Manicures are considered safe during pregnancy as long as the manicurist uses tools that have been sterilized between clients. Some pregnant women choose to bring their own manicure supplies to the salon in order to reduce the risk of infection. A manicure involves soaking, cutting, filing and buffing nails. In most cases, nail polish is applied to nails after the manicure is complete. While manicures are considered safe during pregnancy, there is some evidence that nail polish may not be so safe.
Some nail polishes include phthalate. Phthalate have been associated with brain defects in animal fetuses, but no human trials have produced the same effect. The reaction in animal fetuses could be associated with the concentration of nail polish fumes used during the study. That said, when choosing to have a manicure during pregnancy, it is important to visit a salon with good ventilation. Fumes from manicures and pedicures can cause headaches and nausea in some pregnant women. There is also concern regarding the use of toluene or formaldehyde based nail products. Toluene and formaldehyde are not considered safe to use during pregnancy and should be avoided whenever possible. If the manicurist does not know whether these ingredients are included in the manicure products, it may be best to choose a manicurist who does.
For women who experience nail changes during pregnancy, such as weak and brittle nails, it may be best to trim nails at home and apply a clear strengthening polish in a well-ventilated area. Acrylic nails are not typically advised during pregnancy, mainly due to all the chemicals used during their application.