diana armstrong and lee redmond split image

Those who’ve grown their nails to record-breaking lengths say they get asked the same question again and again.

As odd as it may seem to some, many people are fascinated by how owners of the world’s longest fingernails go to the bathroom.

Everyday things like nipping to the loo, fastening buttons and zipping up coats can be mighty tricky when you have extremely long nails.

And for those who are curious but too afraid to ask, some of our record holders have happily shared that information… which we’ve collected here for you in one handy place.

Diana Armstrong (USA) has the longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) and the longest fingernails on a pair of hands ever (female).

Her nails measure an incredible total length of 1,306.58 cm (42 ft 10.4 in).

Diana Armstrong holding up her nails

As she chatted with us about living with such lengthy nails, she confessed she can only wear certain types of clothing, had to give up driving and struggles when she has to squeeze into a public bathroom stall.

She said: “When I go to a public restroom, I go to the stall that is the biggest. If someone is in that stall I have to wait until they’ve finished and then go in because I can’t use the smaller ones because my nails are longer than them.”

She added: “Well you know, when I go to the bathroom it’ll be the same as anyone else going to the bathroom, just I work with my nails probably in a different way they’d work with theirs.

“I use a lot of toilet paper. I don’t wrap it around my hand like some people do, I can’t do it like that, because it ain’t going to work that way.”

Diana added that when she washes her hands, she has to do them one at a time as she can’t pour soap into her hands and rub them together like others would.

This very question was the subject of an episode of Guinness World Records’ Behind the Book podcast, presented by Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday.

He shared a story from Lee Redmond (USA), who previously held both these records now held by Diana with nails that measured a total length of 865 cm (28 ft 4.5 in).

Lee, who tragically passed away last year, had encountered a peculiar problem while flying from her hometown to London, UK, to visit Craig at GWR’s headquarters.

Craig said: “For the average person, the toilet facilities on a passenger jet aren’t fantastic.

“Even at the best of times, they’re small and cramped and not a particularly pleasant place to be towards the end of a long trans-Atlantic flight.

“But for certain record holders, they can be a nightmare.

“The reason for Lee’s discomfort is most likely something you’ll never experience in your lifetime.

Lee Redmond always painted her nails gold

You see, Lee has enormously long fingernails. Like, really long. Nearly 9 m of fingernails in total, in other words, nearly a metre, or 3 ft of fingernail on every finger.

Craig goes on to explain how Lee lived with her “titanic talons” for many years and adapted brilliantly.

She was still able to carry out many tasks that some might think she wouldn’t manage, but getting into the tiny toilet cubicle of an aeroplane proved too tricky.

“After a bit of contortion, she manages to squeeze into the cubicle so she’s halfway there, but she now faces another problem, she can’t turn around,” Craig explained.

“And there’s certainly no way she can close and lock the door - even with the help of her granddaughter who is flying with her to London, Lee is simply unable to manipulate her body into the tight space.

“She has a tiny, petite figure too, but the problem is those unwieldy nails.

Lee Redmond

“Luckily in anticipation of the long flight, Lee has avoided any eating or drinking for the past 24 hours so she just grits her teeth and decides to return to her seat.

“She’ll just have to hold it in and pray she makes it to the airport loo in time.”

Long nail records like this first appeared in our book in the 1960 edition, with the story of an unnamed Chinese priest who had reportedly grown his nails over 27 years to 22 ¾ inch or 58 cm. But it wasn’t clear if this referred to one finger, the whole hand, or both of his hands.

It’s a subject that has captivated readers for decades, and still poses as many questions today as it did then.

Craig added of Lee’s visit to our London office: “Lee loves demonstrating how she functions just like a regular grandma.

“She makes sandwiches and tea for the Guinness World Records staff, she shows us how she manipulates forks and knives, she even does the washing up afterwards.

“She shows us how to use a computer – she uses these long pencils with rubbers on the end to type, and she answers the one question she tells us she gets asked more than any other – how do you go to the bathroom?

“Her answer – ‘carefully’. She in fact goes on to show the position that she takes when she’s on the potty and also how she wipes up afterwards.”

But like many others like her, Lee said there was so much more to her than just her long fingernails.

She said: “I think my fingernails define me to a lot of people, you know, I was known as the fingernail lady or whatever.

But to me, I would have to explain to them or tell them there really is more to me than my fingernails.

To anyone thinking of growing their nails to record-breaking lengths, there’s more to consider than just how you’d go to the toilet.

The upkeep of such long nails can also prove to be a very time-consuming job.

diana armstrong standing on stairs

Diana only has her nails filed, buffed and polished every four to five years, because it takes so long that not many people are willing to help her.

She goes through around 15 bottles of polish at a time and it takes as long as four days to get the job done – with each individual nail taking as long as five hours.

Her grandchildren sometimes help her, and they paint her nails with a sponge, rather than the brush that comes with the polish.

She hasn’t been to a nail salon for over 20 years, as none she’s visited are willing to work on nails as long as hers.

Lee tended to her nails every single day.

She’d soak them in warm olive oil and clean them with a toothbrush to keep them in good condition.

And every time she painted them, she’d go through one and a half bottles of nail hardener for each nail, and then paint them her signature gold colour.

Having the world’s longest fingernails is expensive business! 

If you fancy growing your fingernails to record-breaking lengths, watch the above video of previous record holder Ayanna Williams (USA).

She shared her top tips for growing long fingernails after growing hers to 733.55 cm (24 ft 0.7 in).

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