Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Dear Readers,

Alas, here is the content that you have all been waiting for. As you will see, I have written it in detailed form as well as provided an instructional video at the very bottom of this post, of which both will hopefully allow you to learn how to shine your properly. However, these in reality will simply be a tool of guidance as the only real way to learn is through trial and error. Believe me, when I first started, it was all and no shine. Nothing but a dull shoe. But as I kept up at it and learned from my mistakes, it got easier and easier and now you can see the results that I am able to achieve with a spare few hours time.

You did hear that right: a few hours time. Polishing your shoes properly, to a mirror like shine takes a lot of time and patience. It is not done in 5 nor 20 minutes and those chairs that give you a very nice shiny polish on your shoes, is simply not the same as what you are seeing here. This is a shine built through the building up of polish into the pores of the . There is no way to do it quickly. There is a way to shine a shoe quickly, of course, but not to get a proper glass like finish. That can only be done in manner of which you see in this post.

I hope that you all enjoy what you read and see here.


Justin, “The

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Let me start off by saying that, in my beliefs, there is a profound difference between a polish and a shine. And what I do, is a polish and that is defined in the dictionary as, ‘to make smooth and glossy.’ And to achieve that, one needs to use their hands and have ample free time. That being said, you can see (above, left) the pair of ’ that I had to work with. These were the most perfect shoes I could have for my post as they had some leftover polish on them. That is important because time and time again I have had customers come in with their 10 year , that have just been caked with layer upon layer of polish right on top of each other. And the bad thing about this, is that you see cracked polish everywhere and it is not pretty, yet they tend to just polish on top of that, which does not make it go away, but rather help to set it in.

Instead, one should remove the excess polish and start fresh again, each time they wish to create a new shine (edit: this is only in the case that you give your shoes strictly mirror like shines and assuming that there is cracking polish build up as in the case of this shoe. If not, then there is not a need to strip the every time, just use a bit of leather conditioner to replenish the shoe before applying your next shine). So that’s what I did. Now, you can do this several ways depending on how bad it is set in. For the sake of time, I used a little bit of help with the nail polish remover and added it to a rag in order to easily remove the old polish. (But before I did that, I brushed the shoe down with a horsehair brush to remove dirt and dust, as well as took out the ) Sometimes this can be done with this liquid and sometimes you can use alcohol spirits instead of nail polish remover or stuff even more soft like Renomat (see below). The only thing is to be careful with whatever liquid that you use because you can take the finish with you if you rub too hard.

Polish Your Shoes Properly

With old polish

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Removed old polish

Polish Your Shoes Properly


Both clean of old polish

Polish Your Shoes Properly


One shoe with, one shoe without old polish

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Mink oil renovator found at www.theshoesnob.com for £13 (ex vat £10.83)


Now the next thing that you need to do is to rejuvenate the leather. You can do this with many different products: saddle soap, mink oil renovator or some cream based conditioner (edit: I don’t personally think that cream based conditioner provides as much as the shoe needs in terms of nutrients, but others swear by it). What I always use is my mink oil renovator, as shown above. You do this step in order to soften up the leather and get it ready to absorb the polish better, as well as clean off any dirt or dust that may have been missed from the brush. To get it deeply into the leather, I apply it with my two fingers that are wrapped by a cotton t-shirt that I cut up. I also use this same method to apply the polish but use a different t-shirt to do so, as to not mix the products together. After applying the conditioner, it is best to let the shoe dry for at least 20 minutes. And you will notice that in between each stage there needs to be this dry time period as to not over-soak the leather and allow for the products to truly set into the leather.

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

I currently use my Shoe Snob cream polish which is very good for color rejuvenation. Found at The Shoe Snob Shop.

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Cream polish for £12 (ex vat £10), found at www.theshoesnob.com


The next step is to apply the first round of polish with an applicator brush (as shown above). I use a cream-based for this step (not a wax) as it is better for bringing back the color. You do this to really get the polish into the leather and want to make sure that you hit ever part of the shoe, like the welt and the stitching areas. Do not cake on the polish but apply thinly and evenly around the whole shoe. This step can be particularly tricky when dealing with a very light colored shoe, as light leather can sometimes be easily affected by moisture (i.e. the polish) if not applied carefully. So if you do have a very light tan shoe, I always suggest applying a small amount on the inside heel first to see how the leather reacts and if it does darken, then quickly and lightly brush that spot with the soft bristled horsehair brush to make it spread evenly. And just know that some light leathers are going to darken no matter what, so deal with it if it happens. After this stage, let the shoe sit for at least 20 minutes again.

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

The next step is to add the wax polish, by hand. In my opinion, a bee’s wax based polish with turpentine gives off . You will find that most of the higher end polishes have these ingredients and they are also very much used in the production of shoe polish made by French based companies (i.e. where they do the best ’s and shines). When you apply this, you want to give it those little round about motions and do so evenly and thoroughly throughout the whole shoe. You also don’t want to be shy in applying a little bit of pressure when doing so, but not too much that you are cramping your fingers nor damaging the leather, just enough to really get into the pores of the skin. Speaking of pores, the way to get that mirror like shine, of which I am showing, is to completely fill in the pores of the leather in order to create a flat surface that then looks like glass. Getting back on subject, you want to apply 1-2 layers of wax polish for this step before going on to the next one. Let the shoe sit for 10-20 minutes.

Picture at bottom of this column of pictures: 1 tin of dry wax polish, 1 tin of fresh (and moist) wax polish, 1 tin of water (on the right). When the leather simply won’t turn flat and glossy, use the dry polish to get it there. Sometimes using the moist polish will never allow the leather to be dry enough to truly set in the polish (unless you want to wait overnight between each stage).

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Beeswax shoe polish for £12 (ex vat £10), found at www.theshoesnob.com


Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

This next step is the hardest and in reality, will be what you will have to learn on your own, just by continuously doing it. That being, I will still try and walk you through it. As you have already applied several layers of polish onto the shoe, you have a nice coat on by now which will allow you to directly add water to the mix, as in the old spit’n’shine. The way that I do this, is to again affix the t-shirt to my hand, and then lightly dab my wedding finger (or equivalent on right hand) into the tin of water to get a drop of it on the tip to then apply to the leather before polishing over. Look at pictures to see. Again, I dab my finger into the water, then dab my two polish fingers into the wax, apply the drops of water onto the leather, then rub away the water with the polish in circular motions. Repeat and do for 1-2 hours throughout the entire shoe (1-2 hours being however many stages are required, not in one application). This is the only way of really explaining it. The only thing to look out for is to make sure that you do not apply too much water and thus over-soak the leather or leave a water stain. If you do so you will have to let the shoe sit and dry for awhile before starting again. A way to knowing when you are close is to feel the leather and how it will get smoother and smoother after each layer. And when you feel like you are nearly there, I always recommend letting the shoe dry overnight before applying the final layer of wax’n’water.

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

Polish Your Shoes Properly

After completing , the last touch is to take a piece of black nylon (think women’s tights) and rub it around the shoe, as this will help to take off dust, blend in the polish residue left behind from the cotton shirt and bring up that shine even more! And to maintain the shine, you should just use this nylon to wipe down your shoe every night. And that’s it!
Well I hope that this helps out. Best of luck and don’t be afraid to send me pics if any of you manage to get the !!

-Justin, “The Shoe Snob”


Video below brought to you by a between myself and Watch Anish

408 thoughts on “Polish Your Shoes Properly”

  1. Justin – thanks fir the great guide. It wasn’t clear to me, though, whether you buff off the polish between layers, or let the build on each other (before the water step).

  2. Hi Justin – great website!

    RE polishing shoes – I have the same question as Matthew, below. In Mr Porter’s video the polishing brush only appears to be used to brush off the dirt. What is the next step after applying the conditioner? (eg let soak in, brush off or cloth off or all in that order). Similarly what follows the application of the shoe cream/paste? When it comes to the polishing stage, have I understood the process correctly in that it consists of the application of polish/water, leave for 10-20mins, then apply another coat and so on. At the end of the application stage is the only finishing you use the polishing with the nylon stocking, or do you buff off the polish with a brush or some other tool before hand?

    Cheers, Mark

    1. No, no more brushing once you get to the mirror shine stage… Just repeated water – wax combo. you apply for however long it takes to develop the desired sheen/gloss. Thats the difficult part. Thats the part where a touch and certsin sensitivity needs to be developed. Like anythig else, only way to it is to do it lol. But its worth itTHEN i believe hes saying after you’re finally satisfied with the finish of your shoes….set them down and let dry overnight and the next day apply ANOTHER coat to really top it off. Allow that to dry well, Then and only then, the nylon stocking. Thats literally the last touch, dust, tiny particles etc. Requires a soft touch but even moreso, patience. Or at least i think thats what he means…how would I know? Never even wore shoes before

  3. I work at C&J and its good to see people truely taking care of their shoes, nothing like polishing a great pair of English made shoes. This is a very good educational piece. If all took note, their leather upper would last longer and look good with it.

  4. Justin FitzPatrick

    James – You are very right. Only a little bit on conscious maintenance can truly add a lot of life to the shoe, but people unfortunately forget this…Thanks for commenting.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  5. Hi Justin. I’m a 16 year old boy that enjoys fine quality shoes. I wan’t to know what approach is best to get the highest polish possible on leather. Can you give me steps more comprehensive than these I would much appreciate it. I want to know (as a teenager) can a trainer be polished similar to a shoe if the leather is of a similar quality. Lastly can you explain in greater detail how to patina shoes.
    P.S. What processes can one implement to dye shoe in more exotic colors other than common black,white,brown,grey,and tan.

  6. I have been a bootblack for 12 years and we have hereI am currently training to be a cobbler. I agree with your methods for shoe care. However it does not take 3 hours to achieve that high-gloss shine.I am located in Detroit, MI. I love the Edward Green shoe polish line. The consistancy is lighter than other products here in the states. Also a tee shirt is to heavy. Try a cloth baby diaper. to achieve that shine is touch.

  7. Justin FitzPatrick

    Moe Draper – Considering that you have 9 years more experience, you might be able to do it quicker. But I do the entire shoe, not just the toe and heels. It may be hard to tell, because my camera and lighting is crap. Thanks for the recommendation on the cloth baby diaper. Not quite sure what that is, as I have not yet had kids, but will go to the store to try and find one. Thanks for sharing.

    -Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

  8. Marlon Lee Small

    mate, i’ve got a pair of brown leather cavendish crockett and JOnes Is there a way I can make them a darker brown?

  9. Enjoyed Your Articles on Polishing Brown Shoes. I recently have been experimenting with a pairs of medium brown shoes using only clear shoe polish. Over time they have developed a wonderful Light Mahogany Patina bringing out the natural grain in the leather along with reddish brick-like tones. I always receive compliments and these are every other day work dress shoes. The leather is far more luxurious with added character, than when they were brand new out of the box.



  10. Justin FitzPatrick

    Thomas – Thanks for sharing sir. And too true you are about how a shoe’s leather will naturally patina to create something that is much more appealing and unique to the eye then a shoe that is freshly out of the box. Some of the most beautiful shoes that I have ever seen were over 20 years old and had created a natural patina that could have never been replicated by hand.


  11. Good post and blog.
    What are your thoughts on cleaning distressed leather? How would you go about removing strains without spoling the worn and aged look of the shoe, while also maintainting the leather?

  12. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – This is difficult, especially without seeing the shoe. But a stain is a stain, they usually don’t come out. Sometimes they can, depending on the stain, but this is still tricky and can ruin the shoe if not careful. But I don’t think that distressed leathers are meant to be shiny. They are meant to be distressed and rugged looking. At least that is what I imagine when you say distressed….sorry I could not be of more help.


  13. Great post.

    Is it normal for the tip/ cap of (light) brown shoes to be darker than the rest after a polish? I have also seen the opposite with regards to a darkbrown shoe.


  14. Justin FitzPatrick

    Brgds – only after the polish? As in, the shoe was all one color and then after a shine treatment they turn darker at the tip? No, that should not happen. But you will find that many light brown shoes these days, have a bit of a darker toe, called a burnish, that was added at the factory. But giving the shoe a shine with a low pigment wax polish, should not make the toe darker, nor lighter for a darker pair. Could be that many people like to emphasize the toe, adding more polish to it and not the rest of the shoe, therefore leaving a darker leather because of that. But if applied evenly all the way round, this should not happen. I hope that this has helped.


  15. Justin FitzPatrick

    AFJ – That was a reverse patina. It was intentionally made lighter by taking off the finish, it was not due to the polish.


  16. I have just used Justin’s Mink oil on my shoes and the smell is absolutely awesome :o) I have spent ages trying to find that beautiful smell of leather, the one cars used to have, and Mink oil is it. The entire price is worth it just for that lingering essence, let alone the preservative qualities! I am buying another pot right now.

  17. I was the fourteen year old Canadian who was just recently at you Gieves & Hawkes stand and you mentioned a way of using a hot spoon to melt the wax into the pores. Would it be possible for you to go into detail about the process. I am in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and it would be a significant help. Your handmade shoes look amazing.

    Thank you

  18. Justin FitzPatrick

    Andrea – Thank you sir!! I am glad that you appreciate it.

