Should I Use Cream Or Wax Shoe Polish?
It's best to actually use both, but if you had to choose between them wax shoe polish is the better choice. Some people wonder which is the best, and wax has some advantages that cream polishes just don't have such as providing a lot more protection of the leather.
So if you only had to choose one shoe polish, that's the kind to get...but that isn't the whole story.
Polish is just one component of shoe care; you need more than that to keep a pair of fine leather boots or shoes in good condition as well as looking their best with that high mirror shine.
Why is that, though?
Wax Shoe Polish Provides Protection That Cream Just Doesn't
Polishing compounds are terribly misunderstood by a lot of people in terms of what they actually do; what wax shoe polish does is create a surface layer of material between the leather and the elements that you then manipulate into the appearance that you desire.
It's sort of like paint on a car. Yes, it makes it a particular color, whether that's white, black, red, blue or what have you (some of us here are partial to Racing Green, but nevermind) but it also protects the metal underneath from rusting.
Wax, being akin to fats or oils, actually creates a seal on the surface of the leather. Cream polish, by contrast, is just a colored not-very-runny liquid that spreads thin over the surface and fills in cracks, nooks and crannies, sort of like spreading mayonnaise on bread to make yourself a sandwich.
Remember, what you're doing when you polish your shoes or leather boots is building up a layer of polish on the leather and THAT is what you shine. Not only can a layer of wax polish acquire that high shine we all want on the toe, it also protects the leather from the elements and minor dings and dents.
However, a cream polish also does things that wax polishes just don't.Polish Is Only One Part Of Shoe Care
With that all said, wax polish and indeed polishing itself is just an aspect of shoe care and in truth is not the most important.
Think of this way: it's good to wash your car so it makes a good appearance, but it's more important to change the oil.
What do you have to do to keep a pair of shoes or boots in good working order?
There are two critical things you have to do in order to keep your boots or shoes in good condition, which is to condition the leather and keep it protected from moisture. Wax polish will help with the latter, up to a point, but doesn't do a thing for the former.
Leather, after all, is skin, and just like our skin needs to be moisturized from time to time. That's why you want to use some boot grease or oil every so often - when your boots are clean! - to keep the leather nourished and hydrated, so it stays supple and strong.
After that, a bit of waterproofing is a good idea, which wax polish will help with. After all...it's a layer of wax.
Cream polish doesn't do a thing to protect your boots from the elements and doesn't take a shine very well. Cream polish DOES, however, help with preserving and nourishing them since shoe creams, just like boot oil or boot grease, provide that hydration to the shoe leather that keeps it from drying out and cracking.
Why It's A Good Idea To Use Both Types Of Shoe Polish
If you want to get and maintain a great shine using shoe polish, you'll actually want to use both. It's a bit of a pain to do the whole process, but it pays dividends in the end.
When your boots are clean and dry, apply a layer of cream polish across the surface and smear it around so it creates a nice even coat across the entire shoe or boot and wiping away any excess. Then apply the wax polish in a similar fashion, evenly coating the entire surface and getting any excess polish off.
After you've gotten a good layer of wax polish onto your boots or shoes, shine them up however you want; a good brushing or buffing will give them a nice matte shine that works well, or get to work with a slightly damp cloth in a tight swirling pattern to build up that high mirror shine.
Again, polishing is just a part of shoe care,