If you don’t feel fully dressed without your nails done, you’re probably keen to know whether gel nail polish is safe during pregnancy. When your nails are essential to your personal style, the idea of nine months without polish can be horrifying.
Whether you wear your nails short and colourful or long and sparkly, you’ll want to know whether you need to change your nail care routine during pregnancy. If your nails make you feel like yourself, you might be keen to keep your traditions going and enjoy some self-care time during pregnancy.
Let’s delve into the topic of gel nail polish during pregnancy, exploring the potential risks and safety considerations to help you make informed decisions about your nail care during this special time.
Nail care and gel nail polish during pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones can make your nails grow faster, so you might need to spend more time caring for them. Many women report stronger nails during pregnancy, with healthy nails being one of the perks of growing a new human being. Unfortunately, however, not everybody enjoys this symptom, and some pregnant women experience the opposite: weak, brittle nails during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, there is an increased risk of infection, which also applies to fungal and bacterial infections around the nail area. It’s important to pay close attention to your nails and report any problems to your healthcare provider. Make sure you keep your nails clean to reduce the risk of infection.
Manicures and pedicures during pregnancy
Manicures and pedicures are generally considered safe during pregnancy. Nail polishes and artificial nails contain chemical compounds, and little research has been done into the safety of these products during pregnancy. However, your exposure to these chemicals through nail varnish is low, so it’s unlikely to cause problems for you and your baby.
If you have concerns, speak to your nail technician to learn more about the types of nail varnish on offer. Some might be better than others, so it’s worth doing your homework.
Can I have gel nail polish during pregnancy?
It is considered generally safe to have gel manicures during pregnancy, as long as you’re careful when applying and removing your gel nails.
Gel nails are usually set by an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. UV light-cured gel nails contain methacrylate monomers; most are considered safe during pregnancy. If, however, the gel gets on your skin before it’s cured, it can cause an allergic reaction and contact dermatitis. Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so it’s essential to be aware of the risks.
Some nail systems bond gel nails by brushing or spraying a chemical activator on top of the gel. This system relies on glue which can also cause problems if it touches your skin before it has cured.
Can you get gel nails done while pregnant?
Yes, you can book a salon appointment to get your nails done during pregnancy. One thing it’s worth considering is the fumes. Though they are unlikely to be harmful to you and your baby, you might struggle with the fumes if you are suffering from pregnancy nausea. Many women experience a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, which can make a salon trip quite unpleasant. Choose a well-ventilated salon and ask for a seat near ventilation to reduce the fumes.
Another potential downside to a gel manicure during pregnancy is the removal that follows. To remove gel nails, you’ll need to soak your nails in acetone for up to 20 minutes, which could damage your natural nails. If you’re suffering from weak, brittle nails during pregnancy, this might not be the best option for you.
Pregnancy and nail care: is UV light safe?
Gel polishes are often cured with the use of UV light. UV light can increase the risk of sun damage, premature ageing and skin cancer. You might be aware of the risk of tanning beds but probably haven’t considered the UV lamp at your nail salon.
Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and you face an increased risk of sunburn, so it’s essential to take precautions when pregnant. To be extra cautious, you might choose to skip the UV light-cured gel nails altogether and opt for a system that doesn’t rely on UV light or LED light. You might prefer a normal manicure and pedicure for the time being. If, however, you want to continue with your gel manicures, you should use sun cream to protect your hands during the treatment as much as possible.
What should you look for in a pregnancy-safe nail polish?
Many women choose to limit their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals during pregnancy. As you can imagine, there isn’t much research funding to determine which nail treatments are safe in pregnancy. Some women choose to avoid their usual nail products during pregnancy and switch to non-toxic brands instead.
Choose water-based, non-flammable and hypoallergenic nail varnishes during pregnancy instead of your regular nail polish. If you’re visiting a salon, call ahead to request a non-toxic nail treatment. Most salons will have options available or be able to organise something, with notice. Ingredients you might want to avoid include dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde and liquid methyl methacrylate.
There are various levels of non-toxic nail polishes, so choose the one you’re happy with. For example, 8-free nail polish is free from eight potentially harmful chemicals, and 16-free nail polish is free from 16 potentially harmful chemicals.
Pregnancy pampering nail treatments
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you might be suffering from poor circulation and aches and pains. Choose a salon treatment that includes a gentle scrub and massage to improve circulation and help you relax. Plus, it’s a great way to keep yourself occupied.
For other ways, you might like to read our article 10 Things To Do While Waiting For Labour To Start.
If you don’t feel comfortable (or can’t afford) a salon visit, you can have a pregnancy pamper treatment at home. Opt for non-toxic products and enjoy a pamper party with your best friends. This is a great way to catch up with friends during pregnancy and it’s much more fun than sitting in a wine bar watching all your friends drink.
If you don’t like the idea of a pamper party, put on your favourite movie and have a pamper session by yourself. You can indulge in other beauty treatments, such as face masks, leave-in hair conditioners and bump moisturising.
Can I have gel nails when I give birth?
If you’re booked in for a cesarean section, you will be advised to remove gel nails before the surgery. However, it’s best not to wear any nail polish at all, no matter what type of birth you have planned. The nail beds can help your healthcare provider know whether you’re getting enough oxygen during the birth. Natural nails allow your healthcare provider to act quickly if you’re showing signs of low oxygen supply.