    Mudboy11 – Glad that you enjoy the shoes! Well, it probably won’t be necessary for your first polish, but afterwards when you have to maintain that mirror-like gloss shine, and the polish on your boots have cracked from wearing, you will want to heat up a spoon with a lighter to get it nice and hot and then rub that into the places that it has flaked off in order to smooth those areas out so that you can polish over them. But you can only do this on black shoes as you are essentially burning the leather and it will stain on anything else but black leather. Once you do it the first time it will become more evident of what you need to do….


  19. Hi Justin,

    Just wondering what you recommend for suede shoe care? I know to brush in the direction of the suede but what would you recommend for stains etc.?

    Thanks for the help,

  20. Justin FitzPatrick

    Matt – Sorry for the late reply, I somehow overlooked the fact that I had a comment to attend to. Nevertheless, I have found you once again and will hope to help you out. In reality, I haven’t took the time to become an expert at suede due to the delicate nature of it and not wanting the responsibility of misguiding people which could end up in ruined shoes. That being, there are many factors that will play into this scenario, e.g. color of suede, depth of stain, how long it’s been there etc. For light suede shoes, I am useless. Once those get stained it’s very hard to clean them again. I have heard of people using bleach to get the color off (for patina purposes), which I am sure could be used for stains as well, but the catch would be regaining the color of the suede. For dark suede, I would just brush profusely with the metal bristles on the suede brush and for light suede the same but making sure it’s a brand new brush. I hope that this helps at all….if not, search the pages of Style Forum…there are many knowledgeable gentleman on there.


  21. I received my first pair of real shoes 2 weeks a ago, CJ Connaught in black.
    I tried to get a mirror-like cap shine with the spit-shine method. I used ordinary shoe cream just once before applying the shoe polish in a total of 3 layers. The problem is the polish will not settle. I have no problems getting the shine, but once i slide my finger over the surface, it leaves traces from the finger.
    I tried again tonight 2 weeks later with the same technique. However, this time i skipped the shoe cream and went straight for the polish. Went over the shoes 3 times with polish, roughly 40 minutes per shoe in total. This time it was even easier to achieve the mirror, but I didn’t manage to finish the polish without leaving the shoe easily disturbed by whatever that came in contact with it.

    I used the same technique on another pair of shoes that are much older with quite different results, where the surface is completely smooth and the polish really got into the shoe. The only difference was that I then did a better job with 3 sets of shoe cream before I started went on with the polish for another 3 sets.

    Should I remove the polish and start all over again with 3 sets of shoe cream from the start before applying the polish?

  22. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – When you ask the question at the bottom are you referring to your new C&J’s? My suggestion is to wear them a bit before you try to put on that mirror shine. The problem that I have always found with most shoes, and particularly C&J’s, is that in the beginning, the leather does not accept the polish as well. It’s almost as if the pores are more closed when the shoe is newer, and they open up as you wear it more, projecting humidity from your feet. That being, wear the shoes a little while and then give it a go, again. Unless there is cracking that is noticeable, I wouldn’t say take it all down and re-start. Just start with the wax polish and it should build up this time. But remember, you need to let each layer dry before applying the next one. I hope that this helps


  23. This may seem like a sacrilegious question, but I recently bought a pair of cap toe oxfords from Bruno Magli that have dark brown burnished leather. This was my first fore into a more quality shoe. Unfortunately after about a wear, I just am unhappy with the burnished look throughout the shoe. So, my question was can the burnish be polished over for a little more consistency?

  24. Just came across this very helpful guide (there were some things I was doing suboptimally, it seems), but I have question

    Do you have any tips for how to polish up a twotoned pair of shoes like a saddle shoe? It seems like it would be difficult to apply two different colors of polish to each tone, but I’m not familiar with using clear polishes either, and do not know how effective they are.

    Typical polish brushes are too blunt of an instrument to carefully apply polish to each color, would there be a better instrument?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    (Since you seem to prefer email for replies, mine can be found in my Blogger profile.)

  25. Justin FitzPatrick

    Ariston – Well, this is going to vary depending on the type of polish that you use, but if you use a wax polish, such as mine, which is not strong in color pigmentation, then you could use one color to shine the entire shoe. For example, if you had a dark brown shoe with a light tan saddle, then I would use a light tan to shine the entire shoe if I did not want to really affect the saddle area, but you could also use the dark brown polish to give the tan saddle a sort of aged look. But I don’t use brushes…I use a cloth, as shown in the post. Brushes are really just for the welt and sole area and to get into parts of the leather that are losing their finish. I hope that this made sense. BTW, no need to use neutral…it will only leave white residue…


  26. Hi can you help.

    I tried to renovate one of my older slightly cheaper pair of Jeffrey west shoes (black line not my welted ones)

    The nail polish remover completely took some of the dark tan colour off down to a dull light tan and in some areas completely off (only tiny patches) is there anything I can do other than throw them in the bin.

    Has this just happened as they are cheaper finished leather. I ask as i have a more expensive welted pair of jw shoes in a shiny walnut colour and I don’t wa t the same to happen to them

  27. Justin FitzPatrick

    Adam – Are you based in London? If so, then you should bring them to me so that I can see them as it is hard to give advice without seeing or touching the shoes. But they should not be completely ruined…there is always dye that you can apply to them…it could have happened because they were a cheaper leather. Nail polish remover will take the finish off of most (if not all) leathers though…


  28. Thanks. I’m based just outside London and will be shoe shopping (strangely) down there is a few weeks.

    I’ll drop by g&h

  29. Thanks for the informative guide. Your blog is exceptional, and my only misgiving is that I can read faster than you can type!

    Seriously, though, you’re a great asset to the sartorial community. Thanks for the time you put into your blog.

    Best wishes,

  30. Justin FitzPatrick

    Adam Jones – Sounds good, I will look forward to meeting you then!

    Emilio – I truly appreciate the kind words. It’s very nice of you to say. Thank you.


  31. I was sceptical at first, but used your technique on a pair of old and abused brown slip on’s and the results were brilliant!

    I liked it so much that I ended up polishing 3 more pairs of my shoes today. Thanks so much. I still use a pair of woman’s tights to buff my shoes at the end. Works so well.

  32. Justin, many thanks for this. I’ve been looking for advice like this for a while.

    One question: the other day, I had to park my car on some muddy grass and, you guessed it, had to walk through it with my brand new dress shoes which are now muddy! What’s the best way to clean the mud off fully before polishing?

  33. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – Glad to have helped my friend and give you a bit of inspiration to jazz up your shoes…

    Adam – No worries sir, glad to help out. In all honesty, I just wet a cloth and wipe it all off. Let them dry and then do your polishing. Water is not leathers friend, but if used properly won’t harm it either if you need to clean it.


  34. Warning: About to commence rant.

    Today I was in an Australian department store and wanted to buy a pot of Angelus Wax polish. After waiting at the checkout, the salesman told me to stay away from
    wax polish, as my shoes will surely crack.

    According to him, Instead I should use a silicon or non silicon based cream, and use an instant shine buffer when I leave home to go out! He demonstrated
    the instant shiner on a pair of corrected grain shoes (he called them lacquered) and the result looked like a shiny plastic toy.

    And apparently, Silicon is good for shoes!!!!!! But the little bit of turps in old fashioned polish will crack the shoe in the creases!!! (Note: I am aware silicon compounds are often used as the solvent in wax polish).

    Never use leather conditioner on shoes (while he is trying to sell me a leather conditioner).

    Also, wax doesn’t waterproof the shoe any better than cream.

    If your shoes are navy blue leather you only use neutral cream on them.

    Oh, apparently Loake’s and Church’s are the only Goodyear Welted shoes.

    And you should always have topy soles, and they don’t affect the flexibility of the shoes.

    Oh, shoes never used to be dyed the whole way through the leather upper and when you scratched them the leather underneath was white.

    At least he did acknowledge that applying wax could prevent scuffs.

    Rant Over.

    Now, I know the guy was being well meaning and has been selling shoes for many years, and I didn’t know everything he was talking about (different dying methods etc.),
    but I think not using a wax polish is bad advice. I used to believe in creams over wax, however, since converting to a wax’n water shine, I can say that it’s protection from scuffs and water, and the
    deep rich glassy look it gives the shoe makes a shoe without the mirror shine look second rate.

    Unfortunately, this advice seems ubiquitous.

    Not to say that leather conditioner doesn’t have it’s use and place, but for example, who would condition their leather jacket after 4 wears? Maybe every
    2 years? If anything, using a neutral cream every fortnight just stained scuffed areas of my shoes are pulled out colour.

  35. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – Wow, that’s funny…. sometimes though it’s frightening to me that there are people out there who are like this and our so confident that they convince other people (who don’t know any better) of this bad information. Luckily you know better…I am not sure I would have been able to contain myself in giving him a piece of my mind… thanks for sharing


  36. Justin thank you very much for all the information have just done my first pair following your expert guidance ,and thou far from your level ,very happy with my attempt .thanks again .
    Great blog

  37. Justin FitzPatrick

    Paul – No worries Paul!! I am always happy to share my knowledge and experiences and am happy to hear that one of them is serving you well!


  38. Hi Justin

    I have just bought a pair of these edgewares and am in love with them.

    Some suggest polishing before use for the first time. Would you say this is worthwhile?

    Also on the subject of removing old polish. I don’t want to use anything harsh like nail polish remover or other solvents, is there anything mild I can use? Will regular use of something like saddle soap do the trick?

  39. Thanks Justin, this is very clearly explained and I look forward to giving my shoes a proper polish.

    Would you be so kind however as to clarify one part: “1 tin of dry wax polish, 1 tin of fresh (and moist) wax polish, 1 tin of water (on the right). When the leather simply won’t turn flat and glossy, use the dry polish to get it there. Sometimes using the moist polish will never allow the leather to be dry enough to truly set in the polish”

    Does this mean we need two tins of wax polish, in addition to the one tin of normal polish? I’m a little confused with this bit – if that’s the case, what are they for?

    All best.

  40. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – you can surely polish before first wear, but do so lightly. Don’t try and give a mirror shine, as this will end up in lots of cracking….

    as far as your other question goes, well this is hard to explain, as the term “removing old polish” is very much used casually. A condition such as saddle soap will never really remove polish, but will just help to counteract its affects. If your shoes are not cracked in any places (from mirror like polishing), then it is not necessary so much to “remove” the polish, you can just condition it. However, if you are one to give constant mirror shines to your shoes, then yes one day you will eventually want to start fresh and remove all of the old polish, and unfortunately the only real way to do this is with a solvent of some type….

    I hope that this helps….

    Alex – Ideally yes, you should have a tin of paste/cream polish (for color rejuvenation), a tin of dry wax polish (meaning a tin of regular wax polish that has dried a bit from the cap being removed), and a tin of moist (or new) wax polish. This is ideal but not necessary. If you just have the moist (or new) tin of wax polish, then you will just have to wait longer in between stages to allow the polish to dry on the leather….



  41. Thank you for the great run through. Thanks to you I’ve just successfully finished restoring a pair of boots to beauty. To finish off i coated them with tragacanth which sort of seals and adds to the shine.
    I have yet to find a way to make the leather of dress shoes more water resistant. What would you propose? I have carnauba wax and beeswax to go from. Any tipps?

  42. Justin FitzPatrick

    Come2Berlin – A mirror-like polish is about as water resistant as I know how to make shoes…..sorry I couldn’t help further…I don’t really like to recommend any chemical type products…just a good wax shine should do the trick


  43. Definitely a fantastic video. For a fab site.

    Can I just ask is you mink oil made by avel as there mink oil renovator seems very similar. Both fantastic but avel/saphir products are very hard to obtain in the uk. Without expensive delivery. Also being such a large size yours works out to much better value than importing from France.

    Even if it isn’t it is still just as good and a must for everyone who reads this blog

  44. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – funny that you should ask…Avel actually just bought the company that makes my mink oil, but no, they are not the same as Saphir’s (who is owned by Avel)….they have their own ingredients and mixture…. but it is similar….


  45. Have you ever thought about your own brushes? Until you do what do you recommend. I have been looking online and ebay/ stores in london recently found some great ones however I didn’t know what to go for. Some with horse hair some with boar hair. With a huge price variant. From around 10 for a Jones / saphir horse hair up to 50 for a jm Weston brush.

    I don’t mind spending if with it and i know anything will be better than an old kiwi one but is a 50 Weston brush better than say a 30 crocket and jones one?

  46. I have just got a pair of C&J in chestnut antique calf.

    If I was to use Kiwi brown polish paste and a brown wax that should be ok?

  47. On one of your links the hangar project the recommend that after stripping the polish with something called renomat then to apply a dubbin and leave for two days to soak in. Is this worth the time?

  48. Justin,

    I purchased several tins of your shoe polish, renovator and laces… WOW !! what great polish it is… I will be purchasing more and want to thank you for refunding overpayment for the shipping!! Love the products and highly suggest your readers purchase from you as well !


  49. Justin FitzPatrick

    Paul – Yes, I actually have my own brushes, just have not yet released them for sale….I have been amassing a proper collection of products to release, with a proper website and all….shoe brushes, shoe trees, polish, laces etc….and in the future possibly even socks…if you are the same Paul that is coming to the shop today, i will show you the brushes…

    Anon1 – I would use tan colors on that shade….not browns….

    Anon2 – I can personally tell you that I am not a fan of dubbin….i would just use the mink oil renovator….but then again, I have never used renomat before, so can’t comment on the effects that it creates….as far as I know it just strips color….but I have seen what dubbin does to leather and if applied not too carefully, it will really oversoak the leather (and darken it)

    Chuck – Thank you very much for the comment of support. I am truly happy to hear that you enjoyed the products.


