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RAP SHEET: MEN WHO WEAR POLISH: Jake Kowalski A.K.A. Toepaintguy

March 29, 2011 by pam

I first found Jake Kowalski on Flickr. A random search of a nail polish shade resulted in photos of his fantastic feet. Seriously, even if you’re not a fan of looking at feet, you’ll agree that Jake has crazy beautiful feet.

I guess I should warn you now that this post will have a lot of photos of feet. That’s what happens when you interview Toepaintguy.

I don’t get why people freak out over feet pics though. Then again, maybe I’m the weird one. I do have a thing for feet.

Jake is a 44-year-old technical engineer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has raised three sons with his wife and loves spending his time on sports, restoring old cars and traveling. But there’s something that sets him apart from your typical 44-year-old dad. Jake likes wearing polish on his toes. He said, “I find that wearing nail polish is an enjoyable and harmless way to express my creativity and individuality. I am enamored by the endless number of colors and textures that nail polish is available in, and it seems that the companies that make nail polish never tire of inventing new ways to entice us to buy even more!”

Jake sounds just like all the other polish fans I know and love. “If you consider all of the many different things people do for pleasure that either cost a lot of money, potentially harm others or themselves or are illegal and unhealthy, wearing nail polish begins to stand out as a pretty harmless, fun and satisfying interest to share with others who also enjoy it.”

In this interview with Polish Police, he talks about his passion for polish, pedicures and perfectly painted nails.

Deep Green

When did you start wearing nail polish?

In the summer of 2007, I noticed my sister wearing a very attractive shade of deep maroon on her toes. I told her that I liked it very much and she surprised me by offering to paint my toenails with it. I wore it that entire week, even for the flight home! My wife was at first surprised, but she thought it looked very good on my toes. Since then, I have been wearing my toenails polished on pretty much a regular basis.

How did your love for nail polish start?

My wife has kept her nails beautifully polished since before we met (that may have been one reason why I was initially attracted to her) and I have also admired anyone’s polished nails when they are done with care. My interest in wearing polish myself probably began when my wife would tease me with while she was painting her nails. She would sometimes playfully swatch one of mine and I began to like it. I then went searching for others who had this interest and found many passionate fellow polish fanatics! That incident with my sister probably helped me to feel that it was ‘okay’ for a guy to wear it for the first time though.

Who was your biggest influence?

Besides my sister and wife, I ‘met’ Carla and Jen online when I first began considering this interest. They encouraged me to try it and even sent me some nail polishes that they thought would look good on a guy, including some custom colors. That really got me started in exploring and trying pretty much every color available to find out what I really liked.

Do you wear polish on your fingers and toes?

Toes only for me. Early on, I experimented with polish on my fingers but it just didn’t look or feel right to me. Besides, I am active enough that polish would not last a day without chipping on my fingernails, and that is one thing I really don’t like – chipped and bad looking polish jobs.

How do people react? Do you care about how people react?

The biggest surprise I had when I began to wear polish openly was that most people don’t react to it! Either most don’t notice or they don’t show it, but I discovered that most people don’t seem to care either way. When they do react, it is positive 99% of the time. I rarely meet anyone who tells me that they don’t like it on my toes. Many ask why I do it and what color I am wearing. I just tell them that I like it, and it’s a kind-of compliment when they also want to try the same color as I am wearing.
Many of the guys I talk to who express an interest in trying this tend to have a great fear of rejection which prevents them from taking the first step. A surprising number already do wear it, but they keep it private from their spouses and friends because they don’t think others will accept it. But, in almost all cases, after they finally try it, what others think about it becomes a non-issue for them because THEY really like it.

What do you love about nail polish?

It’s FUN! And so are the many other awesome people I have met who also share this passion. How could something so colorful and bright not be fun? Besides, I still get a bit of a rush from discovering and trying on a new color. And shopping for colors that I don’t already have is an awesome experience. Your readers who have large polish collections will agree with me on this, I am sure!

Favorite nail polish/brand:

Hmmm, that’s really tough. I have brands in my collection from the USA as well as many other countries, some have been sent to me by friends and fellow polish fanatics that I have met on the Internet. The major brands I like that come to mind are OPI, Zoya, Big Universo, Risque, CND, BB Couture, Man Glaze, Impala, Nubar and many others. I guess I look more for the color and texture of a polish that I attracts my attention than strictly the brand. I find many new colors via nail blogs and from the great pictures people post online.

Top five favorite nail polish colors (brand+shade name please)

I really like Posse (shimmery olive green) and Dark Knight (almost black shimmer) by BB Couture

Dark Knight 3

Fuggen Ugly by Man Glaze is awesome! It’s a dark matte gray with tons of mica flecks in it, but I like it with a glossy topcoat

FU 3

Man Glaze - Fuggen ugly

OPI Cuckoo For This Color (rich, dark shimmery turquoise), and Suzy Loves Sydney (very deep maroon)

China Glaze Prize Winning Mare (shimmery brown) is one of my favorites

Brown shimmer

And a deep green shimmer Franken (custom mix) that I received from a friend a while back

How big is your nail polish collection?

