Shoe Cream vs Polish: Is There a Difference

Do you wear the same shirt every day without cleaning it? No, right? Then why isn’t the same care given to shoes?

Dress shoes are an essential accessory for men as it uplifts their overall outfit. Date? Put on some dainty dress shoes. Corporate meetings? Assert your power with a sharp outfit matched with a nice pair of shoes.

But even such footwear can go on the wrong side and end up being in a worsened state in the absence of proper care. This is where the shoe polishes come in. But a lesser-known alternative like the shoe cream has been making the headlines for the past decades.

So, what should you use, shoe cream or polish? Well, the answer is not that simple, so read along and know for yourself.



What is Shoe Polish?

Shoe Polish

Let us get one thing straight- shoe polish is not a cleaning product. It is a waxy substance that is used to polish and shine shoes and boots. Its main intention is to maintain, restore, and enhance its appearance.

It adds layers of wax to the surface of boots that can lead to them shining brightly. As it does not seep into the leather, you need not worry about it ruining your footwear.


Why Should you Polish Shoes?

Your shoes might already shine, but what if they could shine even brighter? It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, you can achieve this by merely polishing your shoes.

Shoes, especially the ones made from leather, will start looking old after a point. Even though this might not affect their purpose or functionality, the appearance will deteriorate. This can be avoided by merely polishing your shoes.

As leather is made by tanning animal rawhide and skin, it is bound to get pores, scratches and look stretched or stressed out. Shoe polish can avoid such a result.

When shoes are used frequently, they are prone to wear and tear scratches and shedding. You are most likely to see it around the heels and the tip. There could be more scratches, especially if you bend your shoes a bit too much.

Furthermore, this can make your shoes look old. However, you can avoid such a situation by polishing your shoes.


How to Use Shoe Polish?

How to Use Shoe Polish

Knowing about shoe polishes is only half the journey as it is not as easy as it looks. There are specific subtle techniques that you need to adhere to while polishing your shoes. If you want to save some extra research, pay attention to our following methods:


Method 1:

Before we get started with the methods, there are a few things that you need to take care of. You will need:

  1. Shoe polish
  2. Shoe brush
  3. Cloth
  4. Newspaper

Note: Place the newspaper underneath the shoe before polishing to prevent staining your flooring.

→ Start by cleaning your shoes with a cloth or a brush. Make sure that there are no traces of dirt on it.

→ Take a brush or an applicator and apply the shoe polish in a circular motion. Cover the entire shoe and do not leave any places behind.

→ Let it dry for a few minutes.

→ Spray a few droplets of water on it and dab it with a clean cloth for extra shine.


Method 2:

You will require:

  1. Dry sponge
  2. Liquid soap
  3. Shoe polish

→ Take some liquid soap on a dry sponge and apply it in a circular motion. Cover the entire shoe and use more soap if required. But do not apply it more than twice.

→ Use a clean cloth to buff the shoes.

→ After the shoes are dried, apply a thin layer of your shoe polish.

Note: This method will give your shoes an extra touch of shine.



The following are some of the merits of using shoe polish:

  1. It enhances the overall appearance of the shoe by giving it luster.
  2. Polishing your shows can hide the scratches and impurities.
  3. You can make your old shoes look as good as new.


There is always bad attached with the good. Even though shoe polishes are highly advantages, it has one major flaw:

  1. If it is used in high proportions, it can stain the skin of the shoes.

To avoid such a situation, you can apply a thin coat of it.


What is Shoe Cream?

Shoe Cream

Are you looking for a matte finishing on your shoes rather than shine? If yes, then you must choose shoe cream instead of shoe polish.

The shoe cream is a type of polish that adds color to the shoes. It is thicker and contains pigments.


Why should you use Shoe Cream?

If you already have shoe polishes, what is the need for a shoe cream? Well, it is mainly used to add color or pigment to leather shoes.

Shoe polishes can only enhance the color, but shoe creams can add a layer of pigment.

Not only that, but shoe creams are also helpful in maintaining the surface of the leather shoes. Even if you end up with the wrong shade of shoe cream, you need not worry. As shoe creams are only applied in a thin layer, they can be removed easily.


How to Use Shoe Cream?

How to Use Shoe Cream

Like shoe polishes, there is a specific way to apply shoe cream for better results. You can try the following process:



You will need:

  1. Shoe cream
  2. Brush
  3. Cloth

Note: Before starting with this method, make sure that the shoe cream matches your shoes’ shade. Even if you do not find an exact match, choose a shade closest to your shoes. Also, use it over a newspaper to avoid staining the floors or carpets.

→ Clean your shoes with a dry cloth. Do not use water to clean the boots.

→ With a cloth or brush, apply a thin layer of the shoe cream over the shoes in a circular motion.

→ Let the shoes dry for a few minutes.

→ Buff the cream with a brush to give it an enhanced color.


The following are some of the merits of using a shoe cream for your leather boots:

  1. It augments the color of the shoes.
  2. It significantly masks the scratches.
  3. Along with a satin finishing, it nourishes the shoes.


There are always two sides to the same coin. The following are some of the drawbacks of using a shoe cream:

  1. Applying shoe cream will not improve the shine of the shoes.
  2. If it is used in more immense proportions, the shoes might get greasy.


Difference Between Shoe Cream and Polish

Difference Between Shoe Cream and Polish

After having a basic understanding of shoe polishes and shoe creams, it is time to understand the differences.


Shoe polishes are applied to increase the shine of the shoes. Shoe creams are used to intensify the shoes’ color.



The waxes found in the shoe polishes do not nourish the shoes. It is only used for adding a touch of gloss. On the other hand, shoe creams have moisture that helps in nourishing the shoe. This helps maintain its quality intact.



Shoe polishes might not be the best alternative in hiding the scratches on the shoes’ surface. But this can be done quickly with shoe creams.


Presence of Pigment:

Shoe creams have pigments that can enhance the shoes’ color. As shoe polishes are only used for shine, they lack pigments.


Protective layer:

As shoe polishes have hard waxes, it builds up a thick and hard protective layer. This protects the shoes from water or dust particles. The shoe cream is unable to do so.



Is shoe cream the same as shoe polish?

Shoe creams differ from shoe polishes in terms of the textures and the results provided. Shoe polishes have hard waxes that enhance the shine, while the shoe cream adds a hint of color due to pigments’ presence.


Can you put vaseline on leather?

If your shoes are made of rawhide leather, then it is not advisable to use vaseline over them. But if your boots are made of standard leather, you can apply a layer of vaseline to soften it up and avoid any cracking.


How long does shoe polish last?

If you do not wear your shoes frequently, you can polish them once in 3-4 months. However, if you use it daily, you might have to polish it every month. This depends upon the condition of the shoes.


The bottom line

There you have it, the main differences between shoe polishes and creams. If you are still unable to choose between the two, do not get worked up. These are such products that can easily complement one another. You can polish your shoes and then add a thin layer of shoe cream and viola! Even your old shoes will look as good as new.

Just make sure that you get a qualitative shoe polish and a shoe cream that matches your boots’ shade. Use it as per the methods mentioned above and flaunt your shoes the right way!


Read More:

Sno Seal Vs Obenauf’s

How to Make Boots Stop Squeaking

How to Take Care of Leather Shoes

How Long Do Shoes Last

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