Is that platinum shoe cream in your pocket or are you just happy to see me

Who knew that the masses could get their hands on metallic and exotically colored shoe creams? I mean hell’s bells: until fairly recently I didn’t even know one should do preventive and after-the-barn-door business with shoe shops, let alone that one could legally purchase gumdrop-hued leather care products. Clearly there’s many a gap in my consumer education.

And as I’m over 40, I’ll admit I felt like a (non-vegan) rube when I discovered that ordinary Janes could get hold of such a wide variety of pigmented prettifiers.

So, emboldened by my wintertime footwear triumph—changing a pair of dead mouse boots to a more satisfying shade of brownish-plum—I decided to strike another blow against ignorance by taking on some past-season sandals.

To help me do battle, I chose tiny pots of Tarrago:

A plethora of Tarrago shoe creams are now mine, mine, mine

Some of my warm-weather footwear just needed rejuvenating: easy. But some, well…some suffered from The Beige Problem. And for a certain segment of the bare-legged population, the Beige Problem is dire.


I guarantee that if the legginess-lovin’ Beyoncé and I swapped bodies, she’d feel my pain. She’d be singing:

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies

Now put your hands UP

Sad and stuck, told to suck it up / Can’t find a decent skintoned shoe”

Because sadly, those with see-through skin tend to require weird taupey-pinks if they want to achieve maximum shoe-to-leg seamlessness. Sorry: those with see-through skin who haven’t been inducted into the cult of self-tanners. [Or gasp shudder pearl clutch tanning booths.] Bone generally works, but anything remotely golden is non-ideal.

I found the perfect color, ONCE. And it was in a slide with a stupid high-contrast dark heel.

A summer staple for several years now, this shoe with the toodamndark heel is my holy-grail color...why must you be so elusive, baby?

But with a pile of pearlescent and metallic creams at my disposal, I figured maybe I could do some damage. Not that gothy-limbed women like me are the only ones who can find/create the color(s) for which they’ve been longing, of course.

Whet Your Appetite, aka Vix’s Top 5 Reasons You Should Try Conquering Colors You Hate

  1. Jars of Meltonian and Tarrago shoe polish cream retail for about $3.50 to 4.50 US
  2. Easy prep—just swab leather shoes with acetone
  3. No fancy tools needed; apply cream with an old T-shirt, towel, or sock
  4. Each coat only takes about 5 minutes to apply, depending on shoe’s construction/detailing
  5. The merest dab ‘o cream will do ya (lower your costs by hosting a polish par-tay)

I started with a pair of non-glamourous but wow! amazingly comfortable, “pillowtop” slides. Their supersoft leather straps don’t turn my high-arched feet into trussed blobs of flesh when the temps and my dogs rise (good), but the straps’ square footage makes the color even more unfortunate (bad).

After 2 coats of a pearly pale pink didn’t make much of a dent in the original shade, I got impatient and did another 2 coats in a luminescent platinum :

Original beige got down with Tarrago Pearly Cream Polish: 2 coats 743 Pale Mauve + 2 coats 714 Steel Gray

I may stop here, or—since I bought silvery-taupe sandals pre-DIY-brainstorm—I may revisit the pink and see if I get closer to my dream believer color. I think the current color sure is purty, though.

Far L and L, DIY'd; R, Clarks Soybean in Silver...I'll be throwing another coat of ye olde Pearly Mauve on my DIY job, but wanted to give silver freaks a look at this

Next up: a tougher case. An even less flattering color, a more complicated shoe, and an item that I’d already tried to change with Meltonian’s Nu-Life Shoe Color Spray.

Alas, I’m afraid I can’t recommend Nu-Life. Aside from its horrible name, I found it way too troublesome; I couldn’t coat the WHOLE shoe at once without getting drips plus the overspray is super-messy. Those into painstaking masking off and tedious rotating of shoes should have at it, though. [Mind I found the leather less supple after spraying, too.]

Determined to can the camel...but can cream polish redeem what my Nu-Life shoe-color spraying attempt has failed?