Maybe 350 bottles now (I recently thinned it down from close to 500+!)

Where do you usually buy them?

Often, the prices on the Internet are usually more reasonable than I can find from local sources. And I receive and exchange many with friends as gifts too.

Where do you get your nails done?

Most of the time I do them myself, but I’ve been to a number of salons as well. There is a local place here in MN called Katy Nails run by Jenny who is a very polite and skilled nail technician. She makes me feel so welcome there and she really does a great job. I enjoy the ‘treat’ of a pedicure every couple of months, usually with my wife.

How often do you change your nail polish color?

About every two weeks. But when I am swatching new colors, I have tried as many as ten different colors on in a single day! It’s exciting to try new colors, so it all depends on how many I buy or receive from friends at a time.

Lt Olive 5

Nail polish/manicure/pedicure pet peeves:

Very short nails on women and badly done manis/pedis. I think that medium-long and nicely shaped finger nails accentuate the natural beauty of women’s hands, and I admire women who take the time to care for their nails – even if they are not polished. Short nails on a girl to me look like she has guy-hands with polish. And nails that are done in a hurry, are chipped and not well-cared for should not even be worn painted in my opinion. I don’t think a bad polish job adds anything positive to a person’s look – and actually detracts from it. Nice nails are one thing I immediately notice about a person and are very attractive to me.

How do you take care of your nails?

I use a cuticle cream every night called Burt’s Bees, I moisturize my hands and feet with lotion and I get a pro pedicure when I need it, when my callouses become rough, my cuticles need to be trimmed and the nail beds need to be smoothed.

Any favorite nail treatment or product?

Seche Vite is the most awesome nail product I have ever come across! It fixes a lot of imperfections and dries glassy-smooth. It’s just amazing… I also like to use OPI’s Matte Nail Envy as a base coat and even as a matte topcoat when I don’t want shiny nails.

What’s your favorite nail polish remover?

Actually, I use pure acetone. I know it’s strong, but I wash my feet immediately after removing the polish and follow up with a good hand lotion. I like the way acetone works so quickly.

If you could only wear one shade every day, what would it be?

Maybe a deep gray/silver, brown, dark blue or dark green shimmer. I like the way these colors look on my feet – masculine, yet taseful and attractive while not standing out. I have developed my own opinions about which colors work for me and which don’t. Not everyone agrees with my tastes, but that’s also what makes this such a cool hobby – the variety of opinions, styles and colors never ends!

green 6

gray 4

Gray matte

Do you have tips for men who want to start wearing polish?

Yes – just do it!!! Many men are intimidated by the idea of wearing nail polish because they feel it is not widely accepted for men and that they might be ridiculed. The problem is that they are missing out on an experience that can really be fun and very enjoyable. I have met many open-minded people when they notice my polished toes and we end up having some great conversations about life, attitudes and even nail polish! Besides, there are many women who for some reason really like polishing men’s nails. And it’s darned fun to have a nice gal polish your nails for you – wow!!!

Autumn Sunset duochrome

I strongly suggest getting a professional pedicure first though. Men typically have a number of issues with the condition of their toenails because they don’t usually take very good care of them. A pedicure does wonders for feet by removing rough calluses and ingrown nails, shaping the nails and the application of polish by a pro really makes them look outstanding. And you can learn so many tips from the pro nail techs just by paying attention and asking questions. Guys can start with very translucent and nude colors to help their nails look healthy and clean. Working up to wearing colors is something that can be done when they are ready and comfortable with it.

Mango 2

Nail salons like business, and business from men is just as good as business from women, so men should not be afraid to visit these places. Taking a girlfriend or spouse along for a joint treat is really the way to fully enjoy this experience too! Don’t forget to tip if they do a good job too, that is how many nail techs know how to better serve their customers.

Do you set any rules for yourself when it comes to polish?

Sure, even though I am open to experimenting with pretty much any color, I will only wear in public colors that I like how they look on my feet. My wife has some influence in this too since I trust her opinion. And by remaining open to trying all colors, I find some that work for me that I might not have considered before.

Are there colors you wouldn’t wear?

Personally, I don’t care to wear colors that most would consider more feminine-looking like bright red or pink. If it were some special occasion that warranted those colors (like Halloween maybe), then no problem, but I really am not interested in looking like or pretending to be a girl. I just happen to like the way my toenails look and feel when polished, and my wife is my biggest fan! There is something very satisfying about having nice-looking nails. It’s hard to explain to anyone who has never tried it, but those of you who do wear your nails polished know exactly what I mean – it’s just an awesome feeling, even when they are tucked away inside shoes – it still feels great!

Have you met other nail polish-loving men?

