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

Time is of the essence. The critical factor in quality detailing

It is perhaps an unknown fact that car wash cafes and shopping centre car washes represent more than 95% of the detailing industry in Australia, and this percentage might even be applicable to most other parts of the world.

They are aimed at the general public, motivated by volume of sales and is designed around the convenience of providing a quick clean whilst you sip your coffee or do your shopping. One may think that some car wash cafes are great at what they do finding the balance between speed and value for the customer, but their business model is not meant to serve the informed or enthused individual.

Anyone can wash a car, but it takes an understanding of paint systems, chemicals, processes and the right equipment to be able to safely detail or restore a car aesthetically to its original condition, or as best as possible. Without this knowledge, skill and time, there lies a risk of doing some damage to your car whilst detailing it.

The important word to take away is “time”. To detail at a higher level requires patience and a methodical approach encompassing different skills such as analysis, problem solving and hands on work. All of these factors come together and require time to properly execute.

One of the most common problems we are presented with by customers is buffer trails which is a paint defect caused by incorrect machine polishing. Many a time, we have had to fix up errors where another detailer was forced, by the constraints of time, to either rush through the paint correction stage or use more abrasive pads and polishes than necessary, or both – all to do the job quicker. The pressure of a waiting customer on-site and a queue of cars to be served would naturally be the proverbial whip to get things cracking.

The problem occurs when these quicker or poor methods induce finer scratches into the paintwork, which are typically only visible under direct light, such as when parking out in the sun. Without time to refine the paintwork over multiple steps of polishing or using finer abrasives, a flawless finish would never be achieved. It is, therefore, difficult for business models working with volume to deliver quality results when pressed to wash, dry, decontaminate, polish and protect within one to two hours, when it typically takes an experienced detailer at least three to four, or even more hours just for the polishing step alone. The precautionary steps prior to polishing, such as taping up trims, would be avoided to save time but risks irreversible damage or stubborn staining at the very least.

Another aspect, which is commonly rushed or overlooked, is the cleaning up stage. A quality detailer would aim to not leave any clues that the car has just been detailed. This means that any traces of polishing dust, waxes on trims and other residues would be cleaned up before handing back the car back to the customer. This step sometimes takes a significant amount of time and is the crux to what the art of detailing is about.

So be wary if anyone tells you that they can get your car polished or detailed by lunchtime. Ask them:

1.    What’s involved in their detail?

2.    What products and equipment do they use?

This is not to say an efficient detailer or operation can’t do a good job but raises the question if they’re given or utilise an adequate amount of time to detail your car in a safe and proper manner.

Give us a call now – I would be happy to answer these questions.

5 tips for professional-looking results.

As a premium car detailing business as well as a car care products reseller, we get asked all the time by hobbyists and D.I.Y enthusiasts about products like “which polish is the best?” or “Should I wax my car or apply a coating?”. They’re all great questions, and of course good products help lead to fantastic results, but the real secrets to achieving a professional finish is all in the processes. The products you use help you to get there either more efficiently or that little bit more effectively. Here is a short actionable list you can use to ensure you can achieve quality, professional results.

1. The result is all in the preparation

Most people will tell you it’s the paint correction, or more commonly known as cut and polish (which we’re not entirely fond of) which gets your paint looking immaculate and lustrous. Yes, that is true, but in order to get your car ready for correction you’ll need to wash it to as close to clinically clean as you can.

Adopting a pre-wash into your wash regiment allows dirt to dwell in lubricating surfactants and be naturally carried off the paintwork before you even lay a mitt (not sponge) on the car. This prevents you from inflicting new scratches and at the same time softens any remaining traces of dirt whilst you wash them off. ArtDeShine’s Organic Shampoo is an ideal product for those of you who do not have a foam lance attachment for your pressure washer. Diluted in a spray bottle, this will help soften and lift particles from the paint with its cleaning agents.