Having sprayed 2 pairs of shoes, I decided to even them both out with Tarrago’s Rose color, a VERY PINK shade that  more or less matched the Nu-Life. Then the thong got a few coats of pearly pink so I could assess the difference.

The result? Blush vs Bashful.

Since the pearlescent cream mellows out the peeeeeeenk quite a lot, though, the second sandal will get its turn to glow.

Experiment in progress: Both shoes sprayed (not recommended) with Meltonian Shell Pink; L shoe has Tarrago 743 Pale Mauve Pearly Cream Polish, R shoe awaits same after being evened out with Tarrago Cream Polish 24 Rose

And yes: I realize wearing shoes this color will put me on the same level as my 4 year-old niece. But at least now my legs will look longer than hers.

De Millian shoe awaits its time with the mellowing, pearly Tarrago Pale Mauve

Upshot: I wish I had more shoes—or purses—to convert. If only Mr Vix would let me coat his one pair of good black shoes with the pale silver I have yet to try….

Vendor Recommendation:

Note: All products purchased by me. No monies have been given for the writing of this post.

Tarrago Shoe Creams pictured (front to back/box): Pearly Cream Polish 743 Pale Mauve;  Pearly Cream Polish 714 Steel Gray; Metallic Cream Polish 501 Silver; Metallic Cream Polish 106 High Silver; Shoe Cream Polish 24 Rose.

12 Responses

  1. Brilliant! How does the color wear, though? Does it rub off? Do you have to reapply?

  2. IME granted-somewhat-limited experience, the color wears well and doesn’t rub off on clothes or in general. I did the boots 3 months ago, wore them easily 3x/week, and they look great aside from some minor scuffing in high-wear zones.

    Based on that, I would just reapply to treat scuffs. This stuff is the equivalent of lip stain, I tell you.

    SO EASY!

    [There’s a liquid shoe shine product also by Tarrago that I DON’T recommend. That was more like a paint, and it chipped off.]

  3. The blog is looking great Vix!

    So acetone first – where do you get acetone?

    These creams slightly change the color, but not dramatically is that right? No going from black to white?

  4. Hi Ms Fuji! Thanks for stopping by.

    Over here, I was able to get my acetone at the drugstore (nail polish remover…usually it’s acetone-free these days). But hardware or big chain home stores also carry it.

    [In the paint aisle–which speaks to why we probably shouldn’t use it on our nails.]

    And yes, the creams aren’t recommended for dark to light, but I think one *can* get pretty good results going from light to dark.

    Seems like he used a different product, but I saw some great examples of a guy coloring his $$$ shoes here (2 years later he had no issues):

  5. What a fantastic project. I love the pearlescent pink.

  6. Wow I would have never thought to do leather shoes pink but they actually look really really good!

  7. My husband calls me a “remanufacturer” of clothing to my specifications but you are The Queen. This is just amazing.

  8. Oh, go ahead and paint Mr. Vix’s shoes silver. He’ll appreciate it once you have finished.

    It’s like when Mr. Buff tells me he doesn’t like tofu, no way does he want it for dinner… but always eats and enjoys it when I serve tofu.

  9. What a great idea! [I’ve got the pasty translucent skin as well.] Beautiful post.

    • LPC — it was a fun project, that’s for sure. Maybe you have a secret hankering for some peeeeenk in your closet life?

      Vildy — Hmmm, I always feel I should be more adventurous in and less lazy about remaking stuff so I’m not sure I can accept your honor, ha. But necessity/invention, so. Seems like now YOU have a new frontier to explore? Happy trails!

      Buff — Good idea. Besides, I’ve always wanted to live in CA and you have that nice guest room.

      Christine — Isn’t it wonderful that we Caspers can now be set free from the tyranny of beige?

  10. That pearly mauve color is really, really gorgeous. I have some red shoes that I was going to try to tint a little; I took the ‘before’ photos but that was as far as I got. Thanks for the nudge!

  11. Struggler — I already nudged you to get on it but I will officially nudge here as well!

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