Do Not Condition Brand-New Shoes
It's unnecessary and can actually damage the finish. More details here: Do Not Condition Brand New Shoes - The Shoe Snob
Hybrid Approach: Professional + DIY Care
We recommend starting with a professional shoe shine, then touching up small blemishes yourself as needed with Saphir Médaille D'Or Shoe Cream. When you're a week or two away from a big event where you want to look your absolute best (presentations, interviews, weddings, etc.), take them back to the pros.
If you want a bright mirror finish, and you don't already know how to do this yourself, we recommend taking it in to your local shoe repair. It's a time-intensive process with a steep learning curve.
Find a local shoe repair on Yelp or Google Maps, and ask for a condition and shine. The conditioner will moisturize the leather and make them less prone to scratching. The shoe shine is a thin coat of wax that will provide a physical barrier between the shoe and whatever might scratch it.
DIY At-Home Care
We recommend Saphir Médaille D'Or Shoe Cream. Shoe creams provide both conditioning and shine. This particular formulation, made of all natural ingredients, has been the highest-end shoe cream since 1925. It has a much higher concentration of pigments and wax than other shoe creams, so you don't need to use as much as other creams. Here's a video on how to use it.
Matching Care Products with Shoe Colors
You can't get an exact color match between creams, waxes, and polish, with your shoe leather. But that's okay, because there's a world of customization available to you! Let me explain...
Our leather is aniline, which means the color is stained in, so you can still see the leather's natural grain pattern underneath. Leather is a natural material and there are variations in how it absorbs the dyes. There is variation from hide to hide, and even variation within the same hide. You can never get an exact color match.
On the other hand, there is pigmented leather, which means the color is essentially painted over the leather. The best example of this is Doc Martens boots. Their colors are very uniform. With a pigmented leather, you can theoretically get an exact match, but even then it's not guaranteed.
You might be thinking, why would we choose the inconsistency of aniline leather, over the consistency of pigmented leather? In short, aniline is a higher-end product with 5 superior attributes. First, aniline requires a higher grade of leather, since you're highlighting the natural variations, rather than covering them up. Second, it produces a more interesting look, with more depth and detail. Third, while pigmented leather is more consistent, it also looks unnatural, like plastic. Fourth, the layer of pigment can crack and flake off over time.
At this point, I hope you're not disappointed that you can't get an exact color match, because here is the fifth reason why aniline is superior to pigmented: you can adjust the color of your shoes to your preference!
- If you want it a bit lighter, use a lighter cream.
- If you want it a bit darker, use a darker cream.
- If you just want a mirrored effect over the colors you currently have, use neutral cream.
- If you love the antiqued (AKA burnished) look, use black cream.
- If you're feeling very creative and/or adventurous, check out the design house that popularized vibrant and colorful patinas, and remain the best in the world at it: Berluti. And here's a short (1:37) video that shows some basic ways this can be done: Patina Lesson.
- If you want to try any of the above, but you don't have the time or the tools, take your shoes to your local cobbler, and show him what you'd like.
Shoe Colors & Recommended Saphir Colors
Best Match: #01 Black
Darker: #05 Dark Brown
More Red: #34 Tobacco
Lighter: #03 Light Brown
Medium: #10 Cognac
Darker: #37 Medium Brown
More Purple: #08 Bourdeaux
More Red: #12 Hermes Red
More Brown: #09 Mahogany
Natural Pull-Up starts off quite light, and will naturally darken over time with wear. Typically, people don't apply a pigmented cream to this product.
If you really want one, Saphir's #03 Light Brown is probably the closest match. Unfortunately, we don't carry that one, but here's one website where you can buy it.
Because Natural Pull-Up is so light, it will readily take on whatever color of cream you put on it. So you can adjust it towards another color if you'd like.
If you don't want to change the color, you can use a conditioner like Leather Honey, but even the oil content of this will darken them.
Avoid "Neutral" Colored Polish
It can leave "a horrific white residue that not only becomes sticky but stays within the creases of your leather and is hard to get out" Learn more: Tip: Do Not Use Neutral Wax - The Shoe Snob