During this extremely difficult time, we found ourselves largely confined to our houses for large periods on end. Which of course is a good chance to catch up on the backlog of tedious and frivolous things that we all seem to accumulate. Finally got round to repainting the bedroom, learned how make sourdough, binge watched Netflix to the point of tunnel vision.
To many it may seem obvious, or a priority even, (looking at some of the gorgeous images recently appearing on a number of footwear enthusiasts social media feeds) to catch up on giving your stompers some much needed TLC, and the majority of the content below will be things that are second nature, that you've heard (and preached) God knows how many times before.
For those less familiar however, or normally entrust us with routine care via our in house service, but are now considering attempting it yourself for the first time (for those wondering, we are still very much up and running from our secure bunker, do please get in touch if you would like to post us something) we at The Shoe Snob, thought it might be useful to provide a basic overview of a few core consumable products, that we believe are most essential to basic leather care.
Firstly, cream polishes, in our opinion the most versatile of products when it comes to shoe care, overlapping in usage with both beeswax polish and renovator, but not outperforming either when it comes to achieving certain desired results. Acting partly as a hydrator by means of shea butter, and partly protecting the leather with a cocktail of oils & waxes, predominantly lanolin (beeswax), as well as giving a light shine. It does however offer certain qualities, specifically a range of colours to match pretty much anything, an extremely high pigment content, which can breathe life into even the dullest of finishes, all suspended in natural pine oil turpentine to aid penetration, and maintain the correct viscosity. For generally well maintained shoes, combined with a want to keep things as minimal as possible with a single product, its a brilliant choice. It doesn't however have quite the same ability to moisturise as renovator, nor the ability to produce a high shine, as with beeswax polish. Whilst it can be applied to most leathers, also be mindful of anything that comes into close contact with the body, such as belts, or wallets – the high pigment combined with body heat can leave a very nasty stain, as well as potentially making something glossier than intended. Apply sparingly with a cloth or small brush, and leave at least an hour, preferably overnight, buffing afterwards with a soft natural bristle brush.
Beeswax, or what most people commonly refer to as shoe polish is primarily composed of beeswax. It is a protector, and when using the correct technique can produce an almost luminous glass like shine, which visibly appears to float on the toecaps and heels. Essentially acting as an exoskeleton, shielding the soft leather underneath from minor damage, as well as giving, at least we feel, a more premium aesthetic to pretty much any piece of footwear. Having a lighter colour pigment, it has the ability to maintain colour and slightly tint over time when applied to the appropriate leather. It will not however provide the same restorative properties as creams, nor the hydration - in fact, when applied exclusively it goes brittle when dry and can cause premature cracking. Apply last, after all other product routines, and focus mainly on the rigid areas of the shoe, and using a cloth, and leave for at least half an hour before buffing with a soft, natural finishing brush.
Renovator's purpose is as a deep moisturiser, that gives leather elasticity, and can be applied to any type of smooth or textured skin. Having no pigment, and providing very little by the way of sheen and residue, it's more than suitable to apply to just about any item that's in dire need of hydration, or on occasion to soften stiff leather to make it more pliable. In fact, the hydration properties are so superior, over application can make a leather too soft, where it can become delicate, or cause the skin to go matte and oily, as well as fading out the colour over time. It is water based, and contains a very small amount of mink oil, which provides an extent of the moisturising properties. Whilst being a natural product, it is exactly what the name implies - derived from the mink, and is a product of the fur industry – we do understand this might raise ethical concerns, but please be assured it is a very minor by product, that in no way, shape or form drives this industry, and that we are also investigating alternatives that exclude this currently essential ingredient. Apply as a base, BEFORE anything else, and preferably after removing any existing waxes. Extremely sparingly, and only once every few months, or on leather that has significantly dried out. Use a cloth, or bare hands if you feel adventurous.
Hopefully this is enough to answer at least a few questions regarding basic leather care products, why each one is important, what role they perform, and what result to expect from applying them individually, or combined. We will be covering more detailed leather care in the future, and also an in depth instructional on trickier leather types, so suede and exotic fans, fear not. In the meantime, if there's any specific queries on anything related to our products, or general footwear/leather, however obscure, do please feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our very best to answer. Stay safe.