Three Steps To a Lightning Quick Showstopping Finish


  • Learn how to prepare, finish and protect paintwork like a pro
  • See three showtime essentials you should never be without
  • Discover how these products work together to add an ultra-deep gloss


  • A few easy pro-tips and the right products can make a huge difference to obtaining an amazing finish
  • You can do this job with less time and effort than you probably think
  • These products work with any gloss paint type

Get unbelievable show car shine with just three essential products

You know what it's like, right? We all lead busy lives and sometimes, heaven forbid, that can get in the way of your detailing plans. But, never fear if you haven't got the time to spend on full correction before taking your pride and joy along to the next show, because we've got just the trio of paintwork-enhancing products that will give jaw-dropping results… and do the job quicker than ever before.

Just three steps is all it takes to fully utilise this extra special combination of slick cleansers and finishers, and we can assure you that these always add up to way more than the sum of their parts!

In fact, the results speak for themselves here, and this three-step process is perfect for a spot of prep if you're attending an event on the coming weekend, or if you're simply looking to bestow your paintwork with deep, glossy loveliness that's completely off the scale.

Here's how to get it done like a pro…

First thing's first - safe washing and preparation is everything

Obviously, these final finishing steps need to be completed on extremely clean and decontaminated paintwork, otherwise you risk inflicting damage by dragging contaminants around as soon as you touch the surface.

So, first wash your car safely, utilising a thorough pre-wash with Citrus Power Bug & Grime Remover, followed by Avalanche Snow Foam and a two-bucket wash with Lather Car Shampoo. Once you're finished eradicating the grit and grime with your wet work, don't forget that a full 3-stage decontamination also comes highly recommended, simply to rid the vehicle of the embedded, and often invisible, contaminants that washing alone can't remove.

Complete your "decon wash' using Iron Out Contaminant Remover to eradicate ferrous metal particles,ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover for the sticky stuff and either a Clay Bar, along with Glide Clay Lube to physically pull other organic and inorganic contaminants out of the surface. This will leave it as smooth as possible, ready to be dried thoroughly and masked up for the next steps.

For a full rundown of how to decontaminate paintwork, you can check out our other guide "How to Safely Decontaminate your Paintwork".

Just remember that there really is no substitute for the correct preparation, and only when that's complete can we begin…

ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate

Auto Finesse® ObliTARate tar and glue remover, is a solvent-based formula that quickly dissolves stubborn tar and glue r... See product details More

Step-1 Get that surface spotless

The first step in obtaining the ultimate finish is to clean and refine your paint using Rejuvenate Paintwork Cleanser. This blend of fine, diminishing abrasives and deep cleaning solvents is capable of removing the most stubborn paint oxidation and even light swirl marks, helping to refine the top layer of your paintwork to a flawless finish.

Like all abrasives designed for use on paint or clearcoat, Rejuvenate is a form of polishing compound, and that means that it's job is to take away a microscopic surface layer to mechanically cut out defects. The thing to bear in mind here is that these advanced diminishing abrasives start off extremely fine, and they get even finer as they're worked through. And, this gentle abrasion makes Rejuvenate more of a light paint refiner and deep-cleaner than a heavy-hitting cutting compound for extreme defects.

When it comes to application, because the abrasives are very fine, they're relatively easy to work through by hand using a Polish Pad or Microfibre Applicator. To make life even easier though, Rejuvenate can also be applied with a machine polisher to give speedier, and often more consistent, results.

It's simply a case of masking up any risky areas and edges, and then using a soft foam pad, being sure to work through the product, panel by panel, until it turns clear. Once you buff away the residue, you'll immediately see the difference a little refinement can make. If however, you're looking for even more polishing performance, or using Rejuvenate on harder paint types, you can swap to a slightly firmer foam pad for a little more bite.

DPX Dual Action Car Polisher DPX Dual Action Car Polisher DPX Dual Action Car Polisher DPX Dual Action Car Polisher DPX Dual Action Car Polisher
DPX Dual Action Car Polisher

Take your detailing game to the next level with the Auto Finesse DPX Dual Action Car Polisher. Developed as a full-bodie... See product details More

Rejuvenate has been specifically developed to create the perfect surface for wax bonding. We also designed this formula make the most the unique characteristics of the products in our Signature Hard Wax collection. This means that you can move on to adding your wax protection straight after using Rejuvenate if you wish, and you'll always get a great, long lasting finish. But, wait a just a second before you do that, we've got a professional trick up our sleeves first - one that'll give you acres of extra gloss!

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish

Hand Application

1. Work an area of approximately 18x18-inches.
2. Apply a small, coin sized drop to a Polish Pad or Microfibre Applicator.
3. Work into the paint using small overlapping motions, applying light pressure until the residue turns clear.
4. Immediately buff off residue using a fresh microfibre cloth.

Rejuvenate Rejuvenate Rejuvenate Rejuvenate Rejuvenate

Specifically developed to enhance both the beauty and performance of our Signature Waxes, Rejuvenate is an advanced abra... See product details More

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish

For Machine Polishers

1. Rejuvenate can be applied using a rotary or dual action polisher, apply 2-4 pea sized drops to a light foam finishing pad.
2. Working on an area of approximately 18x18-inches, spread the product across the area using the lowest speed setting, ensuring even coverage.
3. Switch to a medium-high speed and work the product in slow, overlapping passes until the residue starts to turn clear.
4. Back the speed down to the next lowest setting for 2-3 passes.
5. Finally, one more pass at the lowest speed setting will see the product fully worked through.
6. Immediately buff off residue using a fresh microfibre cloth.

