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Can you get your nails done while pregnant? These are the factors to consider

It is safe to visit the nail salon while you're pregnant? Find out here

As your pregnancy progresses, you may find you’re constantly asking yourself if it’s safe to do the things you did before you were pregnant. After all, pregnant women are warned against eating sushi, scooping the litter box, drinking alcohol, and soaking in a hot tub. The list of things pregnant women can’t do is seemingly endless, therefore it makes sense to wonder if you can safely get your nails done while pregnant.

Thankfully, you really shouldn’t have to give up your regular mani and pedi appointment, because getting your nails done is mostly safe during pregnancy. There are still some safety factors and precautions to keep in mind. Just because this is another area that requires a little research doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, so read up and then get that mani you’ve been craving.

women getting a manicure

Can you get your nails done while pregnant?

Yes, in many cases, but there are a few considerations.

One of the main concerns with getting your nails done while pregnant relates to getting a skin infection from equipment that hasn’t been properly cleaned. So make sure you’re going somewhere that practices good hygiene. Visit the place, read reviews, and ask questions about cleaning practices. You should also reschedule your appointment if you have an open cut where bacteria could get into your bloodstream. You could, of course, also DIY at home.

Secondly, there are some chemicals in nail polishes and nail polish remover that can be toxic to a developing fetus, so do your research on pregnancy-safe nail polish and try to get your nails done in a space with good ventilation to avoid inhaling too much of the products’ chemicals in the air. Many nail products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are of concern but also usually evaporate in the air, so ventilation is key. Ask to sit by a fan or open window, if possible.

Likewise, you can choose to do your own manicure at home (or do your nails out on the porch or in the yard). Even if you request certain products, others in the salon may not be making the same choices, and their fumes will release into the same room. You could also get your nails buffed and filed, your cuticles cut, and your hands moisturized without getting polish. Sometimes, the pampering matters more than the final product.

Lastly, there are pressure points in the hands and feet that can possibly induce preterm labor. While these claims about acupressure aren’t completely backed by science, it’s something to consider. You might want to skip any massaging elements of a manicure or pedicure or ask your manicurist or pedicurist to avoid any pressure points and use a lighter touch. This is a non-issue if you’re painting your nails yourself.

Painted nails after manicure

Pregnancy-safe nail polish: What chemicals to avoid and which are safe

Not all polishes (or primers and removers) are created equal. When looking for pregnancy-safe nail polish and other nail products, avoid any of the following that contain these potentially harmful chemicals:

  • Camphor
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Ethyl tosylamide
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin
  • Parabens
  • Tert-butyl hydroperoxide
  • Toluene
  • Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP)
  • Xylene

These chemicals are the 10 that can cause reproductive issues, nausea, dizziness, liver damage, hormone disruption, headaches, seizures, and more. You’ll see the term “10-free” around, and that means that the polish is free of all 10 of these chemicals. You may also see “3-free,” “5-free,” or “7-free,” which refers to a lack of some but not all of these ingredients. Even a “3-free” polish is likely safe for pregnancy, but why not go for even more?

The terms “non-toxic” and “water-based” are good indicators when shopping, as well as looking for polishes marketed to be safe for use by children. In the end, reading the ingredient list and scanning for the terms above is the most important way to determine if your polish is safe.

Some nail polish brands that say they are safe for pregnancy include:

Pregnancy is full of trade-offs for safety and wondering how high the risks of things like eating deli meat really are. Can you get your nails done while pregnant? That’s a conversation for you and your doctor to decide how big of a risk it is. No matter what you choose, there are ways to make nail painting as safe as possible, like using certain polishes and avoiding their fumes with good ventilation. Manicures may look a little different for nine months, but it’ll be one of the many sacrifices that are worth it in the end.

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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