  50. Justin, I have only just found your blog. I love it. Lived in Milan for 2 years–more than enough time for a shoe hobbyist to develop an eye for what he likes. And this hobbyist likes Santoni tan-sock Goodyear-welted shoes, and anything from that level of style and quality on up. It seems every other shoe shop in the Moda district has something exclusive, each more spectacular than the last. A footwear treasure hunter’s paradise.

    I want to recommend an American sole treatment. It applies with a paintbrush to good quality oak tanned sole leather and the leather just drinks it in. It’s called Leather Honey and though I do not recommend it as highly for tighter grain uppers, the high quality leather you polished in this photo essay would love it. It will double the life of your leather soles with a yearly application (more often if you got your nice leather soles wet). Does a better job on soles than mink oil or Lexol products. Dare I say, a healthier leather conditioner than mink oil? Odorless. Non-greasy. Doesn’t clog pores. Just cleanly lubricates and softens leather fibers the way they should be. Doesn’t build up on the surface, doesn’t trap or attract dirt. I’ve been using the same jar for nearly ten years. A little goes a very long way. Some soles have a finish that doesn’t let the product in. Those soles will crack and dry earlier because without scuffing that finish off there’s no way to feed the leather underneath.

    I’d like to see your review of Leather Honey.

    I love one American clunker: the good old Chicago Florsheim Kenmoor. For every vintage NOS pair in my closet (and I have them in every grain, hide and color Florsheim ever offered before going to India), this stuff has provided amazing anti-aging flexibility and protection to a collection that is now irreplaceable.

    Marvelous for delicate single-sole loafers as well.

    Okay, so I’ve waxed rhapsodic about a niche market leather conditioner that was developed to cleanly extend the life of sweaty horse tack so the Amish know all about it, and they use it on their plain jane shoes too.

  51. Dear Justin,

    Thanks for the very informative blog. It got me totally obsessed with shoe-shining (my girlfriend hates you for it.)

    I know you shine the whole shoe, not just the toe and heels. When I tried this the polish cracked and made ugly white marks in the creases of the vamp, which came out when I wiped the wax away with leather cleaner. I’ve read that many people use only cream polish in the vamp and wax on the toe cap. How do you polish the whole shoe without causing cracks in the glaage?


  52. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon – Thanks for you words of wisdom. I have heard of Leather Honey, but have never used it. To be honest, I don’t put conditioner on my soles at all. I just galoshes on days that I know it’s going to be wet.

    As far as it being better than mink oil, well for the sole I cannot comment, but I don’t it’s going to be better for the upper. I have yet to come across something that feeds the leather in such a way that mink oil does. And it also carries the traits that you list, like odorless (in a stinky way, it actually smells really good and stays that way), non-greasy etc…..Maybe one day I will condition my soles with Leather Honey, but if I am going to be honest, I am not going to actively seek it….if I happen to come across by chance, maybe I will buy a tin/jar etc.

    Nevertheless, thanks for sharing and for reading. Glad to hear that you enjoy the blog and all the best!

    Harmon Siegel – I am happy to hear that you have been enjoying the blog and have started treating your shoes with polish love because of it. Tell your girlfriend, sorry….

    As far as your concern, I really don’t shine the vamp as much as the toe, it would just appear that way, as I put a gloss on it that makes it look shiny, but it does not have that glass like consistency that the toe does. But then again on certain leathers, broken in shoes and especially plain toes, you can sometimes get away with polishing heavily on the vamp if the creases have already set in. But still, I really don’t polish the vamp as much, because yes, the flex points will inevitably cause the polish to crack if you have created that mirror-type surface….


  53. Hi Justin, thanks for the post and great site.

    I have a question for you: I have just finished polishing a old pair of beautiful Alfred Green black dress shoes that i recently acquired. They are quite old but still in amazing condition. I used nail polish remover to remove about 10 years worth of wax build up then proceeded to re-apply polish (C & J). The shoes very quickly took on a mirror shine, however I noticed on one shoe, 2 patches where the polish would not shine. It just seemed to suck up the water and the polish remain dull and would not buff up at all. It looks as if a sealant is missing. I did not apply excess remover to those areas nor did I rub any harder than other areas. In fact the areas that needed the most vigourous rubbing polished up perfectly.
    Before I started the process I did not notice any issues with the finish.

    Sorry for the long comment, but have you experienced this before? Is there anything I can to treat or reseal the leather in those areas? I am hoping I have not ruined the shoes ad there is something I can do.

    Warm regards,


  54. Hi Justin,
    Is it normal that the mirror shine will smudge if brushed by a finger or your pant legs? I can get the mirror shine but it never really seems to set, and Ive noticed the the insides of my pant legs are getting gunked up with polish. I will say that one time I polished my shoes and then wore them on a walk that included a baseball field. Alas, they immediately got very dusty. I went home and just brushed the dust off and the shine came back and seemed to be “set” Im using Saphir Glacage by the by. Thanks for any comment.

  55. Mike z … I just started using saphir polishes as a change from Crockett and jones. I have noticed they are a lot more moist than some polishes and seems to need to use less water to get it to set. Sometimes even alternate layers. So a layer of water and wax then one of just polish but apply in circular motions as you would with water and wax. Then repeat until you get there.

  56. Justin FitzPatrick

    Nick – The only time that I have experienced this is when I have applied to much of something i.e. water or wax and the leather then became oversoaked and once it gets to that point, it won’t absorb anything but just gets worse and worse if you do not just leave it for awhile. This might be the case to your situation, but without seeing pics, it’s really hard to know what is going on….sorry I can’t be of more help…are you London based? If so, you could show them to me if you have not sorted them out yet.

    Mike Z. – Yes….a mirror shine is very delicate in reality, but it’s strange that it is marking up your trousers, especially if you are using Saphir, which tends to get into the leather well as opposed to just sitting on the surface….
    you might need to leave it to dry more as it take time to let the polish truly set….i usually apply the final layer the next day.

    Adam – Thanks for sharing.


  57. What do you think is the best way to actually store shoes after polishing. Been using racks but can be awkward. Or should I just use the bags and orig boxes.

  58. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for the above reply, but I have a couple lingering concerns.

    I was once able to get a mirror- shine on my Wolverines 1000mi Boots as I mentioned but I cleaned them the other day with Lexol Saddle Soap and have not been able to get the mirror shine back. I must have like 12 coats of polish on them now; 7 of which have been wax-water coats. I have tried doing 20 min rests between coats but the previous coats seems to be still moist and you can see the swirlmarks from the previous coat. I’ve let the polish rest for a day between 3 of the coats, but they never really seem to set. I also dont seem to be building much i.e. the shine has increased int he last 4 coats. I even threw the boots in the freezer and then hit them with a brush and that seemed to do the trick but once the temperature normalized that shine was easily smudged. Since you said the key to the shine was to fill in the pores would hitting the polish with a heat gun of blow dryer be a better way to thin the polish so it can get into the pores whilst avoiding the issues of possible excess moisture with the wax-water method. Or is it really a matter of getting the coat to harden i.e. long rest times as this guy proposes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=c-3ed17J3F8#t=32s) How long would it take you (start-to-finish including rest times) on average to get a pair of out-of-the-box shoes to a mirror shine.

    P.S. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am very thankful for your engagement with the people who post on this site. I think its very gracious of you to continually to share your knowledge. It is really quite awesome to be able to consult with a specialist and have them reply with helpful advice.

  59. Justin FitzPatrick

    Mike Z. – It’s hard to say really what the problem at hand is here, but when I get stories like this, I tend to think that too much product was put on and when that happens the shoe has a hard time of drying out in order to complete the process. To answer your question, yes a heat gun will help….but just make sure that if you use it you do it lightly and from at least 6 inches away….is your polish moist or dry? Try using a dry polish at this point and if that does not work, then you might have to strip it all and start over….

    I thank you for your kind words in regards to me and the blog. As a person whom used to yearn for a dedicated shoe source yet not be able to find one, it is my pleasure to be that person who provides that for all of you and do my best to help where I can. Sharing knowledge, for me, progression of society so I take pleasure in spreading what I have learned along my journey.


  60. Dear Justin,

    I have mirror shined my shoes, with the glass like layer over the toe and a lightly glossed layer over the other parts as you have previously described. When I apply a leather cream/conditioner directly over the wax, it dulls the shine and seems to slowly absorb the cream, even over the glassed toe (it doesn’t remove the wax completely as a quick rub with a cotton cloth restores the shine almost to its previous state although a bit of water and wax is still required for maximal effect). My question is, that is the leather being adequately fed by the cream or is the cream not reaching the leather?


  61. Justin FitzPatrick

    Peter – If you are putting the conditioner on when you still have a mirror shine, then you are doing it to soon. Conditioner should be used when the shoe has lost it’s shine and has gotten a bit dry….so to answer your question, it is probably reaching the leather but not adequately if you are applying it while you have a mirror shine…. Hope that this helps.


  62. I have a pair of To Boot New Yorks and I have had a few problems, one of them being that the factory burnish has disappeared on one of my shoes! how does this happen? I guess i should just redo the burnish, because I really like it. Also, the sole is separating at the toe, which is really concerning since the shoes are only ~6 months old. Should I just glue it? How can I care better for the sole?
    maybe you can see the problems in these pictures: http://imgur.com/FPul0&IVO8I

  63. Justin FitzPatrick

    Pprovencher – Sorry to see this….you are going to want to take it to a cobbler…have you been in a lot of wet weather with them? That’s one way that the burnish will come off, as well as the glue separating from the sole, which will cause it to grin at you as it has done….cobbler is the solution my friend…..


  64. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for getting back to me and I hope you had a great Christmas. I managed to sort out the Edward Greens. I left them to dry overnight and then added more wax without water to allow the leather to create a new seal. Once that was in place, it allowed me to continue the water and wax method until the shine matched the rest of the shoes.
    Once again thank you for taking the time to reply and I hope santa bought you some new shoes!
    Happy New Year.

  65. Justin FitzPatrick

    Nick – My pleasure to help as best as I can my friend. Glad to hear that you were able to sort it out! Happy New Year to you too!


  66. Hi I’m about to purchase an expensive pair of chestnut coloured boots, if i wanted to make them slightly darker would it be ok to polish them with a darker polish?? would it work. you could view the boot online they are called the pistol boot by acne in tan/chestnut. would really appreciate your expert advice.

  67. Jerrell Whitehead

    Hello Justin!

    I have a collection of shoes that are varied in colour, including red, midnight blue, and green. What do you recommend for polishing?

    Kind regards

  68. Justin,
    My son (10) has a little shoe shine business. He uses a round brush applicator, but over time the polish accumulates and cakes. Any suggestion on how to remove this?

    Thanks – Mark

  69. Justin FitzPatrick

    Jerrell – I would use a wax polish that is as close to those as possible…or you can play around with them, use burgundy on the red, tan/brown on the blue and blue on the green…it’s just depends…if you use wax, you don’t really have to worry about affecting the colors, more so just playing around with the undertones…

    Mark – that’s great!! What an entrepreneur!! You will need white spirit to really get it off….or you can scrape it off with something hard, but dull, like a spoon….

    David – Match the sole…but I don’t use edge dressing, I use polish…


    1. Isn’t polish a bad idea? As it ‘nurtures’ the leather and a sole has specifically been treated to be more robust. Doesn’t this reverse the effect? Kind regards, M

      1. Justin FitzPatrick

        Nurturing does not make it weaker. It makes it stronger and prevents cracking/scraping off. Leather naturally dries out with wear. Polishing it keeps it more pliable and thus prevents premature cracking or wear.

  70. Ok, using polish as edge dressing makes sense! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. My shoes thank you too. I hope we can buy your designs in the US soon too.

  71. Thx for all the knowledge on here man! I just bought some Doc’s and am pumped this site has already covered everything I need/will need to know.

  72. Justin,

    completely new to this so apologies if the question is a faux pas….

    just bought a pair of Church’s and plan on making them last as long as possible. Can you advise on a suitable way to polish leaving a matte finish as opposed to a mirror shine?

    Also, do you have any tips for the leather sole treatment? or is this best left as is…

    thanks in advance for any help you can give.

  73. Justin FitzPatrick

    David – No worries David…sorry that we weren’t able to confidently agree on a size for my shoes…hopefully they will be selling in the States soon…

    Anon – Not a problem my friend

    Anon2 – you can do the process that I described here but just don’t carry it out all of the way. Stop after the first application of wax and then you will have a nice shine (but not too shiny) and a bit of protection on the leather…. For sole treatment, well if you really want you can shine the sole just as you would the upper leather…I never do it though….


  74. Hello Justin,

    I’ve recenlty read an article that advised using a solution consisting of 8 to 9 parts demineralized water and 2 to 1 parts isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) instead of plain water for getting the true shine.

    I’ve used it and it seems to work better, it kind of melts the wax better (when using regular water, I had to work longer to make it shine). I use Saphire Patte de luxe as the was polish.

    Have you ever used this method ?

  75. Justin,

    Thanks again for your original post and your extensive responses to comments – truly a privilege to be able to get expert advice for free!

