HC Red No. 3

What Is It?

HC Red No. 3, or Hair Colorant Red No. 3, occurs as fine dark red crystals. HC Red No. 3 is used in the formulation of semi-permanent hair dyes, colors and tints.

Why Is It Used?

HC Red No. 3 helps to impart a color to hair. The exact color obtained will depend on the other ingredients that are used in the preparation and the starting color of the hair.

Scientific Facts

HC Red No. 3 is used in semi-permanent hair coloring systems that are usually applied in a shampoo base and contain thickeners, alkalizers, and foam stabilizers.

Safety Information

The safety of HC Red No. 3 has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that HC Red No. 3 was safe as a hair dye ingredient with the condition that it should not be used in products containing N-nitrosating agents.

CIR Safety Review:

The CIR Expert Panel reviewed data from a subchronic laboratory feeding study in which mean body weights were reduced. Other than pigmentation of the urine and some organs, no gross or microscopic changes due to HC Red No. 3 were noted. HC Red No. 3 was mutagenic in bacteria; the mutagenicity was greatly increased by metabolic activation. One two-year feeding showed no evidence of carcinogenicity. A second study was not adequate to reach a conclusion whether or not HC Red No. 3 was carcinogenic. The CIR Expert Panel also noted that unidentified nitrosamines were found in two lots of HC Red No. 3, at concentrations of 20 ± 5 ppm and 11 ± 8 ppm. This led to the CIR Expert Panel including the use condition that this ingredient should not be used in products containing N-nitrosating agents which might result in the formation of additional nitrosamine compounds.

More information about nitrosamines

More information about hair dye safety

HC Red No. 3 is not specifically listed in the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/product_labelling_and_packaging/co0013_en.htm

More Scientific Information

Hair dyeing formulations belong to three categories – temporary, semi-permanent and permanent coloring of hair. Hair dyes can also be categorized as oxidative and non-oxidative (or direct). HC Blue Red No. 3 is a non-oxidative hair dye. This means that it directly colors the hair without having to react with other components of the hair dye product.


The FDA’s factsheet on Hair Dye Products http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/ProductInformati…

Search the FDA Code of Federal Regulations http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm

National Toxicology Program (NTP) information on HC Red No. 3 http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/index.cfm?objectid=BCD8F4FB-123F-7908-7BF66C078…

EU Cosmetic Ingredients Inventory http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/