Leather is a timeless material that requires proper care and maintenance to ensure its longevity. With so many oils and conditioners available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your leather goods.
Argan oil has gained popularity in recent years for its numerous benefits, but is it suitable for leather? In this article, we’ll explore the effects of argan oil on leather and whether it’s a good choice for conditioning and preserving your leather items.
Read on to learn more.
Is Argan Oil Bad For Leather?
Argan oil is a natural oil that is high in fatty acids, making it a popular choice for skin and hair care. However, when it comes to leather, argan oil may not be the best option.
While argan oil can be good for leather due to its fatty acid content, it is not recommended as a first choice for leather oil and conditioning. When applied to leather, argan oil can leave a tacky or greasy surface that does not allow for an even coat of polish to be applied later on. This can impact the longevity of the leather and limit the ability to add more suitable oils later on.
Additionally, using argan oil on leather can cause it to become too soft and weaken over time. This can lead to cracks and tears in the leather, which can be difficult to repair.
What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is a pale yellow oil that is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree nuts, which are found inside the fruit of the argan tree. This premium ingredient is incredibly beneficial for both hair and skin due to its high concentration of fatty acids and vitamins A and E. It can be used as a stand-alone product or incorporated into nourishing masks, balms, and creams.
The argan tree is endemic to Morocco, and the species grows almost exclusively in the southwestern region along the Atlantic coast. The area where the argan tree grows is called the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a UNESCO protected ecosystem in 1998. The reserve covers 2.5 million hectares of forests, divided into three zones. The central zone is devoted to scientific research, while the other two zones are used for education, tourism, and commercial exploitation.
Harvesting argan oil has traditionally been the work of indigenous Amazigh women who retrieve the kernels from the nut and extract the oil using an ancestral tapping technique passed down through generations. These women have formed independently owned cooperatives to preserve their status and this ancient practice.
Argan oil contains primarily fatty acids and a variety of phenolic compounds. The majority of its fat content comes from oleic and linoleic acid, which are healthy fats known to support good health. Additionally, argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E, which is required for healthy skin, hair, and eyes. This vitamin also has powerful antioxidant properties that can help protect against free radical damage.
The Benefits Of Argan Oil
While argan oil may not be the best option for leather, it does have many benefits for skin and hair care. Argan oil is high in fatty acids, including linoleic and oleic acid, which can help boost “good” cholesterol levels and potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
Argan oil is also rich in vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin, hair, and eyes. This vitamin has powerful antioxidant properties that can help reduce inflammation and promote healthy cell growth. When applied to the skin, argan oil can help improve elasticity and prevent common signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, argan oil also contains polyphenols that can help brighten the skin tone and protect skin cells from free radical damage. Linoleic acid found in argan oil can also help reduce inflammation in the skin, making it a great choice for those with acne-prone skin.
The Effects Of Argan Oil On Leather
When argan oil is applied to leather, it can leave a tacky or greasy surface that does not allow for an even coat of polish to be applied later on. This can make the leather appear uneven and unattractive. Furthermore, argan oil can impact the longevity of the leather by making it too soft and weak over time. This can lead to cracks and tears in the leather, which can be difficult to repair.
Using argan oil on leather can also limit the ability to add more suitable oils later on. This is because argan oil can penetrate deep into the leather fibers and create a barrier that prevents other oils from being absorbed. This can make it difficult to maintain the leather’s natural shine and texture, which can be frustrating for leather enthusiasts.
Can Argan Oil Be Used On Leather?
While argan oil can be used on leather in certain situations, it is not advised as a first choice for leather oil or conditioning. Argan oil may behave similarly to olive oil, producing a tacky/greasy surface that prevents an even coat of polish from being applied later. It can be useful for casual work or hiking footwear in a pinch, but it may shorten the leather’s lifespan and limit the ability to add more suitable oils later on.
It is important to note that argan oil can also impact the color of the leather, causing it to darken and potentially become uneven. This can be particularly problematic for lighter leathers that are more susceptible to discoloration.
Alternatives To Argan Oil For Leather Care
If you are looking for alternatives to argan oil for leather care, there are several options available that are more suitable for leather conditioning.
One popular alternative is coconut oil. It provides a light coconut scent and keeps the leather soft and supple. Coconut oil is also great for sensitive skin, making it a good choice if you have allergies or sensitivities. To use coconut oil on leather, melt it in a bowl and apply it to a clean, dry cloth. Rub the oil into the leather and let it soak in for at least an hour before wiping off any excess.
Another option is mink oil, which is a natural oil obtained from the fur of minks. It is known for its ability to penetrate deeply into the leather fibers and restore its natural oils. Mink oil is also a great waterproofing agent, making it ideal for outdoor leather items like boots and jackets. However, it can darken leather over time, so it may not be the best choice for lighter-colored leather.
Neatsfoot oil is another popular alternative for leather care and conditioning. It is a natural fat that is similar to leather fibers, making it an excellent option for restoring the shine of your leather goods. However, neatsfoot oil can darken leather and weaken cotton stitching over time if applied too heavily. Synthetic threads will not be affected.
Tips For Proper Leather Maintenance
Proper leather maintenance is crucial to ensure that your leather items last for years to come. Here are some tips to keep your leather in top condition:
1. Avoid using food-based products on leather: While olive oil, coconut oil, and even mayonnaise are often recommended for conditioning leather, they can actually cause more harm than good. These vegetable oils can rot and go rancid in the leather, making it brittle, stained, and even smelly.
2. Use suitable oils for leather: While neatsfoot oil is a popular option for softening leather, it is acidic and can weaken cotton stitching over time. Mink oil is a better alternative for conditioning and maintaining leather. Leather Honey, a non-toxic conditioner that has been around since the 60s, is also a great option.
3. Test any new product on a small area first: Before applying any new product to your leather item, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. This will help you avoid any unwanted discoloration or damage to the leather.
4. Protect your leather from water damage: Waterproofing sprays can help protect your leather items from water damage, especially during the winter months. However, be sure to wipe off any excess spray and follow up with a conditioning treatment to keep the leather soft and supple.
5. Clean stains with care: When cleaning stains on your leather item, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the leather. Instead, try using a gentle face oil or a specialized leather cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.
By following these tips for proper leather maintenance, you can help ensure that your leather items stay in top condition for years to come. Remember to always use suitable oils and avoid using food-based products on your leather to prevent damage and maintain its longevity.