Originally posted by @Northampton Novice

I have picked out some wise words from Ron Rider on this very subject, posted here some years back, they help to define some of the key products we'll utilise:

"True shoe aficionados can argue for hours over whether wax or cream is the most effective polish for their prized footwear. Both are effective, and the use of one or the other is certainly necessary for the proper upkeep of your shoes.

Paste (Wax) Polish

Finding the "˜recipe' that manufacturers use for their paste, or wax, polish is as difficult as prying a BBQ sauce recipe from a Texan - can't seem to be done. Nevertheless, in examining the Material Handling Safety Datasheets that the government requires of these concoctions, it appears that the overwhelming ingredient is Stoddard Solvent (Naphtha) which, in the case of Kiwi (division of Sara Lee) and Kelly's (Fiebings, Inc. in Milwaukee) exceeds 90%. The two other popular shoe polish brands here, Lincoln and Angelus, do not make their MSDS as readily available, so I cannot speak to their main ingredient, but both seem to contain more pigment/waxes than the more popular Kiwi*. A notable exception is the Avel wax polishes (Saphir and Medaille D'Or) which both use a turpentine (natural) base. All use some combination of Carnauba and Beeswax as a binder.

Despite this information, which would seem to counter-act the marketing messages of these products, all are useful in the general upkeep of the finish of fine dress shoes. A personal observation is that Lincoln and the Avel polishes are the most effective in regards to coverage, protection and filling/fixing minor scuffs and cuts.


Cream Polish

Available in a huge variety of colors, Cream Polish is very similar to the harder wax polishes with the main difference being some subtraction of solvent and a corresponding addition of mineral oil, or similar ingredient. While equal in it's ability to impart color, the cream polishes generally do not have the same ability to cover the inevitable scuffs and cuts that a leather shoe is prone to experience. In addition to the above manufacturers, others of note are Urad (Italy), Colonnil (Germany) and Smart (Turkey).



The most under-used products in the shoe care market might very well be the neutral, more natural "˜cleaner & conditioner' products. In my opinion, the continual use of these products on a weekly (or more often) basis is far more important to the overall "˜health' of a fine leather upper than even the regular use of colored waxes and creams. Easy to apply, these products all go a long way in keeping leather supple, protected and, in the case of the brown tones, help to bring out that all important "˜patina' that can only develop naturally thru time and attention. Containing little or no harmful chemicals, any of the following are worth investing in: Allen Edmonds Conditioner/Cleaner, Crema Alpina (Italy), Renovateur by Avel (Spain/France) and Lexol (USA).


This primer was first posted in our Official Shoe Care Thread.
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