1. Why is shining shoes so important?
- It’s not so much the act of shining the shoes but rather the process of conditioning the leather and polishing them for protection that is detrimental to the longevity of your shoes. Leather is a skin that no longer has a body taking care of it, so it needs treatment in order to remain healthy. Without that treatment even the best leather in the world would break down quickly and thus not give you a good investment on the money that you spent.
2. How long should a shoe shine take?
- A shoe shine can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2-3 hours depending on what outcome you desire. Mirror finishes take a long time and require a lot of drying time in between the stages and should therefore not be attempted in a quick manner. But for those that simply want basic maintenance, a 5 minute condition and colour rejuvenation shine is sufficient.
3. How often should I shine my shoes?
- This is like asking how long a piece of string is. There are many factors that affect the outcome of the answer, for example: the weather, how often you wear your shoes, what you are doing in them, whether or not you use shoe trees and brush them down on a regularly basis etc. As a general rule, I would say that one does not need to shine his/her shoes more than once a week (and this is assuming that they are worn several times a week). The more shoes that you own the less that you need to shine them.
4. If I could only afford one product on this site, which one should I get?
- The Mink Oil Renovator is the most important product for your shoes longevity as it directly affects the lifespan of the upper. Without this your leather will dry up much quicker than necessary and eventually crack. Once cracked, there is no going back and your shoes will eventually become unusable. Applying the mink oil on a regular basis (no more than once every 2 weeks) will ensure that your shoes’ upper stays healthy and thus lives longer.
5. And if I could afford two products?
- The Mink Oil Renovator and the Alderwood Shoe Trees. A good shoe tree will absorb the moisture that is subjected to your shoes whether it be through your sweat, spilled drinks or the weather. This moisture deteriorates your leather if left untreated and will also lead to the demise of your footwear in an immature fashion should it not be seen to.
6. Do I really need both the cream and the wax polishes?
- In theory yes. But whether or not you really “need” them is up for debate. For maximised maintenance it is necessary to have both as they serve for different purposes. A cream polish penetrates the leather very well and thus is good for colour rejuvenation where as a Wax Polish is a surface polish. This means that it creates a coating over the leather for protection but thus also allows for one to build a high shine. A cream polish will never allow you to create that high shine, while a wax polish will never provide proper colour rejuvenation. That being, if you wish to maintain your footwear to the best of your ability, it is essential to have both.
7. Does cream polish condition the leather?
- This, to us, is a theory that is up for debate. Often it is claimed that a cream polish will condition your leather but we find this idea to be untrue. Maybe as a bare minimum it can help (as opposed to having nothing else), but in no way can it replace the attributes and outcome that the Mink Oil Renovator will produce.
8. Should I be sparing or generous when applying these products?
- It is always safest to be sparing and add accordingly. Applying too much of anything can have its own harmful effects. Over soaking the leather can cause staining and can ruin the texture of the leather if one is not careful. In a high quality product, the statement ‘a little goes a long way,’ is never truer and these are high quality products.
9. Should I have a shoe tree for every pair of shoes that I own?
- Ideally yes. But we know that shoe trees are not always the easiest cost to swallow on top of your shoe purchase. That being, it is essential to at least have one pair that you can rotate with. However, having one in all of your shoes at all times will maximise the effects of the shoe tree and thus the lifespan of your shoes.
10. What is the bare minimum one can do to maintain his/her shoes?
- If you want to have minimal products but ensure a long life for your shoes, it is essential to have the Alderwood Shoe Trees, the Mink Oil Renovator and the 6in Horsehair Brush. At the end of each day, one should put in his shoe trees, brush down his shoes and apply the renovator once every 2 weeks. This is the absolute bare minimum for maintaining your leather and ensuring a good lifespan to your footwear. If you wanted to have a slight sheen to your shoes (as the renovator does not shine them), then you would want to add the Cream Polish and apply it once a week.
11. How long should I leave between each stage of the shine process?
- If you are hoping to achieve the mirror finish, then ideally you would want to leave about 20 minutes between each stage up until the last application of wax and water, which should be left overnight before finishing. For a quick shine, at least allow the Mink Oil Renovator to set for 2 minutes, and then continue.
12. To achieve the mirror finish do I use the 6" Horsehair Brush?
- You can use the 6in Horsehair Brush to brush the shoe down between each of the stages leading up to the wax and water application. However once you reach the wax and water stage, it is best to just use cloth from that point forward, as the mirror finish is not achieved by brushing, but rather by polishing deeply through the small circular motions shown in the video.
13. Do I need both the 6in Horsehair Brush and the Welt/Applicator Brush?
- Yes. They serve two very different purposes and one cannot do the other’s job. A Welt/Applicator Brush applies the Cream and/or Wax Polish. The 6in Horsehair Brush then buffs it out to create a shine.
14. Should I use the same brush for all of my different colours of shoe?
- Depends on how many shoes you own. If you own a black and a tan shoe, you should have a brush for each (both the 6in Brush and the Welt Brush). If you own black, tan, mid-brown, dark brown and burgundy shoes, then you would at least want 3 of each brush. We don’t say this to sell you more things, but rather do so to prevent you from darkening your light shoes on accident and having an issue recuperating the original look. Black polish can be very difficult to get out of a tan shoe.
15. Do I really need the Welt/Applicatory brush? Could I not simply use a cloth for the entire process?
- Yes, you really do need one. Not only is the Cream Polish highly pigmented and saturating, which can ruin a cloth easily as well as stain your fingers (not permanently but hard to wash out), but more importantly is the fact that the bristles of the Welt/Applicator Brush do a much better job at getting into the pores of the leather for maximised colour rejuvenation. It also helps you to clean out your welt (hence the name) as well as the sides of the sole, much better than your fingers and a cloth will.
16. How much water should I use for the wax and water stage? How do I apply it?
- As with the products, it is always best to use a little and continue to add as necessary. Droplets per application are the way that we do it. And we use our ring finger to do so, by dabbing it in the water and then lightly touching the surface of the leather with the water before polishing over (as shown in the video).
17. How many layers of polish should I be putting on to achieve the mirror finish?
- This is another answer that is dependent upon external factors, such as the quality of the leather, the state of the leather, how quickly you are attempting to shine the shoe, how much water you are using (too much is not good) etc. Therefore, a definite answer is not possible. Could be 5 layers, could be 20. You will know once you have gotten there when the leather feels like the surface of glass.