As a professional leather craftsman I have used many different leather conditioners. I am always touching leather products, not only at work but also personally like from my car seats, furniture, shoes and clothing. I began to question the health implications and I wanted to know what is getting on my skin. As I was researching these products closely I started to notice that most brands do not give an ingredients list. Why?
They might say it has an animal oil like “Mink” and it costs $10 for 16oz, but I know pure mink oil is extremely expensive. How do they get away with that? The only way they can justify that price is if they cut it with a lower priced oil like pig, neatsfoot, (a mixture of cow parts including hoofs), mineral (petroleum), soy or palm oil. These oils are very cheap and OK for the leather but horrible for your skin and lungs. The worst is the spray conditioners that have the lowest prices with the cheaper oils and cut with water.
They all make lofty claims from Ph balanced, non darkening, no oily residue to how the product extends the natural life, restores, softens, protects and even some that say they are made with cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredients. That is all great, but if most do not give you an ingredients list how can I judge for myself? Mineral Oil is made for cosmetic and pharmaceutical products and that is a cheap oil because it comes from petroleum “a liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products“ and one i’d rather not get into my skin.
I started to test all sorts of oils on leather from animal products like neatsfoot or “Mink” which I find out is really pig oil and not pure, to mineral and natural oils like nut, tree and vegetable. I also started to notice the prices of oils. For instance, Neatsfoot oil is widely used, by me and others in the industry but it is a mixture of animal byproducts and very cheap. It is a thick heavy oil that lubricates leather very well, but makes my skin red, is hard to come off and smells horrible.. I used more expensive oils like coconut, almond, extra virgin olive oil and found these to work just as well as the neatsfoot and they are a healthier alternative.
From my experience and testing I found some basic facts about caring For Leather:
- Leather needs Oil to keep from Drying and Destroying
- Just about any Oil will do
It is OK to use a pure healthy natural oil on leather like good coconut or olive oil.
I prefer a wax based conditioner because it applies better and more evenly than oil. It also doesn’t darken as much because you can control the amount. I have created a mixture of healthy oils that includes natural beeswax to make the perfect blend of leather conditioner. Good for the leather and good for your skin, that is the way you care for leather.
Here is a list of most Leather Conditioners on the market
My opinions on some of the products are linked to them
No Ingredients List. No claims of Petroleum Free. No claims of Animal By-Product Free
- Oakwood Leather Conditioner, $25.00, 16oz, paste
- Belvoir Leather Balsam Conditioner, $21.00, 16oz, wax / oil
- Coach Leather Moisturizer, $10.00, 4oz, oil
- Chamberlain’s Furniture Treatment No 5, $16.95, 6oz, oil
- Bickmore Bick 4, $11.00, 8oz, cream
- Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner, $4.00, 12oz, spray
- Lexol leather conditioner, $6.00, 16oz, spray
- Leather Therapy® Restorer & Conditioner, $13.00, 8oz, cream
- L.L.Bean Boot Guard, $15.00, 6oz, cream
- Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaning and Conditioning, $7.00, 16oz, spray
- Passier Lederbalsam, $18.00, 500ml, cream
- Guardsman clean and renew conditioner, $8.00, 8oz, cream
- Leather cpr cleaner and conditioner, $15.00, 18oz, cream
- Cadillac Boot & Shoe Care Leather Conditioner Cleaner Protector, $8.00, 8oz, cream
- Sof Sole Mink Oil, $8.00, 3.5oz, wax / oil
- Fiebing’s Mink Oil, $7.00, 6oz, paste
- Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, $19.00, 8oz, oil
- Leather Afterlife Leather Conditioner, $16.00, 8oz, cream
- TriNova Leather Conditioner and Restorer, $18.00, 8oz, cream
- Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner, $20.00, 16oz, spray
- Howard Leather Conditioner, $8.00, 10oz, cream
- Mr. Leather Cleaner & Conditioner, $6.00, 8oz, cream
- Leather Rescue Leather Conditioner and Restorer, $16.00, 8oz, oil
- Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner & Conditioner Wipes (25 wipes), $9
Claims of Petroleum Free
No Ingredients List. No claims of Animal By-Product Free
- Red wing shoes conditioner, $14.00, 3oz, wax / oily
- Beesbutter leather conditioner, $10.00, 6oz, wax / oil
- Obenauf’s Leather Oil, $11.00, 11oz, cream
Has Ingredients List
No Claims of Petroleum Free and Animal By-Product Free
- Dr. Martens wonder balm, $10.00, 2.5oz, wax / oil
- Bear Guard Original, 8oz, wax, $16
Has Ingredients List, Claims of Petroleum Free and Animal By-Product Free
- Marcellino Leather Feed Conditioner, $20.00, 4oz, wax / oil