According to the Sunnah, it is only recommendable for the person who plans to offer a sacrifice to abstain from cutting the hair and clipping the nails until after the sacrifice is offered. However, for that person, using perfume and having intimate relations with the spouse are not forbidden. Only those who are in a state of ihram (consecration) for Hajj or `Umrah are not allowed to use perfume or have intimate relations with their spouses.
In his explanation of this issue, a great Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, stated:
“According to the Hanbali school of thought, a mudahhi (a person who intends to offer a sacrifice) should refrain from cutting his or her hair and nails, once the crescent of Dhul-Hijjah is witnessed.
In doing so, such a person emulates those who perform the rituals of hajj in a state of ihram. Therefore, those who could not go to the Sacred Mosque to perform Hajj or `Umrah can do as the pilgrims do; Abstain from cutting their nails and hair of the head and the beard. Nothing aside those is prohibited.
However, some people think that a mudahhi should abstain from using perfume and having intimate relations with his or her spouse until after the sacrifice is offered. This is not correct. There is no basis for this in the sources of Islamic legislation.
Only pilgrims should abstain from using perfume and having intimate relations with their spouses. As for those who intend to offer sacrifices, they are encouraged to abstain from cutting the hair and clipping the nails, nothing more. In fact, for them, the act of cutting the hair and clipping the nails is only makruh (disliked or discouraged). This means that if a mudahhi did so, it will not be regarded a sin and he or she would not be obliged to effect a redemption. All that he or she needs to do is to ask Allah for forgiveness. This is the more correct view regarding this issue.
Therefore, a mudahhi is only discouraged from cutting the hair and clipping the nails, which are only makruh acts (according to some jurists). Also, scholars say that a makruh act may be done as long as one needs to do it in the least. For example, if someone is not satisfied with their uncut hair or unclipped nails, they can cut their hairs and clip their nails and that will not be considered a sin.