Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Over-polish shoes? (Maybe a stupid question, sorry.) Includes photo of my first shoe shine!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Over-polish shoes? (Maybe a stupid question, sorry.) Includes photo of my first shoe shine!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,


So I had a pair of shoes that I bought while I was on vacation in NZ. They were a light tan-brown, though when I got home the humidity had made them a much darker brown. So I decided to test out my Saphir Pommadier in Red, and Saphir Wax in neutral.


What I did was applied the pommadier and left it while I applied to the other shoe. Then once the other shoe was done, I switched back and brushed off all the access pommadier. Then I brushed off the other shoe. Once both shoes were brushed off, I applied the wax, at first it was making the shoe eggshell shinny (much more shinny then it's original shine, but a slight bit smoother as well). After a while (1 hour) I started getting the hang of it, and I built up more and more polish layers, till the shoes were so shinny it looked like patent leather (and my fingers and shoulder ached). This is when I started getting worried, because I remember someone writing that a shoe can be over polish, and can crack the leather..... Did I do something wrong, are my shoes going to be ok?


Sorry if this was a stupid question, but any advice would be helpful.

Also, after walking out onto my terrace I noticed that some of the pommadier was dried up near the sole on the inside of one of my shoes, and it was all gritty and sandy, so I quickly brushed it away, wasn't sure how I missed it, but once brushed away the shoe was shinny and fine. 


Anyway, they look nice, and I can see my face in them!! 



If nothing else, here's a picture of the shoes for your troubles:



Thanks guys!



Edited by shoeless - 4/29/12 at 3:11am
post #2 of 11
They look fine....
post #3 of 11
Nice job
post #4 of 11
icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif Well done and Welcome to Styleforum.
post #5 of 11

it looks just good. you want it to looks unshiny? 

post #6 of 11
Looks good. Keep them looking that way.
post #7 of 11

I wish mine were that shiny...

post #8 of 11



First of all, this is a fine pair of shoes. Congratulations. Really beautiful colour, too. Regarding the polishing there are a few misconceptions out here in the forum which I now will address with your shoe as an example. 


First: There is no such thing as overpolishing. Wax does not penetrate the leather, it is a layer or, in your case, several layers built up to protect the underlying material from water and dirt. What you did with the pommadier sounds about right. But this is where some people overdo it. You can actually overdo it with the cream since  it will penetrate the actual skin, moisture and colour it, if you work with a coloured cream (or Pommadier). Usually one or two rounds is enough, if the shoes are not age old and dried out. But you should never apply much cream at all. So you writing, that you brushed off excess cream sound like you put on too much in the first round. But no worries, since you were able to polish the shoe right after that with wax - and it looks like a decent polish from the pics - you did no harm. Just keep your creaming to the bare minimum, which means, that you dip your fingers with the cloth wrapped around two fingers very tight into the jar and get rid off excessive cream by stroking over the top of the jar (sorry for my bad explanation, english is not my mother tongue). Then you apply with a medium circular motion. The more you press, the deeper the cream will penetrate and protect the leather. But do not overdo the pressing. Then you can go over with a brush. This will even out the cream on the surface and undo any excessive cream. 


Next is to let dry the cream for at least one hour, better even over night. Brush once angain, as dust will have settled on your shoe. 


Then comes the harder part. But before I go into this let me do some myths busting here: 


1. Leather does NOT crack from polishing. Leather does crack from a combination of excessive wear and neglect. Water, snow, dirt, salt: all this will lead to a dried out and cracked leather over time, if the shoe is not being taken care of on a regular basis (best after wearing or before wearing them). 


2. Crack lines in polished shoes come from cracks in the wax layer of your shoes. This is why we (apart from one occation: shoes for black tie events) never do a high gloss water polish for the whole shoe, but only for the tip area and never beyond the first natural compression line (where the toes flex the shoe). This is for aesthetical reasons only. It simply does not look good, when the wax layers crack.


