Mink Oil vs. Shoe Polish

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You wear your favorite pair of leather shoes religiously, but the regular wear and tear can leave the material dry, scuffed and looking dull and discolored. Look to mink oil and shoe polish to bring life back to your leather boots and heal the damage done to your high-heeled pumps.

Mink Oil

Mink oil is a natural substance, derived from minks, that helps condition most leather footwear, excluding suede. It lubricates and soaks into leather, and has waterproofing capabilities. Mink oil allows leather to breathe while adding a level of protection from salt, mildew, mold and other hazardous elements.

Make sure shoes are clean before applying mink oil to the leather. With a clean scrap of fabric or shoe polish rag, evenly rub mink oil onto the leather. Once the mink oil has penetrated the leather, wipe off any access oil from your shoe's surface. Once your shoes are dry, you can follow up with the shoe polish of your choice, or just leave as-is. Because mink oil tends to darken leather, it is best used with dark-colored or black leather.

Cream Polish

Cream polish penetrates leather, moisturizes the material and keeps the surface of your shoes flexible and breathable. Although it is not the most effective polish for repairing scuffs and scratches, shoe cream polish helps reestablish original leather color.

Cream polishes are available from a variety of manufacturers, in colors ranging from neutral browns to shades of blue to your standard black and white colors. When buffed, a cream polish can bring a medium-level shine to your leather shoes.

Wax Polish

Wax polish is another type of shoe polish, made from ingredients such as beeswax, carnauba wax and turpentine. Its usage picks up where shoe cream polish leaves off.

Shoe wax polish is suitable for repairing scuff marks and creates a glossier, longer-lasting shine than its cream-based counterpart. However, this waxy substance may seal up your shoes' surface and dry out the material after repeated applications.

Wax polish adds a layer of protection from the elements, but it should not be used as the primary source for waterproofing leather shoes.

Applying Shoe Polish

Shoe cream polish and wax polish can each be used on their own, or combined for a complete leather shoe makeover. If choosing the latter approach, cream polish should be applied to shoes before a layer of wax is added.

Shoe cream polish requires only the polish itself and a soft cloth for application. After the shoe has been cleaned of dirt and debris, use the cloth to apply a thin layer of cream on the leather surface. After the cream has penetrated the leather, use a dry cloth to impart moderate shine.

Shoe wax polish calls for the wax substance, a brush to spread the wax and another brush to shine the shoe. Apply the wax polish in circular motions to a clean shoe with the applicator brush. Start with a little wax and add more as needed. Once the shoe is completely waxed, use a shine brush to add luster to the leather.