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Can I Wear Nail Polish During the First Trimester?

Updated on February 11, 2014

There's definitely nothing wrong with feeling pampered, pretty and confident. Pregnancy shouldn't hamper what you do to feel that way. You might particularly need some pampering, in fact.

Pretty hands make people take notice and make you feel good. If you're pregnant, are you going to have to give up this special luxury that is good for your well-being and self-esteem?

Well, the issue with nail polish and pregnancy is that nail polish often contains 3 chemicals that are cause for concern for the well-being of an unborn baby.

These 3 chemicals are:

  • Dibutyl Phthlalate, often referred to as DBP or phthlalates.
  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene

Are these 3 substances toxins and do they pose any kind of harm to your unborn baby.

Let's find out.


Nail polish makes you feel good, pampered, pretty and confident!
Nail polish makes you feel good, pampered, pretty and confident! | Source

Are DBP, Formaldehyde and Toluene Toxins?

DBP creates a sheen to your nails. However, it has been said to be a toxin with possible ill effects on reproduction and baby development, including interference with the sexual development of animal test subjects in research.

Formaldehyde is known to be a carcinogen, known to pose a cancer risk. It also is an irritant to skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

Toluene in nail polish gives your nails color and a smooth finish. It is also known to affect the nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It is thought to have an effect on the development of unborn babies.

Do you think nail polish is dangerous to an unborn baby?

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Are the 3 chemicals a harm to your unborn baby?

The experts and the FDA say no. These three ingredients in nail polish cannot harm your baby in the small amounts and with the limited exposure you have to them when you do your nails. The substances are not absorbed past the first layer of your nails and they dry quickly. You would have to be exposed to the chemicals in heavy doses for very long periods of time for them to have an effect on your baby. In addition, the body breaks them down quickly.

The FDA in fact approved them because there has never been established any direct link between them and any kind of human health risk.

Dr. Stuart Fischein, coauthor of Fearless Pregancy, and medical doctor says:

You would need massive and long-term exposure to the products before there was a chance of problems.

Dr. Andrew Healy, medical doctor and obstetrician at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts said that there has never been established any direct link between these chemicals and human birth defects, though there might be some reason for caution because of the effects on male development in animal research.

Doug Schoon, author of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, believes nail polish to be totally safe because it hardens quickly and so doesn't penetrate into the body but just remains on the nail surface. In addition, as stated, you are not exposed to the chemicals for any extended period of time when you do your nails.

Pretty nail polish can brighten your day!
Pretty nail polish can brighten your day! | Source

To be safe:

  • Buy 3 Free nail polish
  • Do your nails in well-ventilated area
  • Don't blow on your nails to dry them, instead put your arms out.

To Be on the Safe Side with Nail Polish and Preganancy

Since some of the research indicates even slim chances of danger concerning the chemicals in nail polish, you might still feel like taking precautions. Three things you can do to be on the safe side with nail polish:

  • Buy nail polish that is 3 Free, that do not contain DBP, formaldehyde or toluene. Because of the concerns already mentioned, many companies have started producing nail polish that does not have any of those chemicals in them. A list of these companies and their 3 Free nail polish products are listed below.
  • If you have your nails done at the salon, have them done near the door where there is ventilation and you are unlikely to be breathing in any fumes. If you are doing your own nails, do them outside or make sure you open a window in the home and do them by the window.
  • Dry your nails by putting your arms out, not by blowing on them. Putting your face near the polish increases chances you will be breathing in the fumes.

List of 3 Free Nail Polish Products and Companies

These companies and products are 3 Free:

  1. Revlon puts out nail polish free of DBP, formaldehyde and toluene.
  2. Zoya
  3. Piggy Paint
  4. Acquarella
  5. NYC Brands
  6. Essie
  7. Sinful Colors
  8. Claire's
  9. Orly
  10. Priti NYC
  11. Spa Rituals
  12. Inglot
  13. LA Colors (Color Craze)
  14. Goldie
  15. NARS
  16. Avalon Organics
  17. Jason
  18. Sally Hansen (Diamond Strength)
  19. Butter London
  20. Jamberry Nail Shields

So, while research shows no direct link to the chemicals found in many nail polish products and birth defects and it is unlikely, even then, that you'd ever be exposed to enough of them to harm you or your baby and they harden quickly on the nail and don't enter the body, there are precautions you can take in case you are still worried and want to be as safe as possible.

And, of course, it is natural and understandable you would have such concern for your baby. But you also might want to treat yourself sometime, reduce your stress and feel good about yourself. Pretty nail polish can do those things and it is still possible to pretty up your hands even during pregnancy.

Pretty red is passionate!
Pretty red is passionate! | Source

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