I remember taking part in a poll years ago, and the question was: “If you had time to apply only one makeup product, what would it be?” I chose mascara. While other participants chose different products like eyebrow makeup, foundation, and blush, almost all of us were united under the rationale that our chosen product was our top choice to enhance our appearance.

Women primarily use makeup to enhance their appearance, according to recent findings from the 2022 “Makeup Attitudes and Usage Report” from NPD. Gen Z, however, cites confidence as their primary reason; in fact, 64% of consumers ages 13 to 25 say they wear makeup for a confidence boost, compared to just over half of overall makeup wearers. While the primary benefits of makeup that have to do with looks are important, there are clearly strong emotional ties to the makeup category that stretch beyond physical appearance.

Almost 30% of all makeup wearers say that makeup brings them joy. No doubt, makeup is a fun category. It can bring instant gratification within minutes, and the application process itself can be enjoyable. But wearing makeup also provides other emotional benefits and lifts our spirits during times of turmoil. And while we’ve returned to some of our pre-pandemic behaviors, our routines have evolved in accordance with our changed lifestyle. Just over one-quarter of makeup users state that “wearing makeup helps me feel put together” at, or working from, home.

I still reach for mascara when I don’t have time to apply any other products, but when I do have the time, I tailor my makeup routine to meet my needs in that moment — whether they are practical, to hide imperfections, or emotional. And I must admit, the emotional benefits are more likely to make me dive into my makeup bag.