”

My snooze-iness persisted, and pretty soon, I was going a few days in a row without wearing makeup. And I liked it. I liked how soft my skin felt, and I started to get used to seeing my face for what it was. When I looked in the mirror, I no longer saw tired eyes. They were just big green eyes. My skin wasn’t a palette of blackheads. It was glowing skin that looked really damn good for 30, blackheads and all. I could finally see me. And she was OK.

After a couple of weeks of not wearing makeup, I started to feel alright and dare I say, fantastic walking around without makeup. I stopped making excuses for not wearing makeup on date night or to work. My usual excuse of, ‘Oops I didn’t have time’ was no longer acceptable to me. I loved my fresh face and I didn’t need to apologize for it. I started saying out loud (even if no one asked), ‘Yes, I’m going without makeup. On purpose. Just because I don’t feel like wearing it today.’ When my confidence in how I looked without makeup skyrocketed, the way I carried myself changed in such a way that I started getting complimented for rocking my natural face.

What I learned from all of this? Makeup is not a requirement for women to look beautiful or even enhance our naturally beautiful features. Makeup is a choice. If we choose to wake up and splash some water on our face and call it a day, then world, that’s OK. If we love wearing makeup and want to throw on some red lipstick, that’s OK too.

I realized that my relationship with makeup should be the same relationship I have with my hair. My hair is a bleached blonde faux hawk now, but I might have mermaid hair next month. Or I might wear a wig. My hair reflects how I feel and isn’t meant to cover up those gorgeous sandy blonde locks I was born with (or was it dark brown locks? I love my hair dye). My relationship with my makeup bag is that it’s a choice.

Funny enough, the choice to not wear makeup when I feel like it, has made me actually excited for the times when I do wear makeup. I look forward to my Vogue arriving in the mail so that I can find out which shade of lipstick is in style, and I truly look forward to exploring new products with Birchbox every month. Makeup is something I finally enjoy wearing and applying. Because now, every time I wear it, I actually want to wear it. If I don’t want to wear it, well then, I just won’t. Stay beautiful, friends. Either way you slice it, do it for you!

(Image via Comedy Central)