Is It Dangerous? – Beautiful With Brains


I know, Red 33 isn’t a popular skincare ingredient and you may not have heard of it but… lately people are wondering about its safety. So we need to talk about it. But first, let me ask you a question:

Ever wondered why natural lipstick shades come only in boring nudes or unassuming pale pinks?

It’s not lack of creativity. Or customer demand. It’s luck of dyes. There are some colours you simply can’t achieve with natural dyes.

Red is the main one. Natural red dyes are usually too sheer, don’t adhere well to the skin, or aren’t cruelty-free. So brands resort to synthetic dyes instead. Like Red 33.

But is it safe? Here’s all you need to know about it:

What Is Red 33?

Red 33, also called Acid Red 33, is a synthetic red dye (I guess the name kinda gave that away, huh?). Like most colour additives, it is available as a “dye” or “lake”. Here’s what it means:

  • Red 33: It’s a dye that dissolves in water.
  • Red 33 Lake: It’s a dye that doesn’t dissolve in water. It’s more stable than its dye form.

You can find both types in your makeup and skincare products.

Red 33 Benefits For Skin

I’m sure you know this already. I mean, it’s a red dye. What do you think it’s in your lipstick for?

Yep. Red 33 gives a red colour to makeup & co. It does this better than natural dyes. Really. Here’s why:

  • Better colour uniformity: It’s less patchy and provides an even, uniform colour.
  • Blends easily: It works well with other dyes to create a wider range of colours and hues.
  • More intense: You need only a tiny amount to create a bright red hue.
  • More stable: It doesn’t go bad as quickly as natural dyes.
  • No smell: Unlike dyes derived from foods (think beets), it doesn’t have any undesirable smell or flavour.

In other words, Red 33 is easier to formulate with than natural dyes. It gives you a wider range of colours, a more intense colour payoff, and no smelly odours. Phew!

In case you’re wondering what’s doing in skincare, same thing. Some products may have a reddish, orangey, or pinkish tint – just for aesthetic reasons. This dye is often used to contribute to that pleasant and unusual colour (unusual for a skincare product).


Want to know what ingredients you really need to avoid in your skincare products? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet:


Is It Safe In Cosmetics?

It depends on how you use it. This is why we have regulations, ladies (yes, cosmetic ingredients ARE regulated).

Red 33 is safe for use in most makeup and personal care products, including mouthwashes and breath fresheners. The exceptions:

  • Eye products: This dye CAN’T be used in any eye products at all. If you see this in your eyeshadows, DON’T use them. Sometimes, brands will sneak it in there for the cool factor (that intense bright shade looks cool on IG). But it’s dangerous. Always read the labels!
  • Lipsticks: It can be used only at a 3% or lower concentrations (that’s more than enough to create beautiful shades without harming anyone).

The Bottom Line

Red 33 is a red dye that gives you a wide range of beautiful, pigmented shades – when used right. Always check the labels to make sure brands aren’t sneaking it in eye products to create buzz on IG!

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