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Shoe Cream vs Shoe Polish: Which One to Opt?

Once you have purchased a nice pair of dress shoes, this is only the beginning. As you keep on wearing them on daily basis, you must make sure they stand with the test of time. In other words, whatever punishment your feet impose on them, you can bring their luster and shine back only through putting some time and effort to polish them. Let’s have some comparative overview of shoe polish as well as shoe cream.

What is a Shoe Polish?

The shoe polish was invented in Australia by William Ramsay in 1906 and he named it Kiwi after this flightless bird endemic in New Zealand, which is the home country of his wife.
Shoe polish gives your shoes a polished look and finish just like new pair of shoes. The condition is that you are continuously shining your shoes or boots with a shoe polish.

What is a Shoe Cream?

Cream polishes are usually made of a thick, pigment-rich cream base, and a small amount of waxes. When used regularly, they maintain the color vibrancy of the leather, mask uneven fading, and provide a very slight shine – like the surface of a leaf.

The question arises here, while polishing your dress shoes, which to go with either shoe cream or polish? Here we are going to shed more light on the uses, pros and cons of both products.

Why Use Shoe Polish?

As the leather is made from animal’s skin it has pores and imperfections that needs polish. Polish prolongs the shoe life and the appearance of wear and tear. Normally the damages appear around the top caps, heels and in the area at the top of the shoes where the toes bend. Since leather shoes are an expensive material, you have to pay more effort and time in polishing them.

Why Use Shoe Cream?

Shoe cream is a form of polish that can be used regularly and can help keep your shoes vibrant and maintain their color. Unlike leather dye, which changes the shoe color, a cream polish leaves a thin layer which enhances the original color. It works as a conditioner and conditioned the leather shoes and also give more shine. Shoe creams come in different shades that can be matched easily with any color of shoes. A little more bluffing with some clean cotton cloth can sparingly absorb the cream into the shoes fabric texture.

Using Shoe Polish

You can use shoe polish by adding its layers of wax on the outer surface of your leather shoes. You can get a nice shine by a little buffing on the shoes with some clean cotton cloth. It is good to know that shoe polish does not seep into the leather. Dull and faded appearance of shoes requires a plenty of work in applying polishing method to them. The use of wax shoe polish can restore their appearance and can prolong their life. Here we have some pros and cons linked with shoe polish.

Pros: The wax polish provides an outer waterproof layer on your shoes. So, it can help add a protective layer on your shoes to keep them looking new and polished. You can polish your shoes in less time as no need to do buffing for great extent of time.

Cons: Shoe polish can change the color of shoes, when used in excessive amount. So, color enhancer and conditioners might have been applied in form of shoe creams.

Using Shoe Cream

Cream shoe polishes restore color vibrancy to your leather shoes. It has its own pros and cons.

Pros: One of the advantages of a shoe cream is that you don’t need to find an exact match for your shoe color. They are applied sparingly and as long as a close color match, the shoe cream will work to restore your shoes. The most important pros of shoe cream is that, it restores the shoes from creases by relaxing the leather.

Cons: Unfortunately, some special leathers like shell cordovan should not be treated with a standard cream polish. Shell cordovan has a tight fiber structure that is responsible for its natural shine. By applying most of the cream polishes the density of the fiber used in these shoes get slacken off.

Can both of them be Used while Shining Shoes?

Now many of you can have a common requirement of using both of them to get their different benefits. Yes, you can use both of them for shining your boots. Now, one thing to take care of while  getting the best of both worlds. Always remember to apply cream polish first before using shoe wax polish. If you apply wax first, the wax layer may prevent the cream polish from entering the leather. Also, when cream polish is applied after the wax, it may kick off the shinning achieved earlier. If you are thinking to make a purchase, have a look at some of the top picks in our 2020 definitive review covering both creams as well as polishes here.


In the last but not the least, we recommend you to use shoe polish to polish your shoes when you want to maintain their shine. Also when you want to have a pigment free absorption of wax over the leather. Otherwise, if you are looking to maintain the color of your shoes, we recommend you to use a shoe cream.

Finally, you can have the best of both worlds. Use shoe cream first to restore and boost the color of your shoes, and then wax polish to shine and waterproof them. Shoe polish and shoe cream are just products and shoe shining is a method for polishing your shoes. So both products can be used side by side, but keep in mind the order of their application.

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