If aliens landed in Sydney's Martin Place last Tuesday they would have reported back to the mother ship that all humans have brightly painted nails and walk with their fingers splayed.

Such was the scene during as Priceline and Sally Hansen attempted to beat an 18-month-old British record for the most nails filed and varnished in eight hours.

In May 2010 the London College of Beauty Therapy had manicured the nails of 1,897 lucky ladies (and a few men, too) in the allotted period, and the Sydneysiders were out to better that score.

It was a promising start as people in the city centre queued from early in the morning to earn their place at the table of one of around 100 nail technicians.

The record fell early in the afternoon and finally, at 4.06pm, the eight-hour period ended and the tired technicians celebrated their well-earned new record of 2,572 people.

Perhaps more impressive than the new record itself was the number of people who walked away from the event with glistening nails and enormous smiles and the $20,000 the Priceline team raised for cancer-treatment charity Look Good Feel Better.