One of the most intriguing record categories we have at Guinness World Records is that of the longest nails.
People are fascinated with what compels people to grow them and how they live day-to-day with their super long nails.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our most iconic longest nails record holders – current and previous.
Let’s take a look at these incredible record breakers and why they grow their nails so long.
Longest fingernails on a single hand - ever
- Started growing - 1952
- Record confirmed - 2014
- Nails cut - 2018
Thelongest fingernails on a single hand - ever measured an aggregate length of 909.6 cm (358.1 in). This record is held by Shridhar Chillal (India), who grew the nails on his left hand.
Shridar embarked on his nail-growing journey in 1952 after an incident with one of his teachers.
One of his friends had accidently broken the teacher’s long nail, resulting in Shridar and his friend receiving a beating from the teacher.
When they asked why he was so angry, the teacher replied; "unless you grow long nails, you will never understand the kind of care required not to break them".
After that, Shridar and his friend started growing their own nails as a challenge.
That challenge set in motion for Shridar a 66-year long obsession with growing the nails on his left hand.
Having these extremely long nails made life difficult for Shridar. For starters, his family disapproved of his mission and refused to wash his clothes. He also found it difficult to find a job and a wife.
However, he eventually became a photographer – using a camera with a customised handle – and went on to marry his brother’s sister-in-law when he was 29 years old.
Despite the hardships he encountered with his nails, he enjoyed the attention he received because of them – especially earning his Guinness World Records title.
"After being recognised by Guinness World Records, I felt like I had achieved the biggest goal in my life" - Shridhar Chillal
However, in July 2018, aged 82, Shridhar made the life changing decision to cut his nails off.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! flew Shridhar to New York and organised the historic cutting, with the promise of displaying the record-breaking nails in their attractions – granting the wish Shridar expressed in 2014 of having his nails displayed in a museum.
Although he felt sad after having his nails cut, Shridar said he was looking forward to being able to travel more easily and meet friends and relatives.
The nails are now on display in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums in New York and Amsterdam.
Longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (male)
- Started growing – 1970’s
- Record confirmed – 2009
The record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (male), as well as the overall record for the longest fingernails ever, belongs to Melvin Boothe (USA) whose nails had a combined length of 9.85 m (32 ft 3.8 in).
His nails were measured in Troy, Michigan, USA on 30 May 2009.
Melvin started to grow his nails as a hobby.
"I just got into growing the nails… that gave me something to do. People say have a hobby… that’s how I basically started." - Melvin Boothe
In 2009, after his record was confirmed, he met the female record holder Lee Redmond.
They spoke about their long nails and exchanged tips and tricks, as well as posing for a photoshoot together.
Longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (male): 32 ft 3.8 in (9.85 m) combined length by Melvin Boothe 🇺🇸 #nails♬ original sound - Guinness World Records
"Finally. Finally, I see somebody who’s just like me," Melvin said when they were first introduced.
"I feel good for what I have accomplished. It feels great to be in the Guinness Book of Records.[sic]"
Unfortunately, Melvin passed away just seven months after having his record confirmed.
"I have very, very fond memories of Melvin. He touched my life… he’s my brother," Lee said of Melvin.
Melvin is the only person who’s held the longest ever male title.
Longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female)
- Started growing - 1979
- Record confirmed – 2008
The next record breaker is a very iconic Guinness World Records title holder.
The longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female) belong to Lee Redmond (USA), who started to grow them in 1979.
She decided to start growing them as a challenge to herself, to see how long she could go without cutting them. Her carefully manicured nails reached a total length of 8.65 m (28 ft 4.5 in).
"It’s strange how they become part of you… it becomes your identity" - Lee Redmond
These measurements were taken on the set of Lo Show dei Record in Madrid, Spain, on 23 February 2008 – but something shocking happened to Lee just a year later.
Lee was involved in an automobile accident in early 2009 – luckily, she was OK, but the impact tragically broke all of her record-breaking nails off.
"I just saw this black blur and this horrible crash and I heard fingernails snapping."
Although she was devastated to lose her nails, Lee was in some ways relieved and even saw it as a blessing.
