Boot/shoe polish - the waxy stuff - makes for a harder, more durable shine. With that, you work it into the leather, allow to dry, hit it with a boot brush to start the shine and finish with a buffing cloth. That will make a better finish. Cream is softer, and may leave marks. The liquid can dry out leather.
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I don't know whether "boot" vs. "shoe" makes a difference, but paste (in the short can that you smear on, then buff) vs. liquid (in the bottle) sure does!!! Paste is GREAT, liquid does give you a shine but cracks the leather.
Most shoe and boot guys will tell you that there are small differences in polishes and creams, but, generally speaking, any is better than none. The real problem is when one doesn't use anything.
I learned to polish boots in the Marine Corps, so I still do it that way - Kiwi polish and a diaper.
I use "Kiwi black "parade" polish". It has a little silicone in it so it is a bit more resilient/resistent to water and I can get at least two shows before re-polishing.
I have used others and like this the best. Most shoe repair shops have it.
I live in Bryan-College Station Texas and the Texas A&M Corp must have spit shine shoes. And then there is the handsome mounted cavalry....hmmmmm.....too bad their senior boots never touch the side of a horse.
I like just plain Kiwi polish, in the little tin. I clean my boots (wipe with damp rag and get dirt out of seams with a toothbrush, sometimes some saddle soap), let them dry, then put on a layer of polish with a rag. Let them sit for a minute, run a damp cool rag over them, then buff with a shoe brush (I use an old facial exfoliating brush). Then another layer, repeat the whole process. Then another layer. Then for a final shine use wadded-up nylons or pantyhose. If they get scuffed up a little, I can just buff them again to get down to the next layer of polish... usually can keep them shiny for a couple of rides that way.