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Shoe Care Guide

How to Mirror Shine Shoes with a Hairdryer

In this video, Kirby Allison teaches you a way to Mirror Shine Dress Shoes using a common household hair dryer. After the waxes are heated with the hair dryer, you can use a High Shine Chamois to push the waxes into the pores and then buff as normal. The purpose of heating the waxes is to open the pores and soften the waxes so that they are accepted into the leather pores.

Products used in this video:


Hi, I'm Kirby Allison and we love helping the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. In today's installment of our mirror shine series, I'm going to show you how to use a hairdryer to melt the waxes of the Saphir Mirror Gloss into the pores of the leather dress shoe to expedite the mirror shine process and then also for shoes that are a little bit difficult to achieve the mirror gloss because the leather might be treated or corrected. If you have any questions or comments during this video please feel free to ask them in the comments section below. I enjoy getting back to as many of those questions as possible. So as we've been discussing in our mirror shine series, a proper mirror shine in a pair of dress shoes is the holy grail of a fine shine. It's that extra effort that really sets you apart from the crowd. Now a mirror shine can be very difficult to achieve and quite time consuming. But the Saphir Mirror Gloss has really done an incredible job to make that so much easier to achieve for those of us that are amateur shoeshine enthusiasts. Now, there's still some shoes that it can be quite difficult to achieve a mirror shine on because maybe the leather is a little bit corrected or doesn't have as much of an open pore structure so it's not going to absorb the waxes of the mirror shine as much as it should. And so in those cases, using the heat of a hairdryer can help them melt the wax into the pores to just make that shine so much easier to achieve. Now today I'm going to be doing this on a pair of Allen Edmonds Park Avenues that we bought off of eBay and I really want to use a pair of Allen Edmonds here because with a lot of shoes, and even with Allen Edmonds even though they're great, you often don't know how these leathers have been treated, and sometimes they can make the mirror shine process a little difficult. So these shoes are straight off eBay.

So before I do any work with the mirror shine, what I'm going to do is first prepare the cap using the Saphir Reno'Mat. Now what this is going to do, is it's going to pull off anything that's been placed on top of the leather hopefully open it up, so that then the pores of the leather itself will receive as much of the Mirror Gloss as possible. After the leather's been prepared, next I'm going to hire a very generous amount of the Saphir Mirror Gloss onto the cap and then I'm going to melt it into the pores of the shoe using this hairdryer on medium heat. That should allow the waxes to fully saturate those pores to smooth them out so that we can begin producing the mirror shine. And then after that, I'm just going to produce a mirror shine as I would normally. You can see that full process in our ultimate mirror shine video that we're linking to here in this video.

In step 1, I'm going to prepare these Allen Edmond Park Avenues using the Saphir Reno'Mat. Saphir Reno'Mat is a very strong cleaner and is designed to pull anything off of the leather that's been placed on top and it's very effective at removing accumulated waxes and resins that may have been left from cheaper, more inferior polishes. Now it's quite pungent, and very strong, so we recommend doing this outside or someplace that you're not going to bother anyone with the fumes, because again, it is quite quite strong. So I'm going to apply this onto one of our Hanger Project chamois , quite a generous amount, and then using medium to firm pressure I'm going to clean the cap of the shoe off. Now, you need to use a little bit of elbow grease for this to really work. And so, you know, don't go gentle. You can see I'm pulling off quite a bit of waxes. It's important to pull anything that's been placed on top of the leather off, because depending on the quality of the waxes, it could actually prevent the leather from saturating with the hard waxes of the Saphir Mirror Gloss, thereby preventing you from being able to produce a mirror shine. You can find the Saphir Reno'Mat online at along with the largest selection of luxury shoe shine accessories in the world, which we're very proud to feature. After I'm done with the Reno'Mat, I like to clean the area with just a little bit of water to ensure that any residual Reno'Mat or product has been pulled out of the leather. OK, so there we go.