She believes she never would have been able to cut her own nails, so in this way the crash forced it upon her, and brought her to the decision not to grow her nails back.
"It was just something I had to accept because I couldn’t change anything."
Despite losing her nails, Lee still holds the overall record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female).
"I think my nails defined me to a lot of people. I was known as the fingernail lady. I’d have to explain to them, there really is more to me than my fingernails."
Longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female)
Despite the overall title being held by Lee, this title is for record holders who currently have the world's longest nails.
However, since Ayanna Williams' momentous decision to cut her nails off, no-one currently holds this record.
But let’s have a look at who’s held this record over the years.
- Started growing - 1993
- Record confirmed - 2017
- Record lost - 2021
Our most recent record holder for this title was Ayanna Williams (USA) who had tremendous talons that had a combined length of 733.55 cm (24 ft 0.7 in) when measured in March 2021.
However Ayanna held this record from 2017. At that time, her nails had a combined length of 576.4 cm (18 ft 10.9 in).
Ayanna’s decision to grow her nails was motivated by a childhood obsession she had with her mother’s fingernails and women with long fingernails.
"My mother was an inspiration for me growing my nails, of course they were not this long at all, but she used to paint them red and they were pointed. Then I’ve seen other ladies prior to me that had long nails." - Ayanna Williams
However, after spending 28 years growing her nails, she decided enough was enough and made the decision to cut them off.
"I’ve been growing my nails for a few decades now. I’m so ready for a new life. I’m know I’m going to miss them, but it’s just about that time – it’s time for them to go."
"I’m excited about cutting my nails because I’m looking forward to new beginnings."
Ayanna’s nails were cut in March 2021, after her final nail measurements were taken.
Like Shridhar, Ayanna’s nails can now be found at a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, with hers on display in Orlando, Florida.
Christine Walton, aka "The Duchess"
- Started growing - 1990
- Record confirmed - 2011
- Record lost - 2016
Christine Walton (USA) held this record from 2011 to 2016, with her nails reaching a combined length of 731.4 cm (23 ft 11 in).
The Las Vegas resident is a singer who goes by the stage name "The Duchess".
Despite the patience and care it must take to grow nails so long, Christine said it was never a conscious decision to grow her nails to record-breaking lengths.
"With all my children and the music commitments I guess it was easier to let the nails grow. Then one day I look down and they're like 9 inches long!" - Christine Walton
After holding the world record for five years, Christine cut her nails back to around one inch long.
In comments posted om Instagram, Christine explained that she wanted "live to the fullest" and be able to "sing and travel without any worries about breaking them."
- Started growing - 1979
- Record confirmed – 2008
- Record lost - 2009
Lee Redmond was the record holder for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) for just one year, but still retains the longest ever title.
- Started growing - 1982
- Record confirmed - 1991
Louise Hollis (USA) began growing her toenails in 1982, and when measured in 1991 they had a combined length of 220.98 cm (87 in).
She also grew her nails, but not to the record-breaking lengths her toenails achieved.
Louise, from Compton, California, USA, decided to grow her nails after seeing a television programme that featured the record of the longest fingernails. She wanted to see how long she could get her own fingernails and toenails in comparison.
As you can imagine, it’s hard to find shoes that accommodate such long toenails.
As stated in our 2007 book: "She rarely wears shoes, but when she does, they must be open-toed and have at least 7.62 cm (3 in) thick soles to prevent her nails from dragging on the ground."
Longest nail extension
Our last record holder didn’t actually grow his nails – but instead created acrylic nail extensions that measured 1.21 m (4 ft).
Odilon Ozare(USA) from Tampa, Florida, achieved this record on 26 August 2018.
He was inspired after one of his birds dug their talons into his shoulder, making him think about the longest nails in the world.
"I knew I didn’t have the patience to grow real nails for 60 years, so I went for the more immediate gratification of making acrylic nail extensions." - Odilon Ozare
The extensions took hundreds of hours to complete as they required around 30 layers of acrylic.
Once they had reached the correct length, they were sanded down and painted with an airbrush.
Odilon also holds the record for the tallest hat.
Listen to Guinness World Records Editor-in-chief Craig Glenday discuss the fascinating stories behind some of our longest nails record breakers: