Step by step: how to polish your smooth leather shoes

For a good shoe to literally shine, you have to know how to care for and maintain it. This means polishing them well and also using the appropriate products. A specialist explains what they are and how to apply them so that your feet look like they are on a red carpet.

Felix Ruiz is a lawyer. One day, while walking in the center of Santiago, he decided to polish some new shoes, recently given to him by his uncle, before going to a meeting. He sat down in front of a shiner and carefully watched the process with which the man cleaned and shined his shoes. He passed them a rag, waxed them, brushed them and, to seal the service as a whole, he released a discreet but energetic spit on his leather shoes.

Outraged, Ruiz drove straight home to find YouTube videos on how to shine his own shoes: he would never trust anyone else with his valuable item. In this way, he not only learned to do it on his own, but also discovered a whole world full of waxes, pastes, balms and specific products to give shoes another life. It was his gateway to what he is today. clothing workshop a company he founded with Tomás and Manuel Rogers.

Guide to choosing, differentiating and knowing how to use your next shoes

They always had the idea of ​​having a business of the three of them, and after many conversations, they decided to import products to maintain and polish leather garments, such as pastes and lotions.

Its clientele ranges from connoisseurs of the material, who have shoes and fine leather goods, but also beginners, people who do not know how to maintain and polish their shoes and who need advice.

They are also reached by people looking for an iconic finish on their shoes, such as mirror shine, or who need to restore the leather of their products. They’ve only been offering the latter service for three months, but it’s been a complete hit. “The most important thing for leather is moisture – if you moisturize it properly, it will always look great,” she shares.

The importance of a good product

At Taller Sartorial they manage three brands: Saphir, Tarrago and Avel, all imported and all premium, whose main objective is to take care of humidity.

“The worst thing you can do for your leather shoes is to use bad products, like those from the supermarket, which will kill them faster,” says Ruiz. “If you really want to use a good product, before buying it, I recommend that you go to forums, watch YouTube channels or tutorials and do research. Only then will you get a real return on your investment.

Leather clothing: tips for the care and maintenance of your jackets and shoes

Just a few decades ago, this knowledge was transmitted from generation to generation: grandparents taught parents, parents taught their children. But leather shoes no longer predominate in schools or workplaces: the hegemony of slippers and other fabrics has caused the custom of polishing and caring for leather to disappear.

Basic polishing process on smooth leather

Although there are different techniques and product options, there is a standard procedure for polishing smooth leather shoes. This includes cream and paste.

“Cleanings vary,” says Ruiz, “there are shoes that need stronger ones, either because they’re really dirty or because you’ve applied poor quality products to them. There you have to remove these leather products, so that the pore remains open and receives the new creams and pastes.Shoes that are only dirty do not require so much treatment: “a good soap and that’s it”.

When the smooth leather shoes have been well cared for, “to clean them, you just have to brush them,” says Ruiz. “Then creams and pastes are generally the same, only the colors vary.”

What varies is how the product is used, depending on the type of shoe or the finish you want to give it. “The better the shoe, the easier it will be to maintain and polish,” he says.

What are the minimum elements needed to polish smooth leather shoes? Take note:

  • Brush (the most recommended hair is horsehair)
  • cotton fabric
  • Cream (to nourish and moisturize the leather)
  • Paste (to give shine and waterproofness)

Step 1

The first thing, says Ruiz, “is to brush with the end of the bristles of the brush, using quick, long, smooth strokes all over the shoe.” Why only with the tip? “Do not brush with the whole body of the hair because it wears out a lot, in addition to removing the products that we want to remain
in the leather.

The idea of ​​this movement is to remove surface dirt from the shoe. If the bristle brush is made of natural horsehair (horsehair), you ensure that the leather does not scratch.

2nd step

Once brushed, it’s time to apply the cream. Their mission, explains Ruiz, is “to moisturize, to repigment the leather, that is to say to restore its original color, and to give it a little shine”. The pigments “are like little follicles that adhere to the pores of the leather and enhance the color of the base.” He warns that these are not paints or stains, but their mission is to raise the tone of the base again”.

There are many creams, depending on both the type of leather and the color. At Taller Sartorial they use and recommend Saphir Pommadier, a cream made in France based on beeswax and almond oil, ingredients that nourish and protect the material. Ruiz suggests applying it with a cotton cloth wrapped around your fingers, working in circular motions so it penetrates as much of the leather as possible. It is best to let the product rest for at least an hour: this way the pigment takes root better in the shoe.

Saphir Pommadier leather cream 50 ml

Step 3

When the cream is dry, brush again, this time very vigorously. “As we said, using a horsehair brush is ideal, as it won’t scratch the leather and will give a matte shine, while removing excess product,” Ruiz details. The idea is to give both shoes at least two thorough brushings before moving on to the next step.

Step 4

Here is the dough. The point of this step is to give the shoe a sleek, long-lasting shine, but if your goal is to make it more opaque, you don’t need to go through this.

On the contrary, if you are looking for a shiny finish, with the paste you can make your shoes look like a red carpet. Ruiz’s favorite product is Saphir’s luxury paste, a shoe polish made from beeswax, carnauba and natural turpentine, which in addition to generating a glaze effect also waterproofs shoes.

It should also be applied with a cotton cloth, mainly on the toe and heel, which are the most exposed areas of the shoes. In the rest, “you have to apply a thin layer, in order to prevent the waxes from breaking while walking”, completes Ruiz.

Saphir Deluxe Paste 50ml

step 5

To seal this whole process, you have to wait a few minutes for the paste to dry and then make a closing brush. As always, energetically and with the tip of the brush.

“What we just saw is the most basic step-by-step to polishing finished leather,” Ruiz explains, a process anyone can do at home.

Tarrago horsehair brush 12.5 cm

What not to do with smooth leather?

“The worst thing you can do to a leather shoe is throw it away, because you can always try to get it back,” Ruiz says. The second worst thing is using the wrong products, because this way you are not protecting your shoes in the best way and taking away their useful life.

And what about some techniques that aren’t so nice or orthodox? A few years ago, I witnessed what I believed to be the worst sacrilege in the shoe world: a man, who was late for a wedding, realized at the last minute that his shoes were full of mud stains. In the absence of any specialized cleaning product, he found nothing better than to put a layer of neutral soap on his black shoes, and also removed the excess with damp toilet paper.

When asked, Félix Ruiz was not as shocked as he was by his first experience of polishing in the center. “No, it won’t do much damage, but it won’t clean much either. There are special soaps for leather, which are less abrasive and very effective”, he explains, while showing me a canned soap, solid like wax.

Taller Sartorial is like a club without being a club, where in addition to taking care of the shine of your shoes, you can find all the necessary products to maintain your shoes and even attend a workshop to learn different polishing techniques .

*Prices for products in this item are updated as of March 17, 2023. Values ​​and availability may change.

Source: Latercera

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