I just wanted to get a clarification on this as the thread outlines many different processes and it's quite frankly got me a bit confused now. I was under the impression that either a cream or wax polish is to be used, but I'm now seeing that people are using both?
It might help in understanding to use the proper terminology in regard to shoe polish. All shoe polish has wax in it (except perhaps some of the really cheap liquid stuff). So, the option is not cream or wax polish, the option is Cream or Paste polish. This may seem trivial and/or obvious, but the distinction helps in understanding.
Shoe polish is shoe polish, the only real difference is the ratio of wax to oil in the composition. The amount of dyes and solvents in the mix play a much lesser role. Cream has a higher ratio of oil to wax than paste, and therefore paste has a higher ratio of wax to oil. Polish like that in the AE tubes falls in between the two, but falls closer to the cream side. Saphir Renovateur is a very light cream with some cleaning agents included as well (Great stuff).
The average person is much more exposed to tins of shoe polish that contain paste polish, than to jars of shoe polish that contain cream polish. This is mainly due to the much broader circulation/distribution of paste polish in general merchandizing. Since most people in the general public start with paste polish they tend to put too much wax and not enough oil on their shoes when learning how to polish their shoes. This is bad for the shoes in the long haul, and makes for a poor shine. And, I would be surprised if over 5% of the population ever conditions their shoes, other that the incidental conditioning provided by shoe polish. Keeping in mind that paste polish (the most common) has a lower ratio of oils for conditioning the leather.
In my opinion, if you want to take very good care of your shoes, you should use cream polish when you need to apply polish to your shoes, and use paste polish only when trying to achieve a high shine (spit shine) on the toe and heel counter. Using just paste polish will not harm a shoe if used lightly and infrequently, to keep the density of wax build up to a minimum, but most people apply way too much polish to shoes and over the long run the shoe leather will lose more and more oils that are not being properly replenished, and the excessive wax will smother the cellular fiber in the leather that needs to breathe. This causes the shoe leather, and your investment, to have a shorter span of usefulness.
Also, keep in mind that you do not have to add polish each time you shine your shoes. Simply wiping of the dust and giving them a good brushing will bring back a glow to the shoe using just the existing wax on the shoe from the last time you applied a cream or paste.
There are only 3 types of oil/fat that exist: Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral (petroleum). Most vegetable oil will go rancid much quicker than animal oil (don't use walnut oil on your walnut colored shoes), and the high viscosity in mineral oil by itself is not good for the leather. What you will find is that most animal oils for shoe leather (like Mink oil and Neatsfoot oil) also contain a small amount of mineral oil (petroleum distillates) to allow it to last longer and absorb better (even those labeled 100% pure). Since it would not be wise to use vegetable or pure mineral on leather, your only choice is animal oil/fat. Actually, coconut oil lasts quite a long time, but puppies simply cannot resist coconut covered leather.