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Shoe Care Guide

How to Shine Pebble Grain Leather Shoes

Pebble Grain shoes are textured leather; therefore, the shining process is different versus smooth, calfskin shoes. Excessive wax buildup can easily occur within the creases of the leather and preventing that from happening is what differentiates this technique from other shoeshine tutorials. In our most recent video, we go through the steps on how to properly shine Pebble Grain Oxfords to achieve the best shine available.

Products used in this video:


Hi, I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project. In today's video I'm going to be showing you how to shine a pair a pebble grain leather shoes. Now pebble grain is textured leather and the shine process is different than smooth calfskin shoes. If you have any questions or comments during this video please ask them in the comments section below. I get back to all those questions myself personally. Let us know do you own a pair of pebble grain shoes? Do you have any tips or tricks on how you shine your pebble grain shoes? We always love to hear what our customers have to say. Today we're shining a pair of Saint Crispin's Navy pebble grain oxfords. Now what makes pebble grain different than smooth calf is the textured surface. Now this is done by embossing the leather and you see it either as pebbles or a hatched grain.

There's a lot of different types of textured calfskin out there. Now the shine process is slightly different with pebble grain in that you really need to be careful in preventing the excessive wax buildup that can occur within the texture of that leather. So there's two things that we recommend differently for shining a pair of pebble grain shoes. One is you want to focus more on using a soft cream polish. The reason is is those softer waxes are less prone to buildup in the texture of the leather than a hard wax. And then second it's really important to use a stiffer bristled shoeshine brush like our Hanger Project pig bristle brush because the stiffer bristles are going to do a better job to remove any residual wax or shoe polish buildup in the texture of the leather. These shoes are a pair of Saint Crispin's Navy pebble grain oxfords. Beautiful shoes. If you're not familiar with Saint Crispin's, they're handmade shoes from Romania. Zach Job whose shoes these are lent these to me to use for this tutorial and they have an absolutely fantastic program so what's great about Saint Crispin's is that all of their shoes are made to order, hand-welted, for absolutely no up-charge. So you can really get some incredible things from them. At $1,600 they are still quite expensive but the quality of these shoes really is on par with a lot of the bespoke shoes that you see coming out of Europe.

One of the things that Saint Crispin's is most well known for is their hollow completely handmade shoe tree that comes with all of their shoes. Now these shoe trees are fully lasted, carved by hand at the workshop in Romania from a single block of wood in the exact size as your shoe. And the amount of hand work that goes into this really surpasses a lot of the bespoke shoe trees that I've seen that cost three or four times as much money. The process that we're going to use to polish these Saint Crispin pebble grain shoes is going to be first, we're going to start with the Saphir Renovateur to clean and condition the leather. This provides that nourishment to keep the leather soft and supple, prevent any type of cracking. It's also a nice gentle cleaner. So since these shoes are very well taken care of you know we don't need to use anything like a leather cleaning soap. But if they were more soiled and you saw more dirt buildup you could first use leather cleaning so to thoroughly shampoo those shoes but then you would need to allow them to dry overnight.

The second thing we're going to do is then use Saphir Medaille d'Or Pommadier cream polish to further condition the leather to introduce pigment and then the soft waxes that you find in a cream polish aren't going to produce any of the buildup. Now I'm going to use a little bit of wax polish after that on these shoes but it's going to be just to provide a little bit of additional shine on the toe and then the back of the shoe where you see a more muted texture in the pebble grain where it stretched over the last. Now I wouldn't want to apply a wax polish to the entire shoe because again those hard waxes that you find in a wax polish are just going to produce buildup in the pebble grain texture itself that's going to be hard to remove. And then after that we're going to work a little bit on the edges and heels. And today we're going to be doing that with a cream and a wax polish. So I've got a nice Havana Brown cream polish that we're going to use to recolor the edges and then the Saphir Medaille d'Or Mirror Gloss which is a really hard wax and is great for the edges, I'm going to use that to then polish the edges. And then of course no shoe shine is complete without inspecting the laces and as you can see these laces are starting to show a little bit of wear. I'm going to replace these with a new pair of our Sovereign Grade flat waxed shoelaces.

For step one, I'm going to clean and condition the leather using the Saphir Medaille d'Or Renovateur. Now the renovateur is like liquid gold. Super versatile. It's a mink oil based cleaner and conditioner. And I like using it as the first part of any shoe shine routine because first it's going to provide gentle cleaning and then second it's going to provide that really deep nourishment to the leather to keep it looking soft and supple and to prevent any type of drying that leads to cracking. First I'm going to untie these shoes and remove the shoelaces. Now I don't always do this with every single shoe shine because honestly removing the laces every single time you shine a pair of shoes can lead to an unnecessary strain on the eyelids. But since I know I'm going to already be replacing the shoes laces at the end that's a good opportunity to remove them in the beginning. Now these laces are a lot easier to pull through these shoes because the tongue is not sewn into the upper. On some bespoke shoes and even on some ready to wear shoes you find that if this tongue is sewn into the upper it's really difficult to get into the vamp to actually remove those laces.

As that residual polish develops it's good every once in a while to try to clean that residual polish off of the brush and the way that we recommend doing that here at The Hanger Project is simply taking your horsehair brush and just buffing the bristle across a clean chamois or a towel. And as you can see that residual polish will wipe off. Now rotate your brush and do the same thing brushing the other direction and that just assures that you're getting as much of that residual polish off the brush as possible. If you can do this at the end of each time you use your shoeshine brush, it's just going to help to keep your brushes extra clean and to prevent the risk of any residual polish streaking any pairs of shoes the next time you use it.

And in that case I really find that removing the laces every single time you shine your shoes is really extremely unnecessary because you're producing a lot of wear on those eyelid. The shoe laces are now removed, and so next what I'm going to do is use the cotton chamois to apply the Saphir Renovateur. Now I prefer applying my cream polishes with a cotton chamois because one, I find that I'm able to better control the amount of product I'm applying. Less is more. And then two, I'm able to better feel the leather as I'm massaging the cream polish into the shoe itself. So this is the renovateur. And so I'm just applying a little bit on my cotton chamois and then using circular motions and medium pressure. I'm going to massage it into the leather. Once you've massage to the Saphir Renovateur into the leather set the shoe aside and allow it three to five minutes for that polish to fully dry. While one shoe is drying, you can move to the other shoe and start working on it.

You don't really need to do much more than that. I wouldn't wash your brushes under water or shampoo them anyway because you want to really keep the natural texture of that horsehair intact. If you want to learn more about our entire collection of shoe shine brushes and what makes them different, we have a shoe shine brush overview video on our YouTube channel. As always let us know what you think with comments below, I always get back to those myself personally. If you like this video please give us a thumbs up or better yet subscribe to our channel. I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project. Thanks for joining us.

Now that the Saphir Renovateur has fully dried I'm going to use a pig bristle shoeshine buff that polish off. Now with pebble grain especially I really prefer using the stiffer bristle of a pig hair brush. You can find these brushes on The Hanger Project. We have a new version of this brush that we just have made with a higher density pig bristle and a longer bristle length and so it's the highest quality pig bristle brush you'll find anywhere on the Internet. So the buff this shoe polish off you're just going to use light pressure and back and forth motions. And you're going to see that the waxes in the Saphir Renovateur will produce a nice soft shine. I recommend the primary use of a pigmented cream polish when polishing your shoes because one it conditions, but more importantly is two, it's going to do the best job recoloring and smoothing out the finish of the shoes. So inevitably as you're wearing a pair of shoes you're going to knick them or scratch them or they're going to become a little scuffed. And so regardless of how careful you are at some point you always need to just rejuvenate the finish using a pigmented cream polish and the Saphir cream polish does a fantastic job at just that.

So I'm going to apply a little bit of cream polish onto my chamois and then I like to just kind of dab it around and so that just prevents too much polish from gunking at any one point of the leather. So I've got that distributed. And then in the same manner that you were applying the Saphir Renovateur and you're going to apply the cream polish using small circular motions with moderate pressure. If you need more polish just grab on with the chamois and continue to work this into the leather. Selecting the color of cream polish you're using to shine your shoes is an art in and of itself. With 16 colors, your shoe can really become a canvas for which you use different colors to affect the finish and patina of the shoes themselves. So with this Navy pair of shoes of course one would buy these because they like the Navy color, so I'm trying to match the polish to the actual finish of the shoe or original finish of the shoe itself. But with a pair of brown shoes I mean there's no reason that you couldn't use a darker brown polish on the toe box around the edges and the heel in order to provide a little bit of antiquing.

Or if you're really worried about darkening the shoes then you can use a shoe polish that's slightly lighter in color because that is going to preserve the original finish of the shoes the most. So we're done with that first, I'm going to set that aside and allow it to dry. As it's drying, I'm going to work on the right shoe. If you see any areas of the shoe that have any scuffing or discoloration you can always come across that and apply a second coat of cream polish just to get as much saturation and coloration there as possible. So I'm done with the right shoe. I'm going to set this aside. I'm using a pig bristle brush with white bristle. Ideally I probably should be using a black bristle just because this is a dark polish. I'd want to keep that separate from any of the shoes that I might use a brown polish with.

