I almost always wear before treating. The roughness comes out in some shell shoes, and not in others - I have it in some of my AE shell, some of my Alden shell, and some of my C&J shell. I have found a damp rag + brushing works on some, reno + brushing works on most, and AE's shell cordovan cream + brushing works on most also. Just note that the AE cordovan cream also adds color and should be used very sparingly. Others have had success with Saphir's cordovan creams.