How To Give Your Shoes An Antique Burnish

How To Give Your Shoes An Antique Burnish

June 08, 2018 2 Comments

Few things in this world feel better than putting on a brand new pair of shoes.

But sometimes those new shoes can feel a little extra special when given some added colour. In our latest blog post we show you exactly how to polish your shoes to attain an antique style burnish.

Provided your shoe is made from a quality leather, this is relatively easy to accomplish.  All you need is a cream based shoe polish that is darker than the shoe you want to colour and a soft cloth. 

For our example, we're going to take a tan wingtip and darken the toe, heel and tips of the wing. To do this we will apply a brown shoe cream to those areas.
Be sure to use a cream and not a wax-based polish because shoe creams contain more pigment to cover up scuffs and scratches - making them ideal for transforming the colour of your shoes.
Wax polishes, on the other hand, are designed to create shine. You can always use a wax polish at the end to give your shoes a perfect shine. But for the purpose of colouring of your shoes make sure to use a cream polish.
Any brand of shoe cream will do the trick but we found the best results using Saphir products. While Saphir shoe creams do cost more, they are an all-natural beeswax and shea butter based product which nourishes your leather and contains twice the amount of pigment as regular shoe creams. Plus they come in a really nice looking glass jar!
saphir shoe creams all colours
We're going to start with the toe and work towards the back of the shoe. To achieve the desired look it is not necessary to colour the entire shoe (although you can do so if you like). Just the areas highlighted in the image below.
  • On the tip of the toe, use a cloth and apply the polish in a tight circular motion. We like to create a circular highlight on the top of the toe, but you may choose to colour the entire toe if you like. 
  • On the side of the shoe where the wingtip ends, apply the polish in a back and forth motion.
  • Finally, on the heel apply the shoe cream in circular motions so you can achieve a smooth colour transition.
  • As an option, you can add a little colour between the brogueing and the laces. This will add a little extra depth to the overall colour of the shoe.

how to burnish your own shoes

Left: Untouched.

Right: Burnish added.


And don't worry about messing up the shoe. If you don't like the way it looks afterwards just use a little bit of leather cleaner/ stripper and the colour will wipe away. 

Of course you can finish the job with a tan or neutral polish make the shoe shine nicely. Be careful with neutral polish on shoes with brogueing. If you use too much it can get caught in the perforations and will show as white.
burnished dress sneaker
You can antique any colour shoe with a darker shoe cream. We've created a quick reference list below:
  • Brown shoe = darker brown or black shoe cream
  • Oxblood shoe = black shoe cream
  • Grey Shoe = black or graphite shoe cream
  • Tan Shoe = brown shoe cream. If you're looking for a more dramatic effect you can use a dark brown or even black.
  • Blue shoe = black shoe cream
  • Green shoe = dark brown or black shoe cream

how to burnish your leather shoes

2 Responses

jacob Watson
jacob Watson

November 24, 2020

I’ve bought shoes from leathercoburd. Can i use the water before applying this cream?

Dave Barralet
Dave Barralet

November 14, 2018

Used tips for oxblood shoes. Love the look. Absolutely fantastic.

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Size Guide
Choosing your size.
If you are unfamiliar with European sizing, it can be useful to measure your feet before ordering. Doing so will take just a few minutes, and save you the unnecessary time involved in exchanging your shoes. You can estimate your shoe size by measuring your foot length toe to heel.

Place your heel against the wall and on a piece of paper mark the tip of your longest toe. Measure the distance between the wall and your toe marking. Repeat the process for your other foot. Use the measurement of your larger foot as your shoe size.