Neutral Wax is the cause of many issues in the shoe-care realm of the shoe industry. Namely by regular people (i.e. no professional shiners). You see, most assume you need to use it on any color you don’t have an exact match for. That’s a myth. Get this idea out of your head. Now.
Neutral wax is an accent polish. It should never be used to create the entire shine on your shoes. Here is why:
1. Being that it has no pigment, in many cases, it actually acts as a stripping agent for leathers whose color is applied after the drum-dye process i.e. crust leathers, or other ‘washed’ leathers made for stripping/patina, museum calf etc. This is especially true when using it on a brand new pair of shoes. Used shoes, less so but still susceptible. Dyed-through box calf will not have the same issues for this point though. But will suffer the below, on point 2.
So many times have I see someone try and wax polish their brand new shoes with neutral wax and remove the finish and then blame the shoemaker. It wasn’t their fault. It was yours, for using something you should not have. I have even done so myself when polishing shoes professionally and learned the hard way, hence me writing this now in the hopes for you all to not make the same mistakes, I did and so many others do.
This is the same for conditioners too, to a certain degree. And I have touched on that in this post.
2. Neutral Wax leaves a horrific white residue that not only becomes sticky but stays within the creases of your leather and is hard to get out. Time again, I have seen people mirror shine the entire shoe with neutral wax only to wear their shoes, and all of this white residue start popping up all over the place, really leaving an unattractive look that is hard to fix. For me, this is the main reason to not use neutral wax, almost never. When this happens, you either have to use all of your strength to brush-strip the top layer off or actually strip with solvents. Both a challenge. Both annoying.
3. Touching more on point one is the fact that wax polish is not used for color rejuvenation. Its pigment level is small therefore you need not worry about using it for that. That’s what cream polishes are for. Therefore, if you have hard-to-match colors start to learn about complementary colors/palettes to use for the wax shine part of your shoe care process. For example, on green calf, I have used light tan wax. On grey calf, I have used navy wax. On any color I want to slightly deepen, I use black wax; like I did on the pair in the shoes featured above and below.
If not being excessive in quantity these waxes should not change the color of your leather. But always remember, all shoe care products are concentrate. A little goes a long way. And do not confuse Kiwi with normal wax. We are talking about high-end waxes in this post. Kiwi’s “wax” is a blend of wax and cream and will alter the color of your shoes. And finally, in 2021 we are more spoiled because you can now find high-end waxes in any color you want. Ten years ago, there was more excuses to use neutral but not anymore.
So what do you use neutral wax for? That is the question. And here is the answer:
You should only use neutral wax for finishing your mirror shines, once you have already set the base of the shine with colored cream and wax polishes that have penetrated the pores. The neutral wax is best utilized as a top-coat application that helps to bring up the mirror shine on top of the covered pores. Its neutral coloring will act as the mirror gloss while not affecting the pores and leather already treated below it. That is what is neutral wax is for: Top Coat Shines.
So, I hope that you learned something, and please do invest in colored waxes. If you just use neutral as you don’t want to spend money, don’t complain when your shoes get messed up by it.