Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a popular ingredient in many skincare products. It offers several benefits for the skin, including reducing inflammation, evening out skin tone, fighting acne, and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. However, like any product, niacinamide does come with an expiration date. So what happens if you try to use niacinamide after it has expired? Is it still safe and effective?
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is water-soluble. It’s sometimes also referred to as nicotinamide. Niacinamide plays an important role in the body as it helps convert food into energy and is essential for the function and growth of cells.
When applied topically to the skin, niacinamide offers several benefits:
– Reduces inflammation and redness
– Minimizes enlarged pores
– Evens out skin tone and fades hyperpigmentation
– Helps retain moisture in the skin
– Repairs the skin barrier
– Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
– Treats acne and breakouts
Due to these beneficial properties for the skin, niacinamide has become a popular ingredient in many skincare products including serums, moisturizers, eye creams and more. It is well tolerated by most skin types including sensitive skin.
How does niacinamide expire?
Like most skincare ingredients and products, niacinamide does come with an expiration date. The expiration date indicates how long the manufacturer has tested the product and deemed it safe to use when stored properly.
However, an expiration date does not mean the product will immediately go bad or become unsafe to use right after that date. Rather, it means that the stability and overall quality of the product may begin to slowly degrade after the printed expiration date has passed.
Some signs that niacinamide may be expired include:
– Change in color or odor – Niacinamide is typically a white crystalline powder with little to no scent when in its pure form. If it has changed color or developed a strange odor, that is a red flag.
– Texture changes – Expired niacinamide may develop clumps or become grainy in texture rather than a fine powder.
– Reduction in efficacy – Over time, expired niacinamide may become less effective at providing its touted skin benefits.
– Irritation – Out of date niacinamide may start to cause redness, itching, or irritation when applied topically, which is normally not a side effect.
So while an expired product does not immediately become useless or dangerous, you do risk purchasing a product where the ingredients are past peak freshness and therefore less effective.
Is it safe to use expired niacinamide?
The safety and risks of using expired niacinamide depend on a few factors:
1. How long past the expiration date it is – If it is a few months past the expiration, the risks are lower compared to if it is many years expired.
2. How the product was stored – If it was stored in a cool, dry location away from sunlight, it will typically last longer than if it was somewhere hot and humid.
3. The form it is in – Pure powdered niacinamide likely lasts longer than a mixed serum or cream product.
4. Condition of the product – Check for any changes in smell, texture, and color.
Some potential risks of using expired niacinamide include:
– Skin irritation – An expired product could cause red, itchy skin. Discontinue use if this occurs.
– Lack of effects – The beneficial properties may be diminished in an expired product.
– Bacterial contamination – Out of date products are more susceptible to growing potentially harmful bacteria. This is rare but improper storage raises this risk.
– Unstable formulation – The ingredients may separate or become imbalanced in an expired mixed product.
Overall, if it is just past the expiration date by a few months and was stored properly in a cool, dry environment, using expired niacinamide likely poses minimal risks. However, it may just be less effective compared to a fresh product. Use your best judgement and monitor for skin irritation when using any skincare product that is past its prime.
How to extend the shelf life of niacinamide
To get the longest usable life span out of your niacinamide and skincare products containing it, follow these storage tips:
– Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and humidity. Do not store in the bathroom as the humidity can shorten shelf life.
– Make sure the container is tightly sealed to limit air exposure. Pump bottles or tubes are ideal.
– Do not store in hot places like inside a car in summer or next to a heat source.
– Keep it in the original packaging if possible versus transferring to secondary containers.
– Do not refrigerate or freeze niacinamide products. Simply keep them at normal room temperature.
– Avoid dipping fingers directly into containers which can introduce bacteria. Use a clean applicator or dropper if possible.
– Check the packaging for the PAO (period after opening) symbol which indicates how long after opening the product is estimated to remain fresh.
– If using pure powdered niacinamide, store in an airtight, opaque container and use a clean spatula each time to avoid contamination.
