Your increased attention to what's going into your body when you're pregnant doesn't stop at the kitchen table. Beyond shunning sushi and glasses of wine, you may also be concerned about your beauty products (or, more specifically, the ingredients used to make them). Nail services are often questioned, since procedures are done with alcohols, polishes and other products that don't necessarily have ingredient labels handy.
Luckily, the short answer as to whether it's OK to get your nails done while you're pregnant is yes. "There is no scientific or medical reason not to get services during a pregnancy," says Samira Asemanfar, founder of the Southern California nail-care chain Bellacures. Like many of the other high-end salons, says Asemanfar, Bellacures offers a chemical-free nail service that they call the Mom-i-Cure. But there are other ways that concerned moms-to-be can adapt their traditional manicure and pedicure services during their pregnancies.
Pregnant or not, Asemanfar says, "you don't want to sit in any environment where you are breathing in acrylic powders and chemicals for an hour." In addition to any safety concerns, it may make you queasy. However, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Asemanfar says that "most salons these days don't have that smell, as the trend has been that more people are getting gels and regular manicures over acrylics."
Standard, acetone-heavy nail-polish remover isn't actually harmful to pregnant women, says Sree Roy, managing editor of Nails magazine, a trade publication for salon professionals. But she says that those who are playing it extra safe can ask for "non-acetone removers, including soy-based removers." If the issue is more of sensitivity to the remover's smell, Roy says to look for a salon with scent-free products.
Leg and Foot Massages
While a leg and foot massage might sound like heaven for swollen ankles, Roy says to ask the nail specialist to take it easy. "Pregnant women are at higher risk of blood clots in the lower legs due to circulatory changes, so only light massage should be performed, as there is a chance deep-tissue massage could dislodge a blood clot," says Roy. "Also, the ankle/heel area contains pressure points that could affect reproductive organs, so you may want to avoid being massaged there to be extra cautious. You may want to avoid massage altogether just for the first trimester."
Pay attention to the essential oils that can be used to soften skin during nail trimmings, says Roy. "Some essential oils, called 'emmenagogues,' are known to induce menstruation or other types of bleeding," she says. "Oils in this category include chamomile, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, jasmine, juniper, myrrh, peppermint, rose, sage, eucalyptus and rosemary — any of which may be used in products for manicure and pedicure services. It is unlikely that the amount of exposure a woman encounters during a salon service would have an effect on her and the baby, but I'd advise avoiding these emmenagogues just as an added precaution, especially during the first trimester."
Gels and Acrylics
Roy says that more elaborate nail procedures like gels and acrylics shouldn't be a pregnancy risk because "applied correctly, these products should not touch the skin and will not penetrate the nail." For safety's sake, make sure you go to a "reputable nail salon that doesn't let these gel and acrylic products touch your skin," she advises.
While Roy says that nail polish is safe to use while pregnant, the rise in awareness of polish ingredients has brought out several more natural and mom-conscious lines of products for those who are extra cautious. "Knocked Up Nails, Zoya, SpaRitual and Acquarella all remove certain ingredients to make moms-to-be feel more secure," says Roy.