3. Some members in this forum continue to state that a deep water polish look can be achieved with a few layers, like two or three or so and that more layers would not be good. Let me be clear here: This is not the case. The more layers you build up (remember: Only on the tip), the deeper the shine will be. Sometimes you'll see pictures of water polishes and you think, it looks as if I could actually look inside of the leather, like three-dimensional. To achieve this, you need to apply as much as 30 - 50 layers. Work with coloured and uncoloured wax rotationally, and you will be amazed how deep the lustre gets. The good thing is, that you can even restore such a multi-layered polish, should you happen to destroy the polish through contact with a tablefoot or something.


The process of a good water polish is simple and tricky at the same time. Some leathers (especially french box calf) have such an even structure, that you will get a pleasing result easily. Some leathers, especially pebble grain or Scotch grain need ample time and layers to smooth out the pebbles, but it is very worthwile since you will, done right, see the pebble structure through the layers of wax, if done with about 80 per cent of uncoloured wax. The surface of the shoe tip  will be shiny and even. Repeat the circular motion over and over again, continuously reducing the amount of wax and increasing the amount of water (btw, spit is far superior to water, since it helps better to distribute the wax, try for yourself). 


Sould you need more tips, please feel free to ask.


Always on the shiny side of shoes!



post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, and thank you A for your very insightful comments. 


BTW A, I actually must have put to much Pommadier on the shoes, because I used that dipping brush they "recommended" and I noticed that some areas of the shoe were getting way to much, and other areas not enough, so I really lathered that stuff on.. Then I think I didn't brush enough of it away, luckily I didn't leave it on over night :|


A little update, I tried to walk in them tonight at dinner, and it was successful, they looked great. Only problem I noticed was that the crease marks started to crystalize and got a bit sandy to the touch (both red and clear particles). What I then did was waited till I got home, and brushed them with my big horsehair brush. That solved the problem and made them smooth to the touch, once in the shoe trees they were back to looking good ;)


Will try and get down to my studio, and take proper product shots of some stuff for the show n tell sections of this forum sometime soon.



Thanks again!!



post #10 of 11
I wouldnt call them to shiny at all but concentrate more on toe and blend into rest of the shoe. Never over polish in velt as it will crack.
Military shines are called military shines for a reason ie not for normal shoes.
Check shoe snob blog or
post #11 of 11

Dear Shoeless, 


Beautiful shoes, and nice work on the shine! Fortunately for you, you are using Saphir polishes. The proprietary blend of solvents in the Medaille D'or line are amazing for their penetration and the way they are able to lay on the surface without causing build-up.


The reason leather shoes crack from "overpolishing" is not due to the polish itself, but due to the fact that leather is skin and needs to breathe. When you apply so many coats of paste wax polish, you end up filling up, sealing off and choking its pores. Once the leather is unable to breath, since it is not living and has no ability to produce its own natural oils, it begins to dry out underneath the polish, and this is the main cause of the damage. Once the surface has been sealed, future shines can do very little in the way of restoring moisture to the leather. Imagine gluing a piece of plastic to your own skin and leaving it there - you get the idea. At A Shine and Co, we have done an untold number of "light strips" for people who have over-waxed their shoes and brought them to us wondering why they were cracking and why they could not get them to look good any more.


There are certain types of finishes and leathers that are less porous and so are more suited to a high gloss shine with many layers of polish, and there are certain types of finishes and leathers, particularly calf leathers, that are quite porous and need to breathe. While it is safe to use some Saphir paste wax on this latter category, it would never be recommended to put that "military" style high gloss finish on them.


Based on the picture, it looks like your shoes fall into the latter category. A round or two of Saphir Medaille D'or Pate de Luxe per shine is probably fine, but we would not recommend any more than that.


Enjoy those lovely shoes, and shine on!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Over-polish shoes? (Maybe a stupid question, sorry.) Includes photo of my first shoe shine!