Can I get gel nails during pregnancy?

Baby on the way?


Wanna know if you can keep your gel nails while you’re pregnant?

Read on and I’ll talk you through how you can stay safe and still look fabulous!

Is it safe to have gel nails while you’re pregnant?

Its natural, (and the sign of a good mother to be) to be concerned about whether it’s safe to get gel nails during pregnancy.

The answer to the question can I get gel nails during pregnancy? is yes you can, as long as you’re careful. There are many chemicals involved in applying gel nails that are toxic. These should be avoided while pregnant. You must remove gel nails before the birth if you are having a cesarian.

Is there a chance my gel nails could affect my baby?

There is a severe lack of data when it comes to information about the safety of chemicals in gel nails, polishes and their effects on the foetus, therefore it is always going to be safer to take a break from gel nails until after the birth.

Some studies have shown that chemicals like Phthalates, which are commonly found in gel nails and polishes (as well as air pollution) can affect the growing foetus and potentially stunt your child’s IQ.

This doesn’t mean that you absolutely should never have gel nails during pregnancy, plenty of women have done it (you probably have friends that have done it) and their children have been absolutely fine.

But you should be aware that there is always a risk, however small.

The safest option to protect you and your unborn child is to go completely gel nail and nail polish free, but if you have your heart set on beautiful nails as well as a beautiful baby, then here’s what you need to do.

What precautions should I take?

If you have your heart set on keeping your gel nails, there are some precautions you can take to keep the risks to a minimum when having them applied and removed.

1. MMA – avoid it!

The main category of chemicals present in gel nails are known as methacrylate monomers.

Most methacrylate monomers are safe to use, even when pregnant.

However, there is one type of methacrylate monomer that should always be avoided regardless of whether or not you are pregnant.

The chemical you need to avoid at all costs is called methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA).

MMA is a skin, eye and lung irritant that commonly causes allergic reactions.

An allergic reaction to MMA can cause redness, dryness and painful sores around the fingertips.

It is much cheaper than safer alternatives and because of its low price, MMA is commonly used in budget nail salons.

Many US states have banned the use of MMA completely, but it is not yet illegal to use MMA in the UK.

If you want to ensure that your gel nails do not contain MMA, make sure that you visit a salon with a good reputation and ask them about the chemicals in their products.

They should be happy to tell you, and if they aren’t then it’s probably a good idea to go elsewhere.

2. Avoid breathing in harmful fumes.

The harmful fumes given off by the chemicals used to apply gel nails can trigger morning sickness or nausea in pregnant women.

You can avoid the negative effects of breathing in fumes, for you and your baby, by ensuring that your nails are applied in a well-ventilated room.

Don’t be afraid to ask your nail technician to open a window or door while they apply the gel.

You could also cover your mouth and nose with a mask like this one (click to check price on amazon)  to avoid breathing in fumes.

3. Be aware of increased sensitivity and the signs of allergies

It’s normal for the skin to become much more sensitive during pregnancy.

This means you need to be extra careful as you are far more prone to allergic reactions.

If you’re allergic to your gel nails, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

If you have any of these symptoms, you are probably allergic to something in your gel nails:

● Redness around the nails.
● Itching around the nails or hands.
● Flaking skin.
● Rash anywhere on your body (particularly your face).

If you have cut skin around your nails then you need to be especially careful as chemicals can seep into the bloodstream this way.

If the chemicals enter your bloodstream they can easily be transferred to the foetus via the placenta.

Allergic reactions like those listed above can occur even if you have had your gel nails done before without any problems.

If you see signs of fungal or bacterial infection, redness, swelling, itching or pain, you should see your doctor for treatment.

You may also experience increased sensitivity to fumes, many pregnant women experience Intense feelings of nausea when entering nail salons.

How safe is gel nail removal?

Acetone is an industrial strength solvent.

It’s commonly found in paints and nail polish removers.

Gel nails are removed by soaking them in acetone.

To get your gel nails off, they need to be soaked in the acetone for at least 20 minutes, which is a fair bit of chemical exposure.

There is very little data exploring the effects of acetone on pregnant women.

We do know, from one study where a pregnant woman was over-exposed, that acetone poisoning, if it occurs in the maternal body, is likely to also cause adverse effects to the developing foetus.

Acetone poising is quite rare though, and you’d have to breathe in a whole lotta fumes or else drink a bottle of acetone to get it.

If you have breathed in a lot of fumes in a short time period and you are concerned about mild acetone poisoning to consider a doctor’s visit if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

● A headache that won’t shift.
● Slurred speech.
● Lack of coordination.
● Lethargy.
● A sweet taste in your mouth.