    Whilst your instructions are all that I need for the ‘how’ to polish side of things, but for a shoe newbie like myself I need a bit more help on the ‘tools of the trade’ side in terms of what equipment I need. So if you don’t mind, here are a few questions to pick your brain a bit more to complete this ‘Shoe Shine 101’ course. I hope other people would find this useful too!

    – are horse hair brushes much better than normal brushes? Just curious how important a ‘quality’ brush actually is in terms of shoe care.

    – I’ve heard that Saphir polishes are ‘best-in-class’, but in what way are they better than more average brands like Kiwi? (saw in your pic that you used them too) Wanted to know whether there is any actual benefit for the price premium.

    – Do wax polishes and non-wax polishes(are they referred to as ‘creams’?) do broadly the same thing, w/ exception that wax gives a better ‘shiny’ appearance?

    – Presume that silicone as an ingredient in shoe polish is bad for the leather?

    – are ‘leather conditioners’ bad for shoes? What do they do and are they necessary? Seems like just polishing shoes regularly is sufficient to care for shoes?

    – What do the mink oil ‘renovators’ do? Do they help keep the leather from cracking, or is that what a ‘leather conditioner’ does?

    Many thanks in advance for your guidance.

  76. Hi Justin

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who finishes with an old pair of tights. My husband asked me when we first met why I had a pair in with the shoe polishes. The technique I learned whilst serving in the army is pretty much as you described, although we were all guilty of just adding more and more polish until it became totally pitted (or they were thrown at the wall by a burly Company Sergeant Major who said they weren’t shiny enough!). We used to all sit in the corridor with our shoes, cotton cloths and a tin of polish in the evenings (it was quite a social gathering to be honest!)

    Regards, Janine

  77. Justin FitzPatrick

    Sly – yes i have used this method…not with precise measurements or anything but parts water parts alcohol, but as far as it being the true shine, well I just can’t really say that the results are all that different…the best shine is done by burning the wax into the pores, thus creating a true flat surface, which makes you able to create a real mirror shine, like the military gentleman do on their boots…..polish and faucet water seems to do me just fine….

    SL – Glad to help where I can my friend, as I too was once a guy with answers and needing someone to look to. It is my pleasure to try and be that guy for all of you…as per your questions, here you go:

    -Good question in reality…I have always just assumed horsehair was best as this is what I believe to be ‘common knowledge’, whether it really is I can’t say…I don’t really use a brush to get a shine so for me it’s not really that important, just as long as the bristles are not too soft and bring out a glow, that is what matters to me…

    -I don’t actually use them, I use my own branded wax, which is similar. The difference is in the quality of the ingredients, which therefore results in the quality and easiness of your shine, as well as the effects it has to your leather. You see, polish in reality is a product of chemicals, and the higher grade of polish, the less chemicals involved and a bit more natural ingredients, like beeswax. That is not to say that the high grade stuff is all natural, just less harmful to your leather…… If you own cheap shoes than the expensive polish to me is not necessary. If you were expensive shoes then it is. If you owned a Ferrari, would you buy the car wax at your local convenience store or the top grade stuff from the Ferrari dealership?

    – No, wax polish provides shine and protection, cream polish provides color, paste does both but not as well as either of the other two do in their respective use

    – precisely!

    – Definitely not, they are absolutely necessary! Polish in actuality is something that if done excessively without conditioning will dry out your leather and cause it to crack. Remember that leather is a skin, just like yours and does not have a body to heal it, and therefore needs nourishment, which is precisely what conditioner (like mink oil) does.

    – See above….

    Janine – Well done Janine!! The trick to giving that illustrious finish! Sounds like you have some good memories! Thanks for sharing.


  78. Wonderfully informative blog! I just started the switch from sneakers, t-shirts and jeans to more gentlemanly attire, and found this article to be highly beneficial with my latest find, a handmade pair of vintage New & Lingwood Broques, many thanks!

  79. Justin, have been following your blog assiduously and have not seen you mention an old standby that have used for many years “neats-foot oil” how do you feel about it when compared to mink oil which I also use and have just purchased a tub from you, I value your opinion very much have a brother in law who passed away at the age of 94 and I have inherited his army boots that would like to restore if possible; they were in 4 yours of combat on the eastern front during WW2 so you can imagine the condition…..any suggestions on that endeavor?………thanks in advance;


  80. Hi Justin,
    will a shoe cream be able to work with water for a mirror shine as you did with the wax or is that exclusively with wax only? Thanks.

  81. Justin ; Lou again, could you please comment on addressing more exotic shoe leather such as Alligator, Lizard and Ostrich, thanks in advance for any advice;

  82. Justin FitzPatrick

    Anon 1 – Thank you for the kind words and am happy to hear of your transition!

    Lou – can’t say that I have ever heard of it my friend…so I cannot really comment on it…but if it has worked well for you, then by all means…as per the boots, well you might have to burn the wax down to attempt a smooth surface again…it’s hard to say without seeing them really…

    Anon 2 – never tried it but I can’t imagine it would as it’s another moisture and will have a hard time drying up to build the shine…if it would work it would probably take days to do….

    Lou again – I shine it all the same my friend…and many exotics don’t take a shine anyway, not a real one at least…can’t comment on doing anything different as I don’t do anything different..


  83. Justin,

    How often should someone shine their shoes, as you described in the post, for a pair of shoes that are warn three times a week? This is a pretty extensive process and I know I wouldn’t be able to take the time every day or even week.

    Great article, thanks for taking the time.


  84. Justin FitzPatrick

    Zach – If you do this once, you will notice that the base of this shine will be there for a long time, as filling those pores does not easily go away. Therefore, the second time that you need to shine, it will only be a matter of a top up, not having to go through this process each time… At your rate, you might want to polish your shoes once ever other week or once every three weeks…it will really just depend on what happens to them when you do wear them…you will be able to gauge it…


  85. Hello, Justin !
    I enjoyed reading your tips on getting that shine. lots of love for fine leather there 🙂
    I wonder if you can help me with a small problem – the other day, I applied an instant shoe shine to my black shoes, the kind hotel rooms have with a sponge applicator in a circular shallow plastic case. The result was a dull matt finish and despite my efforts to polish them back to a shine with the Cherry Blossom black wax polish I normally use, I am unable to get rid of the dull finish. What should I do? Thanks

  86. Hi Justin, great post! Surely answered a lot of questions I had.

    But my only concern now is, I recently got a pair of Allen Edmonds and I am confused on a few things. Could you see if my process is good enough?

    In short,
    1) Use AE Conditioner/Cleaner
    2) Use AE Premium Polish (specific color to my AE’s)
    3) (here’s the problem) DO I use a beewax like Kiwi or the ones you sell, to do the remaining 2 layers?

    I am confused whether or not the color from AE polish and then applying another 1-2 coats of wax will be too much of different colors?


  87. Justin FitzPatrick

    Caelen – while I appreciate your enthusiasm for polishing shoes, I am afraid to say that I cannot go into more detail….even if I did it would be the same..you really only learn by doing it and learning from your mistakes…this is how I learned…I sat and watched people do it for days and could not get it down until I just kept going at it and learning from my mistakes…. As per going into patina work, well I am not an expert in that field, so in reality I cannot go into greater detail as it would not be right….I have done my own jobs just by using common sense but not through expertise…

    Sudarshan – you should let your shoes dry as you probably oversoaked the leather with that instant shine brush that is full of chemicals….let the shoes dry for an entire day or two and then give it another go…

    Anon – wax is not strong in pigment…Kiwi’s polish is not a real wax..it’s a paste… that has minimal wax qualities…best to use one like mine or other’s of this caliber…one in America that is good is Lincoln….but it dries very easily….so, using a real wax polish will really not affect color, so you don’t have to worry…. I hope that this helped..


  88. Hi Justin, great post and I’ve been trying your methods a pair of black Barker loafers, however when I get the shine about halfway to where I want, ie quite glossy but not glassy, I find small scratch like marks in the polish but not the leather. This only seems to get more obvious as the rest of the surface gets glossier meaning in bright light the surface isn’t glass like but instead slightly rough. This also is not present on the unpolished shoe so I know the leather is smooth. I use a cotton T shirt and Kiwi wax polish as you recommend. Any tips or advice on how to get a smoother finish as you do on your pair of C and J? Cheers, John

  89. Hi,

    Great blog and great shoes. I’ve come across many ways of looking after a pair of new shoes. What do you recommend when they first come out of the box? A light mink oiling? Cream and/or Polish? Nothing?

    I have also come across people who belief one should use a neutral cream rather than a pigmented cream. How do yo see this?


  90. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for the excellent post. I’ve grown to enjoy shining my shoes on a weekly to biweekly basis and look forward to it every Sunday (I tend to rotate between 3 pairs for work a week so I wear each pair twice a week). I do walk quite a bit but I am conscious to try not to scuff my shoes. Having said all that, if my shoes still look good after a week or two after my last polish do you think a simple shine (conditioner + 2 layers of wax polish) on a weekly/biweekly basis excessive?

    Thank you in advance!

  91. Justin FitzPatrick

    John – To be honest my friend, it could be a number of things like the softness of the cloth, the hardness of the polish or the amount (or lace thereof) of water that you are using….sorry but without knowing its hard to give advice…all the best with it!

    Nick – Thanks for the kind words my friend! Shoes out of the box, a bit of mink oil and polish is good just to protect the shoe….do a high shine after you have worn them a few times, as the leather needs time to break in… as per the cream, well if the point of it is to rejuvenate color then the pigment is necessary, so I cannot agree with this train of thought….

    Anon – looks like you have a good rhythm going but to answer your question, yes there is a point when it becomes too much….once a week is probably the most that I would say is allowable before the point of being unhealthy for the leather (if you are doing deep polishing – high shines). If your shoes are still looking good, simply brush downs is all that will suffice to keep off the dust and dirt….

    thanks for writing


  92. I am fascinated about what I can learn here. Thank you. Just about two things I do not understand since I am very new in this: To remove the excess polish you use Nail polish remover or alcohol, but what tool do you use to avoid damage to the shoe?
    Second, I am German and it is very difficult for me to follow the very special words for all the polish: Do I understand it right from your step-by-step, that you use three substances, not more
    1, one phase of a repair, like your mink oil. I have in my box Something that is called Brillant Creme and something similar, Delicate cream, both remember me of moister creams women tend to use. I have here, too, Grassa de Caballo from Panama Jack, that seams to be wrong for that phase.
    2, than some kind of creamy cream. I have here in my box Allen Edmonds Shoe Cream or Saphir Crme Surfine. Those are OK?
    3, and only than the (bees)-wax based polish, that is applied in several phases. There you, as me, use the usual Kiwi Shoe Polish.
    I would be very glad for help. From Germany, yours, Giorio.

  93. Justin FitzPatrick

    To avoid damage to the shoe, I simply do not rub too hard….however one does not need to remove excess polish every time. Its only after they have polished their shoes an excessive amount of times and it is then starting to flake off….

    As per the products I use well, here you are:

    1. Yes a cream conditioner, like lotion to your skin
    2. A cream/paste polish (like Kiwi or the Saphir that you were describing)
    3. A wax polish. I don’t use kiwi for this as I don’t think that Kiwi is a true wax. I use kiwi for state two as a color rejuvenating product. In this step, I use my own products that you can find on my blog, under Shoe Snob Accessories

    Hope that this helps


  94. Hey Justin thanks for the great information! This has been very helpful, especially for me as a beginner. My question is have you ever heard of using navy blue Polish on black boots? I read this somewhere and would love to hear your opinion. Keep in mind I am polishing fairy cheep law enforcement issue black boots trying to accomplish a mirror shine. I would appreciate any advice you’re willing to give that might help me stand out and look professional. Thanks again for the great info!

  95. Hi Justin,

    Fantastic site you have here. I never used to care much about keeping my shoes in great shape, but now that I seem to make a habit of buying nice shoes, I am obsessive about keeping them up.

    What is the best way to keep the creases to a minimum. I have a new pair that seems to have developed creases fairly quickly. I appreciate your input, and thanks for all the information you have shared.

  96. Justin FitzPatrick

    I appreciate that Mike!

    Keeping creases to a minimum, well the only real way is to use shoe trees, but you can’t really stop them from coming, as they will be inevitable…the only way to keep them from getting worse is shoe trees and regular conditioning of the leather….

  97. Justin FitzPatrick

    I don’t find it necessary really…but I do know that some people do it…nothing is going to protect the soles from a really really wet day…other than galoshes.

  98. That is interesting, about sole protection. What do you think of leather sole oil? They say, it can double the life of the sole. I here just bought Burgol leather sole oil 250, and it stinks, literally. But does letaher sole oil, in general, is a good idea?

    They make a cult here in Germany out of Burgol, and i think, it is not a good Product line: The cream/paste polish does not go well into the pores. The wax is much too creamy!!! And the leather sole oil has an odor, that makes me feel pity for my shoes – let alone my nose.
    Yours, Giorgio Stalker (who has now about 5, half of his shoes polished by the FitzPatrick method, and telling anyone, if he wants it or not, about it by name).

  99. Justin FitzPatrick

    To be honest, I don’t think much of this claim about leather oil….sure it may help some when it is dry, but definitely not double the life of your sole….the only thing that is going to double the life of your sole are galoshes as a heavy rain day will permeate anything that you put on the sole…..

    Glad that you have been enjoying my method and thanks for spreading it around!!

