Saphir Medaille d'Or 1925 Pate De Luxe paste wax shoe polish in black and burgundy displayed on blue backdrop

Saphir Pate De Luxe. A Deep Dive

Saphir is the premium shoe care brand for any shoe aficionado. Their name goes hand in hand when researching famous shoe makers and how to care for your valuable shoes.

They have a (very) long history of making luxury products using only the best natural ingredients, sourced the world over.

Here, we'll take a deep dive into one of their most popular products; their Pate De Luxe shoe polish. What this wax polish is and why it's unique.



What Is It?



Saphir's Pate De luxe is a paste wax polish. Sometimes referred to as a dried wax polish, given its texture.



"Our famous Pâte De Luxe wax polish combines a selection of premium oils and waxes, including turpentine spirit (natural pine extract), beeswax, carnauba wax, and six other waxes with nourishing, protecting, softening and shining qualities."


- Saphir


Let's break this down a little bit.

There are waxes from at least three different sources here. This is one of the things separates it ordinary polishes, an abundance of natural wax.



"Animal: Beeswax

Vegetable: Carnauba wax (from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree),

Mineral: Montan wax"

- Saphir


Beeswax, Carnauba wax, and Montan are all hard wax. Meaning solid at room temperature. These are some of the most important elements of this paste wax. This is what seperates it being a cream polish. While their Pommadier cream polish also has these waxes, they have a much lower concentration.

(Their cream polish has nourishing shea butter and a few other ingredients not found here. You can learn more about Pommadier here, and in this post we compare paste wax and cream polish. )

These hard waxes give this shoe polish its texture. It is a hard paste, somewhat similar to butter from the fridge. Maybe a touch softer.

They also allow you to get an incomparable sheen on your leather shoes. The high concentration of different waxes come together to help you get a mirror shine on your fine shoes. The high gloss shine is usually reserved for the toes and/or heels. It comes by many names: Glacage or glazing, mirror shine/finish, bulled toe, spit shine, military shine. The list goes on. All different names for the same thing. Here is one of our favourite examples done by a master. 



"Turpentine spirit, which is extracted from pine trees grown in Southern Europe, is another star ingredient of this special formula. It thoroughly degreases the leather and enhances the absorption of the waxes. The spirit evaporates, leaving the rich natural waxes to protect and shine." - Saphir


This natural turpentine oil is another important element. It is an emulsifier. This helps bring together all of the ingredients into a consistent mixture. And Saphir will only use the finest natural oil. No petroleum substitutes here.

This helps with application, it has a slight drying affect that regulates excess moisture. It also has a very fragrant pine scent. You can literally smell the difference when you use it for the first time. You wont want to go back!

Lastly is the colour. This polish comes in 11 different colours as well as neutral. Saphir uses a high level of pigment. This means that it is deeply colouring.

This allows you to add a great depth of colour to your shine if you desire. Using a dark brown or black polish on a medium brown shoe for example. This will allow you to get a bit of a burnished effect. It creates a gradient of colours from dark to light. A very handsome look for leather shoes and boots. Some high end shoes will come with this look from the factory. Edward Green being a great example of burnishing done well.

If you are in a pinch, you can also use some as edge dressing. Apply a few thin coats to your sole edge and it can help fill in scuffs and marks on the edges of your shoes.

One note: Saphir's website says that Pate De Luxe provides superior cleaning, hydrates, and is full of nutrient waxes. We...don't see it this way. We get into it a bit more in our Wax vs. Cream post. Pate De Luxe is an amazing product but it isn't for cleaning or for hydrating.

The wax is for shining and sits on top of the shoe. Use products specifically for cleaning or conditioning if that's what you need. We find this paste wax is best when used in conjunction with other Saphir products. No one shoe care product does it all. Different products for different uses!

So now that you know a bit more about what it is, now lets talk about how to use it.



How To Use It?


A few quick notes before you apply.

First, Paste Wax is meant for smooth leather. It is not suitable for suede, nubuck, or anything else that has any type of nap. You can apply it to smooth leather and/or cordovan. It can be used on all leather goods but is most effective on boots and shoes.

Second, this should be reserved as your finishing coat in your shoe care routine. Any cleaning or conditioning should be done beforehand. Applying these products after makes them less effective (since the wax creates a barrier) and can damage your mirror finish.

Third, this is one of the only products that doesn't require a horsehair brush. The stiff bristles from the brush can wear off your new finish.

Lastly, the directions below will work the paste wax into a smooth and thin layer. This layer has some protecting qualities since it's a layer of wax. It also means that is is NOT pliable. It will break when bent or pressed on. Because of this you should not use this on any part of your shoes that bends. Working on the heels and toes is most common. Avoid using it on the vamp. It will crack and leave a white residue. This usually looks like cracked leather. It can be removed with deep cleaning but it is better if avoided.


Step 1: Insert your shoe trees. Its essential to keep the shape of your shoes while working on them.



Step 2: If you are going to clean, hydrate of use a cream shoe polish, now is the time. Finish all other elements of your shoe care routine first.


Step 3. Once your shoes are clean and/shined, now you can apply the paste wax. Using a cotton chamois, a polishing cloth, or any smooth soft cotton cloth (we like to use an old cotton t-shirt torn into smaller pieces), apply the shoe polish. Use very small amounts to start. Think of applying many small, thin coats on top of each other. This is much better than one thick coat.


Use small a circular motion and rub the shoe polish gently onto the areas you are working on. You should be apply light pressure most. The weight of your hand/fingers is usually enough. Over and over, (wax on, wax off style) continue this process. The polish will first go on somewhat hazy. As you continue to work the polish in a circular motion, it will start to get smooth and shiny.


You might find that a very small amount of water will help this process. When we say small, we mean small. Start with 1-2 drops at most. It should never be "wet" at any point. Less is more here.


Step 4. (Optional) Keep going. Once your polish moves from hazy to shiny in step 3, you have completed one coat. You can stop here. You should already have a little bit of a shine going on. This can be enough for chukka boots, pebble grain, or more casual uses.


Or, if you want to get a shinier finish you can continue. Repeat the application process of step 3 again to apply another coat. Using a small amount of wax, put some on, it'll get hazy, then clear again. As you build up additional layers it will get shinier and shinier. Make sure you go slow and don't use too much water. Moving too quickly and using too much water can cause the wax to get saturated. Or the leather. This will cause imperfections or "spots" in your shine.


You can continue this process over and over. You will get a shinier and shinier polish. It can get to the point where you can see your reflection in the shine! Hence the name mirror shine.

Step 5: Maintenance. Now that you've achieved the shine you want, you should try and maintain it. This means you should avoid heavy cleaning or brushing of the part you put the mirror shine on (usually heels and toes). Use a soft cloth to gentle wipe those areas to clean. You can also use an extra soft goat or yak hair brush, if you're so inclinced. Avoid rigourous brushing with a horse hair brush since it can brush the polish right off.


Eventually it will start to wear away regardless. When this happens and you want to refresh, you can go back to step 3. Since you have a base layer, you won't need to do as much work as before. A few extra coats on your base layer will bring them right back.


Now your high shine is ready to impress. Whether its for a wedding, the office, or for a night out, you're ready to go.

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