Can I Get a Manicure While Pregnant?

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During pregnancy, there are many beauty-related activities to avoid, such as treatments using certain ingredients and getting piercings. Manicures commonly include a variety of chemicals. So, it's natural for pregnant people to worry that manicures may be off-limits, too.

Luckily, getting manicures (and pedicures) is generally safe while pregnant. However, there are safety precautions to take to keep you and your baby safe when getting a manicure during pregnancy.

"It’s very important for the pregnant mom to visit a non-toxic nail salon where there is less exposure to toxic chemicals and where the specialists are also gentle and the studio is vigilant about cleanliness," explains nail care expert Amy Ling Lin, CEO and founder of Sundays, a wellness-focused nail care brand and nail studio located in New York City.

Getting a Manicure During Pregnancy

Whether it's a regular part of your beauty regime or an occasional indulgence, getting a manicure or pedicure can be a wonderful way to treat yourself. Additionally, many people in their third trimester of pregnancy want to get pedicures because they're having trouble clipping their own nails.

"It can be safe for expecting moms to have a manicure or pedicure during pregnancy in a studio or themselves. They can be a great stress reliever, especially during this time when a woman’s body is going through a lot of change and can often experience discomfort," says Lin, who is a leader in the eco-friendly, self-care-centered approach to nail care.

Whether you’re seeking pampering or help with nail trimming, you’ll want to be able to enjoy your manicure without worry. So, check to make sure that the nail salon you go to complies with basic cleanliness guidelines, has good ventilation, and doesn't use harsh chemicals, advises Lin.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about getting a manicure while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

Getting a manicure during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby, provided you go to a clean, well-ventilated salon that uses safe, non-toxic products, says Andrea Chisholm, MD, an OB-GYN and member of Verywell Family's Review Board.

The main risk is exposure to toxic chemicals (which is unlikely in a nail salon except in extreme circumstances) and infection. If a pregnant person gets an infection from a nail treatment, there is a small risk that it could travel to the baby and get them both sick, explains Dr. Chisholm.

Benefits of Getting a Manicure During Pregnancy

Getting your nails done can be about much more than just nail care. For many people, getting a manicure is a relished social outing with friends, an opportunity for alone time, or a chance to be pampered. Plus, you end up with trimmed, shaped, buffed, and freshly painted nails.

"A manicure or pedicure is a time when pregnant moms can mentally and physically relax and it can be a way to soothe and increase circulation, especially for women in their last trimester of pregnancy and who have trouble reaching their toes," says Lin.

Safety Precautions

"It's safe for pregnant women to get manis and pedis if they get treatments that are non-toxic, regarding both the service as a whole and the actual nail polish used," Jin Soon Choi, nail artist and founder of the JINsoon Hand and Foot Spas in New York City.

Not all salons are created equally or maintained equally. So, be sure to evaluate the salon you go to make sure they follow appropriate safety precautions. If you're concerned, other options include talking to the staff, finding another salon, or giving yourself a manicure at home.

Check the Ventilation 

"Check the ventilation of the salon," recommends Choi. The ventilation system is important because if there are other chemicals being used on other patrons, you may inhale them. A good air system will prevent this and ensure you have the freshest air possible.

Another way good ventilation can be helpful is by dispersing strong odors associated with some of the products commonly used in nail salons. Some people experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, which can cause nausea, headache, or dizziness when exposed to potent odors, says Lin.

Interventions that don’t offer safe ventilation include small table fans, air purifiers, and settings in the ventilation system that merely recycle the air. Open windows, manicure tables with built-in ventilation (to the outside), and specific systems to pull the dust and vapors out are best.

If you don’t know what your salon uses, ask them. Additionally, if you are greeted by a strong chemical smell when you enter, that's an indication that their ventilation system may not be adequate.

Ensure Everything Is Clean

"I would also look into the cleanliness of the salon and confirm that the implements are always sterilized," says Choi. Essentially, choose a salon that adheres to rigorous cleanliness standards.

