Credit: Nik Merkulov via

Credit: Nik Merkulov via


Painting while pregnant is a hot topic. Just type “nails while” into Google, and you’ll see you aren’t alone when you wonder – can I paint my nails during pregnancy? Are those fumes harming me or my baby? Should I cut cuticles or push back?!

Ok, maybe that last question is just stressing us out, but apparently, there is a right answer, medically-speaking.

9BLISS sat down with nail care expert, Dr. Dana Stern, to discuss what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to frequenting nail salons while pregnant. Here’s what she had to say:

Let’s talk polish & pregnancy – is it safe? 

Painting your nails while pregnant is generally safe, because recently nail polishes were reformulated to become 3-free. This means they no longer include the three harmful chemicals, Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP. However, many companies are going farther and becoming 5-free. When you paint your nails while pregnant, I recommend the 5-free brands, which also exclude Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor.

This brings on a new round in the epic battle between Essie and OPI! Is one more “free” than the other? 

No, Essie and OPI are both 3-free. For a 5-free polish, try Chanel, RGB or Clinique Nail Enamel.

We’ve all heard it before…nail salons can be dangerous places. As a doctor, what do you recommend pregnant women look out for when selecting a salon? 

First impressions are everything. Look around and assess whether things generally feel clean. Take in the smell. A strong chemical smell means the salon is not properly ventilated. Also, check out the pedicure stations. Jetted tubs are very difficult to clean; unattached pedicure basins are much safer. Then, take a closer look when you’re sitting down. A manicure gives you time for voyeurism, so use that time wisely. Watch to ensure tools are only being used once and make sure the technicians are washing their hands. Check the licenses for accuracy. If you don’t like what you see, don’t return.

While pink nails do look pretty, women often forget manicures also serve this purpose of keeping your hands healthy. In terms of nail care, how can pregnant women prevent infections? 

Cuticle care is key. Your cuticles act as a natural protective seal that keeps germs out. You should never cut your cuticles. Instead, gently push them back.

Dr. Dana Stern is one of the only dermatologists in the country who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and surgery of the nail.  She is a board certified dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City where she teaches dermatology residents nail surgery. Dr. Stern graduated Summa Cum Laude from Emory University where she majored in Biology & Anthropology and received a medical degree from New York Medical College in 2002.  She completed her medical residency in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she served as Chief Resident.

Sign up for 9Bliss

The pregnancy newsletter for food, fashion and fun