Step 2: Hiding defects and imperfections, and add a dripping-wet gloss

Paint glazes are undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets for creating a truly concours-level finish. In fact, for many of those in the know, these are the ultimate finisher to enhance any paint before adding any wax-based protection.

Ultra Glaze Paint Glaze is our own special blend, and it's designed for a two-pronged attack of bringing clarity and a deep, ultra wet-look gloss to surfaces, but all the while obscuring minor swirls and blemishes. This is all down to being enriched with special non-abrasive acrylic polymers, which actively fill light scratches in the surface, smoothing them to make the way light is refracted and reflected back to the eye more uniform.

In this way Ultra Glaze isn't designed to refine paintwork through abrasion, it's simply to make small defects much less noticeable than they would be without treatment. In many ways it's like a mask for swirl marks and the slightly modified light refraction it offers has the added benefit of making paint appear deeper, especially with darker colours. It will also enhance red tones, making them appear more fiery, and help to bring extra sparkle to metallic finishes.

Again, Ultra Glaze can be applied machine polisher but, as there's no abrasives to break down, application by hand is almost as quick and easy,. Whichever application process you choose Ultra Glaze always proves the ultimate finishing touch before applying wax-based protection.

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish

Hand Application

1. Apply a small coin-sized drop to a Microfibre Applicator or Polish Pad.
2. Confined to a small area of approximately 18x18-inches, work into paintwork using light pleasure using small circular or linear motions.
3. Leave the product to haze for several minutes.
4. Buff off residue using a fresh microfibre cloth.

Ultra Glaze Ultra Glaze Ultra Glaze Ultra Glaze Ultra Glaze
Ultra Glaze

The Auto Finesse® Ultra glaze car polish is a non-abrasive acrylic polymer enriched glaze designed to enhance paintwork... See product details More

For Machine Polishers

1. Apply 2-3 coin sized drops to a soft foam (Revitalise Pad No:3) polishing pad.
2. Confined to a small area of approximately 18x18-inches, spread over the area using the lowest speed setting.
3. Work the product into the surface using slow, even, overlapping passes on a moderate speed setting (4000 OPM for dual action machines and a maximum of 1000rpm for rotary polishers.
4. When the residue turns clear, make one final pass on the lowest speed setting.
5. Leave the residue to haze for several minutes.
6. Buff off reside with a fresh microfibre cloth.

Step 3: Adding even more shine and protection with a wax

In a similar way to glazes, waxes bring on the shine by smoothing the top layer of paint or clearcoat, just on a more minuscule scale. On a molecular level the surface of paintwork isn't flat, it contains all sorts of ruts and recesses, like a sort of miniature mountain range. We're not talking about swirls and scratches here, which are much bigger in size, but these tiny ruts and recesses still reflect light in a random fashion as it bounces back to your eye, this makes your paintwork appear to be shallower.

Apart from adding durable protection, which is obviously a huge part of why you'd apply a wax in the first place, they create gloss by "levelling the optical finish', this basically means that they install a smooth, pellucid layer over the top, while simultaneously filling all the ruts in the surface - a bit like plastering a wall, only on a tiny scale. This in turn bounces back the light more uniformly through the wax layer, making the paintwork appear to be deeper and glossier.

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish
Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish


1. Apply two pea-sized drops to a Microfibre Applicator or Polish Pad.
2. Work panel by panel into paintwork using small, circular motions with light pressure.
3. Apply to the whole vehicle.
4. Once hazed remove residue with a clean microfibre cloth.

Radiance Radiance Radiance Radiance Radiance

Radiance carnauba wax créme is packed with T1 grade carnauba car wax that offers the deep, wet look gloss associated wit... See product details More

What's also a common misconception is that natural wax-based products, particularly those containing carnauba, aren't completely clear and sterile, like you'll find with a man-made ceramic coating or paint sealant. We say pellucid (rather than transparent) because wax layers actually contain impurities which install subtle colour tinges that modify the reflection… but that's a good thing because this is what gives a wax its trademark warm glow. It's for this very reason that we're convinced that no other protection layers ever look better.

There's a couple of schools of thought here of course. As we're looking for the ultimate in "easy-on, easy-off' speediness, we're choosing Radiance Carnauba Crème, which is designed to give the appearance of a hard wax, just with a minimum of time and effort.

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish

This fast-hazing cream can be applied by hand in seconds, and in normal conditions there's no need to do the job panel by panel. Just complete all the paintwork and gloss plastics, and then buff away the residue. Radiance immediately bonds to surfaces and offers up to 3-months protection. It can also be used to top up protection every time you detail, making it an ideal kit bag essential for regular showgoers.

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish
Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish

So, that's how you get an amazing show-car shine in next to no time at all. Have a go yourself, and make sure you hit up the AF socials to show us the results.

Alternatively, of course, if you're looking for even longer lasting protection, applying a suitable product for your paint type from our Signature Hard Wax Collection, could be the way to go. You have the choice here, you really can't go wrong.

Three steps to a lightning quick showstopping finish