Be sure that the tubs for soaking your hands or feet, any surfaces, and any tools use are scrupulously cleaned between patrons. "Try to visit a studio that uses pedicure bowls that are sanitized after each pedicure session because this will eliminate the possibility of germ transfer," advises Lin.

Tools or surface areas that aren't properly cleaned pose an infection risk. Infections are also more likely to occur if your skin is cut, so it may be best to avoid a treatment if you have a wound on your hand or foot until it heals. Also, seeing an experienced manicurist is key, as they may be less likely to accidentally cut you while performing your service.

Often, salons will have you buy or bring your own kit of nail care supplies so that materials are only used on one client. You can also bring your own items, such as nail scissors or files, if desired.

"If possible, visit the salon beforehand to inspect their hygiene methods, tools, and practices," recommends Lin.

Tell Them You're Pregnant 

"Make sure that the specialist who is offering you a manicure or pedicure or massage is aware that you are pregnant and they can be extra gentle when massaging your hands or feet," advises Lin. This knowledge may also inform their use of nail products. Request that your manicurist only use pregnancy-safe treatments, lotions, scrubs, and polishes, says Lin.

Ask What’s Being Used 

The nail salon techs should be able to tell you exactly which chemicals are being used in your services. Various services use different chemicals like acetone, toluene, formaldehyde, etc. "You can also bring your own polish to the salon to further prevent any contamination and ensure that it is a non-toxic product," suggests Choi.

Choi advises avoiding acrylics, powders, and extensions because of the glue and fumes they generate when being applied or filed.  

Avoid services that use products that you are leery of and ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) if you have any questions or concerns. The MSDS will tell you what the risks are for each individual chemical.

Get a Chemical Free Manicure 

When in doubt, you can ask that your manicurist not use any chemicals. Be sure they use safe nail polish as well, says Choi. Providing a non-toxic polish option was the motivation for Choi to create her JINsoon 10-free nail polish line. Lin's Sundays nail polishes are also non-toxic.

Additionally, Lin recommends choosing a gentle nail treatment so that you don't have to worry about your manicurist over-cutting your cuticles or giving too rough of a massage.

When Are You Going? 

Consider both the time of day and the point in pregnancy when you are getting a manicure. If you are really concerned, you can avoid the salon during your first trimester when potential chemical exposures would be the riskiest for your baby. As for the time of day, ask if there is a way to come in at a less busy time, such as earlier in the day, to avoid lots of customers who may be having other services done.

The level of risk associated with manicures is actually highest for pregnant people who work in nail salons. If you are pregnant and work in a nail salon, your level of chemical exposure is much higher than that of your clients. Though uncommon, warning signs that you have had an unhealthy exposure include feeling drunk or dizzy while at the salon.

Pregnancy-Safe Alternatives

If you follow the above safety precautions, then it's safe to get your nails done during pregnancy. Even if you decide to skip the polish in an abundance of caution, you can still enjoy a manicure or pedicure, says Choi, "To play it safe if you are getting a mani/pedi while pregnant, I recommend simply getting a shiny buff, as many of our clients do," advises Choi.

A Word From Verywell

Getting a manicure is an activity that pregnant people can safely enjoy. Pregnant people should follow the same safety guidelines that anyone going to a nail salon should use to avoid infection and other potential hazards. These include only going to a clean, well-ventilated salon and using a non-toxic polish. In the third trimester, when reaching your feet often becomes a challenge, you may want to indulge in a pedicure, too.

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. What to Expect. Manicures and pedicures during pregnancy.

  3. What to Expect. Has your sense of smell gotten stronger during pregnancy?

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  5. U.S. News and World Report. Health risks lurking at the nail salon.

  6. US Department of Labor. Health hazards in nail salons.

  7. Swan SH, Sathyanarayana S, Barrett ES, et al. First trimester phthalate exposure and anogenital distance in newborns. Hum Reprod. 2015;(30)4:963-72.  doi:10.1093/humrep/deu363

  8. US Department of Labor. Stay healthy and safe while giving manicures and pedicures: A guide for nail salon workers.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.