  100. Justin, just wore a pair of Maison martin margiela’s a couple times. They are dove grey unfinished leather. Wanted to know what you recommened for the leather care on those. Just got a pair of LIGHT tan ones as well and I certainly don’t want to ruin my investment by trying to polish them. I’m ok with them not looking super glossy as they are a matte finish out of the box. I do want to protect them though and be able to clean them up after wear, light scuffs, etc. So far… matching color polish creme I found online or something like Urad is all I have for ideas. What do you recommend??
    Thanks, Craig

  101. Justin FitzPatrick

    Craig, if I am going to be honest, these types of leathers are a bit out of my league as they are so insanely difficult to maintain. The fact that they are matte and unfinished means that they are extremely absorbent and anything that you put on them (in terms of shoe shining product) will immediately darken them. Best to spray these with a protectant and then just be careful… A light lotion type product should help rejuvenate them when looking a bit tired…a cream polish will probably darken them if I am going to be honest, so it is hard to say my friend…sorry I can’t be of more help with these…

  102. Thank you, perhaps shoe oil is really nothing for me, too, as far as my experience lasts.

    I, Giorgio, now finally want to ask Justin the (in my opinion) utmost important question ever to ask about good full leather shoes: Do shoes have to die? Can I care for them so well, that they live my lifetime?
    This is such a difficult question to answer generally, because, there are so many factors. For example, if you tell a 20-year-old that his box calf shoes will last his lifetime, you will lose the bet, if he wears them every day and goes trekking and jogging with them.
    So my concrete example will be: I have 10 pairs of good shoes, Allen Edmonds, Quarvif, Lendvay & Schwarcz, Grensons, Lorenzo Banfi, etc., and some additional usual shoes with rubber soles for bad weather, Camel, Ladage & Oelcke, Sabelt. Four of the ten are new, the rest in very good shape. I now know the Care&Polish-Method from the ShoeSnob, and I have shoe trees. Sheer mathematics, this means, that every shoe in one year is used at the absolute maximum of 40 days a year (because, some shoes are worn more than others). They have a periodical use of a minimum break of about seven days and good care. So in 25 to 30 Years, each one of these shoes will have been worn about a 1000 times. Can a shoe survive that and last even longer? If you have any general idea about such numerical values, than also a man, that has 20 or five pairs of shoes and also the man with three pairs of shoes can evaluate and calculate, how long his shoes may last.

  103. Justin FitzPatrick

    Dear Giorgio, no of course shoes don’t have to die, but there is no calculation that can prove this theory….like you stated, the variants of the equation will matter greatly…weather being a big factor….shoes have certainly outlived their owners, but whether or not they wore the pair over 1000 times would have been unknown to me….and to be honest, leather quality was not as good as it was 20-50 years ago, so whether or not the modern shoe can last that long, well I simply can’t say for sure, but in theory it should if treated properly….

  104. Justin –

    Is there anyone in the united states offering this ultimate polish service whom you would reccomend?

    Cheers, st.tully

  105. Justin FitzPatrick

    Unfortunately i do not know my friend….but you might ask the members of Style Forum, who would know best since many of them live there and like to take care of their shoes….sorry…

  106. Hi Justin,

    I’ve emailed you as well regarding which products to buy, but I noticed on the video on Mr Porter that once you have applied cream and then wax polish that you do not then use a brush? I just wanted to check that this is your method as I have read other advice where they say polish in a circular motion then shine using a brush.


  107. Hey Justin!

    Thanks for a great guide, I hope you would answer a question i have:

    I wondered if polishing the shoes with water and filling the pores all over the shoe, and not just at the toe as I have seen others do, will make the shoes less able to breath? Cause I tend to start sweating on my feet after a long day in most of my leather shoes, and I wondered if polishing them the way you describe, closing the pores, would increase the problem. Do you have any thoughts about this?


  108. Justin FitzPatrick

    Dear Matt, theoretically yes, but I don’t actually shine the shoe as heavy everywhere as I do the toe, I really only create that mirror look on the toes and heels but not over all of the crease points, like the vamp and quarters….therefore the shoe is still able to breath….

  109. Justin FitzPatrick

    Dean, this looks to be like a nubuck type of leather and in reality, I am no expert in maintaining these….maybe by steam them, like suede, you can help to clean them and replenish color loss? Sorry I can’t really be of much help with these

  110. Hey, Justin.

    I have a pair of C&J handgrade brogues in dark tan. When they get a bit of water on the black brogue-ing, a dark liquid blob of whatever the black stuff is (it seems to be almost like ash) comes up. It then gradually dries, but it leaves a dark mark that makes the shoe look them a ‘smoked’ appearance. Leather cream seems to remove it so it doesn’t look like a stain – although the shoe has to be re-shined. I’ve tried water proofing spray on them, this doesn’t stop the black blobs from appearing when they get wet.

    Any tips for this or is it just part and parcel of a brogue shoe?

    Thanks for your help as always,

    Regards, Peter.

  111. Justin FitzPatrick

    Dear Peter,

    This sounds to me like salt stains, that come from rain. This really has nothing to do with being a brogue but rather just the nature of the moisture taking it’s effect on the leather…does this not happen with any other shoe that you have? If not then maybe it is simply the leather that was used on this shoe….if you feel that I am off here, then maybe it’s best if you show me a picture of what you are talking about…. But from what it sounds like it is simply salt staining and all one can do is quickly condition the leather and re-polish when this happens….

  112. Justin,

    I recently purchased a pair of Gucci loafers in dark brown. However, after polishing them with a shoe cream of proper color, areas of light discoloration began to become apparent on the shoe, appearing similar to scuffs. It almost seems as though the horse hair brush is stripping the color. Am I damaging the shoe? Or is something inherently wrong? As this is a large purchase for me, I would really appreciate guidance on the issue.


    Peter (Different than the one above)

  113. Justin,

    Any different recommendations in the process to get patent black shine on regular black calf leather shoes? I don’t plan to invest in new pair of patent blacks for the tuxedo, so I need to to make the best of normal black shoes.


  114. I am also a Shoe Snob from the way to look at my and others shoes. So I like the seriousness of this blog very much.
    I have an old pair of shoes. It is bespoke, very good calf leather, but for some years in the past I did not provide for it good enough. It is still a good pair, but it has now a regular pattern of cracks on the surface at the front of the shoe, a real crackelee. I got it much nicer with your method, but still, it seems to be a bit problematic, that the cracks seem to be so deep and the leather seems to be a bit to dry here. A shoe cobbler that just put new soles to the shoes told me, I should use oil on the shoe, because it would make the shoe much more soft and flexible again and so it would make the cracks better. Usually, I find oil a bad idea, but in this special case, I have the feeling, it might be good. What do you think? Or is the mink oil renovator enough oil in itself, though I understand, mink oil renovator its an emulsion? Yours, Giorgio.

  115. Justin FitzPatrick

    Giorgio, unfortunately I cannot really give any advice here as I have never attempted putting oil on a shoe…but if they are as bad as you say, well, it may not hurt giving it a try, especially if they are black….best of luck! If you don’t, then I would suggest trying the renovator, applying it 3 times, with at least 24 hours of drying in between each application….

  116. Justin, what steps should be taken to produce a similar or equal shine on cordovan. For reference the shoes I have are Carmina cordovan wingtips.

    Regards, John

  117. Justin FitzPatrick

    the exact same steps my friend, at least it works for me the same…I don’t do anything differently when it comes to cordovan

  118. Hi Justin, great blog! unfortunately no matter the man hours I put in I am never pleased with the results. I am trying to make my shoes a couple of shades darker (they are mid brow at the moment). I apply renovatuer with one of your brushes leave for 5-10 minutes and brush off. Then I apply cream (as it has more colour particles) polish of same brown with one of your brushes – working it well into the leather, then leaving for 5 minutes followed by brushing. Then I repeat with darker brown after… I then achieve the colour I am after. HOWEVER I then let the shoes rest (overnight even in some cases) and then go to add a wax polish but instead of adding to the patina this removes all my hours of labour at the previous sitting and returns them to the same colour as when begun albeit a bit messier and shinier. What am I doing wrong? (All my shoes are edward green so the leather should be of high quality – although I seem to be ruining my hard saved for footwear)
    Please help, Sam.

    1. Dear Sam,

      Unfortunately my friend, not all leathers can be darkened by polish and if they can, it usually take time and more drying time between stages…5 minutes is not enough….but this happens to me as well…wax often takes off what you have done before, that is if what you were doing was applying a heavy amount of cream in order to darken the shoe. Polish needs time to set into the pores and 5 minutes is just not enough time to do so….trying drying more…all the best -Justin

  119. I am writing as someone who spent 8 years in the military in Canada, where British dress and decorum traditions are still extremely strong, and I regret to inform you that you have no idea what damage you are causing to the leather shoes!! To anyone reading this blog: all you need is a Kiwi cloth, a tin of polish, a small dish of water, the occasional bit of spit, and some elbow grease. Don’t ever put chemicals or bristles near your shoes, for the love of Sergeants Major everywhere!!

    1. not sure what you are talking about here…..every now and then a shoe needs a stripping and polish does not do that…and brushing a shoe with bristles is not harmful….but i don’t do that anyway

  120. Hi Justin,

    I don’t know anything about nail polish removers – any fears that chemicals/alcohol in the removers may damage your shoes? How often would you recommend using nail polish remover prior to polishing?


    1. yes they can….you have to use it lightly and sparingly…always test it on the inside of the heel just to make sure that it does not strip the finish too easily….one only needs to do it when so much polish has caked up that it starts to leave cracking like polish flakes…

  121. yes it does…places that have stiffeners (hard bits between lining and upper to hold shape of that point in the shoe) will always shine better as they are stiff so when you press the rag against that part, it holds still and the polish gets into the pores where as in a part that does not have a stiffener, the leather bends inward when you apply pressure and the polish therefore does not get in as easily…. glad that you got good results!

  122. Hi, I just tried to shine my shoes and it had been a while so I was careless and added way too much polish. Now when I try to get it off with my horsehair brush, It won’t come off. these shoes have only been shined 2 times previously. is it safe to still use the nail polish remover idea?

    1. yes it is safe…but it is always best to be very sparing with it and add more appropriately based on how you see it’s reaction….

  123. Hi Justin,

    I have recently acquired a pair of dark brown brogues, and think I have managed to take the finish off, trying to clean them by rubbing too hard. What would you recommend doing not to damage them, and to preserve their colour. They are a dark red brown colour.



    1. rubbing to hard with the nail polish remover? or with conditioner? always best to be sparing with all products to see how the leather reacts and from the first case of seeing, then act accordingly….with good products, a little goes a long way…to get your finish back, you will want to use a cream polish and work it in slowly with welt brush…hope that this helps

  124. It appears that I’ve done the same as Freddie, below. Any tips to what to do next would be appreciated!



    1. see below Rich…but as a rule of thumb, a little goes a long way, so next time be sparing in what you use as any product can have it’s own adverse effect if used too much

  125. my pleasure my friend. Glad to hear that you have been enjoying the site!! And also happy to hear that you are slowly but surely sorting out the issue at hand!

  126. Justin, thanks for a great blog! I have a question for you, do you think brushing the shoe with a big brush too hard or intense can damage the leather? I have a pair of black moreschis which seem to have a few scratches on top of them, and I don’t like it but don’t know how they appeared. But I’m a newbie to shoe polish/care so it might be something else. Thanks!

  127. hi justin, you mention dry wax polish and wet wax polish. does dry simply mean old wax? and wet mean new? if so, may i simply leave my wax open for a while until it dries up? sorry if this sounds silly

  128. Hi Justin, awesome walkthrough of shoe care. I see below in the comments that you emailed people some recommendations on products. I was curious if you wouldn’t mind sharing what some of the highest end products (in your opinion) are to use on shoes. In particular, I have a pair of light brown/chestnut Santoni’s and a new pair of pebbled leather grey Santoni’s with some brown thrown in as well. Besides finding a high quality one, I am also stumped on the grey ones regarding which color polish would be best, as black is certainly going to darken them and even a light grey might ruin the brown hue that appears on the top of the shoe. Thanks!

  129. Hi there I have a soft leather pair of boots a lovely camel color. They are just my absolute favorite. Today to spruce them up I used one of those shoe shine sponges and I want to cry it darkened my boot and it looks so uneven and horrible. Can I reverse this damage or will the color come back with time? Please advise!

    1. 1. never ever use those brushes again 2. to be honest, it is hard to say as the leather used on lady’s boots is much more sensitive and completely different than that used on men’s so I am not sure of how they will age without doing anything….you might have just ruined them, unfortunately …..but you could always dye them if they did not sort themselves out yet

  130. Hi Justin,

    Thanks for this blog…the shoe shine method detailed above refers to hours. And overnight. How is it that shoe shine stands are able to achieve the glassy look in mere minutes?

    1. Possibly because the shoe shine stand operators do not have OCD …
      BTW – Excellent site with useful and amusing information

    2. they don’t, it is not the same shine and does not last nearly as long. You cannot fill the pores that fast. they make a good shine, but it is not a mirror finish that feels like glass….that cannot be done quickly, by anyone

  131. Justin,

    I have a colour question for burgundy shoes, and getting the mirror shine. I have a pair that I am working on, and
    i have a neutral beeswax polish, but I haven’t a burgundy beeswax. Is it best to get the burgundy to do the shine?

