Venetian Shoe Cream Review and How to Use

It’s fair to say that Venetian Shoe Cream is the go-to product for conditioning boots. Whether you’re talking about boots that are outdoorsy or dressy,  practically every company from so-so Thorogood to top-tier Viberg recommend you pair your purchase with a bottle of VSC.

For this piece I interviewed Philip Collias, the CEO of the company that makes Venetian Shoe Cream, to explore its uses, what we know about the formula, and the right way to use it.

Venetian Shoe Cream 3oz

Famous Venetian Brand Shoe Cream, recommended by Horween Leather Company, museum curators, and antique restorers

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09/27/2023 07:32 pm GMT

Venetian Shoe Cream Ingredients

VSC is described as containing “fine oils, gentle cleaners and imported waxes formulated to clean, condition, preserve and polish all smooth leather footwear and articles.”

Here’s the thing: we don’t know what’s in it. The precise formula and even the ingredients are kept secret by Zoes Mfg Co, the manufacturers of the product, to keep anyone from stealing or mimicking the formula. As industry practice, it makes some sense and to be clear, it’s not all that unusual. (This is also true for the boot industry; Tricker’s and Sagara are just two companies that refuse to reveal their tanneries.)

I grilled Collias and couldn’t get much out of him, but what we do know is that it contains a blend of six or seven different waxes, each with their own purpose: one moisturizes, one shines, one preserves, and so on. 

We also have some clues as to what it doesn’t contain: there are no thickeners or silicone or waterproofers.

“What will hurt the leather is silicones and waterproofers,” he says, noting that waterproofing sprays are typically silicone-based. “That adds a coating and it’s very difficult to get off once it’s on because it penetrates into the pores. It does waterproof, but I would recommend not using it unless it’s an absolute last resort.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that the product contains petroleum distillates. Some worry that they can draw color out of leather, but by and large this product is seen as the ideal all rounder for taking care of nice leather.

[Don’t miss my full article on The Right Way to Waterproof Nice Boots!]

review venetian shoe cream

How to Use Venetian Shoe Cream

1. Wipe clean with a rag or a horsehair brush

It’s important to remove impurities from the leather before conditioning, plus vigorously brushing with a horsehair brush can help to move the oils and waxes inside the leather around, helping to remove scratches.

2. Apply a dime-sized amount of cream to a rag and work into all the creases

Once there’s no more on the rag, add some more. While everyone likes to complain about people who use too much VSC, the general idea is to leave a thin film of it on the boot. So…

Venetian shoe cream review

3. Buff with a horsehair brush

Again, this helps to generate some warmth so that the oils and waxes in the leather and the Venetian Shoe Cream can move around and better moisturize the leather.

4. Let the boots sit for 24 hours before wearing

This is ideal to help the moisture set in to the boots and to keep the petrol smell from funking up your socks.

[Learn more about how to take care of Chromexcel leather here.]

Venetian shoe cream itself

Venetian Shoe Cream Price

I think this product is pretty well priced — it’s right in the middle of the line for shoe conditioners.

The cheapest you’ll find are brands like Lexol and Bick, which wind up at about $1 per ounce. Venetian Shoe Cream is about $11 for 3 ounces, but you can save cash with a 32-ounce tub for roughly $38

After that there are fancier products like Cobbler’s Choice and Otter Wax, which retail for between $4 and $7 an ounce, and their biggest competitor Saphir’s Renovateur costs a whopping $9 an ounce.

So Venetian Shoe Cream is a pretty decent deal.

[Learn more about care: Red Wing Boot Oil vs. Mink Oil – Which Is Best for Your Boots?]

Venetian Shoe Cream Label

Venetian Shoe Cream 32oz

This conditioner cleans, polishes, conditions, preserves, protects and prolongs leather's life.

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Venetian Shoe Cream Pros and Cons


  • Medium shine
  • Can be used on many leathers
  • Doesn’t change color much, especially relative to mink oil
  • Well priced


  • Proprietary ingredient list
  • No pigment, so it’s a bit harder to hide scuffs
  • Contains solvents
  • Smells like petroleum

If you haven’t yet, check out the video above where I apply the Venetian Shoe Cream to some boots in need of love and you’ll see how it’s quite effective at removing scratches and restoring lustre to leather. It won’t make your boots totally water resistant and this neutral colored cream is not the best at polishing boots and hiding scuffs, but it’s a great bet for folks who want healthier, moister leather without running the risk of darkening or dramatically altering the appearance.

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Nick English

By day: Manhattan-based journalist with reporting experience on four continents, published in Vice, Men's Health, Popular Science, and a bunch of other places.By night: ravenous consumer of anything and everything related to high end men's boots.Stridewise is where I nurture a maniacal obsession with footwear and share my findings. Say hey: [email protected].

14 thoughts on “Venetian Shoe Cream Review and How to Use”

  1. I bought some Venetian Shoe Cream that is labeled “Medium Brown” and also some Saphir’s for my boots. I have a pair of Wolverine Evans 1000 Miles, in the “Dark Brown” Chromexel color. Of course, the color is more red than anything… (?!?!) They’re not terrible, but I do try to wear a shirt with some red in it with them. I wish the red was toned down in the boots. I haven’t worked up the motivation to yet, but should I use the medium brown Venetian on the boots? would I end up really screwing things up? I haven’t used any product on them yet (except some splashed diesel fuel – oops, but not too obvious) so what should I do? I figure if I do use the medium brown Venetian, I’d have to be careful to be very consistent.
    Love the site and thanks!

    • Hey sorry for the delay, Scott. Yeah, I think using a darker polish like the one you’ve got is a great idea! It wouldn’t screw anything up, I mean you won’t get back that color you hate but hey, you hate it. It’ll sink into the leather so I don’t think you’re risking red spots appearing, especially not with regular applications.

  2. Is this stuff better than the Neatsfoot cream that Red Wing makes? Is the Venetian cream good on Red Wing boots (smooth leather)?

    • Hey Daniel, this penetrates more deeply and conditions more thoroughly. Neatsfoot is a tad better at maintaining the color but it requires more applications.

  3. I have a pair of Allen Edmonds Dalton Boots that are quite scuffed in the toe and around the back. All superficial scuffs, nothing too deep. I’ve tried polishing with Allen Edmonds Walnut Shoe Polish, but it doesn’t hide the scuffs at all. Would Venetian Shoe Cream hide these scuffs.

  4. Hey
    Thats a nice review! Sadly there is no retailer offering it in Berlin, Germany as far as i know and amazon doesnt ship it either. Only the 3oz. for horrendous shipping cost to luxembourg…
    Any ideas how to get it in europe?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hey Ben, sorry to say I’m not sure about European retailers. Saphir might be cheaper for you as I think they’re made in Europe? Look up their prices!

  5. Hello,

    Would this be a good product to use to restore an old pair of Sorel Kaufman Caribou boots (OG Canada made)? I believe these have nubuck leather uppers. Leather is “buff” / light tan and appears to be drying out.



  6. Would you consider this the best to maintain the look of waxed cinnamon flesh of White’s MP boots? I don’t want to add to much polish or make much darker, but want to condition and add a bit of splash resistance.


  7. Hey Nick, Thanks for all the videos and articles. Do you have any insight on the difference between Venetian Shoe Cream and Venetian Leather Balm?

    Currently I use a leather conditioner like Bicks 4 and follow it up with a pigmented shoe cream and then polish if applicable depending on the type of leather and style.

    I am curious where VSC and VLB fall into this. Is the VSC comparable to the Bicks 4 leather conditioner and the VLB is more like the pigmented shoe cream or are both products more or less the same.


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