One common truth is that it takes a lot of time to get a good spit shine on your shoes. However, it does not have to. Here I go through a technique that will allow you to get a proper spit shine in 15 minutes.


Time and patience, small doses of wax polish and many, many layers. That’s the way most of us have learned to polish shoes to get a proper mirror shine. Also here on Shoegazing, that’s the technique I learned. It is still the best and easiest technique, albeit time consuming. But there are other faster methods, and this one I learned this spring by Neus Benavent, store manager at Gaziano & Girling’s Savile Row store in London and one of those who paint patina and shine the brand’s shoes. I have since tried myself a bit to find out how to go about for it to work for me, but now I can achieve a quite nice shine on a pair of shoes in about 15 minutes without major problems.

It should be said that it is easier to fail with this technique, both during the actual polishing and that there may be a tendency for the polish layer to crack a bit easier. It is easier to find the right technique if you are used to polishing a high gloss with wax, as you get that feeling for the work that usually only comes with experience (and many mistakes).

As most people know, it’s easier to work out a shine when the shoes have already been polished before, so to give a “fair” picture, the shoes I show below are stripped of old wax and shoe cream with a proper rubbing with renovateur.

The shoes after a lot of old cream and wax have been removed. After this I put a layer of shoe cream on the shoes, as a basis for color and for the care of the leather.

After a layer of shoe cream we reached what this post is about, working up a spit shine. This time I use wax polish from Saphir Medaille d’Or, but it works just as well with wax from other good shoe care brands like Collonil, Burgol, Springyard, Boot Black, etc. I also use Boot Black’s polish water, it contains some alcohol which I think that makes the job slightly easier, but with plain water, there is no significant difference more than you might take a little less than I do here. A thin, fine cotton cloth is recommended for this type of shining work, the slightly coarser felt-like cloths tends to make the layers tear together.

The gears used. Wax polish, water, a thinner cotton cloth, a softer brush (this is made of goat hair). Plus a nylon cloth (stockings) that are not included in the picture.

I take a lot of wax on the cloth, and then put on a lot of water (I dip my finger in the water and put on the shoe in a couple of rounds, make sure the water drops are not too long in one place only since marks can be formed). Then with medium-pressure and circular movements I put on the wax on the toe. Now the surface will be matte and a bit tacky, but keep working and then take another round of water, a little less this time, and polish with circular movements until the matte surface starts to disappear and becomes more even and brighter. By the end of each round I have a quite light pressure, and sometimes a drop of water is needed before the layer feels strung. This procedure I repeat twice before I go over the rest of the shoe with the polish (also sole and heel edges). Over the heel that also has a stiffener, I add two extra layers in the same way as the toe.

A bit difficult to illustrate on picture, but it is relatively much wax I take at a time now the first rounds.

I use quite a lot of water to reduce friction.

First, the surface becomes matt and a bit sticky, but with continued work and some more water it will be smoothed.

After I’ve gone over the entire shoe, I’ll put two more layers on the toe, according to the principle above, although I’m taking a bit less wax polish at a time now. The risk that exists here is that you break the layers and get it ruined. It’s here that feeling I’m talking about above comes in, knowing how and how much to polish, water and pressure to keep the balance right. Very hard to explain in words, and in addition, it’s very individual since everyone shines shoes a bit differently, so you have to try it out.

After this I take the other shoe and do the same procedure on them, so that the first shoe gets to rest and the wax will dry a bit. It takes about five minutes per shoe here if you work pretty fast. Then on the first shoe I go over them quickly with a nylon cloth, before I take another three to four layers on the toe part, where the first ones with a big amount of wax like the first layers above, the last a bit less like the latter. Towards the end of each layer, it’s even less pressure and faster movements used, and the shine should now come up well.

Now it should start to shine.

Now the other turn when I’m just going over the toes, it takes maybe five minutes for both shoes. A quarter in total in other words, when you work really quick (of course it can vary between different shoes, some leathers are easier to shine than others). Do let them rest a few minutes before taking a round with the nylon cloth again. Then I have gained a clear, bright shine on mainly the toe party, a quite decent spit shine. If you want even higher shine, continue with the last part in a few more rounds, with some rest between them.

The end result.

And on the feet.