You can really see the quality of the Sapir Medaille d'Or Pommadier cream polish come out here. So after just one coat of the cream polish, we're already developing a beautiful soft patina here. So with a casual shoe like these pebble grains, this is as much of a shine as I would want across the shoe. Now in the next step we're going to use a little bit of wax polish to elevate the shine on the toe box. but that is completely personal preference. So I'm done with this one, the left shoe. I'm going to set that aside and finish buffing off the polish from the right shoe.

Now that we've finished using the pigmented Saphir Pommadier cream polish the next step for these particular shoes is to then come on top of that and use a Saphir Medaiile d'or Pate De Luxe wax polish. Now this is an optional step but I think that these shoes would benefit from just a little bit of added shine here on the toe box and the back heel. Now you can see that the pebble grain texture is muted across the toe box just where they stretched the leather so you still can apply a wax polish and produce a higher shine without having to worry about any type of you know noticeable residual polish within the texture of the pebble grain. The other thing is you never want to apply too much wax polish across the vamp because again the hard waxes in a wax polish once they dry, will crack as that shoe bends. I'm going to begin by applying a liberal amount of polish with my cotton chamois. So I've got the wax polish on my chamois, and I'm just going to massage this into the leather using medium pressure and small circular motions.

Now the first few coats of wax polish is really meant to build up that foundation so you can apply a little bit more generously than you would towards the end. So for more detail on building up a proper mirror shine on the toe box of a pair of leather dress shoes, take a look at our mirror shine video that we have on our YouTube channel. I go into much greater detail, the technical process to do a proper mirror shine on a pair of shoes. But here though what I'm doing is I'm applying that wax polish with my cotton chamois, massaging it into the leather. And you really have to be patient during this process but patience really pays off with an absolutely beautiful shine if you build it this way. Now as you're buffing this to a shine again a little bit more water; you can take a small little dab of shoe polish and just continue to buff that toe box using light pressure and circular motions. Developing a mirror shine, especially on a pair pebble grain shoes can really take a while because you have to apply even more coats of polish before you begin seeing that high gloss. And so I've been spending I've probably spent 10 or 15 minutes on these already and I'm just now starting to get a really beautiful kind of gloss on these shoes. So this is where you can polish your heart's desire.

I'm happy because again this is a more casual pair of shoes with just a subtle high gloss shine on the toe box, just something that really signals that you spend extra time polishing these shoes, that they're well-polished, that you know what you're doing, you've developed a shine. And this is going to reflect some light, so if you walk into a room with these. they're absolutely going to look fantastic. So, even better to use cold or ice water when spraying your chamois because the colder water hardens the wax is better than room temperature. So that's a little bit of a protip if you're looking for extra help getting a faster high gloss shine. And it's just a lot of buffing. So you've got that polish on there and it's just honestly a lot of circular buffing with light pressure to produce that shine.

Which I think we have this next step is going to focus on one of the most overlooked part of the shoeshine process and one honestly that I think most differentiates a really well maintained pair of shoes from everything else and that is the heel and edge care. Now the heels and edges of a shoe are often the first to go, right. So as you're walking around or as you're driving your car the heels and the edges are the first to look absolutely terrible. And so you can have a beautifully polished pair of shoes, but if you haven't paid proper attention to heel and edge care, the shoes still don't look quite right. So in this step I'm going to show you how to produce an absolutely beautiful edge and heel. So I've got to have Havana Brown cream polish here that I've matched to the color of my edge. What I'm going to do is essentially apply this using my finger to recolor this leather. Right, so I'm just going to take that along the edge and recolor it.

Now you want to be careful on this step not to get any of this polish on the upper, especially if you're using a black, it can recolor the leather itself. Now the beauty of a cream polish versus a liquid edge dressing that's an alcohol based leather dye, is that if you do get any of this on the leather the Saphir Renomat can remove it very easily. But I'm massaging this into the leather using my finger. Less is more because again you don't want too much polish on this or any more than you'd need at a minimum because it can rub off. I've allowed the creme polish to dry for about 5 to 10 minutes and so next I'm going to take a pig bristle dauber to buff that polish. Now even though the cream polish doesn't have as much hard wax as the Saphir Medaille d'Or mirror gloss, I'm still going to want to buff this to remove any residual polish and prevent that from rubbing off on say your nice Persian rug at home and also to help elevate that shine as much as possible. So when I take my dauber and just buff this edge. And so you can see here at the heel is really you're going to where you're going to get the best shine and you're essentially shining these waxes the same way you would if you were trying to produce a mirror gloss on the toe box. Now the more layers the higher the shine and of course the harder the wax, the higher the shine also. But this first step as I explained is primarily for the pigment which is why we're using a cream polish.