    1. Andrew Schomin

      I used a neutral on a pair of burgundy brogues and it came out just like this. Seemed to work just fine.

    2. for shine, either one will do the same thing….it’s only for color that you need the leather’s match polish…but I always match the wax too and never use neutral…

  132. May I ask a question?

    You say:
    …to apply the first round of polish with an applicator brush…

    After several uses, my brushes get kind of “petrified”… Next use seem to soften them, but they get more and more stiff, obviously. Solutions: cleaning them from time to time with the appropriate product (?), tossing them out and buying new ones? What do you do?

    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

  133. May I ask a question? I used some conditioner (it says ‘protects all raw leathers’, to apply it thinly and let it dry). After applying it I spread it out with an old t-shirt and an old sock. It noticeably stripped off some colour of my shoes. I presume this isn’t the idea. What am I doing wrong? Or is the conditioner I used not good enough? Could it be old polish (colour cream) that had built up over time?

    Thanks in advance

    1. I would be led to believe that the quality of the shoe’s finishing was not good as conditioner should not really strip the color, unless you are really rubbing it on very hard and excessively…

      1. Perhaps I am understating how much lighter my shoe was before I used darker polish. I think the darker polish is what came off, not the actual colour of the shoe.

  134. Two pairs of shoes, one a fine old Gucci and the other a two year old Barney’s matte finish whole cut oxford purchased new.
    The Gucci I purchased on eBay for 69.99 the Barney’s for 108.00 at an after Christmas sale. The Gucci’s I stopped wearing soon after I purchased them because the cap toe on the right shoe refused to accept polish, so I put shoe trees in each shoe and shoved them under the bed to gather dust. I wore the Barney’s only once because I hated the matte finish, so they, like the Gucci’s, were sent into exile under the bed.
    And now, after bookmarking this site two months ago and doing nothing I forced myself to take the plunge this past weekend and follow your instructions to the letter. I now have two pairs of mirror finished, flawless looking shoes.

    Thank you!

  135. Justin, quite a few of the French shoes pictured on your blog seem to have a mirror finish all over the shoe. How can this be possible? I thought that if you attempt a mirror finish on the flexible unsupported areas it just cracks and flakes off. Here are some pics…I think they’re all from this blog. Best wishes, Nick

    1. these examples are all samples and will never be worn…and many of these with the exception of the bottom one don’t actually have a mirror finish, it’s just the lighting and imagery

      1. Brixton Bonbon

        Ah, thanks. Did you ever find out any more about the use of whisky for a glacage? Why whisky, as opposed to other spirits?

    1. And your point is? If you would have read, I put next to the picture of what I showed: “what I am currently using is the shoe snob wax”. In the video at the bottom I am only using my polish. And the kiwi was what I used for color before I had my own branded cream polishes, but never used for high shine, so in reality your point is null

    1. that is too hard to answer…could be any number as it depends on the wearer and how heavily he shines them….when the polish cracks then you need to strip….if it does not then you can just go straight to mink oil and re-shining….once you have this as a base it will be much easier to achieve…and then you can do it as often as needed (i.e. when the shine fades)

  136. Shoe apprentice

    Hello, the shoes in your website appear to have the tip shinier than the rest of the
    shoe body. Given that you recommend to address the shoe evenly in all the
    procedures, how do you achieve that effect?

    1. only address the shoe evenly until you reach to the 2nd round of spit and shine…then you only need to high shine the toe, heels and facing

  137. What color of edge dressing should one use on cordovan shoes? I’m not referring to true “shell”, but to the ” typical” less expensive cordovans which range in color from quite reddish to a subtler near brown?

    1. whatever color the side of the sole is is what edge dressing you should be using…using “burgundy” colored shoes come with a brown edge of sole

  138. Hi,
    I polish my tall leather riding boots (the real kind haha) using a similar method. I can get a very nice mirror like shine but then when ever I wear them and the leather bends at all the polish cracks and falls off…. I don’t know what in doing wrong 🙁

    1. I presume that you are shining the shaft of the boot? If so, that is your problem…it will inevitably crack as that part is being bent….mirror shine is really only intended for toes and heels

  139. Angryleprechaun

    I just got a new pair of leather dress shoes and would like to know if I need to put anything on them? Wax?

  140. Pete McDonough

    I can shine a pair of black combat boots in 20 minutes. I use my wife to wear them, a shoe sine box with a step on top for her to place her foot wearing my boot. I use black kiwi shoe polish, nuetral shoe polish, and blue kiwi polish, a spray bottle with cold water set to mist, a shoe brush, a small white terry cloth rag and a hair dryer. First ensure the boot is clean. Spray the boot with water and apply liberal amounts of black polish with a cloth wrapped around two fingers. Hold the can and the hair dryer in the same hand and rub in the polish with the other. Continue to apply black polish and spray water between each application all the time using the hair dryer to continuously keep the polish warm. After a few applications switch to nuetral for one coat. Then spray the brush lightly and brush the leather. Next spray the shine cloth and vigorously rub the shoes down using both hands. Last step..and here is the kicker. Apply a small amount of blue kiwi to your finger rag and spray a little water and rub in. Re-buff and BAM! High gloss shine. I learned this in the Army. The blue polish is an old Airborne trick. This technique makes my boots look like patton leather. I still use it daily because I wear black tacticle boots for work so this technique has worked for over 25 years. Total time after you get used to it……20 minutes…both boots.

  141. blonderealist

    I recently discovered “The Shoe Snob” blog and enjoy it immensely. I have only three pairs of “better” shoes (although, from what I’ve learned from this blog and a couple of others, I have much more to learn about high quality shoes): Alden, Allen Edmonds, and Brooks Brothers. Oh, I have nice pair of Ferragamo loafers too. Not sure where they fall on the quality shoe scale. I recently followed Justin’s instructions on how to properly polish/shine shoes and can say the results were excellent. I’d previously just used shoe crème. After buying some proper shoe wax from my shoe repair man, I followed Justin’s instructions precisely (or at least pretty close). I tackled my Allen Edmonds shoes this past weekend, black whole cut balmorals similar to the shoes shown in his entry about patina. They turned out great!. Thanks to Justin for his efforts. I hope his new shoe line is a great success.

  142. Hi Justin, a female fan writing from Los Angeles. Thank you for your unparalleled polishing lesson! Meticulously detailed, gorgeously photo’d ! I just bought some vintage Chanel tuxedo loafers and am using your techniques to amp them up to the elegant finish an Italian-made Chanel loafer deserves. It’s working beautifully, but a question please: I have completed all the steps and just did the “spit n polish” phase but only for about 20 mins. Should the suggested 1-2 hours mostly consist of painstaking circular rubbing, or are you saying one should actually perform the water ‘n wax ‘n rub over and over and over again for the entire 1-2 hours even if that adds another 4 or more thin layers of wax over the whole shoe? They already look 100x better than before — but I would love to get somewhere near the sublime levels of polish displayed in your photos, and want to be sure I am doing it right. THANK YOU! 🙂

    1. dear catherine, thanks for sharing and for reading. I am happy that you are enjoying the blog and this post. If you want to achieve these results unfortunately it takes the time…but it is not 1-2 hours straight…there must be that drying time involved…the more you allow for drying the easier the shine process is….just have to keep doing those circular motions

  143. Malcolm 'Mac' Howells

    Justin. One piece of advice please. How does the technique differ, if at all, when you have bi-coloured shoes, either painted leather or two different coloured leathers?

  144. Hi Justin, I have followed your polishing technic carefully with great results, I am using Saphir shoe cream with a great colour, do I need to match the colour with a wax polish of the same brand or can I use a good quality beeswax polish in neutral for the spit & polish finish? Great blog! Thanks Dave.

    1. just the same as normal, if your toe (that should be darker) starts to loose it’s darkness just polish the toe in the darker shade that it is (but not the rest of the shoes)

  145. Hi SS – I have a question about cordovan, or more specifically about Saphir cordovan cream. I know that it is intended for cordovan shoes, and that it does not include turpentine since turps are a problem for horse hide. But is there any issue with using cordovan cream on calfskin shoes? I prefer it because it doesn’t make the house smell like an oil refinery whenever I shine my shoes, but perhaps there’s an issue using it on calfskin (though I can’t see why). Thanks, Martin

    1. dear Martin while I am no real expert when it comes to Cordovan, I can tell you that I am not one who believes in special products for special leathers. Before Saphir was every invented or “Cordovan” creams, I know that there were gentleman who must have only used Kiwi on their cordovan shoes which I am sure lasted every bit as long as those that only use “Cordovan” specialty products. While this does not directly answer what you are asking, what i am trying to get at is that I don’t think that you will do any harm using the ‘cordovan’ cream on your calfskin shoes…and vice versa…

      1. That reply wasn’t snobbish in the least! Your opinion on the matter is well considered, and your reasoning flawless. I was in a store to buy some Saphir cream, and they had the regular cream and this cordovan cream. As I mentioned, I liked the lack of fumes in the cordovan cream, and so I was madly goggling on my phone “what the hell is cordovan cream” trying to figure out whether there was any reason not to get it. (In the end I got one of each.) If my shoes suddenly and inexplicably burst into flames and melt on my feet, I will certainly let you know, with pictures. Thanks! Martin

        1. my pleasure Martin! And yes please do let me know if they do that…I will most like see pigs flying in the sky that day 🙂

  146. Hello Justin!
    I am trying to shine a pair of Church’s loafers at the moment. I’d managed to bring both shoes to shine, except for 1 area – left toe cap. I’m puzzled as I am unable to shine that particular area regardless of how many times I’d tried. Despite leaving the shoes overnight, and trying to polish it again, I attain no results in shining my left toe cap.
    Whenever I apply polish, the toe cap doesn’t feel like it’s getting smoother. Instead, every time I polish that spot, it feels like the leather is getting moist despite the fact that I was using just a tiny speckle of water droplet. The touch of that particular area felt like a ‘damaged skin’.

    Should I should strip the leather of that particular spot and re-do? Or should I apply a generous amount of renovateur on it. It’s a pair of new shoes and I do not wish to damage the leather 🙁

    I used Saphir’s Renovateur and Pommadier before dapping my cloth into a measly bit of Church’s shoe wax. Tried buffing the shoe cap but to no avail.


    1. i realize that this might now be outdated for which I am sorry, but comments are something that usually take the longest for me to get back to. Best to email me for emergencies. I hope that did not do anything that you suggested as all of those things would make it worse considering the fact that you say that it feels moist. It sounds as if the leather needs sufficient time to dry which could take a few days. I hope that you have since resolved it and as an FYI, the number one reason that most people run into problems is by applying too much of something, whether it renovator, polish or water….sounds like you applied too much of one of those on that shoe…allow to dry and then start again

  147. Gregorio McLean

    Hello Justin. Thank you for the instructions on polishing. It had additional details to complement your video (which I also appreciate). I purchased a pair of John Lobb William II (double monks) in new gold museum calf. I followed your video, but haven’t got that mirror shine yet. I need to use a bit more pressure on the wax application. I’m using Saphir neutral. I need to maybe leave some of the wax polish exposed to air so it will dry. That may help with getting the pores filled. It’s the toe cap that is still porous. The heel and lower side edges are “blinging”! I’m learning that there are different textures throughout the leather. I’ll get to work and let you know my results. I’ll see about posting a photo.

    1. thanks for sharing Greg and congrats on your new shoes! they sound lovely! I hope that since this post you have managed to get that mirror shine and mastered the art of shining. Definitely allow the wax to dry and be exposed to air is the key to getting a great shine. It takes build up and drying time. No shine comes in 10-30 minutes of straight shining… Thanks again for your support!

  148. Colin Bryce Tobe Barrineau

    Mr. Fitzpatrick, I was wondering if special care should be taken when polishing exotic skinned shoes. i.e. gator

    1. dear Colin, please call me Justin. I have always treated exotics the same and have seen the same results. I don’t believe that special attention is necessary

  149. Hi Justin,

    This post has been extremely useful for me so far however i need some advice on polishing shoes with Patina. I purchased a pair of Septieme Larguer’s last year and they colour does seem to have smudged a bit after i have polished them (thankfully the shoes don’t look horrible but they are not looking how they used to a year ago). What can i do to avoid this happening with my next pair? Do i need to treat them differently to regular shoes?

    1. in theory no, you should treat them the same only that you might have to treat them more often as the color of a patina will never be as strong as the color of a shoe dyed in the drums of the tannery. Also,, on a lighter patina, you might have to be more careful with using darker colors, but it is strange that it smudged so to speak… are you able to send me a picture directly?

  150. Hello:

    I have a new pair of Allen Edmonds penny loafers that look too, well, new. They are somewhat stiff, probably because I haven’t worn them much. Any suggestions for softening up the leather, i.e. hurrying up the aging process, other than wearing them a lot? Also would stripping them and then polishing give them a more gently worn look? Thanks for all the good info.

    1. wearing them a lot of consecutive days in a row and possibly through some harsh weather will definitely get them looking a bit aged in no time….I would not ever strip unless you have to…best to let things age naturally

  151. What I am curious is, once a show is polished like that …. when it looks a little off and dullish, what do you do? Do you do the whole process again? Or just touch up with wax/polish only? That leads into the question, when do you use the mink oil renovator and the cream once again ?

