Inverted Patina

By Niklas Nordin

If you feel that your dark shoes are too boring and would like to liven them up a bit, then maybe an inverted patina on the toe is an option. By following just a few simple rules and with a bit of Saphir Décapant stripper, or acetone, and cotton you will find that it is a really simple job that is virtually impossible you will fail with. And if your shoes are black its always possible to go back to black again, should the result not be to your liking.


  • 1 pair of shoes
  • Neutral cream (Burgol or Saphir)
  • Cotton
  • Protective gloves
  • 1 garbage bag to throw away the cotton in that can be left outside until the stripper has evaporated.
  • Optional: Leather Dye of your choosing and a brush.

General Information

Using Saphir Décapant on the leather makes it very dry and can make the shoe age and wear faster than normal if it is applied on areas where there is a lot of movement, or creasing. The lifetime of the shoe can therefore be reduced dramatically. Using it on the toe and heel areas where there are reinforcements so the leather is practically static is not as big of a problem though as this does not affect the lifetime of the shoe.
The shoes I have selected to work with for this guide are my black Crockett and Jones Alex. Before I started they looked like this.

Innan vi började
If you want, you can remove the wax before you start the stripping, but I prefer to leave it there as protection for the dye to be applied later. If you have black shoes, you will be using quite a lot of cotton, probably also for dark brown, so keep a container close where you can
dispose of the very odorous cotton. You should also do this in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, since the fumes will make you dizzy and nauseaus. I leave the cotton container outdoors for at least a week before I throw them away, since I don’t want to throw flammable material in the garbage. 

Wearing protective gloves is also a good idea, since the liquid will dry your skin and nails.

How to

So, lets get started, but before you begin you should take note of where the reinforcement of the toe ends.
I have marked this with a red dashed line in the picture below.
Tear a bit of cotton and get it wet, don’t make it completely wet, a little on the tip is usually enough.
If you do this for the first time, start with just a little, you will soon get the hang of it, and don’t worry if you wet it too much, it just means that you will waste more liquid.
Apply the wet cotton at the tip of the toe, the yellow cross in the picture below, and swipe it backwards until you reach the red line and
as you swipe the cotton backwards you gradually reduce the pressure.
What you are doing is in principle transferring the color pigments from the shoe to the cotton so when you have ‘enough’ color on the cotton it's time to throw it away and get a fresh piece of cotton.
You cannot make the color lighter than the color on the cotton, so be aware of how much color you have on the cotton, otherwise
you’re not bleaching/stripping the shoe, just smearing the color around.
This is also the reason you shouldn’t use circular movements, plus a straight motion that is perpendicular to the transition line, the red dashed line, makes the gradient smoother and look better.
For me, the whole process was very non-linear. At first nothing seems to happen, but after a while the color start to come off in large amounts.
When the skin is wet it makes it look black so don’t expect to see anything as you are stripping. When the skin gets really wet I prefer to take a 
break and let it dry. This is because I don’t want the liquid to penetrate too deep into the leather and make the reinforcement too wet as well.
Im not sure if this plays any role, but Im guessing it can’t be good. So be prepared to go through this process a few times.
When you are happy with how the stripped shoes look and don’t want to dye them its just to apply the neutral cream, or renovateur.
Use excessive amount to replenish the leather and reduce the damage you just have done. I normally apply cream at least two, three times.
However, I wanted my toes to be purple so I applied a bit of purple dye. This is where leaving the wax on at the start is an advantage as it lets you paint a slightly larger area than what you stripped, without dyeing the non-stripped area. When you paint the toe you do it in the same way as you did the stripping, start at the tip of the shoe and move the brush backwards. Apply enough dye to make the entire stripped area wet and the let it dry for at least 2-3 hours.

Below is a picture of how my shoes looked after being painted and dried.
Steg 3
After they had dried I applied a lot of neutral Burgol cream. When you apply the cream you will notice that it brings back some of the original color and makes it darker. If you feel that it’s too dark you just go back to stripping some more. This is exactly what happened to me. After I had applied the cream I wasn’t happy with the result since I felt it was barely noticeable and so I just stripped them some more and applied the dye after that again.

After the second time I was happy with the result and this is the result.
Efter skokräm är applicerad

And after applying some neutral wax, they are good to go.
Färdiga med wax


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