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Is Nail Polish Safe During Pregnancy? An OBGYN Explains

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Is Nail Polish Safe During Pregnancy? An OBGYN Explains

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There are a lot of things that change when you’re pregnant when it comes to your beauty routine, and we’re not just talking about your hair color appointments or avoiding certain ingredients like retinol and harsh actives. You also have to think about what you put on your nails. Whether you’re hoping to treat yourself to a mani or simply are a nail salon regular, there are a few things you need to know if you’re hoping to wear nail polish while pregnant.

To answer all the hard-hitting questions, we consulted Stephanie Hack, MD, a board-certified OBGYN, host of the Lady Parts Doctor podcast, and founder of the Lady Parts Doctor, a women’s health platform. Read to get the full lowdown.

Is It Safe to Use Nail Polish While Pregnant?

TDLR: yes, it is safe, but you should still consider a few things before booking that nail appointment. “Wearing nail polish during pregnancy is generally considered safe,” Dr. Hack tells PS. “However, it is wise to avoid harsh chemicals if possible, which can be better for both maternal and fetal health.”

Choosing a nail polish brand that claims it is non-toxic isn’t enough. “When brands claim their nail polish is non-toxic, it usually means that they’ve removed some of the chemicals that are known to be harmful to human health. However, ‘non-toxic’ is not a regulated term, so it’s still important to check the specific ingredients listed,” Dr. Hack says.

How to Ensure Your Nail Products Are Pregnancy-Safe

“Look for polishes labeled as free from toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor, which are commonly referred to as the “toxic trio” plus two,” Dr. Hack says. “These chemicals have been associated with various health risks, such as skin dryness and irritation, headache, dizziness, and more.”

You may have seen phrases like “3-free,” “5-free,” and “7-free” thrown around in your research. If you’re unsure what that means, Dr. Hack breaks it down. “‘3-free’ nail polishes are free from the three harmful chemicals: toluene, DBP, and formaldehyde.’5-free’ includes the above and additionally excludes formaldehyde resin and camphor. ‘7-free’ polishes go further by also being free from ethyl tosylamide and xylene. These formulas are developed to reduce the exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.”

Tips For Visiting the Nail Salon While Pregnant

If you’re still concerned, there are a few additional precautions you can take besides just picking the right types of polish. “Choose well-ventilated salons to avoid prolonged inhalation of chemical fumes. Small studies have suggested an association between prolonged inhalation via work exposure with fetal birth defects, such as cleft palate and congenital heart defects,” Dr. Hack says, referring to the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. “Also, consider informing your manicurist that you are pregnant so they can take appropriate precautions, such as avoiding harsh chemical treatments and being gentle around the nails and cuticles.”

Dr. Hack also emphasizes the importance of hygiene at the nail salon. “Getting your nails done is a great self-care practice, and it’s wonderful to continue self-care during your pregnancy. Beyond the chemical exposure, consider the hygiene practices of the nail salon to avoid infections. Tools should be properly sterilized, and foot baths cleaned to prevent the transmission of bacterial and fungal infections.”

Finally, now that you know the basics of what you should be focusing on when applying nail polish while pregnant, what about removing it? “It’s safe to use nail polish remover while pregnant, but opting for an acetone-free formula is ideal as it’s less harsh and drying to the skin and nail,” Dr. Hack says. You’ll want to use that in a well-ventilated area as well.

As with anything, if you’re nervous about the risks of going to the salon or painting your nails while pregnant, it’s best to consult with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

Nikita Charuza is a freelance writer who has been covering beauty, style, and wellness for over a decade. She loves to interview industry experts and test out the latest beauty and fashion trends. She’s written for PS, Allure, Elle, InStyle, People, and more.

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