Monday, July 22, 2013

Is Nail Polish Safe During Pregnancy?

   I'm two months away from my due date!  Naturally I want to share my findings on a question of great importance to all expecting manicure enthusiasts: is nail polish safe during pregnancy?  You may be thinking "Well of course it is, or you wouldn't be swatching polishes for us."  This is true, when using products that are safe - not everything is!  Read on to learn the do's and don'ts of mom-icuring!

   Please be aware that I am not a medical professional, and future research could reveal more accurate information than what I have here.  I did a lot of searching, read everything from medical findings to the comments of nail techs, and am simply sharing what I came away with!  Feel free to post your own advice in the comments below.  And when in doubt, go without or ask your practitioner!

Image credit:'s article - read it!

Is nail polish safe during pregnancy? 

   The answer to this is yes and no.   So long as you are using polishes with 3-free formulas or better, you can go on painting your nails throughout pregnancy.  Happily, most modern polish brands are sticking with the 3-free or better trend, simply because it is healthier for everyone, pregnant or not.  As a rule of thumb, if you can't read the ingredients (or find them Online) of what is in your bottle, don't use it.  The biggest offenders are usually old polishes, smaller overseas brands, and nail treatments that include formaldehyde.  Indie polishes are quite often safe, but watch out for hobbyists that cannot verify their ingredients. 

   Still, you may not be able to paint your nails simply because of the smell.  If you are suddenly gagging because of a scent, you might find polishing your nails unappealing.  You might be able to tolerate less "stinky" polishes, or simply choose to go without.  Even if the smell doesn't bother you, always do your nails in a well-ventilated area.  And always wash your hands after a manicure session or polish removal to remove chemical residues from your hands.

Is gel polish safe during pregnancy? 

   This salon service has been making it's way to consumers more aggressively than ever, so even though I have no interest in gel nails, I wanted to see if there was an answer.  The answer appears to be yes, they are safe.  There are no toxic ingredients and it isn't fumey.  The UV light exposure is minimal. However, I saw many comments from nail techs who said the manicures would not stay on their pregnant clients nails!  Body chemistry changes during pregnancy, and you may find your gel polish doesn't last the way it should. 

   With all the new types of do-it-yourself gel kits coming out I can't say if they are all safe, and would recommend checking the ingredients before using anything.  Also keep in mind that gel polishes require longer soaking in chemicals to remove - research those to make sure you're okay with dipping your tips in them!  Another concern would be about going to a salon to have your nails done.  Their gels might be safe, but chances are the salon does more than gel manicures.  There may be other chemicals in the air that could be harmful to you.  Because you will be in the salon for so short a time you don't have to be afraid of visiting them, but if you walk in and smell any type of strong fume, walk back out!

Are acrylic nails safe during pregnancy?

    This type of manicure seems to be regarded as the most dangerous for moms-to-be.  Some will claim that it is perfectly safe so long as you're getting them done in a well-ventilated salon, but many people advise against it.  Not only because of the additional chemical exposure, but also because of the added risk of developing an allergic reaction to the nails/products used, fungal infection from the drilling of nail beds, or simply ending up with a broken and very painful nail right when that baby arrives!

   Your nails should start growing faster during pregnancy, so why not see if you can go without your acrylics and grow some beautiful natural nails?  You could consider it a 9-month challenge, and keep track of your progress!

Tips for nurturing and enjoying natural nails:

   So you'd rather go natural to ensure the absolute least amount of chemical exposure.  Or maybe you are experiencing a chemistry shift and nothing wants to stay on your nails anymore.  Whatever your reason for avoiding the lacquer that you love so much, you can still have well-manicured nails.  Here are some of my recommendations of products that are completely safe to pamper yourself with!
  • A good set of nail files.  Since you'll be looking at your bare nails now is a great time to get them to your ideal shape, or perhaps experiment with a different shape.  I suggest the glass ones sold by Mont Bleu.
  • A luxurious moisturizer.  This could be just about any of your favorite lotions or oils, and might only be limited by what smells you find tolerable.  Many of my favorites can be found in this kit from Burt's Bees.
  • A pair of manicure gloves.  When used overnight with your moisturizers you'll have even better results!  The kit linked to above includes a pair of cotton gloves, which are wearable no matter what season you're in.
  • A nail growth treatment.  Sure, your nails are already growing, but growing fast doesn't always mean growing strong.  My favorite specialty product is Créme Abricot by Dior, which is wonderful for cuticles and nails.

Other things to keep in mind:

    Don't trim your cuticles!  This is usually something to avoid whether you are pregnant or not, because of the risk of hurting your nail beds or introducing an infection.  Infections can be very dangerous to a pregnant woman and her baby.  Instead opt for a softening cuticle treatment, and then push them back if needed.  Regular moisturizing is all most cuticles need to stay well-behaved.

   Your nails might need to go naked for delivery.  This depends a lot on hospital policies, the preferences of your doctor, or if you're having a surgical delivery.  Ask your doctor if you should have bare nails during labor and delivery.  Why would you?  Seeing your nail beds is a quick way to monitor your circulation and oxygen levels.  There are mechanical sensors that do the job of watching your tips, and not all of them can work through colored nail polish.  Clear polish is usually given the okay.

   Be conscientious of the baby.  Even after delivery, that is.  If you're doing your own nails at home, be aware of how sensitive a newborn can be to those fumes.  Always wash your hands after applying or removing polish to get rid of any residues on your skin.  Basically, don't taint the baby.

   Not everyone is going to agree.  You might get some advice from well-meaning (or demeaning) folks that you don't feel is true.  There is no use in arguing, but feel free to explain what you know and are comfortable doing.  After all, the best decision is an informed decision!  So... what will you do with your nails?

Suggested reading:

   Hello!  My name is Rochelle, and as the creator of Princessly Polished, your feedback means the world!  Leave a comment or send me an email.  Thanks for reading... stay polished!

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  1. Great post! I went for mani/pedi's every 2 weeks during my pregnancy. I made sure to let the employees of the salon know I was pregnant so they made sure to keep me in a ventilated area and away from the fumes as much as possible. What was even better is they pampered me and would not let me get out of the spa chairs until my polish was completely dry.

  2. I'm not a medical professional, but I am a chemist. Definitely want to keep things well ventilated, those common chemicals you smell go to your bloodstream and possibly to the fetus. We really don't know the long term effects of any of this stuff, so I think it's a judgement call. Seems like lots of babies come out fine... I have to deal with limiting workplace exposure to all sorts of nasties, so I have no idea what I'll do if I get pregnant tbh but I I am thinking I'll limit the manis at least or even do none at all

  3. Thank-you! Oh yes, definitely make sure the employees know you're expecting... The extra-special treatment sounds wonderful! =)

  4. I agree with you. The data in these studies tends to be inconclusive - you really have to think about it and just go with whatever you feel is right.
    Personally, I hardly painted my nails at all during my first trimester. Not so much because it was logical to avoid the chemical exposure during those early months when vital organs are being grown, but because I was way too tired to paint my nails! I did miss the polish but on the plus side my nails grew out to be perfectly stain-free, and that was nice to see. Sometimes things aren't as hard to give up as you'd think.


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