Detailing explained as an analogy to make-up

I’d like to caveat this blog firstly as it’s not meant to sound sexist or in any way offend, but just thought we’d share a very positive and humorous experience we had recently with a female client.

Another good client of ours referred Donna to us as she needed a detailer she could trust. The first question we asked was “So, how can we help?”

Immediately, a partially blank face appeared and she replied “Uhm, to be honest I don’t even know what detailing is about. I read on your site explaining the steps you do which looked very thorough, and was told it’s a good procedure with great results, but it just all went over my head.”

No worries, I’d spend a moment to elaborate for Donna as I didn’t want to over or under recommend her requirements after establishing them. Not yet going past the first minute of my spiel in the least industry jargon way I knew how to, Donna’s two eyebrows slowly raised and lips parting in bemusement like being spoken to in a foreign language.

So a change of game plan was needed if I was to allow Donna to know exactly what she had the intentions of purchasing. I quickly recalled a conversation I had with my wife when she once asked at the supplies store what product I buying and what it was used for. My struggles at the time lead me to explain in a novel way as an analogy to facial make-up because the sight of it filling our medicine cupboard at home flashed before me. I asked Donna if she minded that I did the same and immediately she struck a chord with the idea with amusement like saying in her head “go on…I’d like to see you pull this off”. To be honest, my knowledge of make-up goes as far as sometimes reading the labels at home which my wife uses whilst brushing my teeth. But after seeing her use it frequently over the years and random browsing of magazines in doctor’s clinics (which never seem to provide any sporting or car material, mind you), I thought I had a decent grasp to explain detailing in a candid manner.

We start off with a pre-wash. Imagine it to be your make up remover and wipes. The process loosens and knocks off the bulk of the dirt on the wheels and car before we wash it and additionally it provides the wash products to work more effectively to get the more stubborn stuff off. We would choose the strength and balance of the pre-wash solution depending on what we need to do down the process and how dirty the car is.

When you wash your face you’d want to use something pH balanced and not scrub too hard as it may cause skin irritation, right? Similarly, when washing the car we use pH neutral shampoo as it’s gentle on the paintwork. As grit easily gets caught in wash sponges and figuratively speaking is like using a pumice stone to wash your face, we instead use high quality microfibre wash mitts which prevents inflicting further scratches and wash marring as it is non-scratching.

For a deep cleanse, you would often at times use tonic water to get deeper into the pores of the skin. Similarly, through the decontamination stages we aim for the same result with the paintwork by either using a chemical bath to dissolve the ferrous and organic particles in the paintwork, or clay bar treatment which lifts the remaining bonded contaminants, like removing the dead skin cells and impurities out of the skin. For best results we would use both methods for a deep cleanse. This is the secret which is often missed by most inferior detailers and therefore won’t get the surface as clean as they can, compromising the end result.

Our paint correction stages could be seen as the vital exfoliation scrub. The abrasives found in cutting compounds and polishes vary in strength. This can range from very mild to coarse and is selected depending on the condition of the paintwork or the level of ‘scrubbing’ is needed to get the desired results. Like exposing a new layer of skin, paint correction levels the surface to produce a flawless finish. It needs to be finessed, refined and understood as using something too coarse the exfoliant would leave you feeling raw and damaging the skin with irritation. Quality detailing requires in depth knowledge and experience with this step as it is time consuming and has a small margin of error potentially burning through the paint or leaving trails of poor work.

To keep it basic, once you do all those things to your face, that’s ideally when your make-up is then applied. There are certain products we can use to enhance looks such as paint cleansers, primers and bonding agents which sets your foundation, but the most important finishing step is your protection.

Regularly being in the sun means that your skin is exposed to UV rays and natural elements which age and dry the skin. You would want to keep it rejuvenated and protected by wearing a moisturiser and sunscreen lotion to lessen and slow down the impact. That brings us to waxes, sealants and coatings. They serve that purpose and can differ from the amount of protection they provide, their durability, a certain look they can give and price point. Depending on those factors, I can recommend different products and brands we represent which is best suited to your lifestyle and needs.


There was a short silent look between us which quickly broke out into hysterical laughter as she thanked me for explaining in a way she never expected but understood so clearly. It was hugely entertaining for the both of us, Donna booked her car in with confidence and we got the job done for her.

Written by Anthony of Bon Vivant