Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: Shoe Polishing Guide

Shoe Polishing Guide

At Norman Vilalta, we know how important footwear maintenance is for our clients, which is why we put together this quick little guide on how to nourish our leather and professionally polish our shoes.

Before starting, you'll need a few products and materials. Most of the items you need for the nourishing and polishing process can be found at your local shoe repair store. Be sure to have the following:

  1. Cleansing and nourishing cream for footwear (we recommend Saphir Universal Cream)
  2. Polishing cream (we recommend Saphir polishing cream)
  3. Shoe trees
  4. High gloss wax (we recommend Saphir high gloss wax)
  5. Large brush (we recommend horsehair brushes)
  6. Small brush
  7. One pair of rags, preferably 100% cotton
  8. Nylon stocking
    Once you have the items above, find a comfortable space in the house or work table and get started.
    shoe polishing tips removing the laces
    The first step is to remove the laces from your shoes. This will allow you to properly remove all the dust and spread the nourishing and polishing products evenly on your shoe.
    Shoe polishing tips adding shoe trees

    Next, we recommend adding our shoe trees. We always suggest using our custom shoe trees, to help maintain the original shape of the shoes, minimize wrinkles and absorb moisture.

    During the shoe polishing process, the shoe trees will help you apply the creams and waxes with the proper pressure, ensuring that you nourish the leather correctly.

    shoe polishing tips brushing and cleaning your shoe
    Next with the large brush, thoroughly brush your shoes to remove any dust or dirt that may have collected on your shoes.
    Shoe polishing tips applying shoe nourishing cream
    After you've removed any dust, the next step is to apply nourishing cream. Start off by carefully wrapping a clean cotton cloth around your index and middle finger then pour a moderate amount of nourishing cream on the cloth. 
    shoe polishing tips applying shoe creamRub the nourishing cream on the leather in small circular motions over the entire surface of the shoe. 
    shoe polishing tips brushing
    Once you have finished, you can remove the excess cream with a clean cloth or brush to evenly distribute the product on the surface of the shoe. Let each shoe rest for approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
    shoe polishing tips adding shea butter cream
    Once the nourishing cream has settled, we will begin to apply the polishing cream with a small brush.
    We suggest a polishing cream that corresponds to the color of the shoe. Note, we don’t recommend using cream or wax that is neutral or colorless because they tend to form a white residue after drying.
    shoe polishing tips brushing welt

    Start applying the cream where the welt of the shoe meets the upper. It is very important to keep this part of the shoes nourished because it is the part of the shoe that receives the most stress while walking.

    Next apply the polishing cream over the entire surface of the shoe. We recommend doing this with your fingers, in order to feel how your leather is being nourished. If not, use the small brush in the form of circles to obtain a better distribution of the cream, especially in the micro wrinkles that are generated in the leather where the shoe bends. This helps to prevent the drying out and weakening of the leather.

    shoe polishing tips brushing

    With the large brush, brush the shoe completely especially in the area where the micro wrinkles may exist and eliminate excess cream. Let the cream rest on the shoe for 30 minutes.

    You will notice that the leather has already acquired a shine. You can now finish the polishing process by buffing the entire shoe with a nylon stocking.

    If you would like your shoes to have a glaçage or "mirror shine" you can continue with the polishing process as follows:

    shoe polishing tips glacage preparation

    The glaçage is created by applying multiple layers of wax and water drops. Keep in mind that the glaçage should only be applied to the toe and heel of the shoe, areas that are stiff and do not wrinkle while walking.

    shoe polishing tips glacage process

    Use a clean cotton cloth and re-wrap your middle finger and index finger. It is important that for the layers to be uniform, the surface of the cloth that comes in contact with the shoe is completely smooth and wrinkle-free, otherwise the cloth could drag or pull the wax which will leave marks on the shoe.

    Polishing tips glacage process
    With the ring finger slightly touch the water, dab it on a cloth to minimize the moisture and then lightly touch the area to be glaçaged. 
    polishing tips glacage process
    Then with your index and middle finger lightly touch the wax, dab it on the area to be glaçaged and then rub the area in circular motions, creating an emulsion of wax and water. Please note that application of excess water will remove the coats of polishing and ruin the glaçage. Water should always be less than the amount of wax used.
    Polishing tips glacage process

    With a cloth, apply with small circular motions three to six layers of wax and water and allow each layer to rest 15 to 20 minutes before applying the next layer. If you can, we recommend that you work on several pairs of shoes at the same time which will allow adequate time to rest between layers. Please note that applying coats without allowing time to rest will ruin the glaçage.

    Polishing tips stocking buff

    After adding all the layers and allowing the shoes to rest, the last step is to use a nylon stocking. Rub the stocking in small circular motions on all parts of the leather until the desired effect (mirror) is achieved. We recommend using the stocking the following day to obtain the best results. A secret is to use a very small drop of water or breathe on the surface where the layers have been applied.

    polishing tips final results

    The process of nourishing and basic polishing can take around 30 to 45 minutes per pair. If you want to add the glaçage, the total polish and glaçage should take approximately 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours depending on the type of leather and the level of shine you would like to achieve. Keep in mind that grain leather normally requires more layers of wax and water, which means more time.

    We hope this guide is useful and we will be happy to add more details upon request. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by email at or visit us at our atelier and luxury men’s shoe store in Barcelona, ​​Spain. We will be happy to walk you through the process and provide additional polishing tips.

    Browse all high quality shoes and boots

    Read more

    Balmoral Simple men's leather oxford shoe made in Spain
    3d patina

    Better in 3D

    At Norman Vilalta we believe that once you’ve learned the rules and mastered the techniques, break them and innovate. We apply this mentality to our design process, shoe making and our finishing. O...

    Read more
    Feature in Esquire Magazine Spain, April 2019
    barcelona atelier

    Feature in Esquire Magazine Spain, April 2019

    We're pleased to announce that Norman Vilalta was featured in this month's issue of Esquire Magazine Spain covering bespoke shoemakers in Spain. Pick up a copy of the April 2019 issue and check us ...

    Read more