Leather Conditioner: Leather Honey since 1968 "Makes Leather Last Longer"
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  • Genuine leather vs. Faux Leather

    How good are you at telling the difference between real leather and faux leather? For most people, it can be difficult to quickly identify one from the other.

    The ability to distinguish between authentic leather and fake leather is important not only for the sake of knowing what you are purchasing but also to make sure you are using the correct cleaners and conditioners.

    Genuine leather is made 100 percent from the skins of animals. Within the genuine leather category are three specific types, aniline, semi-aniline and pigmented.

    Aniline is very high-quality leather that has a natural, pigment free surface and contains no protective treatment. As a result, aniline is extremely vulnerable to stains. Even water can cause damage to aniline leather, making its cleaning process difficult. That is why it is best to regularly apply Leather Honey – which is water repellent — to prevent stains from happening in the first place. The thorough conditioning process also protects the delicate and valuable leather from cracks and scratches.

    As you can guess, semi-aniline leather is aniline leather, sort of. Unlike aniline leather, this type has a small quantity of pigment. The touch of added pigment is great for maintaining color consistency. The light surface coating makes it more durable than aniline leather, however, it still has the natural appearance of true aniline leather. Cleaning semi-aniline leather is safe, as water can be applied to it without the fear of staining it. With a small amount of soap mixed with water, semi-aniline leather can be easily wiped clean.

    Leather Honey takes to semi-aniline leather beautifully. Within minutes of a Leather Honey application, the product seeps in, fully absorbs and creates a beautiful shine, completely refreshing the look of the leather.

    This brings us to pigmented leather, leather that has been coated with a pigment surface so that it retains a shiny and even color. Pigmented and semi-aniline leather are so similar that they are often referred to as each other. For example, a leather retail furniture store may label a pigmented couch as semi-aniline leather.

    Like semi-aniline leather, pigmented leather is water-resistant so it is incredibly easy to clean. Keep in mind that water dries out the leather, which makes it susceptible to cracks and scratches. Therefore a thorough conditioning is necessary immediately after it dries.  

    Pigmented and semi-aniline leather are generally the leaders in the retail leather industry because they are so easy to maintain and in most cases, more affordable. However, certain people often prefer aniline leather for its higher quality and natural look or feel. It is a matter of personal preference.

    Whichever type of leather you choose, remember it requires thorough conditioning. Leather Honey is your best solution for that job. The family-recipe formula deeply penetrates all types of leather and restores the lost moisture. Leather Honey keeps leather looking like new for years and years and can easily (and affordably!) be purchased on this website or on Amazon.

    There is one thing, however, that Leather Honey cannot do. That is condition faux leather. In fact, no true leather conditioner can penetrate faux leather because it simply will not absorb. Why not? Faux leather is non-porous — not made from real animal skin like aniline, semi-aniline and pigmented leather.

    Pleather is the most common type of faux leather. As you have probably already guessed, the p stands for plastic. While it is obviously less expensive than genuine leather, it can sometimes be more durable. 

    As you can see, the conditioning process significantly differs between genuine leather and faux leather. Using the wrong conditioning application can result in damage to the material so make sure you confirm the type of leather you have before washing and conditioning it.


    About Jim McGowen

    Jim McGowen is the creator of Leather Honey, an industry leading leather conditioning product used in a variety of applications.
    Posted in How to, Leather Maintenance | 7 Comments

    7 Responses to Genuine leather vs. Faux Leather

    1. Joel Dean says:

      Thanks for the informative article.
      Could you explain “Bonded Leather” and its proper care.

    2. Arielle says:

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for the question! Bonded leather is basically a mix of genuine and faux leather — in many cases, Leather Honey can be used as normal, but as always, you’ll want to spot test first. This post has more information:


    3. Barb Sladic says:

      I just purchased a Leather Living room set and love it. I have 2 dogs. Should i regularly treat to minimize scratches?? will Leather Honey get on our clothes??

    4. Arielle says:

      Hi Barb,

      That’s great! Keeping the leather conditioned can help prevent scratches, but it’s not the primary purpose — Leather Honey will make the leather last longer, keep it flexible, prevent cracking and fading. You can treat every six months or so, depending on your climate and the condition of the leather.

      Hope that helps!

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