split image Lee Redmond

In 1979, Lee Redmond (USA) made the decision to stop filing her fingernails.

By 2008, they had grown to an astonishing combined length of 8.65 m (28 ft 4.5 in), making them the world’s longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female).

The longest nail of them all was on her right thumb, measuring 90 cm (2 ft 11 in).

She wanted to grow them as a challenge to herself, to see how long they could get before they started “twisting out of shape” like other famously long fingernails.

But Lee took such good care of her nails that they never did twist; they instead grew into beautiful arches.

Lee Redmond smiling

Her daily manicure routine involved treating her nails with warm olive oil, cleaning them with a toothbrush, and applying one and a half bottles of nail hardener to each fingernail, before painting them all gold.

Lee’s long nails didn’t hold her back from living a regular life. She was still able to cut her children’s hair, wash dishes, use a mobile phone, ride a bicycle, and even drive a car.

Lee almost cut them off in 2006 so that she could care for her husband who developed Alzheimer’s disease, but she decided against it after realizing that her nails did not interfere with her caregiving abilities.

As a result of her world record, Lee achieved international fame.

However, in 2009, tragedy struck when her fingernails broke during a car accident. Lee was a passenger in the vehicle and remembers seeing a “black blur” followed by a “horrible crash”.

“I heard fingernails snapping, and I remember nothing after the feeling of being sucked out of the vehicle,” she said. 

Witnesses of the crash said that Lee was thrown 25 feet through the air onto the road.

“The first thing I spotted was a fingernail,” she recalls.

Lee suffered serious injuries and was briefly hospitalized. She fortunately survived the crash, however, none of her nails did.

Lee says that after losing her fingernails, she felt as if she’d lost a part of her identity.

“It’s something I had to accept because I couldn’t change anything,” she said.

Lee Redmond holding nails to side

The fragments of Lee’s broken fingernails were collected from the scene of the crash, and she now keeps them in large plastic baggies at her home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Despite mourning the loss of her nails, Lee has come to view the accident as a “blessing” because she says that she probably would never have cut them of her own accord.

A few months before the crash, Lee had joined a Guinness World Records adjudicator in Michigan to help measure Melvin Boothe’s nails, which were even longer than Lee’s. With a combined length of 9.85 m (32 ft 3.8 in), they set a record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (male)

Sadly, Melvin passed away soon after.

“Take away the fingernails, we are the same. I have very, very fond memories of Melvin. He touched my life,” Lee shared.

The striking photographs taken of Lee and Melvin together now stand as a beautiful tribute to two of the world’s most iconic record holders ever.

Melvin Boothe and Lee Redmond

Lee is often asked if she plans to grow her nails again, to which she says: “No, that was a one-time thing.

“It took me 30 years to grow them, and I probably wouldn’t live for 30 more years.”

For well over a decade after her unfortunate accident, Lee held the record for the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female), until 2022 when the record was broken.

It now belongs to Diana Armstrong (USA), whose nails measure a combined 13.06 m (42 ft 10.4 in).

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