Washing in a systematic approach means that you will not miss spots and progressively move from the cleanest areas first and finishing with off the dirtiest panels to prevent spreading dirt between panels causing swirl marks. We have talked about the two bucket method in the past, so will skip this detail (Do read our FAQ’s to know more though), but start off by washing the top parts of the car such as roof, windows, bonnet and boot. Work your way around the car doing a panel at a time rinsing out your mitt regularly, finishing off with the front and rear bumpers where they collect bugs and exhaust fumes respectively.

If you have tar build up on the car then remove them off with a dedicated bug and tar remover. This is safer than trying to scab them off with your nails where being too aggressive or one slip may mean deeply scratching your car.

tips and tricks to car detailing   car detailing melbourne

2. The step pro-detailers embrace and cheap franchises ignore

In my very strong opinion, the secret and crucial step in achieving a show quality finish is by decontaminating the paintwork. Quickly dabbling into physics, reflection is at its optimal when the light ray of incidence isn’t disrupted by a rough surface.

Lifting off traces of microscopic dirt which couldn’t be removed during the wash stage promotes a smoother surface, not only to touch, but better for light to reflect and subsequently emitting higher amounts gloss and clarity in your finish.

We’re so passionate about this part that the majority of our wash stage is focused on decontaminating paint both chemically through dissolving ferrous particles like railway rust, and mechanically via clay bar to remove the remainder of organic impurities like tree sap.

Another benefit often overlooked is that lifting off these impurities mean you won’t press and embed them deeper into your paint whilst polishing by hand or machine, or seal them underneath your protective layer of wax or sealant.

paint decontamination clay bar treatment

3. Man vs. Machine

Rewinding a number of years when I used to be another time rich hobbyist who enjoyed hand polishing my car every few months, I wasted a full day to achieve not even half the results I hoped for. Believing you can achieve a show finish by hand polishing is a huge misconception as well as the number one shoulder and elbow workout no gym equipment can match.

Machine polishing allows the speed and consistency which your arms can’t physically achieve. With a machine polisher you’re able to correct paint with deeper scratches more efficiently and finish down finer when the right machine is coupled with the right pads and polish.

Never picked up a polisher before? No worries, with the technological advancements in dual action polishers, they are safe to use without worrying about damaging the paint such as burning the clear coat. The only real way of harming your car is if you drop the machine on it.

The initial learning curve will be tremendously steep which I won’t lie. There are different paint systems by different manufacturers which makes the paint often described as “soft”, “hard” or “sticky”. Various choices of pads and abrasive compounds will produce different levels of correction. Arm pressure and movement dictates how effective your results will be in working the product, and even what towels are best to remove polish after you’re done correcting.

Sounds like a bit much to take in? Don’t worry, that’s where Bon Vivant can take over for you.

Sounds exciting to see immediate and gratifying results? Then you’re probably looking into a very addictive hobby which can be tremendously rewarding.

Rupes machine polishing

4. The total package

There are people who are completely obsessed about paint. I am, and I’m not ashamed about it as it’s what I specialise in. But there are people who aren’t and that’s ok because they are part of the majority. Detailing is about presenting an automobile in its best visual appearance, and that means looking at it holistically to include the wheels, engine bay, interior, etc.

These areas have huge visual impact so making sure they’re clean, dressed and protected like how they should look coming out of the factory is just as important as improving the paint.

In fact, trying to perfect your paint and not tackling these areas will accentuate the dirtiness and detract the end result from your hard work.

leather cleaning and detailing advice

5. Clean up after yourself

This may sound odd, but a key component of detailing is making sure it doesn’t look like it’s just been detailed.

What this means is that there are no traces from polish residue left on trim and badge work, uneven tire dressing, smears on the glass, water dripping from crevices.

Allocate up to an hour of your time (if permitted) to do a once over with a fine tooth comb. Carry with you a fresh microfibre cloth, a small detailing brush, plastic razor blade, anything you think that can help remove those tiny stains of imperfection.

Once you’re done, move the car outside into the sun and do it again. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve missed from certain angles or different lighting.

Only once you’ve done that, then kick back, grab your favourite beverage and bask in the fruits of your labour. Perhaps even follow up by taking it out on a cruise. Nothing will feel more satisfying than that moment of pleasure knowing you’ve achieved some very professional results.

detailing removing polish residue trick

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