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Virgin Atlantic Drops ‘Mandatory Makeup’ For Female Cabin Crew

Gaining praise for the decision

Virgin Atlantic has told female cabin crew they will no longer be permitted to wear makeup in the air. 

The airline will also now provide female crew with trousers as part of their standard uniform, rather than only providing them on request, The Guardian reports. Virgin said it was a “significant change” in an industry where female crew are often expected to spend considerable effort on their appearance, adding to the costs and unpaid labour for low-paid employees.

Mark Anderson, the airline’s executive vice-president of customer, said it had been “listening to the views of our people” and the new guidelines would “provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work”.

“We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style,” Anderson, said. “We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this.”

Before the rule change, blush, mascara and red lipstick were the minimum requirements for all female cabin crew.


The decision is a bold move in an industry where massive focus has long been on the appearance of female crew. 

Staff who still wish to wear makeup are welcome to do so, following the airlines already in place guidelines. 

Most people are welcoming the move and congratulating the airline for the “small but symbolic step” towards ridding sexism from plane cabins. However, many also remain stunned the rule was ever in place to begin with. 

Strict rules for female air attendants is a standard in the airline industry. Qantas requires its female cabin crew to wear a “minimum of mascara and lip colour”, and offer two choices of hairstyle. British Airways female crew are expected to wear lipstick and blush as a minimum, “groom and maintain” their eyebrows and conceal “obvious blemishes…wherever possible”.

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