    1. there is not yes or no here as it really depends. That is the hard part. In theory, you should not have to re-start the process until the polish has began to crack or flake off. Therefore, unless this has happened just give it a top up here and there. No need to use the renovator more than 2 times a month at most. Cream polish is necessary only on the welt/sole or if you have lost color somewhere…otherwise a simple application of wax and water is necessary for keeping up the shine. Hope that this helps

  152. Hi, I’m having trouble getting the burnished patches on the toecap of my loake tan brogues to shine up. The rest of the cap is fine, but I actually seem to have dulled the burnished bit rather than made it shinier. Using loake tan polish and damp cotton technique. Can you help

    1. let the shoes dry for a day or two and then polish with dry wax and very little water. When shoes stay dull it’s usually because the leather is really bad or the person is applying too much of something moist…. use a little at a time and dry wax and you will shine them up…and do so slowly allowing for dry time between applications

  153. Geoffrey Alan Bruce

    Hey Justin! This was sooo helpful. I’m getting the hang of it, and my black caps look like a million bucks!
    I’ve actually got friends that would be willing to give me money to polish their shoes! haha

    My only question is, when I finished my nice mirror shine, when I ran my finger along the shoes (with the SLIGHTEST pressure) they can flake a little bit. I did a lot of brushing and buffing and it pretty much fixed it. But is this to be expected? like indigo crocking or makeup coming off on clothes? Or do I just need to brush and buff more until it’s completely stopped?


    1. glad that you have enjoyed it Geoffrey….it’s a bit weird that it flaked off…where was this? In the vamp? In reality you should only be shining the toe caps and heels to the mirror shine and the rest of the shoe to a high shine but not the mirror shine. Anywhere the shoe can bend, it will flake off…

      1. Geoffrey Alan Bruce

        Yeah, it was really only a problem on the vamp. I just made sure to give it a super good brushing and buffing, and it’s fine.

        Thanks for the great instruction!
        Any suede care videos coming up soon??

  154. Hi Justin, this post on how to polish shoes is excellent. Could I ask how you got the polishing cloth into that shape? It looks as though you cut across a t-shirt and used the resulting loop of material to wrap around your fingers & hand.

  155. Hello! Two questions: 1. What is the role of the mink oil conditioner? Should I use it on new shoes? (I have thought of it as a weather-proofer, rather than a regular polishing step.) — And, 2. What do you say about using actual spit, rather than water drops? I have had good luck with spit. Would a gentleman use spit? Cheers!

    1. mink oil is to condition. Yes, you should use it on new shoes to help open up the pores. It is not a weather proof by any means, simply a leather rejuvenation product. I use actual spit too, it also works great.

  156. Hi Justin just pulled the trigger on a pair for C & J Edgeware dark brown. Is there a different method for new shoes? Thanks for the great instruction.

  157. Hi Justin, excellent article. Very detailed and helpful. Could you please advise what colour creme i should use for the attached pair?

  158. Hi Justin, excellent article. Very detailed and helpful. Could you please advise what colour creme i should use for the attached pair?

  159. Hi Justin,

    Excellent article. Need one advice from you regarding shoes polish. I have a Mid tan color Alberto torresi leather shoe. When i asked the store for the polish they have given me woly light brown cream. Is it the right color for the shoes. before i have purchased the cream I have mistakenly applied the KIWI neutral liquid on one. after that one shoe look bit darker than other. I just love the original shoes mid tan color. Can you please help me how to back it to its original color.



    1. i am sorry to say but this is a problem with the leather and you won’t be able to get it back as it appears to be a vegetable tanned leather that easily darkens. So no matter what you put on it, it will deepen in shade

  160. I followed these steps exactly yet the polish is already flaking/cracking off after one wear. How can I fix/prevent this?


    1. to prevent you have to not shine the shoe as heavily in the crease points of the shoes. Focus on the cap and heels and then blend it all around, but not shining as heavy everywhere else. To fix it, you will have to strip it and start over. Best of luck

  161. Hi Justin! Got a question for you. My husband’s shoes seem to have a problem where there is a patch on the toe cap that just cannot be shined with the wax no matter what. A picture is as attached. Do you have any idea what is the problem and what can be done? Thanks!

    1. I have these same shoes in maple. I can get a good mirror gloss on everything but the toe, which remains dull despite using the same method all over. Did you have the same problem?

  162. Hi Justin
    While wax polish gives the best shine, i read that it also causes leather to dry up. Cream is often suggested as it allows leather to breathe unlike wax. The only drawback is that cream does not give off a shine like wax does.
    How do i get around this?

    Thanks for the infomative piece.


    1. you can’t get around it i am afraid. And all polish dries leather, even cream. The thing to remember is to rejuvenate your shoes with conditioner to off set the drying

  163. Dear Mr Shoe Snob,
    thanks for the excellent article (and the video). More educational that anything else I’ve seen.

    I was wondering if I may bother you for a wee bit of advice with a particularly fussy pair of boots. It’s Fiorentini + Baker 745 Eternity ( http://www.gravitypope.com/shoes/product/17066-fiorentini-and-baker-745-ner-eternity-745 ). A lovely pair of rugged urban casual footwear but I just can’t seem to be able to get the leather to be really supple and shiny.

    The original sin might have been going a bit overboard with the mink oil. Not Saphir Renovateur, I only discovered it later, some no name Italian mink “grasso”. I used it to soften a heel that was somewhat uncomfortable but I applied the stuff all over them for waterproofing and such. It did soften the heel but I fear the grasso might have clogged the pores as the boots developed a kind of a dull, matt finish that no amount of anything seems to be able to get rid off.

    I did try to remove the grasso with Renomat, twice at least, worked in the Renovateur several times and layer after layer of the Pommadier and Pate de Luxe. It seems as if the leather is just eating all this stuff up with ease but some parts of the boots still feel dry under the fingers and some areas develop a white capillary look that makes one suspect dryness.

    To make matters worse I used neutral Pommadier and Pate de Luxe instead of black and some whitish cloudish stains appeared seemingly out of nowhere, especially when humidity goes up.

    I should perhaps also say that I haven’t worn these boots more than a couple of times as I just don’t like the way they look. Therefore I haven’t broken them in. I’m not going for a mirror shine, but the softness and nice low profile shine I’m getting on other footwear can’t be too much to ask.

    One more question; as much as I like Saphir, retailers here almost exclusively carry Collonil’s stuff and while I have my doubts, the 1909 line seems to have top notch ingredients such as mink oil, jojoba, beeswax and such likes. What I’m not so sure about is the silicon. It probably waterproofs effectively, but doesn’t it clog the pores so much as to make it impossible for the leather to “breathe”?

    Sorry about so many questions but they have been bugging me for over a year now and I haven’t been able to get satisfactory answers from anyone.

    1. from the pictures those boots seem to be made with a leather that is not really meant to be polished. This is probably why you simply can’t get there. Not all leather is meant to have a high shine, some not even a shine at all…. This is the reality of it I am sure…. as per those other products, well I have never actually heard of them to be honest, so cannot really comment. But I will say that many cheap brands claim this and that, but then smell like nothing but chemicals so don’t always trust the ingredient listings. Hope that this helps

      1. Hi justin sir
        I’m from India i’ve brown shoes. I just applied neutral polish now it’s became dark in color so wat to do for retain old color

  164. Try NEUTRAL with light colored leather and a lighter to help wiping/removing thick polish without having to completely re-polish footwear.

  165. Hi there, I live in NZ and I enjoyed your youtube video and I enjoy great shoes and polishing them. I’ve bought a pair of brown Lloyd and 2 pairs of Barkers and I absolutely love them.

    I’ve only just started out and I have a couple of questions.

    1. Every time I hear people say just polish your shoe after your cream/polish application with a clean cloth….every time I do that I always get the polish on the cloth, doesn’t matter how long I’ve left the shoes to dry. Is it because I’ve applied too much? Should I do the remove old polish with the nail polish remover?

    2. I can never cut out a piece of cotton cloth like the one you have so I just wear a throw away plastic glove and use large cotton balls to apply the cream and polish, is this ok?

    by the way I just bought 2 round brushes and 1 mink oil from this website… I can’t wait to get my hands on them!


    1. thanks for your support in our products!! Now you can use the welt brushes for applying the cream polish. As per getting polish on the cloth, that is absolutely normal. There is nothing you can do to NOT get polish on the cloth. As per cutting the cloth out, you simply take a t-shirt, and from 2.5-3 inches (5.75cm-7.5cm) from the bottom of the shirt you cut it from side to side (across the waist part). That’s it. Hope that it helps

  166. I have a pair of black leather Bally lace ons with smooth toe tops.

    In a crowded subway car a person put their shoe on top of my toe and scraped the bottom of their shoe across the toe. No deep scratches, but the finish was definitely not smooth anymore. An ordinary shine still leaves this abrasion.

    What can I do? If there is nothing I can do, is there someplace I can send it? This is a $600 pair of shoes that looks great, or they did, anyway.

    Thank you for any help you can offer.

    1. are you in NYC? There are plenty of good shoe shiners that might be able to help. But can’t say for sure as I would need to see a pic first to offer concrete advice

  167. Morning. Have been polishing my shoes today, was building up a good ‘glass finish’, then all of a sudden it went really matt looking and felt really rough and wouldnt take any more wax polish, any thoughts??

    1. most likely you applied too much water at some point…now you need to let the shoes dry for a few days before starting again

  168. Hi Justin, A fantastic blog. Really found this helpful. I just had a question regarding the conditioner. I own a pair of formal leather shoes by jones & also have the accompanying dressing/conditioner as pictured (which I believe is cream based unfortunately). The leather is somewhat dry so I cleaned them and applied a thin layer of conditioner. On drying however it left a whitish film which I hope is evident in the photo (especially in the creases). Should I simply apply the polish on top of this or try to remove the film prior to doing so?

    Many thanks & regards

    1. thanks for the kind words and support. As per your issue here, you should remove it first by using your horsehair brush to vigorously brush the crease area. I will say however that the due to the leather quality of this shoe, you will find these problems common throughout the life of the shoe as the leather is extremely dry

  169. Justin:

    It appears you have not been here for a couple of months.
    I assure you, your readers hope you are off on a wild, extended vacation having the time of your life.

    1. just simply have not had time to answer all of my comments is the sad reality. I wish I was on some remote beach somewhere with no access to internet. That would be great! But I am afraid to say that I have just been so busy with other things (we are only a 2 man company) that emails and answering blog comments have been affected greatly.

  170. I don’t buff off anything when I am waxing the shoe, not even at the end. A good shine should not leave residue

  171. Frank, I presume that you were also the one that commented most recently. Apologies for the delay. Shining pebble grain shoes is simply a matter of doubling/tripling the amount of time of shining as you have to make the grain a flat surface and that takes awhile. Try using more “dry wax” polish as it will get into the leather better and thus allow you to build the shine easier… hope that this has helped

  172. Hey Justin great blog. I have a pair of Branchini’s that had a burnished toe, however I had them “shined” and of course lost the burnish any technique’s you can recommend to build the burnish back? Do I need to re-dye the toe?

    1. use a darker cream polish with a old, dry welt brush and polish profusely on the toe…that should hopefully bring it back…

  173. Hi Justin

    Can you tell me what the point of brushes are as you don’t seem to use them in the polish, except for removing a bit of dirt at the beginning? Thanks… great tutorial 🙂

    1. for what I do, there is not a huge need for horsehair brushes, but most of society does not polish like this so they use/need the brushes. But they do come in handy for buffing up once you have worn the shoes after polishing and get scuffs/dust/dirt on them and then need to clean it off

  174. Hi Justin,

    Quick question. Do you buff off the coloured cream then apply the solid wax, or let the cream wax set and then apply the solid wax on top of that?

    1. Sort of both, he applies it, but lightly, and lets it soak in for at least 20 minutes. This allows it to dry, and also to soak in.

  175. Hello, Justin,

    I wanted to ask you about “spit shining”. When I apply Kiwi polishing wax in circular motions I get kind of a matt finish, not glossy at all. If I buff the leather with a brush after drying, it starts to gloss, but, as I understand, during spit shining the glistening should start to appear while polishing with a rag in little circles and no brush buffing should be needed. What could be the reason for that matt look? Do I simply need more wax layers? Currently I applied one layer of Salamander Wetterschutz cream polish, then one layer of Kiwi wax polish and I tried to spit shine the third time. Thanks.

    1. Your problem is that when you apply the first layer of kiwi, you didn’t use the water technique. If you use the water you should start to see the gloss as you polish. You could just not do a dry layer of kiwi, or if you do, let it dry and buff it with a different cloth or shoe brush. After you buff it then you can do the water and circles method.

    2. most likely you applied too much water and oversoaked the leather. Allow it to dry and always use small amounts and build up. best of luck

  176. my only issue is that the shoes look so dark brown in the video (relative to before polishing) that i wouldn’t find them that distinguishable from the black shoes in my collection. Is there no way to keep the shoes from darkening so much? I don’t want people to have to strain wondering whether i’m wearing my black or my brown shoes today, just because i decided to condition and polish them =/.

    1. yes, use tan wax….but they were far different than black. That is camera lighting failing to capture what the eye would see in real life

  177. use a dry wax as it will set in quicker. If you don’t have one, take a new one and leave the lid off for a few days so that it can dry up. Also allow more drying time, particularly over night. Best of luck

  178. are you sure that it is still not the glue on the shoe? If so, rub it off with your skin, quite hard. If not, then you will need to polish with a dark blue or black to hide it…. best of luck

  179. Hello Justin,

    I have a pair of Gordon Rush Brogues navy derbys. The sole of the shoe is tan. Should I use a navy polish or neutral to avoid staining the soles? Thank you

      1. Not the OP of the comment, but I’m wondering about keeping contrasting stitching ( like white with black shoe ) the original color. Is there a trick for this?