And then after I'm done with this I'm going to apply a little bit of the wax polish to elevate the shine even more. So I buffed the cream polish off and so next I'm going to use the Sapir Mirror Gloss. Now you could use the standard Medaille d'Or Pate De Luxe, but I prefer to use the mirror gloss just because it has an even higher concentration of those hard waxes that produce that high shine. I'm going to apply this mirror gloss with my cotton chamois in the same way that I would with the toe box except I'm going to be even more liberal in its application. I absolutely love a well taken care of edge and heel. It really sets this shoe apart, so you can see the nice, beautiful high gloss shine. I'm going to end here with just one coat of the Saphir Medaile d'Or mirror gloss. But in all honesty there's no reason you couldn't come back with a second and third coat. The more hard waxes you add to the heels the higher shine you're going to be able to produce with your dauber. Last but not least we're going to replace the shoelaces in these Saint Crispin's with a pair of our Sovereign Grade flat waxed shoelaces. Now a flat shoe lace is going to be more casual than a round one. And so that's why I'm going to use a flat shoe lace versus a round one in these pebble grain shoes. Second is I'm going to use the straight across method to lace these verses the criss cross. Just because again it's a much cleaner and neater look.

It's honestly the only way I would lace a pair of shoes. Now we do have a video on our YouTube channel that goes into how they use this lacing method more specifically. So first I'm going to come up every single time you're going across. So I'm taking the left lace and across up through the right side. Again check inside that it's not twisting because any type of unnecessary twisting will just create a pressure point that can become uncomfortable and then take it back in again just making sure that you're pulling that flat across. Then alternate, do I'm using the right lace in and I'm going to take it up and across. Again, I like to check inside that there's just no unnecessary twisting. And then you're going to bring it across here to create that bar bell. Right. I'm going to alternate again every single time you alternate your going across and up. Alternating. Going up through that final eyelid and then same thing back through that eyelid. Now at the end you want to check your lace length. I'm going to insert the shoe trees back in these shoes. And so this is a great illustration of why I prefer to the crossed method of lacing the barbells is because if you're doing this straight up where you're jumping up, you're not able to pull or cinch the shoe tight very easily. So cinching it tight and then I'm going to tie them. Again using the Parisian knot. We have a video on the Web site also on how to do this but you're essentially wrapping the shoelace twice around your finger and then pulling it through. It just creates a beautiful symmetric knot.

And there we are. One of the frequently asked questions we receive here at The Hanger Project is how to clean your pebble grain shoes without resulting in any type of buildup in the texture of the pebble grain. And then we absolutely recommend using something like the Saphir leather cleaning soap with our Hanger Project large dauber to shampoo your shoes. And so you would do that by wetting the brush, creating a little bit of lather and then actually shampooing the shoes quite rigorously. And then what I like to do is to take a wet rag and just clean off any type of residual shampoo that's left on the shoes from shampooing it. So anytime you're using the leather cleaning soap, you just want to rinse the shoes as well as possible to prevent any residual detergents from remaining in the leather. Or as you can see these Saint Crisman's pebble grain shoes have been completely renewed. They look absolutely beautiful, nice even finish, a higher gloss shine on the toe box, new shoe laces. So these shoes are definitely ready to go out and impress.

Now just to summarize the steps that we followed in this tutorial. First we cleaned and conditioned using the Saphir Medaille d'Or Renovateur. Then we polished the shoes using a pigmented Pommadier cream polish to renew the finish and further nourish and condition the leather. Then I used Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish and the mirror gloss to elevate the shine on the toe box itself. And then we worked with the edge using the Saphir Pommadier cream polish to recolor and the Saphir Medaille d'Or mirror gloss to shine these edges. And then last and not least we replaced the laces using a pair of our Sovereign Grade flat wax shoelaces. If you have any questions please ask them in the comments section below. I get back to all questions myself and let us know what you thought of this video if you liked it, give us the thumbs up. Subscribe to our channel. And of course let us know if you have any tips or tricks on how you like to shine your pebble grain shoes. I'm Kirby Allison founder of The Hanger Project and thanks for joining us.