What is a mirror shine? It might seem like a trivial question but the reality is that it is often misused. And if you really want to be snobby about it, even within the realm of mirror shines there are true ones and ones that only claim to be one. So, let us take a look at some and what defines them to get a better understanding of the true meaning of this level of shine.
Technically speaking, a mirror shine is a shine that has resulted from the covering of the pores in the leather. In doing so, one has created a new, ‘mirror and/or glass-like surface’ that reflects back to you whatever is in front of it. A real testament to this shine will be if it looks as if it is wet, which is ultimately the reflection of the light from such a pristine flat surface. The issue is when people mistake a shiny gloss shine with an actual mirror shine. They are not the same. If those pores are not completely covered and a new surface is created, it is not a true mirror shine.
Achieving this type of shine takes time. It is not a quick shine no matter what anyone tells you. While there are competitive cheats to create a “quicker” mirror shine, the best results are done over time. That is because your polish needs time to dry and essentially create a ‘new layer’ of wax. Wax is generally moist while inside the tin it comes in. Because of that, it needs time to harden. That is why you let it dry in order to ‘set’ into the pores. You create layer after layer until the pores are covered and a uniform surface has been achieved.
Mirror Shines are tricky to get right. And they should not be done on every part of the shoe. A mirror shine should be contained to the parts of the shoe that do not flex. This is why they are often applied solely to the toes, and sometimes the heels. You should never mirror shine the vamp or any flex point of the shoe (i.e. quarters). Often a mirror shine is also put too far down on the cap. It should not cover the entire cap in reality. It should start at the tip and gradually fade into a gloss shine. The reason is that the toe puff will end prior to the cap line and that part will flex and your mirror shine will crack.
The downside to these shines is removing/fixing cracked glass shines. But that is for another post as showing that takes some detailed photos/video to effectively show how to fix them when broken.
Mirror shines take time and patience, so fret not if you are not achieving one right away. A lot of practice is how one achieves a mirror shine. The key is patience and allowing for drying. I like to start my process in the night, letting it set overnight to dry and then completing it the next day. The other trick is using a bit of dry wax as well as moist wax. And finally, not using too much water at any given time. Droplets are the key!
Learn how to build your mirror shine here: https://youtu.be/WdHS-IgbHC0