Following proper storage methods can help extend the active life of niacinamide and make sure you reap its full benefits. Discard any products that have expired more than 6-12 months ago.
Signs your niacinamide has gone bad
Here are some clear signs that your niacinamide or niacinamide-containing product has gone bad and should be discarded:
– Change in texture – Becomes grainy, clumpy, overly watery or greasy
– Change in color – Darkening, yellowing or unnatural hues
– Strange scent – Smells rancid, rotten, or like chemicals
– Expiration date over 1 year ago – Ignore claims of 3-5 year shelf life
– Improper storage – Stored in humid environments or left in the sun
– Product separation – Ingredients are no longer blended, serum has separated
– Packaging damage – Jar or bottle is compromised, cracked, leaking
– Eye or skin irritation – Redness, itching, stinging with use
– Lack of results – No longer provides benefits for your skin
When in doubt, apply the “sniff test” and inspect the look and texture closely. Do not risk using a niacinamide product that has clearly gone bad or is many years past expiration. When stored properly in a cool, dark place niacinamide can last 8-12 months after opening.
Can expired niacinamide make you sick?
It is very unlikely that using expired niacinamide by itself would make someone sick. Pure niacinamide powder is quite stable and non-toxic. However, if it was contaminated due to poor storage conditions, that could potentially cause health issues.
Using an expired niacinamide serum or moisturizer also likely won’t directly make someone ill. But contaminated expired cosmetic products can harbour bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus which could lead to issues like breakouts, skin infections, and eye infections if used near the eyes.
Some signs your expired niacinamide could potentially make you sick include:
– Visible mold in the container or on the surface of the product
– Very foul, rotten odor indicating bacterial overgrowth
– Bottle or jar was not sealed properly allowing contamination
– Product was stored in a hot, humid environment for an extended period
– You develop symptoms like respiratory distress, eye infection, or skin infection right after use
While unlikely to cause serious illness in an otherwise healthy person, it is smart to discard niacinamide products that are very expired, stored improperly, or show signs of contamination. Always wash hands before applying skincare too.
Overall, be diligent about observing expiration dates, safe storage methods, and signs of contamination or degradation with your cosmetic products. Don’t take risks with using products that are clearly past their prime. Seek medical care if you have adverse reactions. When in doubt, throw it out!
Can I use niacinamide that expired 2 years ago?
It is not recommended to use niacinamide that is expired more than 1 year ago. The ingredients degrade over time and risk of skin irritation or lack of effects increases the longer the product is expired. After 2 years, throw it away.
What happens if you use expired niacinamide?
Using expired niacinamide may potentially cause increased skin irritation, lack of results, and decreased stability or improper formulation. The ingredients are past peak freshness though not necessarily toxic. Use very expired products at your own risk.
Does niacinamide go bad if not opened?
Yes, niacinamide still has an expiration date even if the product is unopened. The expiration date takes into account expected degradation in the sealed container over time. Use within 1-2 years of purchase for best results.
Can I use old niacinamide if there’s no expiration date?
It is not recommended. Without an expiration date, there is no guarantee of stability or safety. Niacinamide older than 3 years should especially be discarded, even if unopened. inspect product separated, changed smell or texture before use.
Is it bad to use moisturizer with expired niacinamide?
It’s best not to use moisturizers containing expired niacinamide. The niacinamide will not be as effective and may cause irritation. The rest of the expired product may also contain unstable ingredients and bacteria over time. Check dates and discard old moisturizers.
The bottom line
Niacinamide is generally considered safe to use a short time past expiration, especially if unopened and properly stored. However, expired products that are discolored, smell strange, or show signs of contamination should always be discarded. While using very expired niacinamide is unlikely to directly cause illness in healthy individuals, it may potentially cause skin irritation, breakouts, lack of results, and begin to grow harmful bacteria over time.
To get the full benefits of niacinamide for your skin, purchase it from reputable sources, observe expiration dates, store it in cool dry places, and be diligent about replacing products once they are more than a year expired. With proper handling, niacinamide can be a stable and multi-beneficial addition to your skincare routine.