The easiest way to discern between car polish and car wax is to think of them as steps in a 1, 2, 3 process. After washing your car, polish is applied. Polish is a mild abrasive which essentially buffs off a very thin layer of paint without scratching it. This removes any imperfections, small marks or scratches that might have gotten into your paint. Wax is then applied after this to provide another protective layer over the freshly exposed paintwork.