Best Oil for Leather: Oils to Soften & Condition Real Leather

by Albert Varkki updated 08-14-2023

Table Of Contents

leather oil next to leather bag

You've likely heard that the right treatment can improve the look and longevity of your leather item.

Keeping real leather hydrated also prevents it cracking and looking weathered.

But which leather oil is best?

In this post, we'll give you our recommended leather treatment to keep your leather looking fantastic for years to come.

Best Leather Oil 2023: Premium Leather Cream

von baer premium leather cream conditioner

It turns out, the best leather oil is actually a cream!

Why is this?

All of the classic oils (olive, coconut, etc) have drawbacks when solely used directly onto a leather product, so it's best to use a combination of oils and softeners to soften and protect your leather bag, without making it greasy or sticky.

Here are some of the benefits of this leather conditioner over using an oil:

  • Ingredients - it's made from natural ingredients, whereas oils often have synthetic or mineral-based parts to them.
  • Chemicals - it's free from harmful chemicals, whereas oils often contain additives.
  • Protection - this cream offers a water-repellent barrier, whereas oils only moisturize.
  • Appearance - the conditioner provides a natural shine, whereas oils can look glossier and unnatural.
  • Breathability - this cream lets the leather breathe, whereas oils can reduce the breathability.

One thing to note: if applying to furnitire or car interiors, test on a small hidden area first to ensure you like the result. Apply it and wait for 1-2 hours, then remove any excess with a microfiber cloth.

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You can also watch the video on the conditioner below:

Benefits of Leather Oil

There are many advantages to using this product. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits right now.

Enhances the appearance of leather

This product can elevate the appearance of your leather goods. It can revive, restore, and bring out the natural beauty of the material. If you love the elegance of leather that’s been maintained well, oil can be the ideal solution.


Leather oil works well with various leather items including couches, car seats, bags, shoes, and belts.

Protects leather and boosts longevity

Leather oil delivers a protective layer to protect the material from damage, moisture, and dirt. It can protect the quality of your favorite leather items to make sure they stand the test of time.

Great for restoring leather

Leather oil has a great track record when it comes to breathing new life into old, dry, or neglected leather. It can restore suppleness to your leather, making it ideal for anyone who wants to restore a vintage leather item.

Easy to use

It’s very straightforward to apply leather oil. It’s easy to build the use of leather oil into your regular cleaning routine.

Leather oil is safe and compatible

This product can work with most leather goods including luxury items. Just remember to carry out a spot test before you apply it fully to make sure it’s definitely compatible.

Environmentally friendly

Many leather oils are designed with eco-conscious shoppers in mind. They are made from sustainable ingredients that are great not only for your leather but the world around us too.

How to choose the right type

leather purse next to oil

Type of leather

Think about the type of leather you’re treating and select the right kind of oil for it. You also need to think about the way you use your leather item. For instance, you may need an oil which great waterproofing capabilities.


Seek out oils that have natural ingredients including lanolin, beeswax, and neatsfoot oil if you need to treat your leather gently. Some oils have synthetic additives or compounds for stronger protection.

Application method

Look for an oil that has a convenient application method and is suitable for the item you’re treating.

Drying time

Think about the drying time of the oil. Faster-absorbing oils allow you to use your product quicker. A slow-drying oil will provide deeper conditioning.


Think about what your desired finish is and look for a suitable oil whilst considering the effect on the color of the leather. Popular finishes include matte, shiny, and natural.


Consider the price of the oil, but prioritize your requirements rather than just presuming that a high price tag will always equate to better quality.

Ratings and reviews

Look for customer reviews and ratings to get a good idea of what to expect from the product.

Ingredients and carrier oils

The best oils tend to have nourishing ingredients like natural oils and beeswax to replenish fading natural oils. They can condition and protect against dirt and water. It’s also wise to seek out oils that have carrier oils as these provide deep penetration and are highly effective when it comes to leather care.

Non-toxic and eco-friendly

Some of the oils available to you offer UV protection. This can prevent cracking and discoloration linked to sunlight exposure.


The consistency of the oil has an impact on the absorption rate and final appearance. Thicker oils give you a rich finish, whilst thinner oils will deliver a matte appearance.


Make sure the oil is compatible with your specific leather type as this will prevent potential damage. This is particularly important if you’re working with nubuck or suede.


Look for an unscented oil as this will help to maintain the natural leather aroma. You can also seek out an oil that has a light and pleasant fragrance.

Non-darkening formula

If you need to prioritize the original color, use a non-darkening formula, especially if you’re working with a lightly-colored leather item.


leather handbag next to oil dropper

Natural leather conditioner oil

This oil has an eco-friendly composition and is manufactured entirely from natural extracts. It is renowned for its sustainable and organic attributes, which makes it great for the eco-conscious.

Oils that are derived from plants including coconut and flaxseed are ideal choices. Not only can they boost the look and longevity of your leather but they also have a lesser impact on the environment.

Some natural leather oils can darken lightly-colored leathers, giving them a fantastic patina with the passing of time.

