Does Shoe Polish Condition Leather? (No! Here’s Why)

does shoe polish condition leather

Shoe polish is a popular product used to shine and protect leather shoes, boots, and other accessories. But does it actually condition leather? Shoe polish contains dyes suspended in waxes and oil to help put that beautiful shine on your leather shoes. But does shoe polish have what it takes to condition leather?

The primary function of shoe polish is to shine the leather and protect it from water, stains, and dirt. On the other hand, a leather conditioner moisturizes and softens the leather to give it that supple feel.

So, if you are wondering, does shoe polish condition leather boots or shoes? The answer is No! But it does give it a nice shine and protection. If you want to keep your leather shoes in pristine condition, use a suitable leather cleaner to clean your shoes, condition them with a leather conditioner, and protect them with shoe polish. Do this routine every few months, and your leather shoes will last you for years.

So here you are if you came for a quick answer. However, I will urge you to read on as I have a lot more details to share about;

  • What a shoe polish is and what a leather conditioner is,
  • The different types of shoe polishes,
  • What shoe polish does for leather shoes and boots,
  • Alternative products that can condition and polish leather,
  • How to make your own shoe polish and leather conditioner.
  • How to use shoe polish the right way, and
  • The best shoe polishes you can buy.

By the end of this article, you will know everything there is to know about polishing and conditioning leather shoes! So let’s get started.

What Is A Leather Conditioner?

A leather conditioner is a cream or lotion that is used to moisturize and soften leather. It is applied to the leather with a cloth or brush and then left to soak in.

Leather conditioners often contain lanolin, beeswax, or other natural oils. They can also be used to protect leather from water, stains, and dirt.

What Is A Shoe Polish?

A shoe polish is a waxy substance that contains dyes and pigments. It is used to shine and protect leather shoes. It is applied to the shoe with a polishing cloth or brush and then buffed to a shine.

Shoe polish comes in different colors, ranging from clear to black. It can also be used to repair scuffs and scratches on leather shoes.

Types of Shoe Polishes

There are two main types of shoe polishes: cream polish and wax polish. While these two types of shoe polishes perform the same basic function, they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Cream Polishes

Cream shoe polish is made with a mixture of waxes, oils, and dyes. It is applied to the shoe with a cloth or brush and then buffed to a shine.

Cream shoe polish can be used on all colors of leather, and it is especially good at covering scratches.

The best part about the cream polish is that it can be used to restore the color of faded leather.

Cream polish is easy to apply and provides a high shine. However, it can be difficult to remove and can darken light-colored leather.

A classic example of a good leather cream polish is the Saphir Medaille d’Or Pommadier Natural Cream Leather Shoe Polish.

  • Wax Polish

Wax polish, on the other hand, is a little different. It’s made with natural wax like carnauba wax, beeswax, or paraffin wax.

There are also synthetic versions that use polymer resins. All of these ingredients give the shoe polish its creamy texture and make it spreadable.

When you apply it to your shoes, the heat from your brush melts the wax, and it penetrates into the leather. As it cools, the wax hardens and creates a protective barrier on top of the leather.

This barrier protects your shoes from water, salt, and other elements that can damage them. It also helps to keep the leather’s natural oils in and prevents them from drying out.

Wax polishes like Saphir Medaille d’Or Pate De Luxe Shoe Polish will help give your shoes or boots a high-gloss shine.

What Does Shoe Polish Do For Leather?

So now here’s what shoe polish does for leather instead conditioning it. The shoe polish does three main things.

  • Restores The Shine Of The Leather

The first thing that shoe polish does is it restores the shine of the leather. This is especially true for cream polishes.

They are formulated with special dyes, oil, and waxes that add luster and restore the natural color of the leather item.

  • Shoe Polish Shines Leather

The second thing that shoe polish does is shine the leather. One of the primary benefits of using shoe polish is to make your shoes or boots look nice.

When you apply a shoe polish to your shoes, it fills in any scratches or cracks in the leather. This gives the leather a smooth, uniform appearance.

  • Shoe Polish Protects Leather

The last thing that shoe polish does is protect the leather. Instead, shoe polish creates a barrier between the leather and the elements.

