What you need to understand is that these compounds are basically liquid abrasive and what you're doing is lightly sanding or polishing your hull. The more faded or "oxidized" your hull is the more you need to compound/polish in order to get back to the original hull color.
Step 1: Compounding
If your topsides are really faded, you should go with the TotalBoat TotalBuff Rubbing Compound. This stuff is great at bringing back the original color and knocking out the ugly, faded look. It is applied with the polisher and pad.
Step 2: Finishing
The next step is to follow up with a finishing material boat polish in order to get a glossy, bright finish. We recommend TotalBoat TotalShine Finishing Compound. Again, you apply this with a polisher and a pad.
Believe it or not, you can get technical about buffing pads, in that there are pads with varying levels of aggressiveness for the compounding and finishing steps. However, generally you can get away with just using the 3M Superbuff Double Sided Polishing Pad (3M-05705) for boat compound and polish applications. You can use both sides of it - one for compounding and one for finishing. It requires the 3M Superbuff Mandrel Adapter (3M-05710).
Step 3: Waxing
After the boat polish is applied, the final step is to protect your finish with a wax. Use our TotalBoat Premium Marine Paste Wax. It's important that you seal and protect the finish with a good wax to maintain the gloss that you just acquired. You can use any old rag to apply it but the rag will become clogged with the wax and eventually become ineffective.
The High Performance Cloth is textured in a way that it does not absorb the wax and results in a great finish. Once you use one, you'll never go back.