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Wax Vs Cream Shoe Polish

Are you using the right polish for your fine leather shoes? While wax polishes tend to be the most common polish you'll find in stores, it doesn't mean you're giving your shoes the royal treatment.

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Hi, I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project. The purpose of this video is to help you understand the differences between wax and cream polishes, and I understand how to use both to keep the best care possible of your leather dress shoes. The fundamental differences between wax and cream polish is that a cream polish is more for nourishment and recoloring, and a wax polish is primarily for really providing those hard waxes in order to create that high shine. Now with the cream polish, we recommend applying it to the entire shoe either with a shoeshine dauber or chamois and then buffing it off with the horse hair brush, and you can do that two or three times.

Wax polish is going to have a higher concentration of hard waxes. Now this is going to help provide that hard protective wax barrier to the shoe that is going to protect it from any type of water and then small light scuffs and scratches. You want to be careful about applying too much wax to the areas of the shoe that bend like the vamp because what happens with the hard wax polish is once those waxes dry, if you bend the shoe, those hard waxes are going to crack and provide or produce a white substance across that area. We really recommend using the hard wax primarily. You can do one or two coats on the shoe, but we really recommend concentrating the hard waxes where you want that high shine which is on the toe box and the hind quarters.

Before you apply any polish, provided that your shoes aren't particularly dirty, just buff them off with a horsehair brush just to remove any type of surface dirt. Now if you have surface dirt that is more than what a shoe shine brush can remove then I'm going to recommend using something like a leather cleaning soap in order to actually shampoo the leather. But here these Gaziano & Girlings aren't that dirty so just buffing them with this horsehair shoeshine brush is fine.

Next, I'm going to apply my cream polish. Now again, the important thing to remember with cream polish is that you really want it to be able to soak into the leather so the longer that you leave a cream polish on the shoe, the better. There's really no limit - I mean you can polish your shoes and then leave the cream polish on overnight and buff it off next morning. It's not going to damage your shoes. Now here’s the Saphir Medaille D'Or Pommadier Cream Polish, there's 13 different colors. Now the important thing to remember with color matching is you just want to get close. A lot of people call us and they want an exact match for their particular pair of shoes and even with 13 different colors it's impossible to find an exact match. So we recommend as close of a match as possible. Now if you're really concerned about changing or darkening the color of your shoes we recommend going with a slightly lighter polish. If you'd like to see kind of more of a patina or antiquing develop which I think is one of the beauty beautiful things of shining your own shoes, then you can go with a slightly darker polish. All of these polishes have a relatively light pigment compared to a shoe dye, so there's nothing that you can do that's ever going to ruin your shoe. If you shine your shoes with some polish and you don't like how they turned out, then you can use some of the Saphir RenoMat to pull that polish off and restore it back to the original finish.

So here these are a burgundy pair of shoes. I've got the burgundy Saphir Medaille d’Or shoe cream. What I like to do is apply a little bit of cream polish using a chamois and then I use the top of the lid as a pallet just to make sure that I'm not applying too much polish, and I'm just going to start massaging it into the leather. Applying moderate to firm pressure, just to really kind of help work that in there. Less is more. So you want to be applying enough polish that you're covering the entire surface of the leather, but you don't want so much polish that you see real visible build up or gunking. The reason is just because it's going to be harder to remove that polish with the horsehair brush in order to produce that shine. With this cream polish, I'm just massaging it into my leather over the entire surface of the shoe. You can go over each section multiple times - that's not going to be a problem. Once I'm comfortable with the amount of coverage I have, then I'm going to set this shoe aside and let it at least absorb the nutrients from this cream polish for five minutes.

After you've allowed the cream polish to absorb into the leather, then take a horsehair shoe shine brush and you want to buff that polish off the shoe. What you're looking to do is to really buff off any excess or uneven polish that’d been applied. Then the heat and the friction from the horsehair shoe shine brush is going to bring up the temperature of those waxes and glisage or kind of gloss them over. With a cream polish you're going to be able to get a nice soft patina and a nice soft shine, you're never going to be able to produce a high gloss shine with the wax alone.

It really goes to personal preference whether or not you stop at the cream polish or if you feel like you want to continue on to using a wax polish. So I'm just using very light pressure and then just buff until you see that any type of uneven build up has been removed and you are able to produce the desired shine. Now you can see on this shoe, on this Gaziano & Girling, after just one application of the Medaille D'Or Pommadier cream polish, I've got a shine that really would be perfectly satisfactory to go out at night with. If you desire a higher gloss shine than this, then that's when you would come on top with a wax polish.

Now going to show you how to apply the Saphir Medaille D'Or Pate De Luxe Wax Polish. I love this Polish. I mean if you're someone that's been polishing your shoes for your entire life, and you're used to using Kiwi or Lincoln you're absolutely going to fall in love with Medaille d'Or Pate de Luxe Wax Polish. One of the most important things that really differentiates this wax polish from other polishes is out there is that it uses an all natural pine base turpentine. I mean, you can literally smell the difference; there's zero silicones and zero petroleum products in this wax polish that could possibly damage your shoes. The other thing is that it uses a really high concentration of beeswax and that's what produces that nice hard wax finish that's going to give your shoes a beautiful shine.

I'm going to use the same chamois; I prefer to apply my wax polishes exclusively with a chamois because you're able to control the amount of wax that you're applying. And again, less is more. I'm just putting enough wax polish onto my chamois, so that it's not gunky and then I'm going to start applying this wax polish the same way that I did with my cream polish. Now the first one or two coats you can really take across the entire shoe, but beyond one or two coats you're really going to want to avoid this vamp because once that hard wax dries, and you go outside and you begin walking in your shoe, you really will see those hard waxes break and produce a little white buildup. So I'm going to let this wax polish dry. Anywhere from a minute to three to five minutes is enough, so what I normally recommend is setting one shoe aside while you're working on the other.

One of the questions that we get quite often is, "Can I use a neutral wax polish on my shoes versus a pigment wax polish," and the answer is absolutely. If you're someone that's got like 30 different pairs of shoes and you've got every single color of our pigmented cream polish then you can absolutely just use a neutral wax polish solely for the purpose of building up that wax finish. Now you're not going to be adding any pigment with the neutral wax polish but you might not need to if the finish in your shoes is already fine or you've recently renewed that finish with a pigmented cream polish.

So now that this wax polish has dried I'm going to take my horse hair brush and just buff this off. With the hard wax polish, you're absolutely going to find yourself spending a little bit more time buffing than you will have the cream. So again, using kind of a moderate firm pressure, just buff the wax polish off until you see a nice shine. There you have it. So you can see that the shine of this Gaziano & Girling shoe has certainly been elevated with just one coat of the Pate de Luxe wax polish. In this case I'd say one coat is fine for me, but if you desire a higher gloss shine you can absolutely provide an additional coat, I just caution that you do want to limit the amount of hard wax that you're applying on the vamp because the moment that you start walking you're going to see those hard waxes crack and leave a light residue. Now if that happens all you have to do is just brush them off with a horsehair brush and that'll take care of the problem. But you don't want to get out in the day and realize that you don't have your horsehair brush and you've got white residue all the way across your vamp.

Thanks for joining us. If you have any questions about this tutorial or any other shoeshine questions, feel free to ask your questions in the comments section or e-mail us at and we'll be happy to answer those questions. Thanks again for joining us, I'm Kirby Allison.