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Shoe Care Guide

How To Choose The Right Shoe Color Polish

The Saphir Pommadier Cream Shoe Polish is an all-natural, pine-based turpentine that nourishes your shoes instead of degrading the leather like other petroleum-based solvents. It is widely recognized by shoe aficionados as the best cream shoe polish worldwide. It is rich in pigment and produces a higher shine versus any other competing polishes. Available in 13 different colors, it makes this brand one of the most versatile on the market. In our newest video, Kirby Allison, founder of The Hanger Project, shows us a complete guide on how to choose the right shoe polish for your fine pair of dress shoes.

Products used in this video:


Hi, I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project. Here at The Hanger Project, we love helping the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. Saphir Medaille d'Or the cream polishes has 13 different colors and so there's a lot to choose from and it's one of the things that makes the Saphir Medaille d'Or really incredible. Now that said it's important not to stress too much about choosing the right shoe polish color because there's very rarely a perfect match, and so what's important is finding the right match for your shoes that takes into account the direction that you want to take that patina and that's one of the things that I love about polishing a pair of shoes is seeing the patina evolve over time as you polish those. Now one of the things that I like to do to really test and demonstrate the pigment of the shoe polish is to smear it on a piece of white paper the same way that we did with the test of the different polish types. These polishing notes can be found in any of the product listings on So if you're in the Saphir Pommadier cream polish listing and select an actual polish color from the dropdown you'll see that the polishing notes appear in the photograph window. There you can see the same swatch on a white piece of paper that we're going to show you today plus some polishing notes really describing kind of the nuance difference of that particular color.

The Medaille d'Or Pommadier cream polishes has four primary brown colors: light brown, medium brown, dark brown and their most recent addition of tobacco or havana brown. So I'm going to take each of these four colors and smear them on a piece of white paper so that you can really understand the nuance difference between these four polishes. So the light brown as you can see is a proper light brown, you know very buttery in color certainly darker than a tan but close to it. The medium brown is certainly a more true kind of chocolate brown than what you find that the light brown and then the dark brown I think is probably one of the most surprising of the foregrounds but dark brown really is a dark brown; it's almost a black. So if you see me smear this onto the piece of paper it's a very dark color and then the tobacco brown is a color that they added quite recently, and this is where I really love to smear these on a piece of white paper is to kind of show the nuance difference between the four browns. So the light brown is a buttery, you know soft brown. The medium brown is a middle of the road the medium brown, the dark brown's quite black. The tobacco brown is falling somewhere between the medium brown and the dark brown. Has a little bit more of kind of a darker pigment without being a dark brown.

Now one of the things that I always advise our customers is to understand that there's still a certain level of transparency to these pigmented cream polishes. Right. And what that means is that if you apply them onto a shoe it's not going to totally transform the color you know like as though you were using oil paint. Right. So applying a polish merely is just going to provide a thin tint on top of whatever that original finish is. And so that's where it becomes really fun to experiment with the different colors to see how you can evolve and shift the patina of an actual pair of shoes. If you're really worried about darkening the shoes, then I always suggest that you use a slightly lighter color than the color of the shoes in order to prevent it from unnecessarily darkening the finish. All polish is going to darken the leather slightly and that occurs as the polish actually penetrates the leather to feed and nourish the leather itself in the same way water darkens paper, polish on leather, especially dry leather is going to darken. But as that polish kind of dries out a little bit, you'll see that the color is going to rebound back to where it was that you started. So these are all beautiful polishes.

One of my favorite is the bordeaux and this as you can see is a deep purple. Absolutely beautiful, beautiful color. Then we've got the mahogany. This is the number 09. Here we're producing or introducing a lot of red pigment. And then we get the hermes red. Which I'd love to hear the story behind this. Is similar to the mahogany, but is a slightly more brilliant red than what you see with the mahogany. And then finally we have the cognac. Which could almost belong up here in the family of browns as almost a medium brown with a little bit more butter in it so I would compare the cognac as somewhere between the medium brown and the light brown. Next are the grays or the dark colors as I call them. So the gray really is a proper gray. It's certainly not a lighter version of a black. Dark green, again is a pretty brilliant green but if you had a really dark dark green shoe this would work perfectly with that. We've got the marine blue which if you have navy shoes is what I would recommend. Finally we have black.

And I'm going to try to give a neutral but we'll see if my fingers are clean and to do this. So there we go the neutral. People often ask What can I use a neutral cream polish for? Why wouldn't I just use the renovateur or a neutral wax. And the reason you would do is use a neutral is that for one you can use it to actually clean off pigment that is on a pair of shoes. The solvents or the turpentine that's in the neutral basically re-emulsifies or re-liquifies those old waxes and you can pull those off of the shoe very gently. So a lot of people will use a neutral cream polish as a soft kind of gentle cleaner. The other thing is you can use the neutral to dilute any of these polishes, so if you find that you're close but want to lighten it up a little bit. You know you could always just take the underside of the cap and mix some of the polishes together to get that perfect pigment color you're looking for and then apply it to the shoes themselves. Another thing that I really recommend here at The Hanger Project is to experiment with using different color polishes on your shoes. That's where it really gets fun and you begin to see your shoes take a life of their own. And so for instance with a pair of black shoes try using a blue polish on it to bring out a more depth to the polish itself or with a pair of burgundy shoes you can use mahogany on it. Again, just introduce a little bit of a red tint.

Now if you're choosing or polishing a secondary polish color on your shoes you have to understand as I mentioned earlier that you're really tinting you're not going to change the color of a pair of shoes unless you're using something like a black polish on a pair of light brown shoes. And if you did that and weren't happy you could always remove that polish with the Saphir Renomat which is going to pull anything that you placed on top of the leather off. So have fun and experiment and see what you can do to use these polishes to give your shoes a life of their own. You can also check out our video on wax versus cream polishes where I explain in greater detail the nuance difference between a wax and a cream polish. All of the Saphir products used in this video are available on Check us out to view the largest most comprehensive selection of luxury shoe and garment care products in the world. If you have any questions about anything we discussed in this video please ask them in the comments section below. I get back to all those questions personally. Lastly, if you like this video give us the thumbs up or more importantly subscribe to the channel and turn on your notifications so you receive notifications whenever we release new videos. I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project. Here at The Hanger Project, we love helping the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. Thanks for joining us.