How to polish shoes: Part 2, polish and mirror shine

Monday, October 22nd 2018
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As with the first in our shoe polishing videos, this film is more discursive than most, with context and analysis around both the talk and the demonstration.

Most videos on polishing just show one person doing what they do, and coming up with a great result. This is fine as it goes, but it doesn’t give any consideration to alternative methods (and importantly, whether they achieve anything different). Nor does it deal with questions or problems viewers might have.

To try and address this, these shoe-polishing tutorials are split into two halves: first an interview, where we discuss techniques, and then a demonstration of them in progress (and even that, with questions).

Hopefully this provides some broader perspective.

The downside to this approach is that the coverage is long, and it is therefore split it into two films: one on products, preparation and cream; and the other on applying polish and achieving a mirror shine.

The second is published here - the first was up last week and can be found here.

The techniques are demonstrated by Pete Bultitude of Gaziano & Girling, and so the points are a mix of our experiences.

Do ask questions in the comments here, or on YouTube.

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Simon, You ask such great questions. They turn these guides from something that many people have tried to do, into something that’s thorough and caters for the enthusiast. Thanks for your hard work.


Hi Simon,
Any advice on whether one should polish the sole and treatment(if any) of the inside of the shoe.
Many thanks


I would refrain from polishing the sole for fear of making it slippery.

Dom Barker

This is ace, gave it a go while watching, got a much better shine than before. Hard to be to be a bit heavy handed with everthing, but I’m sure Ill get there


Gets easier over time… as in when you get more skilled at it or in relation to the shoe itself?

I’ve almost always found my older shoes take polish better but do have two pairs that simply refuse to polish nicely – one simply wont shine and the other always takes a bloom in the polish.


Bravo! Could you advise as to how to use creme and polish on a shoe that has been previously shined. For example, do you apply creame over the areas that have previously been brought to a high shine – toes, and rear quarters?


Thank you!

Peter K

I like wearing a disposable, surgeon’s type glove when polishing shoes. It prevents getting polish on my skin, which can be quite hard to remove.


Two additional thoughts.
1. To achieve the results in the polishing video the quality of leather is important. With poor quality leather it’s almost impossible to get a high shine particularly if the leather has a synthetic dressing to give a fake shine.

2. Sometimes I use a completely different colour to the shoe which over time can give extra depth and patina.


If leather has been given a synthetic dressing to give it a fake shine, just go over it with a cloth dipped in surgical spirit.

Wait till it dries, give it a buff and the synthetic is no more.


I have a pair of brown and white spectators. The white vamp rubs on the brown toe cap and deposits brown polish. I have tried various things to remove it, including nail polish remover, but with no success. I have tried various whiteners, but with no success. Is there any way to remedy this or should I just see it as part of the change in patina of the shoe over time?


Great video Simon. I’ve managed to get some form of mirror shine on my Oxford cap toes but recently the wax seems to have deteriorated. Do you advise to remove all wax and start again? If so what product would you use for that? Alternatively, is there a way to fix an imperfect / deteriorated mirror shine?

Gregory Luttrell

Simon, thank you for the shoe polishing series. Absolutely great!!!

peter ellis

You are basically telling us nothing that we do not know already.


Simon, thank you so much. I always learn a little something I didn’t know in your videos. I really appreciate your work. Pete is a wizard with shoes.


Hope you don’t mind me jumping ahead Simon: someone asks about polishing the sole. Polish between sole and heel as this area can dry out (under instep) but never polish the sole itself. It can result in a slippery shoe plus can get polish over floors/carpet. As for the inside there are a range of deodorising/freshening sprays available. Alternatively wipe out with anti-bac or damp cloth – pay special attention to the toe area – sock fluff can collect there. Fill with paper to dry.


Do you have any thoughts on liquid carnauba wax, as in this sort of product?



Hi Simon

It seems that Pete’s advice is to combine the use of a cream polish and a wax polish for the optimal care/shine of one’s shoes. Given the cream polish is the product that gives the leather nourishment and pigment, does it make sense to buy a cream matching the colour of the shoe and only buy a neutral coloured wax polish rather than also buying a matching wax polish? For example with Saphir Noir products that would mean getting a Pommadier Cream Polish for each colour of shoe I own and one Pate de Luxe Wax Polish in neutral colour to be used on all my shoes regardless of their colour.


Hi Simon, a few questions:
1) should you remove the accumulated layers of cream and/or polish after a while? If so, when and using what products?
2) once it’s covered in polish, do you wash the cloth or throw it away?
3) what about beeswax products? What are they intended for?

Paul Carey


After reading this guide I decided to pay a relatively old pair of brown Oxfords some attention (Somewhat neglected for the last couple of years).
I decided to use the Kiwi dark tan as I liked the sound of the slight burgundy colour mentioned in the video. They have come up an absolute treat.

Thanks for the nudge.


Hi Simon,

Will you be attending the London Super Trunk show on March 23?



My brother is getting married & I can’t make up my mind what shoes to go for, either Norman Vilalta Simple Derby, Baudain & Lange Sagans or Corthay Arcas. I already spoke to Norman and he said he can make for June which is great.

Do you have a personal preference for either of those makers? I understand you talk highly of Baudain & Lange.


Thanks Simon,

I will pick and choose carefully and the colours I usually choose are quite somber.

Not sure if my previous reply went through.

Best wishes



Hi Simon, thanks for doing these video series, it’s v. helpful. Just wondering if you have had persistent scuff problems on any of your shoes?

I have a pair of black Alden captoes (Hampton last, Oxfords); usually I wear them in the office, but went for job interview in them and got a greyish scuff mark on the tip of one of the toes. Admittedly I’m not a great polisher, but today applied Kiwi (black) and gave it a good 20 minutes – horsehair brush to remove debris, cloth to apply and rub in polish; then after an hour, brush to bring to a shine, etc. Scuff looks like it’s persistent, however. Should I expect to give it quite a few polishes and build up a layer to coat over it? Lovely to see them restored and gleaming, but that scuff is irritating! Thanks very much, David.

sam jones

if you have a shoe with white stitching in the welt, how do you manage th keep them white while polishing the shoe?


Hi Simon

Some great questions were posted in the comment section of Part 1 and Part 2 of this shoe care video series. You have promised answers/a follow-up video – when do you think you will post those?