In step 2, I'm going to apply a very generous portion of the Saphir Mirror Gloss using a dauber to the cap. Now what I'm trying to do is to just put as much wax on top of this as possible. Then what I'm going to do is using medium heat in a hairdryer, I'm going to slowly melt those waxes into the pores of the shoe. I actually helped develop the Saphir Mirror Gloss with Avel specifically for the mirror shine process. This is a fantastic product and it's probably the most innovative or revolutionary new shoe care product that's been released onto the market in a long time. It is totally new. And before Saphir created it, the Mirror Gloss never existed. What this is, is a much higher concentration of the hard waxes that are necessary in order to create a proper mirror shine. And it has a much lower solvent ratio than a traditional wax polish. What this does, is it allows you to build that foundation of hard waxes that you can then buff to a high shine. I'm going to apply this quite generously using a dauber. Now if you've seen any of our other mirror shine videos, you know that I would exclusively apply the mirror gloss using one of our High Shine Chamois. But because I want a very generous portion of this, I'm going to use a dauber. Don't be too concerned about applying too much polish at this point, because you're going to buff it off after you use the hairdryer and that will remove any excessive polish from the cap.

So here I have applied the Saphir Mirror Gloss, and what I'm going to do is with medium heat, I'm going to melt it into the pores of the shoe using this hairdryer. Now you'll see some people that might use a lighter or even light the polish on fire. Now here at The Hanger Project, we exclusively discourage against using any type of flame or fire to melt the polish, because you can actually permanently damage the leather itself. So we recommend using a hairdryer. You don't want to do it on super high setting, you really want to use a low fan speed in medium heat because, again, you don't want to damage the leather. So here you go. Okay so I ran the hairdryer. Actually, on high heat and high fan speed, but holding it a few inches away from the leather for a few minutes and you can see that the Mirror Gloss has turned a little bit shiny.

And so next to I'm going to do, is I'm going to take our High Shine Chamois and I'm going to buff off any of the excess polish off of the shoe and then do this a second time. So I'm going to use a little bit of water, I'm going to go ahead and open my tin of Pate de Luxe, just in case I need to use any of that, and using my chamois, we're going to buff. I'm going to use a little bit of wax polish. Again, what I'm getting from the Saphir Pate de Luxe are those higher concentrations of solvents just to kind of help me buff this. Medium pressure, fast circular motions. Because we applied such a large amount of the Saphir Mirror Gloss, you're going to be buffing more than you would if you did this normally just because you wouldn't have applied such a thick coat as we did with the dauber.

Now, as I stated in the introduction, the hairdryer isn't something you need to use under normal circumstances to produce a mirror shine, it's really just a hack or a trick. If you have a pair of shoes that you feel like aren't really taking the Mirror Gloss, if the Mirror Gloss isn't being absorbed into the pores of the leather and fill those pores, then you're never going to be able to produce a high shine. And so this is just a trick to kind of help trick the leather into receiving the Mirror Gloss so that you can produce a high shine on a shoe that would otherwise be very difficult to do it on. So I'm just checking to make sure that as I buff this Mirror Gloss off, I want to look at the actual surface of the leather and I want to make sure that I'm buffing it smooth so if there were any irregularities in the surface of the wax, I really want to buff that smooth because any disruption to a smooth surface again, is just going to not make the shoe shine as much as it would if it's a perfectly smooth glossy surface. Okay so you can see with one coat of the Mirror Gloss, it's actually receiving it quite well. So you know, we've already got a nice shine beginning to develop, but of course any mirror shine is going to require multiple applications of the Mirror Gloss. So what we're going to do is we're going to apply a second coat. I'm using my High Shine Chamois now. I'm going to apply quite a generous layer of the Mirror Gloss and then we're going to bake it into the leather again using the hairdryer. So the Mirror Gloss is normally quite a dry polish, because it has such a lower concentration of solvents. And with this leather warmed up because of the hairdryer, it actually goes on a lot easier than it does if you're applying it to a room temperature surface. Okay very generous application. I'm going to close this Mirror Gloss, set that aside, and then turn on my hairdryer one more time. So what you're looking for here is just for the texture of the Mirror Gloss to change. It's going to go from that matte, dryer appearance to something that's glossier and that just means that you've warmed those waxes so that they've softened and that's what's going to help them penetrate into the pores of this leather.