This barrier keeps water, dirt, and other debris from getting on the leather and staining it. It also prevents the leather from drying out and cracking.

It is important to mention that one of the most important benefits of using a shoe polish is how it prevents stains on the leather.

When you spill something on leather that has been treated with shoe polish, it is much easier to wipe off the stain than it would be if the leather was untreated.

Are There Shoe Polishes That Can Condition Leather?

While shoe polishes are not made to condition leather, few exceptions exist. Some higher-end shoe polishes contain conditioners that help to keep the leather soft and supple.

However, these polishes will not give you deep and comprehensive conditioning necessary for most leather goods. These types of shoe polishes are common with the cream polishes.

Cream polishes like the Meltonian Boot and Shoe Cream Polish will come with a good amount of conditioning properties that will help restore and shine your leather and keep it healthy in the long run.

How To Make Your Own Shoe Polish & Leather Conditioner

If you want a shoe polish that can both shine and condition your leather, you can make your own. For this recipe, you will need:

  • One part beeswax
  • One part of mink oil
  • One part of neatsfoot oil
  • A small container

To make the shoe polish;

  • Step One: Simply melt the beeswax in a double boiler or a makeshift one using a heat-safe bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water.
  • Step Two: Once the beeswax has melted, remove it from the heat and add the mink oil and neatsfoot oil.
  • Step Three: Stir until everything is combined, then pour it into the container.

How To Use Shoe Polish

To use the shoe polish, here is a step by step guide:

Step One:

  • Start by taking a clean, dry cloth and buffing the shoes to remove any dirt or debris.
  • You can use a leather cleaner to remove any tough stains.

Step Two:

  • Next, apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to the shoes.

Step Three:

  • Once the conditioner has been applied, take another clean, dry cloth and buff the shoes until they are shiny.

Step Four:

  • Finally, apply a thin layer of shoe polish to the shoes.
  • Take a small amount of shoe polish on your cloth and rub it into the leather in small, circular motions.
  • Allow the polish to dry for about 15 minutes, then buff it off with a clean, dry cloth.
  • You can apply a second coat of polish if you want a deeper shine. And that’s it!

Final Thoughts

To wrap things up, shoe polish does not condition leather as it is primarily formulated to shine and protect the leather.

However, some higher-end shoe polishes contain some amount of conditioning agents that can help to help keep the leather healthy in the long run.

You can also make your own shoe polish and leather conditioner at home using a few simple ingredients.

If you want to use shoe polish on your leather goods, simply follow the steps outlined above. So there you have it! Everything you need to know about shoe polish and conditioning leather. Thanks for reading!


Q: Is shoe polish good for leather?

A: Shoe polish can be used to shine and protect leather. However, it is important to choose the right type of shoe polish for your leather. If you use the wrong type of shoe polish, it can damage the leather.

Q: How often should I polish my shoes?

A: It depends on how often you wear them and how dirty they get. If you wear them every day, you should polish them at least once a week. If you only wear them on special occasions, you can polish them less often.

Q: Does polish protect leather?

A: Shoe polish can help to protect leather from water, stains, and dirt. However, it is not a waterproofing agent, so it will not keep your shoes completely dry in wet conditions.

Q: How do I choose the right shoe polish?

A: You should choose a shoe polish that matches the color of your shoes. If you are unsure, you can test the polish on a small area of the leather to see if it is compatible. You should also consider

Q: Does shoe polish protect leather from water?

A: Shoe polish can help to protect leather from water, stains, and dirt. However, it is not a waterproofing agent, so it will not keep your shoes completely dry in wet conditions.

Q: What is the best way to apply shoe polish?

A: The best way to apply shoe polish is with a soft cloth or brush. You should first remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the leather. Then, you can apply the polish in a thin layer. Once the polish is applied, you can buff it to a shine with a soft cloth.

Q: How do you remove shoe polish from leather?

A: You can remove shoe polish from leather you can use a product like the Saphire RenoMat to remove the polish. You can also use a damp cloth to remove the polish. If you have used dark shoe polish, you may need to use a leather cleaner to remove all of the residues.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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