Yes, actually there are many men who I have both met in person and who email me for advice and to share our common interest. And I have discovered there are many more men than I ever would have initially thought have an interest in this, but some don’t feel comfortable discussing it openly. I do try to actively promote this emerging trend for men, and because I take the opportunity to comment on blogs when I see the subject come up, many others comment as well. That is how I know that there are a LOT of other guys out there who either already wear their nails polished, or really want to start.

But, I also have to credit and thank the many awesome women who I also actively share this passion for polish with too! I have learned so many tips on improving my pedicures from many female enthusiasts who really know their nails. I see this interest as a real bridge of sorts between the genders, something that we can all freely enjoy and share with each other. I sincerely hope that more people will feel encouraged to keep their nails maintained and healthy from this article, and that more men will try polish too!

You can find Jake on Flickr and on his blog.


  1. sol says:

    insecure much hahaha. saw his feet (feet talaga oh!) na over flckr nga, was shocked to know it was a guy pero grabe ang ganda ng nails and feet nya! pag ganyan ang paa, ok lang magpost sa internet LOL!

  2. MindyTV says:

    Pretty!!! For a guy’s feet? So pretty!!!! And his color choices – pretty!!! Pretty! Pretty! LOL!

  3. Kitty says:

    Dude! He has better looking toes than a lot of women! Thumbs up!

  4. Kim Snyder says:

    I have know Jake for a few years now and he is amazing with the information he has given me in help writing posts on nail polish for men to help in selling BB Couture nail polish line for men. In fact most of the photos I have for BB Couture nail polish for men are on Jake’s toes.
    In fact Jake send me this post today.. You did amazing interview with him!
    Kim Snyder owner

    • pam says:

      Hi Kim!

      I couldn’t agree with you more – Jake is amazing! And his photos are fantastic.

      You too have been doing a great thing for men who love polish – by bringing BB Couture colors into their lives.

      I’m a fan of Pipe Bender! I’m posting swatches of that baby tomorrow :)

  5. Joey says:

    Hi Pam! :) I enjoyed your post! Very interesting. Grabe his feet are prettier than mine. BTW, have you tried the virtual nails of Dashing Diva? They’re pretty cute! Cheers!

    • pam says:

      Hey Joey! :)

      Jake’s feet are prettier than mine too! I haven’t tried virtual nails – I saw them kanina at Rockwell. I don’t think I can wear fake nails, I’m too malikot eh! I think they’ll just fall off!

      • Joey says:

        Do try them!! They’re pretty awesome and quite sturdy. I’m malikot too. You can have them cut and shaped the way you like ‘em. I had mine for 2 weeks and i didn’t have a problem with it naman. Try the animal print. Cuuuute!!!! :)

        • pam says:

          Oh cool! Will check that out! Hirap lang for me to stick to the same design/color for two weeks! I get bored after two days! Haha

  6. April Brooks says:

    Great post! Jake has commented on my blog before and has always seemed like such a nice fellow!

  7. Lala says:

    I’m in love with his feet. hahahhaa…

  8. Christine says:

    His feet looks gorgeous!! Wish my feet looks this nice!! :D

    Oh hey, I tried to click the link to his blog, but turns out the link was your blog link! Just letting you know babe!

  9. K Wilk says:

    That’s HIS feet?!? Awesome! Those are pretty feet and I can see why he would want to show of those babies! I have to say, Jake, your pedi looks better than my own.

  10. TeeHee says:

    what’s the brand of that gray matte polish he was wearing?

  11. Gabriel Santos says:

    Looks like Jake is a really popular person not only on FLICKR, he invited me to see this blog, and I am glad he did. I belong to the group of men that loves to wear nail polish on my toes; I believe that just because men wears nail polish, that does not mean that we have to be gay. Just like any women that wear male clothes, shoes or any garment that is just for men, but they are being criticized just because of what they are wearing.
    I have been painting my toe nails for long time and even though I have seen a couple men with nail polish out in public I have not seen enough to decide to show my toes with nail polish. Hopefully in a near future this stereotype for men will change and having pedicures and wearing sexy sandals will be something that will not be seen as abnormal by narrow minded people.

    • pam says:

      Hello Gabriel! I really wish people would become more open-minded. Life is too short and the world is too beautiful to stay uptight over things like nail polish. I am glad that you’re enjoying nail polish and hopefully, you’ll soon be able to feel the freedom to show off your beautiful feet!

  12. Jake says:

    TeeHee, the gray matte is called “Fuggen Ugly” and is from Man Glaze (available online). These polishes a packed with little mica flecks that give it a really cool sheen when matte, but cover it with a glossy topcoat and WOW!

  13. Kevin says:

    My niece got me started in painting my toes, but it was after I found Jake that I started wearing it all of the time. I get the same responses from people that he gets, about 99% positive. I had a pedicure yesterday and my nail tech finished it off with two coats of OPI – Suzy Loves Sydney. I love having pretty feet.

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