To Polish or not to Polish...
So why do we polish our shoes? What is shoe cream? Do I really have to spit on my shoe? These questions and more have perplexed those confronting the time old tradition of manually polishing there shoes. Hopefully I can make some sense of it.
1. Why do we polish?
Traditionally Polish was essential to protect the leather from damage. Wax would seal the natural pours in the hide and over time concentrating on making the wax as even as possible would produce a shine.
Reliable and straight forward (if not a little tedious) the Spit-Shine method is simple but time consuming. With a damp cloth (or spit) you simply cover your index finger with the cloth, dip the tip into your polish and slowing coat the entire boot while making a small circular motion (like buffing a car). Typically multiple coats are needed to achieve a high shine.
3. Duty Shine
Fast and too the point, a duty shine will give your shoe a clean finish with a slight shine. This is much more suited for casual leathers shoes and boots. All you need is a tooth brush that you'll never use in your mouth again, and a horse hair brush. Apply polish to your shoe/boot with the tooth brush generously (the messier the better) then brush the excess polish off with the horse hair brush until you get a dull shine and an even coat.
4. The ULTIMATE shine
When i was a cadet, my boots were like glass. Some may call this method cheating, I say it's ingenious. Apply polish to the boot with a tooth brush, then use a heat gun to melt the polish evenly across the boot. Only spend a second or two over the polish, once it has melted move to the next spot and as it cools it will fog over. After this, some will take a Nylon (because of it's fine fibres it prevents scratches) I personally find that applying a neutral (clear) polish in a single coat with the Spit-Shine method on top of the heat gunned shoe provides the best result for the highest shine.