At least once in a woman’s life comes a moment when we don’t care how much we spend to get our hands on a fab pair of buttery, leather shoes that stole our heart, be it stilettos or any other. At that time, it seems like a great investment, and it probably is if our purchase makes us happy! But, what we all often forget is to take proper care of them so they maintain their shine and great condition for as long as possible. For example, not many of us really know how to shine leather shoes properly. There are some shoe repair and care basics all of us should know to protect our investment and today’s a good day to start!
Besides being a huge trend (see Spring/Summer 2016 shoe trends), leather is also a beautiful, classy material that gives elegance and style to any pair of shoe. From leather babouches to leather sneakers and booties, leather dominates runways, and our lives; no doubt about it. Now, given that there are more than 10 different leathers, each requiring their own special care, today we’ll focus on nappa leather; the smooth to textured leather variety. And, before we say anything else, please note that you should not shine suede or nubuck because it will damage the leather.
Having said that, nappa is a widely used leather that although incredibly delicate and soft as a material, it is also a great leather to have shoes from. However, it should never be waxed and demands special attention when you clean it to prevent damage. How to find out whether your leather shoes are nappa? Place a wet finger on the leather. If you see the moisture from your finger disappear and be replaced by a water stain, then that porous leather is nappa.
Why should you shine your leather shoes? Well, obviously, there is nothing better than having a well-groomed appearance and wearing clean, shiny shoes is part of it. That aside, conditioning and shining your leather gems will protect the actual leather, reduce signs of wear, increase their longevity, and prevent them from cracking and drying. And, truth be told, once the leather has torn and cracked, there is just too little you can do to salvage the damage. To avoid all that trouble, schedule a shoe shine once a week, at least.
Leather Shoe-Shine Instructions: Done in 7 Steps!
Soft cloth or rag
An old newspaper
A shoe brush of your choice (good quality)
A shoe polish that matches the color of the shoes or is the closest shade possible.
A shoe brush
Protect the area you have decided to use to shine your shoes from difficult-to-remove shoe polish stains by placing a newspaper on it.
If your shoes have laces, take them off.
Place rags or crumpled papers into the front portion of the shoe. If you have a shoe tree, now it’s a perfect time to use it. Doing so will allow you to create an even surface that will be much more easy to polish or clean. This is particularly handy if you are shining your other half’s dress shoes.
Remove any dust or dirt that’s already build up on the shoes. The shoes have to be clean so you can expect an optimal result from shining them. If they are too dirty, you can use a shoe brush and brush off the dirt.
At this point, it should be noted that we mostly prefer brushes with natural fibers. This is because man-made bristles usually damage the shoes, especially leather ones. However, it all depends on the money you want to spend on products to help shine and polish your shoes and the level of care you are willing to provide. That said, horse hair brushes are found for about $4,so they are relatively cheap. Finally, it’s recommended to use a different brush for each shoe color you have. That way, you can always be sure that the shoes won’t smudge.
Finish cleaning the shoes by brushing the dirt off with a damp cloth. If they are not too dirty, you can jump straight to cleaning them with the cloth. For those that want to run the extra mile, you may also wash the shoes with a leather shampoo and get them ready for Step 5.
Once the shoes are dry, dab a clean rag (old t-shirts also work pretty well) into the leather shoe polish. Don’t be too generous when applying the product, though, Apply in small amounts and be more persistent around the stitching, edges, and perforations. Always in small circular motions, also polish the heels if they are wrapped with leather.
A small parenthesis here to say a word about shoe polish. You will hear and read much about cream polish and wax polish products and how they can be used. Some people say we can use both to shine nappa leather while others insist we need one more than the other. In general, leather shoes and cream polishes are a good pair. Leather absorbs cream polish quite well and helps maintain the color of the shoe or outfit, even if that’s plain black or gray. On the other hand, wax polishes shine the surface and apply a protective shield on the outside of the leather shoe. Although they do allow for higher shine, they should not be used on nappa leather. For any other leather type, they will work just fine, though.
Brush the leather shoe side to side. Don’t be afraid to be passionate about it and brush vigorously. If you have invested on a good quality shoe brush, you won’t damage the shoe. In fact, you’ll definitely notice that the harder you brush, the shinier the shoes will become! Stop when you have removed any extra polish with the brush.
Use a dry cloth and buff the shoes. The softest the cloth, the better. Now, you have 2 options. Either sit back and enjoy your shiny leather shoes or go for extra shine. In the second case, you should continue buffing until you get the desired result.
Alternative Leather Shoe-Shine Instructions: Done in 3-Steps!
For those of you with limited time to dedicate to shoe polish (or just don’t want to spend more than a couple of minutes on shoe shine), here’s a 3-step lazy guide to help keep your leather shoes all shiny at all times.
Wear an old sock on your hand and place it into the shoe. The sock will protect your hand from getting stained during the process, especially if you are polishing shoes that have straps.
With your other hand, use a soft cloth to remove any grime or dirt.
With the help of a shoe sponge (use a neutral shade), wipe the surface of the shoe. Don’t be too harsh on your shoes. Just a light wipe will do. Clean, non-colored shoe sponges are very effective on 2-tone leather shoes. However, there are also brown and black sponges that you could use. Plus, they are super handy to carry them around (i.e. at the office) and great for travel.
Tip: Always follow the instructions on the back of the shoe polish product you purchase. Otherwise, you may run the risk of damaging the leather of your fav heels, sneakers or booties with a DIY leather shoe-shine remedy. And, in most cases, the damage done is irreversible. If in doubt, you can always seek the advice of a shoe professional or take your footwear directly to them!
Happy shoe shining!
Do you use any other method to shiny your leather shoes? Have you heard of any easy and effective way to bring back the shine to leather shoes? Tell us in the comments!