How to Paint Your Nails Safely During Pregnancy
Choosing the right nail polish
As mentioned, you really don’t have to stress much about the type of polish that you choose. “If you are concerned about exposure to certain chemicals, it’s certainly reasonable to consider a non-toxic polish, but if you haven’t been using a non-toxic polish, you should not be too concerned,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York Presbyterian-Cornell. (“Non-toxic” in this case typically means free of ingredients like formaldehyde — more on that in a second!) Always talk to your doctor about your specific concerns and needs.
That said, you’ll see certain polishes — especially those marketed as vegan or non-toxic — using the term “3-Free,” “5-Free,” “7-Free” and so on. This is simply a term for certain ingredients that the polish does not have. Here’s a breakdown on the difference between these terms:
Bottom line? The choice is yours and if you have questions about your personal risk, have a discussion with your doctor. “Ultimately, there is enough to worry about in pregnancy, so it’s best to do what makes you feel most comfortable. If you prefer to stick with a non-toxic option, there are many great brands available,” says Dr. Garshick.
What to know if you’re going to a nail salon while pregnant
Painting your nails while pregnant is generally safe, and so is going to a nail salon to get a professionally-done manicure or pedicure. However, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you have a safe and optimal mani experience.
For starters, Dr. Weitz says you should go to a high-quality place that you know properly sanitizes its tools to reduce your risk of infection. This is always true, but especially important during pregnancy, because your body might be less able to fight off infections (or have more severe symptoms) while you’re pregnant. Don’t let your manicurist cut your cuticles either, she adds, because it could also cause an infection. And if you’re getting a pedicure, opt for portable foot baths over the kind built into spa chairs, as the latter is a potential source of bacterial infection.
If you’re being extra choosy about what type of nail polish you use during pregnancy, you’ll want to inquire about what nail polish the salon stocks, and if necessary, bring your own. Ideally, you’d also be keeping your treatment simple, Dr. Weitz says. “The more involved the manicure, such as with acrylics and gels, the longer the duration and the potential for greater exposures through fumes and potential risk for infection,” she says.
How we made our picks for the best pregnancy-safe nail polish
To choose the best pregnancy-safe nail polish, we looked for brands that were at minimum 5-free to ensure they had few potentially irritating or harmful ingredients. They also had to be highly rated by the What to Expect community and shoppers, and receive positive reviews about the color, ease of application and longevity.