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Can you get your nails done while pregnant? This is what to consider

There seems to be an endless list of do’s and don’ts for pregnant people… mostly don’ts. You can’t eat sushi, can’t scoop the litter box, can’t drink wine, can’t soak in a hot tub… so when you want a spa day to relax from all of these restrictions, you wonder if even that is off-limits. The good news is that getting your nails done is most likely safe during pregnancy. However, there are still some safety factors 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 go get that mani you’ve been craving.

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 is getting a skin infection from equipment that hasn’t been properly cleaned. 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, or do that for yourself 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 be released into the same room. You could also get your nails buffed and filed, cuticles cut, and hands moisturized without getting polish. Sometimes, it’s all about the pampering 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 thoroughly scientifically backed up, it’s something to consider, and you might want to skip any massaging elements of a manicure or pedicure because of it 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.

Pregnancy safe nail polish

Not all polishes (or primers or removers) are created equal. When looking for pregnancy-safe nail polish and other nail products, avoid any 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,” referring to not containing some but not all of the worst 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 is 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 most important.

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 nail polish really mess up your pregnancy? 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 preventing inhaling 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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