I saw an entire alphabet of chemicals on the sides of boxes containing home hair dyes, and many of those chemicals are in dyes at the hair salon. Nail products contain chemicals too. The good news is that, for the most part, they're safe when a woman is pregnant.
OB/GYN resident Esther Koai is looking at her own 25 week old baby on a sonogram. Perhaps doctors like Esther worry most about how their behavior affects their growing babies. Esther regularly goes to hair and nail salons.
"I was concerned that chemicals in hair dye would affect the pregnancy. I was concerned that the closed environment in the salon would also be harmful to the baby," she said.
Are hair and nail salons safe?
"In the last two weeks, I've had at least five mothers call me about hair coloring and whether it's safe in pregnancy. It's an extremely commonly asked question," Dr. Ashlesha Dayal, of Montefiore Medical Center, said.
For hair salons, the bottom line is ventilation. The more ventilation, the better. It helps to remove smelly fumes, especially ammonia.
"By and large most of the common treatments you get at a hair salon are safe," Dayal said.
Highlights such as Esther's are safer still, as the products don't touch the skin at all. Nail salons? Ventilation is important, and polish and other products are safe. But there's something else.
The risk from manicures is infection from dirty tools. Everything is clean at Dashing Diva on Columbus Avenue. They use an autoclave to sterilize the instruments and disposable products such as nail files and buffers. Esther says she knows that most of the things pregnant women worry about won't affect the baby.
But for mom, some pampering at the salon?
"Whatever you do to make yourself feel good is important," Esther said.
Dr. Dayal says that it's safe to go to salons even in the first trimester. She says some mothers who want to avoid all chemicals no matter how safe might want to put off beauty treatments until the second trimester and later.