Virgin Atlantic Drops Mandatory Makeup Rule For Female Cabin Crew

In news we're filing under: 'things that should have happened fifty years ago', female cabin crew working for Virgin Atlantic are no longer required to wear make-up, the airline has announced.

Female staff who do wish to continue wear cosmetics including lipstick and foundation are encouraged to do so within the company's official palette of colours, as set out in the airline's official guidelines (so presumably they're angling towards red).

Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic
Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic

The airline will also provide female crew with trousers as part of their standard uniform to wear on the plane, rather than only providing them on request.

A spokesman for the airline said: "Our world-famous red uniform is something all of us at Virgin Atlantic are incredibly proud of. As an airline, we have always stood out from the crowd and done things differently to the rest of the industry.

"We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style. 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.

"Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on they want to express themselves at work. Helping people to be themselves is core to our desire to be the most loved travel company."

Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic
Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic

In 2011, hair dressing magazine HJ interviewed make-up artist Mim Allgood and hair expert Helen Kavanaugh in their roles as grooming standards managers for Virgin Atlantic.

As well as sticking to regulation colours, the women explained that hairstyles must not have visible roots, no primary colours and fringes cannot go below the base of the eyebrows.

Kavanaugh said: "Cabin crew represent the airline as soon as the uniform goes on and it is our job to ensure they are well-groomed and promote the brand as a glamorous, yet contemporary company."

Virgin said the recent announcement 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, Virgin Atlantic's executive vice-president of customer, said the airline 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".

Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic
Credit: Instagram/Virgin Atlantic

Low-cost carriers, such as easyJet and Ryanair, have relatively relaxed rules on crew grooming, but most full-service international airlines prescribe what makeup must be bought and worn.

British Airways spoke to Pretty52 to say it still requires female crew to wear a minimum of lipstick for a professional and natural look under the eye of British designer Ozwald Boateng (who curates the whole look and not just clothing). In 2016 the airline dropped the rule stating that female staff could not wear trousers.

Virgin Atlantic, which is now 49 per cent owned by Delta Air Lines, employs more than 9,000 people worldwide from its London headquarters.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Amelia Jones

Amelia is a freelance journalist and editor specialising in beauty, health, fitness and lifestyle. She has previously worked for titles including Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Red and the Mail on Sunday. Follow her on Instagram @ameliajeanjones or contact her via email at

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