  180. Hi Justin. I built up a beautiful mirror shine on a pair of my shoes, but they got scuffed on my office chair leg and it removed a small part of the polish, revealing the coarser/grainier leather beneath. What is your advice to repair this? Do I have to remove the entire mirror shine and start from scratch? Or should I just apply more layers of polish over the small affected area? Thanks, Ed

    1. I would also really like to know the answer to this one. If you or anyone else finds out, can you please post back a reply on this comment.

    2. this is a tricky one Ed as it really depends on the scratch. Burning it down with a hot spoon would be the best as it is a lot of work to take it all off and reapplying the shine. But using the spoon is another story and only to be done on Black leather. Sorry but there is no easy answer to this one.

  181. Hi, I was wondering, do you pull off polish and wax between layers? Either with a brush or a rag? I have always been taught to do this, but I am not sure if this is “proper” or not.
    Thanks for posting

    1. No i do not pull off polish. You can use a brush to even it out but it is not really “pulling off” polish. I never understood where that phrase came from as it is incorrect.

  182. thanks for the kind and support, i appreciate it. A new shoe can be treated with a light shine but best to wear them first to break in the leather and open the pores before attempting high shines

  183. thanks for your message and kind words, I do appreciate your support. Saphir is a great brand. Very high quality stuff. Dust bags are indeed good to have. Most good shoes should come with those however. Don’t really use suede cleaner so can’t recommend anything. But if Saphir has it then I recommend sticking with them as they only make high quality products.

  184. I’m in the cadets and am having trouble with my toe caps as that the only part of the shoe needs to be highly polished. For some reason I have really amazing sides to my toe caps but diabolical tops i have tried your technique and I’m still having no look at all if yoi look at it under a light you can see different colours of polish that have been put on and still not smooth at all today I was following your technique for 5 hours ans still no look. Please help.

    1. Here’s a type from another cadet. If you’re going for a nice black shine, put a base coat of black polish down. Then after that, get a cloth (t-shirt or whatever works) and dip that in water with one or two fingers and put some polish on that, not a lot though. At that point keep making little secrets all over where you put the base coat. Do this until all of the polish is shiny, it’ll take a few minutes but don’t be discouraged keep going. Repeat this as many times as necessary, it works for me everytime and I compete in an armed drill team, scuff marks are my best friends. Good luck!

    2. The method shown in the video isn’t exactly the best for the mirror shine you’re looking for in the caps. For the mirror-like shine, use smaller motions, about the size of a small coin, and small amounts of wax polish, with many applications. Hope this helps.

    3. use dry wax as it would appear that you oversoaked the top parts and getting them to where they need to be will only get done with dry wax now

  185. Please tell me, what are the brand/model of shoe in these photos? I want a pair! Thanks for the tips, will be buying these products ASAP.

  186. Hi there, i just love this blog, brilliant. I wanted to ask about brogues that have a layer of leather that covers the toes with holes in and sections on the sides with jagged edges etc. How do you go about polishing these? What about polish blocking up the holes made in the leather?

    1. thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it. Polishing brogues is simply about being more mindful and not caking on polish, using little by little. If you do that, then it won’t build up in the holes nor gimping (jagged edges). Best of luck

  187. Hello,

    Discovered this site just before Christmas and have found it to be extremely helpful.I have so far polished a couple of pairs of shoes and achieved fantastic results!

    I have a query concerning a pair of Barker wholecut calf shoes with a navy suede insert. Could you please explain how I might polish these without ruining the suede inserts?

    Keep up the good work and thank you.

    A D Copeman.

    1. sorry for the late reply. When you say suede insert, are you referring to inside the shoe or on the upper? If on the upper, you simply have to be careful…there is no trick or special way to not ruin the suede…it’s just about being mindful of where you are polishing

  188. I found that once you get that mirror shine that you want, go over it with the horse hair brush stroking in a straight line/one direction. It makes the molecules in the wax More uniform.

  189. polish for 1 to 2 hours?… I don’t know about you but I have a life, I don’t have time to shine a pair of shoes for two hours. I can get the same result in twenty minutes even using the water drop method. The are videos in youtube that use the water method and can all be done in 20 minutes, check them out guys. Maintenance of your clothes, shoes and accessories should not be a hassle. Find easier ways of doing things and enjoy life…..

    1. It can be a worthwhile investment to make such practices PART of your “life”. Taking time to slow down. Taking care of something – instead of just using (or abusing) it and throwing it away like so many things in our disposable culture. It sounds like you’d rather be part of the disposable culture – in which case, this post (or these shoes) probably aren’t for you.

    2. what a shitty and redundant comment to make on a website called theshoesnobblog. now run along and tell some five year olds father xmas isn’t real.

  190. I was wondering if you have heard of the Woly brand of cream polish because i haven’t had any luck of finding either yours or saphir brand and i am trying to get some asap?

  191. The process that you describe, is called spit polishing. It is used by the military when polishing Corcoran jump boots. I would spit polish my boots every night before going out for the evening. It usually took about 5 or 10 minutes to get a mirror finish on them, and be ready to stand a battalion inspection. Most lifers never took the polish totally off of their boots as you do. During the day’s wearing, there is enough polish that comes off of the boots that all that is nessary is to wipe the boots with a damp cloth to get the dust and grime off before polishing. I spent years spit polishing Corcoran jump boots as a example to my troops that I was in charge of.

    Just my two cents worth.
    GO ARMY!

  192. Hi Justin,

    When conditioning shoes with a mirror shine (bulling) on the toe cap, do you remove all the wax on the toe cap then apply the conditioner or can you just apply the conditioner on top of the toe cap (with a mirror finish) as with the rest of the shoe? And how often would you strip the wax off then rebuild the shine?


  193. Justin – such a fantastic post – thank you! Do you ship your Bees Wax Shoe Polish to the US? And if so, what color would you recommend for a pair of darker-shade Walnut color Allen Edmonds shoes? Thinking tan is most appropriate, but “tan” varies so much depending on manufacturer.

    1. thank you Nick. Yes we ship all of our products, worldwide as you might have figured out since writing. For AE walnut, I would use our tan as it is similar in shade

  194. Very good article. Good description with excellent images to detail the work. Caring for leather is a full time job, so get the best products. For a great company that can supply all your product needs, check out Leather Care Supply (www.leathercaresupply.com) and see what a differnece their products are.

  195. hey justin, as for the case of brand new shoes and polishing them for the 1st time, do you really need to clean them or no need?

    1. no need in reality…you can give a very light shine if you want just for protection but dont high shine them before wearing them

    2. I am not justin but I will say that I would never put polish on a boot or shoe that I have not yet cleaned simply because I don’t want the dust and sand putting scratches in the finish nor do I want to trap who-knows-what under the polish I am going to apply. It would be like putting lotion on your skin every day with never taking a bath or shower.

  196. Hello Justin,
    First a big Thank You for your awesome website, which has everything in it to learn about and properly maintain shoes.
    My question is this: see, above you shine a pair of brown shoes. How aout black ones? Somewhere I read you use a layer of blue to get an ultimate black look. How can one achieve that? How is it done?
    Very best regards from the Netherlands 🙂

    1. you shine all colors the same, just using different colors of cream/wax. To use the blue, you do it the same as black…but just using blue…it leaves a petrol type look like when it spills on the floor and reflects off of the light

  197. see above…..yes and no…it will not get there as it would if there was no shine but it will eventually seep in….wax is not 100% impermeable..

  198. it’s all subjective…if you want a mirror shine, you leave them as shiny as you can at each stage and then build on top for the next stage

  199. Saphir Renovating Cream is a bit expensive, but it will return the base color to your shoes. They say that it is a cream, but is more aptly described as conditioning dye.

  200. 1) Did you know that King George used “spit and an old mutton bone” for his shoes? (Well, I guess “the butler did it.”).2) My method was to burn off the oils in a can of Kiwi then use my spit and an undershirt rag to apply and rub, and never use a brush. Mirror shine/gloss.

  201. I seem to have a recurring problem in that whenever I polish my shoes or boots i end up with the creases going crusty. Am I using too much wax? Am i not working it in enough? I use the mink shoe oil and then apply polish with a brush (currently Oliver Sweeneys Brush up) and the shoes look good until I take a step. Any advice much appreciated.

    1. yes you are polishing too heavily in the creasing area. Focus more on the toes and heels and then blend everywhere else to give a nice shine but not a mirror in the flex areas

  202. Hi. Do I apply shoe polish after I have applied Renapur leather balm or will a single application of the balm suffice?

  203. yes it is not ideal in reality but this post needs to be revamped anyway. But every leather is different. That leather had would have been taken away with anything that had spirit in it which is unfortunately what helps take away old, dried up polish. Sometimes its not about the product used but the quality of the leather.

    1. Fantastic!

      You recommend a damaging method of removing old polish, then when it ruins someone’s shoes you blame it on the low quality leather used in the shoes!

      Perfect get out of jail card for you if your rubbish methods don’t work as advertised.

      Now, get on with revamping this article if it so badly needs it.

  204. Hello, I have a question. Assuming the purpose of the cream polish is to 1) restore colour and 2) moisturise (?) – how does a neutral cream polish fit in the picture if you use both a conditioner and wax polish. What would it contribute that the two other products don’t already cover?

    1. neutral cream polish fits into the picture for tough leather colors, like grey or certain shades of blue etc. Also some people want to lighten their shoes or not wax them so they just whack on some neutral cream polish to keep them tidy

  205. I have a beautiful pair of custom made dressage boots. The leather has a beautiful antiqued look and has been treated to remain stiff, so the boots maintain their shape. I don’t really want to soften the leather but I have horrible crackling all over the boot. Likewise I don’t want to damage the antique color (which has been painted on) when removing the old polish. The boot maker advised me to use only neutral colored kiwi wax. No soap, no cream, no nothing except kiwi! Sadly this has left my gorgeous boots dry, cracked, and with a horrible wax buildup. Are there any modifications to your routine that you would recommend for my dressage boots?

    1. kiwi is a terrible product fyi so never listen to anyone recommending that. You will have to strip your shoes with renomat I am afraid. then polish the boots with wax of the same color as the shoe. Wax is not strong in pigment so it should not ruin your patina/antiquing. Best of luck. Products found at http://www.theshoesnob.com

  206. I presumed that you used dark brown kiwi? That will never dark your shoes in one go, you have to use it gradually for years to really darken a shoe. Best use use the product renomat to attempt to strip it. You can find it at http://www.theshoesnob.com

  207. Hi Justin
    You said to give the shoe a clean ie using Renomat when wax begins to crack.
    But what about before the cracking begins, when should one use shoe conditioner and shoe cream?
    Does one use conditioner only after giving the shoe a clean using Renomat?
    And would one use a shoe cream before each shoe polish ie wet ‘n’ wax?
    Confused if these products will still penetrate the leather with the build up of wax and are really required or beneficial for wet ‘n’ wax.
    Last query with the buffing and application brush, how should one upkeep them?
    Should one washout the shoe cream off the application brush after every use?
    Looking forward to your response.

    1. no you can condition the shoes without having to renomat them. Using cream polish is mainly for cleaning up scratches and giving back color so you don’t have to use it if you don’t need to do those two things. People really only mirror the toe and heel so these products will work around the rest of the shoe. A true mirror shine will be like a coating that protects the leather so won’t penetrate as well but pretty sure it still seeps in. I don’t wash my brushes at all as I prefer them to get sticky, but not overly as one should never grab a ton of cream polish in one go. But I also use a dedicated welt brush for nearly ever color

  208. I have some discolouration from excessive cleaning using Renomat at the toe box area, will the Saphir Renovating repair cream fix this? As a few coats of Cream Polish did not help much at all of concealing the discolouration.
    How shall I go about it?

    1. Once a finish is removed, the only thing you can do to restore the color is re-dye the shoe. A cream polish will help hide the discoloration but it’s not a permanent fix.

  209. Hi, Im a bit confused. I polish shoes for a year and did about 200 pairs. Just started to polish shoes as a service. One of customers complained that my mirror shine is ‘soft’. He wanted to polish it more by using a brush. Scratches was a result.
    For me it’s absolutely normal but for him it was a shock.
    Could you advise me if im doing something wrong or thats just how wax reacts on a brush? Im using saphir wax.
    and apologize for my english.. :/ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bf1972b834978a5728aebc88eb008b350a690a7a23990ff6be79d30db0bbebc.jpg

    1. because he used horse hair brush, which is NOT MADE for this shine! (the customer doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing)
      Goat hair brush is made for cleaning up mirror shine (has to be wet 1st!)

    2. exactly what Thanh said below. The customer doesn’t have a clue. Nobody that uses a horsehair brush ever achieves a real mirror shine as it needs to be done with the hands. Do not brush after waxing the shoe, ever

  210. I was wondering if I need to buff each layer of wax before applying the next coat for get that mirror shine? Or do you just buff at the very end?

    1. if you are going for the mirror shine then the only time you buff is after the cream polish stage. The bristles will scratch and dull a mirror shine