On May 23, the Air Force put out a memorandum establishing Space Force Dress and Appearance Standards, which included a graphic about its nail polish and lipstick policies.

The image, which shows a diverse array of skin tones sporting various shades of nail polish and lipsticks, left service members questioning how the policy would be enforced. Users on the popular Facebook group Air Force amn/nco/snco took to the comment section on the image to voice their concerns.

“Are we really still segregating colors based on skin color or vice versa?” asked user Michael Campbell.

However, it seems the graphic is more or less a guide for commands to use. All the colors worn by the models are available to Guardians with any skin tone.

“The uniform and policy updates reflect the nation’s sixth service identity and culture,” Lt. Col. Brooke Davis, Space Force press desk officer, told Military Times. “The intent of the increased color options for nail and lipstick colors is to allow maximum variations for all female skin tones. The approved color palettes provide a wide array of color options.”

The new policy establishes that a majority of colors shown, close to or within reason, can be worn by female Guardians.

According to the memo, the policy is quite close to the Air Force policy, AF Dress and Appearance regulation, DAFI 36-2903. However, for any deviations, Guardians should defer specifically to the Space Force guidance, which is as follows:

4.7. Fingernails. Males are not authorized to wear nail polish. If worn by females, nail polish will be a single color that does not detract from the uniform. All fingernails on both hands will match each other. Female Guardians may wear any shade of nail polish except extreme colors that include, but are not limited to gold, blue, black, and fluorescent colors. Do not apply designs to nails or apply two-tone or multi-tone colors; however, white-tip French manicures, American Manicures, and Natural Ombre styles are authorized. Figure 4.2. shows examples (not all-inclusive) of authorized fingernail hues. Fingernails will complement the uniform. Fingernail length remains consistent with DAFI 36-2903, para 3.2.

4.8. Lipstick. Male Guardians are not authorized to wear lipstick. Female Guardians may wear any shade of lipstick except extreme colors that include, but not limited to gold, blue, black, and fluorescent colors. Figure 4.2. shows examples (not all-inclusive) of lipstick hues. Lipstick will complement the uniform.

Commanders are given leeway to interpret this policy and enforce it as they see fit. Those who are uncertain about it are advised to seek counsel from higher ups.

“The policy memo is representative only and should not be viewed as all-inclusive of approved colors,” Davis said. “We encourage any commanders who have questions regarding this policy to seek clarity through the appropriate personnel or leadership channels.”

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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