So I'm going to take my High Shine Chamois and I'm going to go back to a different area of the chamois than the one I used to apply the polish because that has a lot of buildup. And what we're going to do is again, we're going to buff that Mirror Gloss with a bit of water, a little bit of Pate de Luxe, and again you're just buffing those waxes to a shine. As you apply water, those waxes should harden a little bit. We're going to do it one more time with the hair dryer and then what we're going to do is actually turn the heat off to then harden those waxes so that we can really begin producing this high shine. OK, so here we're going to apply what is our third coat of the Saphir Mirror Gloss. And again, we're still using very generous applications. Now you want to start looking for the area of the shoe or the leather where you still can see the pores. So I'm going to use the hair dryer one more time. I'm going to start with heat and then once I see the texture of those waxes change, then I'm going to change it to cool to then cool them off so that they harden and we can buff them. OK so while those taxes are warm, just going to try, just a quick buff, smooth them out. I'm just smoothing out any big disruptions in surface. The leather is really quite warm to the touch. Now what I have to do is put this with no heat and then cool this leather off. So what we did there is to cool off the leather and harden the waxes. Now, if you were to just only use heat, you'd soften those waxes and every single time you go to buff them, you're just going to be pushing them around. At some point, once you're really certain that the leather has absorbed those hard waxes, you need to cool them off and then begin to buff them to a high shine. So here, the leather is no longer really warm to the touch. I've got a little bit of water, a little bit of my Pate de Luxe, and now we're going to buff it. One of the things that you can use the hairdryer for is at this point when you're applying the Pate de Luxe, which is a little bit wetter, you could use it to help dry this polish because again, we're still building layers up.

Before the Mirror Gloss, back in the days whenever the Pate de Luxe was the only thing that the shoe shiners had to produce a mirror shine, a lot of them would actually leave the tin open to allow the polish itself to dry out. And they also would use a hairdryer to help expedite that drying process once they applied successive layers of wax. Now what I'm doing is just as I apply each of those kind of final small finishing layers of wax, I'm using just the cool air of the hairdryer just to get that polish to dry and set as quickly as possible. OK so here we are, we've really worked a really nice mirror shine into this leather. Now you know, again, a mirror shine is like that mirage you continue to chase into the distance. I could continue shining this for quite some time, but if I take this shoe and kind of hold it away from me, I mean it's definitely a really nice beautiful mirror shine. Now it's not to say that I couldn't do one or two more coats the Mirror Gloss, I certainly could. But I think for the purposes of this video, this is where we're going to stop. If you want to watch the full process of the mirror shine, check out our ultimate mirror shine video that we've published as a part of this series on how to achieve the perfect mirror shine. This is pretty dang good, especially for a pair of Allen Edmonds. So there's a few things that I just want to review. I mean again, there's a bunch of different ways that you can do this technique. Another way that you could approach this is actually by using the hairdryer to heat the temperature of the leather before you apply the Mirror Gloss with the idea of opening those pores and then apply the Mirror Gloss onto the warm leather. With the warm leather, the Mirror Gloss is going to go on more smoothly and hopefully really saturate into those pores more than it would with the leather cool. Also, you can see kind of right here there's a little bit of texture to the shine that's preventing it from really coming to a really high gloss. And what that is is whenever I was buffing those waxes, I wasn't careful enough to really buff that area smooth. So every single time you apply wax and then buff it, you want to buff it as smooth as possible because if you don't do that, and then you apply additional wax on top of that, whenever you go to buff that subsequent layer, you're not going to be able to get back to that prior layer and smooth it out. Comparing the right shoe that we treated with the Saphir Mirror Gloss, compared to the left shoe with how we received these from eBay, I mean you can see an absolutely dramatic difference in these two shoes. Now whenever I bought these shoes on eBay, I really went for probably the worst pair I could find. It was actually difficult to find a pair of Allen Edmonds in this bad of shape on eBay, and it just goes to show you that even a terrible pair of shoes that haven't been taken care of, with a proper mirror shine, and if I were to shine the rest of this shoe, it still would look great. Now the only thing we wouldn't be able to fix is right here where it looks like someone stepped on the cap and thereby dented it. Something like that really can't be fixed. But that aside, these shoes could really be rejuvenated quite easily.

If you have any questions or comments about anything we discussed in this video, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below. All these Saphir products that we used in this video can be found on If you enjoyed this video, give us a thumbs up and please subscribe to our channel and turn on your notifications by clicking the bell to the right of the subscribe button so that you know whenever we release new videos. And of course, please visit , where we have the largest, most comprehensive collection of luxury garment care and shoe care accessories in the world as well as many other incredible products for the well-dressed. And while you're there, subscribe to our newsletter to receive notification of new product launches, promotions, as well as a weekly digest of videos that we publish here on our YouTube channel. I'm Kirby Allison, and we love to help the well-dressed take care of their wardrobes. Thanks for joining me.