Wax or Polish? What is in a name? Though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a fine difference between wax and polish. In generally, Polish is a mild abrasive substance which will clear the paint surface of mild oxidation and smoothly micro sands the surface and gives the surface a wet, deep glow. On the other hand, wax is a protective coating - it covers the micro pores in the paint and seals it and helps the paint to shine. A wax does not have cleaning properties, and applying a coat of wax on a non clean surface is not at all recommended because wax will seal the minor aberrations. Though generally polishes are abrasive, there are exceptions. meguiars claims that they use a secret polishing oil and their 'pure polish' is non abrasive.