Even though acetone poisoning is rare, given the lack of information available on how it might affect the foetus It’s best to stay well away from acetone while pregnant.

Should I go natural?

Yaas queen!

Your nails will actually strengthen and lengthen during pregnancy so this could be the best possible time for you to go natural.

You can improve the appearance of your natural nails so much just by filing and lightly buffing them.

Natural nails that are filed into a nice shape and buffed well look a lot nicer than if you don’t do anything with them at all.

You can pick up nail buffers really cheap, I got 10 for £1 on eBay.

It doesn’t take long to do, and it really makes a difference to the shine.

Buffing also reduces the appearance of ridges and smooths the surface of the nail.

Push your cuticles back and dab on a bit of oil and you’re good to go.

Remember, less time spent doing your nails means more time preparing for the baby’s arrival!

I absolutely cannot do natural nails – help!

If you absolutely cannot embrace your natural nails, then to reduce your chemical exposure, you could try using a (safe) regular nail polish.

There are a lot of nail polish brands, like Nailberry for example, that advertise themselves as non-toxic and vegan-friendly.

These are usually much better for your nails and for you and your unborn child.

What chemicals should I avoid?


The main chemicals you should avoid in all nail polishes (whether pregnant or not) are DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. These chemicals are known as the toxic trio.

Toluene is found in gasoline and has been linked to reproductive issues.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It’s used to preserve dead things. It’s dangerous when inhaled and if it comes into contact with your skin.

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is highly dangerous and is now banned in Europe. It has been linked to a whole host of organ issues and can cause havoc to the endocrine system.

ChanelEssie and OPI are free of these three chemical nasties.

You could also ask your salon if they stock non-toxic products.

Look for products advertised as chemical-free, organic, vegan or cruelty-free and remember to check the ingredients.


If you’re in the US, there’s a small chain of salons in California called Bellacures who offer a service called “Mom-i-cure”.

The nail polish removers that they use are soy-based, and the polishes are completely chemical-free.

This is a great service designed for pregnant mum’s. Hopefully, it will spread to the rest of the US and the UK and beyond sometime in the future.

Regular nail polishes don’t last anywhere near as long as gel nails, but If you use regular nail polish, you can significantly reduce your contact with acetone.

Removing normal nail polish is a lot quicker and easier than soaking gel nails off too!

What if I work in a nail salon?

It is your employer’s duty to make sure that you and your baby are provided with a safe working environment.

Therefore, any duties you are asked to perform should take into consideration the health of both you and your baby.

It may not be safe for you to apply or remove gel nails.

Or to work with harsh chemicals every day while pregnant.

Constant exposure to chemicals during pregnancy can make you feel unwell and can increase the risk of miscarriage and/or birth defects.

If you work in a nail salon you will need to take extra precautions to avoid breathing in the harmful fumes on a daily basis.

It is your employer’s duty to make sure that you are provided with a safe working environment.

Therefore, any duties you are asked to perform should take into consideration the health of both you and your baby.

A considerate employer should understand and support the need to reduce the possibility of causing any harm to the foetus.

You need to make sure that your working space is extremely well ventilated at all times.

There is specialist equipment available to reduce the fumes that you and your clients are breathing, so it’s a good idea to look into this (or get a job at a salon that has ventilation systems already) even if you aren’t pregnant.

A good ventilation system is a great selling point for potential customers too!

If you or your salon don’t have specialist equipment to reduce the fumes, consider wearing a face mask or working next to an open window.

Even if your area is well ventilated you should still go outside every now and then for some fresh air.

You could also wear rubber gloves to minimise the possibility of chemicals seeping into the bloodstream via the skin.

Prolonged exposure to harmful fumes must be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy.

Do chemicals in nail polishes seep into the skin?

While any polish applied to the surface of your nail cannot get into your bloodstream.

Chemicals can enter your bloodstream via the nail bed.

Therefore it is best to stay clear of any toxic products, particularly during pregnancy.

Final thoughts.

Personally, I would not use any nail related products during pregnancy.

But I’m not going to judge anyone who does.

The risks seem to be small, and there isn’t much data to draw from on either side of the argument.

We need more studies to be done before we can say (without any doubt) that nail polish and gel-nails are safe for pregnant women to indulge in.

So I think the best advice I can give is to do some research, follow the advice in this article and if you choose to go ahead and get them, rock those gel nails!

I hope that now you have all the information, you feel more confident about keeping your nails looking good.

Without compromising the health of your baby.

Good luck with your pregnancy and stay safe 🙂

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