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Mirror shine guide

Polishing time:

30 minutes - 3 hours




For anyone who wants the ultimate shine on their shoes, there is mirror shining. It will give the tip of your shoes the perfect high gloss. The secret of mirror shining lies in the multiple thin layers of shoe wax, and the shining of these layers. Curious? This short guide will give you the basics to achieve a mirror shine.

Step 1.


A mirror shine is generally only applied to the toe box of shoes and in some cases also on the heel, since these part of the shoes don’t flex while wearing them. Applying a mirror shine on other parts of the shoe makes can cause the multiple layers if wax to crack when the leather flexes. Before you start with a mirror shine, it can be useful to clean your shoes and get rid of the old polish. It isn’t always needed – depending on the state of your shoes – but it can help to get a mirror shine more easily. Old layers of shoe polish can contain dirt, sand and dust – which can stop you from achieving that mirror shine you desire. If you want to start anew with your shoe shine we recommend following the steps in our expert shoe shine guide first.

High gloss

Once you’ve gone through all the necessary steps to wash, nourish and shine your shoes, you can start working on the mirror shine – also known as ‘glazing your shoes’. The basic principle is applying thin layers of shoe wax, and shining each of the layers in between. The layers even out the coarse structure of the leather. Note that some shoes are made of finer leather than others – so one pair might take longer to mirror shine than another.

Step 2.

The first layers

Apply a little shoe wax to a cloth and massage the wax into the leather of your shoes. The general rule is to use as little shoe wax as possible, but for the first three layers you want to use slightly more since you are trying to cover the structure of the leather with layers of shoe wax. We like to use Saphir Médaille d'Or Mirror Gloss for our base layers of wax since it is a harder wax.

Once you’ve finished applying the wax to one shoe, start with the other shoe so the wax can dry into the leather a little bit. As soon as you’ve finished the second shoe, you can go back to the first shoe and shine the wax. Shine the leather with a shine cloth, rubbing it with low pressure and quickly over the toe cap to create heat. The heat melts the wax evenly over your shoe, making it as smooth as can be. Do this in between all the first three layers.

After the third layer you can check if you’ve used enough shoe wax, simply by touching the leather with your fingers. If you can still feel the structure of the leather clearly, you might want to apply another layer. If you only feel it slightly or even better, not at all, you can continue with the finishing of your mirror shine.

Step 3.

Building up your mirror shine

Apply the next layer of wax, but from now on, really try to use as little wax as possible. As our "finishing wax" we like to use the more solvent rich Saphir Médaille d'Or Pate de Luxe. Use just enough wax to cover the toe cap, but don’t apply a thick layer. The shoes should already built up a visible, glossy wax layer, because of the three  layers you’ve applied earlier. Once you’ve applied the layer, let it dry.

Wait a few minutes and shine the wax using a cotton cloth. It enhances the heat, which causes the wax to shine more. Before you start, drip two small drops of water or mist the toe cap with our High shine water. The water will help to distribute the heat, creating an even layer of wax.

Apply as many layers of shoe wax as you wish, until you’ve reached the shine you were hoping for. Keep checking your progress in between the layers by touching the leather to feel if it is smooth already. On average it takes us about 6-7 layers of wax to get a mirror shine, depending on the type of shoe wax, leather and technique you use. Remember to be patient, as it might take multiple attempts before you master the technique. Good luck!

Good to know

Colour choice

For basically any colour shoe you can use neutral shoe wax and cream. The only exception are black shoes for which you want to stick to using black shoe polish only.

We prefer using a colour Mirror Gloss and Pate de Luxe in a shade that closely matched the colour of the shoes. That way you create an extra layer of depth in the mirror shine thanks due to the pigment in the wax.

To find the colour shoe polish that matches your shoes we recommend having a look at our Saphir Médaille d'Or shoe polish colour guide.

Colour guide

A full recolouring and shine guide (Advanced level)

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