There are certain things a gentleman should know how to do, and shining your shoes is one of them. After years of experience shining my own shoes, I've come to enjoy it and take pride in it. I've never felt comfortable trusting it to an airport or street shiner. I'm sure they do a fine job, but I've always taken responsibility for my shoe care. It's not a complicated or difficult process, and can be quite satisfying. It's important for shoe maintenance as it polishes, waterproofs and restores the leather. It also keeps them looking nice and clean. Follow these steps for a nice shine:
1. Get your area ready. Shoe polish stains, so make sure you're working someplace where you've laid down some newspaper or something to cover anything you don't want to possibly damage. You should also change your clothes if it's something you'd not like to see stained, just in case. Also, I wear latex gloves so I don't stain my fingers.
2. Get your shine kit ready. I've pieced mine together over time, you can also buy a kit with most or all of what you need included. You'll want to make sure you've got the polish to match the color of your shoes, something to apply the polish (a small round brush works, I often use a cotton round), a horsehair brush, and a soft cloth to buff. You may find other implements effective as well. Make sure you use good quality polish. Use a clear or neutral polish for light colored shoes, and take care not to use the wrong brown on brown leather.
3. Clean the shoes with a cloth to remove any dirt and grime.
4. Apply the polish with your brush (dauber)/cotton round/rag. Apply it uniformly. Leave the shoetrees in and tuck in the laces. You can use a bit of water (several drops at a time) to help it go on evenly and with a bit of moisture. I've used this method in the past when I really want a high shine. Use a circular motion. Don't over-apply as this takes the polish longer to dry and doesn't help anyway.
5. Allow the polish to dry. Should take around 10 minutes.
6. Buff the shoes with a horsehair brush using a fast, sweeping motion.
7. Bring out the shine with a soft cloth, rubbing the leather lightly and quickly.
You're done! The leather should feel a bit slick and smooth, and definitely not tacky.