Shoe Cream Vs. Polish: Know The Difference

Learn the differences between shoe polish and shoe cream and how they differ in their application and functions.

Shoe cream and shoe polish can both help your leather shoes look their best, but they’re not interchangeable products. They are each ideal for specific scenarios since they each have particular advantages. 

This article will help you choose which will best suit your needs and outline the critical distinctions between shoe cream and shoe polish and the frequent mistakes individuals make while using both on their shoes.

What Is Shoe Cream?

The shoe cream is a leather conditioner that’s made from natural ingredients. It should be used to treat the leather to prevent it from drying out and cracking and make it water-resistant. The shoe cream is typically applied with a horsehair brush, preventing streaks in the shoe’s creases that can happen when using a cloth or cotton ball.

Shoe Creams are water-based formulas applied to your hands or a horsehair brush. They’re best for shoes made from fine leather (e.g., kids’ shoes) and dress shoes that require special care like color polish, waxing, and conditioning treatments; they’re not recommended for heavy-duty work boots because they don’t offer any waterproofing properties.

How Does It Differ From Polish?

The shoe cream is different from the polish because it penetrates and nourishes the leather. Shoe polish is more surface treatment and does not offer the same protective qualities as shoe cream. 

Creams are also recommended for suede or nubuck shoes since their smooth finish does not hold waxes or polishes like porous leather. The cream polish may be your best bet if you have dry or cracked heels because it moisturizes and seals in moisture for a healthier look. 

Waxes, on the other hand, offer a clean look to your shoes. You can use wax polish for touchups to ensure that your shoes look clean and polished without touching up any spots. 

Wax polish provides a glossy shine that’s perfect for dress shoes. When choosing between wax and cream polish, think about how much time you would spend maintaining your boots after each use.

How Should You Apply Shoe Cream?

There are two ways to apply shoe cream. You can either rub it with your hands or use a soft cloth. Rub the shoe cream in so that it covers the entire surface of the leather, paying particular attention to any areas where scuffs and scratches may be present. 

Let it sit for five minutes before buffing off any excess cream with a clean rag or cloth. When you polish your shoes, wait 24 hours between coats of shoe polish to allow time for the previous layer to dry thoroughly. 

If you have fine leather shoes, remember that they require more care than those made from synthetic materials like nylon or vinyl, which can usually withstand regular polishing without any ill effects.

What Are The Best Brands?

Brands are always a hot topic, and the debate of shoe cream vs. polish is no exception. It is clear why so many folks are eager to know the answer! It can be confusing because shoe cream vs. polish is an ambiguous term. 

There are many different shoe creams, some that act as waxes, some as polishes, and some as both. We’ll break down the best brands in 2022 below to help you decide what will work best for your needs. 

1) Saphir Shoe Care – For those looking for a high-end brand shoe cream, Saphir is a great place to start. They offer various shoe polish and cream forms, including creams, waxes, and polishes.

2) Kiwi Boot Shine Company – Kiwi Boot Shine Company offers two varieties of shoe polish and two varieties of leather dye. You might like this brand if you need a top-notch leather dress shoe care kit. 

3) Montana Pitch Blend – Montana Pitch Blend offers a wide variety of products, such as their famous bear paw lanolin-based boot grease or their brown bag bundle with waterproofing conditioner, brush, and cleaner all together at one discounted price. 

When Should You Apply Cream Shoe Polish?

If you have cream shoe polish in your closet, you may wonder when to use it. You should use a cream polish if your shoes are already shiny but not waterproof. Cream polish will moisturize the leather and keep it supple. 

For leather shoes that need more than just a surface-level shine, like dress shoes or black shoes with patent finishes, you should use shoe wax polish instead. A shoe wax is best for polishing shoes with these surfaces because it is specially formulated for shining shoes on these kinds of characters. 

To apply shoe polish polishing:

  1. Start by brushing off any dirt from the shoe using a shoe brush.
  2. Apply a small amount of shoe conditioner onto the meeting so that you can quickly get into crevices and cracks on your shoes.
  3. Rub the boots gently until they are evenly coated in the shoe conditioner.

When Shouldn’t You Apply Shoe Cream?

The shoe cream is a sort of polish made to condition leather shoes. It has a thicker consistency than regular shoe wax polish and can be applied on top of any old shoe polish. 

Shoe cream does not contain any wax or filler, which means it will not make your shoes shine or provide extra protection, but it will nourish the leather. 

You should avoid applying shoe cream when you want to give your shoes a high gloss finish or waterproof them against rain. There are different types of creams for other purposes, so make sure you pick the one that best suits your needs.


To maintain the most excellent appearance for your shoes, you need to know the difference between shoe cream and wax polish. Shoe polish is a liquid that can be applied with a brush or rag, and the leather’s pores absorb it. 

However, shoe cream is something that you apply sparingly using your fingers. The cream is made up of waxes and oils, which provide a protective layer on the surface of the leather. To know which one to use, you have to think about what type of shoes you will put them on – if they are leather dress shoes, then shoe cream; if they are sneakers, then shoe polish.