Red 40 (CI 16035)

AKA: Allura Red AC, FD&C Red 40

A colorant that also goes by the name of Allura Red AC or FD&C Red 40. This ingredient is an approved colorant for skincare, food, and even tattoo inks. The color produced by Red 40 (CI 16035) is a jewel-tone red with yellow undertones.

Allura Red AC, FD&C Red 40
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Red 40 (CI 16035)

What is Red 40 (CI 16035)?

Red 40, designated scientifically as CI 16035, is a fascinating ingredient that adds a dash of color to our lives. Commonly referred to as Allura Red AC, this synthetic dye is derived from petroleum and widely used as a color additive in various products ranging from food and beverages to cosmetics and skincare products.

Intriguingly, the use of Red 40 started in the mid-20th century as a substitute for the controversial dye Amaranth (FD&C Red No. 2), which was banned due to health concerns. Since then, it has become one of the most frequently used food colorings worldwide.

Red 40 (CI 16035) in Skincare

In the skincare industry, Red 40 (CI 16035) primarily serves as a colorant. Red 40's vibrant hue enhances the aesthetic appeal of products. It's this enticing color that draws us to our favorite lipsticks, blushes, and skincare creams.

Specifically, Red 40 (CI 16035) is an azo dye, which means its chemical structure contains two nitrogen atoms that are double bonded to each other. This is also known as an azo group. The color produced by Red 40 (CI 16035) is a jewel-tone red with yellow undertones.

In certain formulations, active skincare ingredients might have less appealing colors. In these instances, Red 40 is used to mask these hues, ensuring the product remains visually attractive.

Is Red 40 (CI 16035) Safe for Skin?

As Red 40's presence in skincare products is so widespread, concerns about its safety are understandable. The good news is that this colorant is generally considered safe for topical use, according to regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It has undergone rigorous safety testing, affirming its non-toxic nature when used as directed. This ingredient is an approved colorant for skincare, food, and even tattoo inks.

However, it is important to note that, like all ingredients, Red 40 may cause allergic reactions or skin irritation in some individuals.


Lilianne Abramsson-Zetterberg, Nils-Gunnar Ilb├Ąck. The synthetic food colouring agent Allura Red AC (E129) is not genotoxic in a flow cytometry-based micronucleus assay in vivo. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2013