- Jul 24, 2021
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no.So is that like Saphir Renovateur?
You mean this?no.
Saphir Medaille d'Or (gold line) is the choice of the most famous shoemakers and manufacturers of leather good. Nutritious original cream dating from 1925, develped based on 7 waxes, solvent and shea butter oil, to clean, nourish, refreshen the colour and protect leather.saphirshoecream.com
A few years ago I discovered another company, Boot Black, from Japan that also makes some great products.
Bleh, so yea that's what I was afraid you would say, and now there's some dumbass menswear blogger out there who indirectly owes the world a perfectly good pair of shoes. But what's done is done. So to start from square 1:I heard it was good for a cleaning before applying polish.
Wow. Thank you for this long answer. I will watch that video soon. You are a good dude. There is a lot to take in here. I Def overpolished. They don't look shiny. Life is learning though. I will get better.Bleh, so yea that's what I was afraid you would say, and now there's some dumbass menswear blogger out there who indirectly owes the world a perfectly good pair of shoes. But what's done is done. So to start from square 1:
There's no need to "clean" leather before polishing unless you got something really permanent on it, like ink or dye or something. For a new pair of shoes, nothing at all is necessary, while for a worn pair, just wipe it down with a moist rag to get rid of dirt and dust that you don't want to be rubbing around when applying polish.
Leather is reasonably durable in itself, which is why we use it in the first place. It's an animal skin where all the proteins have been polymerized together to form a sheet not unlike a plastic sheet, except it's made from a collagenous starting material instead of oil. It also means that it provides some performance benefits that are difficult to replicate in plastic, such as a degree of breathability and significant resistance to cracking even after thousand and thousands of bending/unbending cycles. It is NOT a living material; I say this because the same guys who tell you to use renomat oftentimes will also tell you that leather needs lotion and moisturizer, which is technically not true. It does dry/crack over time, but the mechanism is not the same as what your skin does.
So given that, strictly speaking your shoes don't actually need any treatment, as they're already quite resistant to damage from mechanical and hydration based insults. A bit of polish though does provide an additional measure of resistance against the world's hazards, and can be aesthetically pleasing so that's where cream/wax polishes come in.
Polish comes in two types: a soft amorphous dispersion type they call cream and a a harder solid kind they call paste or wax. Only shoe nerds use the former, while the latter is what people usually think of when they think of polishing shoes, since that stuff is widely available in little tins at any drugstore. Both are variations of the same thing, just in different proportions: cream is mostly solvent, pigment, and softer waxes, which is why it has the consistency of frosting and can be smeared around, while wax is mostly harder waxes, and with less solvent and pigment.
Functionally speaking, cream polish is easy to spread a very thin layer of all over a shoe, and is what I recommend for a quick easy polish. A little bit goes a long way, so what I typically do is apply a drop the size of a grain of rice on the shoe, and then use two fingers to spread it as far and wide as possible. Eventually it will be spread very thin and most of the solvent will evaporate away. You'll know because it will not feel slick to spread, and instead will feel sticky and drag. That means it's time to go to an area that currently has no wax and repeat the process. You can tell where you haven't covered yet because the areas covered with a cream film will look dull and cloudy. Once every area is covered, buff the shoe all over with a horsehair brush to further remove any excess. The goal is to have an very very thin layer of polish left behind on the surface; you'll know because the cloudiness will clear up. Repeat with 1-2 more coats.
(I am going into detail here because I can see in the pics you posted in the AE thread that it looks like you have too much on the shoe, lending it a dull tone. That might clear up with some brushing and buffing)
After brushing off the final coat, wrap a cotton cloth around two fingers and use that to do a fine buffing all over the shoe to really make sure any excess is removed. The cloth should glide smoothly over the shoe. If it does not, wet the cloth with a tiny amount of moisture to aid it along. From here your shoes should have a soft matte shine. You can stop here if you want.
If not though, you can bust out the wax. Like with the cream there are a few ways to skin this cat. For a shoe that has no wax polish on its surface, I personally like to rub a horsehair brush directly into teh tin of polish to get a whole bunch of wax into the bristles. I then use this polish-loaded brush to buff an even coat all over the shoe. Wait a few minutes and then do the cloth + two fingers trick, and perhaps another droplet of water, to smooth the wax all out and remove any excess. Repeat 1-2 more times, and now the shoe should have an additional bit of shine as well as an extra bit of water resistance. You can stop here.
If you REALLY want to see the job through, you can create a mirror shine all over the toe cap. What you are physically doing is, leather, if you look at it really closely with an SEM or something, has a lot of little holes on it, like the surface of a sponge. These holes scatter incoming light in every direction. If you could somehow fill in all these holes though, and then buff the surface so that it's perfectly smooth, the resultant surface will not scatter light in every direction but in one direction, i.e. create a reflection.
Well it turns out that is exactly what wax polish is good for: because it's kind of hard, you can stuff it into every pore on the surface of the toecap and then buff it flat. With each coat, you fill up the pore more and more, until eventually all the pores are filled and the resultant continuous smooth surface polished over.
To do this, everyone has their own pet style, but I like to keep it simple. Using two fingers, I smear off a small amount of wax from the tin and rub a very thin layer onto the cap. Like with the previous steps, rub until it drags, so signify that the solvent has evaporated away. Don't be afraid to use some pressure, as remember you are pressing it into the pores. Now for the fun part: buffing smooth the top surface. To do this, pour a bit of cold water into a holder (the lid of the tin is fine), and add to it a bit of rubbing alcohol. I usually about a 4:1 ratio of water vs. 70% isopropanol. Add to this an ice cube to keep it cold.
Now wrap the cloth tightly around two fingers again and this time moisten the cloth with a bit of the cold alcohol solution. It's easy to use way too much liquid and create a runny mess on the shoe, so what I typically do is dip my other hand's finger into the liquid and then use that finger to transfer the liquid onto the cloth. You want just enough so that the cloth glides; the goal is not to have a sopping wet cloth.
Start buffing with this cloth and you should get results relatively quickly. The rubbing alcohol acts as a mild solvent, with softens the surface of the wax and allow you to rub it into a uniform smooth surface. The coldness has the opposite effect, which hardens it in place once it is flat and smooth. Don't be stressed if it looks like you are temporarily making things worse: just keep making sure your buffing motions are smooth and gliding, and eventually the cloudiness will clear up.
Once all the cloudiness is gone, repeat. You'll find yourself using less and less wax with each round, and at this point it's kind of up to you to decide when you can stop. I typically cut it off when I can smile into the surface and see my teeth, but some YouTube guys like Preston Soto or Justin FitzPatrick take it further. Note: only do this on the toecap and not anywhere where the leather flexes, as the waxy layer will crack at every flex point, and the cracks will propagate into a white splintery mess.
Okay that's a lot of words. Here, just watch this. This Brift H guy was the first high end shoeshiner I ever found, and is kind of an OG guy in that regard, esp. online. His explanation is pretty clear, especially in the part where he does the mirror shine. Now he doesn't use Renomat but he does use his own proprietary cleaner blend, which I don't agree with, even though he only uses a small amount and specifically says to be gentle. The rest is helpful though, esp. where he illustrates how he likes to do the mirror shine. I especially like it because it's similar to how I do it.