Attending a baby shower? Look up the mom to be!
First Trimester

Can I Use Nail Polish While Pregnant?

I've heard something about the dangers of using nail polish during pregnancy — is this true?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about nail polishes that are 3-free, meaning they don’t contain the three toxic chemicals DBP (dibutyl phthalate), toluene and formaldehyde. DBP may cause hormone-production problems in a fetus; toluene may cause reproductive issues, headaches, itchy eyes and more; and formaldehyde can cause breathing problems and even cancer. Who knew a pretty mani could be so scary!

While some experts think exposure to nail polish could be harmful to your fetus, there’s no clear evidence that the occasional manicure or pedicure is unsafe.

The good news is nail polishes by popular brands OPI, Sally Hansen and Essie are 3-free. The bad news is that some other companies’ nail products that were labeled 3-free have been found to contain some of these nasty chemicals. (See a list of those products here.) If that makes you nervous, you may want to avoid nail polish completely (au naturel nails can look pretty too!). But we think it’s okay to choose a 3-free polish by a brand you trust.

If you’re heading to the nail salon for your manicures and pedicures, make sure there’s proper ventilation and that the instruments being used have been sterilized. Ask the nail technician not to cut your cuticles, since you’re more prone to infections while you’re pregnant and cutting that delicate skin could let in bacteria and germs.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Makeover Your Beauty Routine for Pregnancy

Is it Safe to Get Acrylic Nails During Pregnancy?

Is Nail Polish Remover Safe?

*article updated July 12, 2012

By Melissa Schweiger and Annette Rubin, coauthors of Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom and Baby