We have a basic leather care guide available that will help you care for your shoes and boots and keep them looking fresh. However, to go that extra mile, a mirror shine on the toe caps and heels of your shoes will be the envy of everyone around you.
In this guide, we focus on the Boot Black products that will bring out a reflective mirror shine.
These are the things we will need:
- Leather Cleaner/Conditioner
- Shoe Cream
- Wax Polish (Pigmented and Neutral)
- High quality leather shoes
- High weave cotton cloth and horsehair brush
Follow the steps in the basic leather care guide to prime the shoe for a mirror shine. Our primary focus here is filling in the leather’s pores with the conditioner and shoe cream. This step creates the foundation for what’s to come.
2. Foundational Wax Layer
Brush the shoe lightly, then with your fingers, spread a generous amount of Wax Polish onto the toe caps and heel counter of the shoe. Be sure not to saturate the leather with wax polish as this can lead to cracking later on. Apply medium pressure in a circular motion to work the polish into the pores of the leather until you can feel some friction..
3. Waiting Time
This is the most important step to any good mirror shine. You must wait for the solvents in the foundational wax layer to evaporate before advancing any further in this guide.
Depending on how much you have used, anywhere from 30 minutes, 1 hour or even overnight may be required. This is the main reason why sit-down shines at street booths never achieve a true mirror shine, and you’re left with a dull luster at best - unless they use hard wax products which have an easy tendency to crack.
4. Solvent Buff
i. Cloth Preparation
Wrap the high weave cotton cloth tightly around your index and middle fingers, and slightly dampen it with some water - this will decrease friction during the buffing action. If your cloth is new, it is recommended you de-lint it first by giving it a wash.
ii. Water Buff
Add one droplet of water on top of the dried wax polish and with light to medium pressure in a circular motion, buff the wax polish and water.
The aim is to melt the dried wax layer by reactivating it with the water. If you apply too much pressure, you will risk removing the wax from the friction as opposed to melting it.
iii. Wax Buff
Water is a weaker solvent than what is present in the wax polish, so it will only be able to melt the wax to a minor extent. After the usefulness of the water droplet is spent, tap a tiny amount of wax polish from the tin onto the cloth, and repeat the action of buffing in a circular motion. Matching the solvent on the cloth with the layer of wax on the shoe will melt it more effectively and bring the wax to a high shine as it smooths out.
Repeat these steps 2-3 times before progressing to step 5.
5. Additional Layers
When you are ready to add another layer of wax to enhance the shine further, spread a thin layer of wax polish on top of the previous layer. I would recommend a neutral wax to build colourless layers on top. This makes the shine really pop. Then, repeat steps 3-4 until you can see a well-defined reflection of your face!
After about 3-4 layers, finish the buffing step using only water. The weak solvent nature of the water will elevate the shine even further. Well done, you've now got a mirror shine.
Keep in mind that this works because you’ve built up dry layers of wax, then melted and smoothed them out using water and small amounts of wax as a solvent.
You can replace the dry layer with any type of wax product, such as the Boot Black High Shine Base, which dries in 2 minutes (as opposed to 30-60 minutes or even overnight) as its waxes are quite hard. The recommended solvent to melt Boot Black High Shine Base is Boot Black’s High Shine Coat. Both of these products can be found over with our friends at Trimly.
To increase the effectiveness of the water, try experimenting with a few drops of rubbing alcohol.