Mink oil

Mink oil has strong links to the fur industry and is known for its exceptional softening and water-repellent properties.

If your leather is likely to be exposed to challenging conditions, this may be the option for you due to its incredibly protective abilities. It’s a great match for products like hiking boots and biker jackets.

It can cause slight darkening of some leather types, making the color richer and the texture more enhanced.

Neatsfoot oil

This oil originates from cattle shins and foot bones. It’s great for restoring neglected or vintage leather goods.

It has a great penetrating power which means it’s fantastic for returning flexibility to items whilst preventing cracks from forming in stiff leather.

This could be the option for you if you have saddlery or vintage bags to rejuvenate. The neatsfoot oil on the market sometimes has other animal fats in it.

Lanolin-based leather oil

This oil is well-regarded for the way it conditions and softens. It is derived from the natural sebum of sheep and is great for dry or brittle leather goods. It can be highly effective at restoring shine and suppleness.

It could be a great match for any dried-out sofa or bag you need to treat. Lanolin is also a major ingredient in many skincare solutions.

Beeswax leather oil

This oil offers the ideal blend of protection and conditioning. It maintains the flexibility of leather whilst delivering great protection against environmental damage.

It’s often used for goods like shoes and handbags and can create a healthy sheen. It’s also noted for being water-repellent.

Beeswax has been used for conditioning and waterproofing for thousands of years.

Which alternatives are available?

Leather furniture maintenance

bonded leather sofa

Leather oil is a popular choice for the preservation and maintenance of leather furniture. It has fantastic moisturizing properties which stop leather from drying and cracking over time.

However, you could also consider using a conditioning cream. These creams may not deeply penetrate your leather like oil can, but they can create a strong protective barrier from external damage whilst creating a glossier finish.

If your furniture is regularly exposed to sun and humidity, it could be the ideal option for you.

Restoring antique leather items

Leather balms are also great for antiques. They can restore and protect your leather without darkening it, unlike some oils.

If you want to preserve the original color of your antique leather item, a leather balm can be the perfect solution.

Leather apparel conditioning

Leather lotions can be less greasy than oil and work well with goods which come into direct contact with clothing and skin.

If you have a leather jacket to maintain, it might be better to use a lotion so you can avoid transferring oil onto your other fabrics.

Leather footwear care

Wax-based products including leather wax can give you a more robust and weather-resistant finish than oil.

This makes them great for heavy-duty footwear including hiking boots which are often met with challenging conditions.

Leather goods restoration

A leather spray can be a less messy, more lightweight solution. It can quickly fix small scratches and dryness without changing the way that your goods feel.

If you want to give your leather a swift touch-up, whilst you’re on the move, a leather spray could be perfect.

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What to think about after making your purchase

Application concerns

conditioned vs unconditioned leather bag

If you are concerned about using too much oil and therefore darkening or oversaturating your leather product, you can apply it sparingly with a soft, clean cloth.

Spread the oil over the leather surface evenly and give it time to absorb naturally. You can repeat this step if you need to.

Compatibility worries

Some oil products are more suited to certain kinds of leather than others. Before you apply your oil, carry out a patch test before you apply it fully.

Use a small amount of oil on a discreet part of the product and give it time to absorb. Stay vigilant for any signs of damage or discoloration.

Storage and shelf life

If you have concerns about the shelf life or storage of your oil, keep it in a cool, dark place. Make sure it’s kept away from heat sources or direct sunlight as this will protect its efficiency.

See if there is an expiry date on the bottle. The fresher the oil is, the better.

Unexpected stains and spills

Don’t panic if you spill your oil accidentally, or if it stains your clothing. Blot the area in question with a dry cloth to remove as much as you can. You can then clean the spot with a mild detergent. Follow the instructions that come with your cleaning product.

Environmental impact

If you are worried about the impact on the environment, look for products that are made from ingredients that have been sourced responsibly.

Make sure the manufacturer follows stringent environmental regulations and the product comes in recyclable packaging.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the main advantages of using leather conditioning oils?

These products are designed to protect the longevity and appearance of your leather goods. They can prevent drying out and cracking, reduce scratches, and return the original color and shine to your products.

How often should I apply the oil?

This can depend on the condition of the goods and how often you use them. In most cases, you’ll need to condition your leather every 3-6 months.

Can I use these products with all kinds of leather?

The vast majority of these oils can be used with a wide range of leathers. However, it’s possible that there could be some exceptions, so check the information and instructions that come with the product.

Will the oil cause my leather to change color?

Most conditioning oils are designed to restore the original color, but some can cause slight darkening. Test the product on a discreet area first.

Can these oils be used on both old and new leather items?

The vast majority of these oils are ideal not only for vintage leather items but new ones too. They can rejuvenate older goods and prolong the lifespan of newer ones.

Do leather conditioning oils have any specific application methods?

In most cases, you need to apply a small amount of oil to a soft cloth before rubbing it into the leather in a circular motion. Depending on which product you’re using, you may need to apply a second coat.

Are these products safe to use?

Most of these oils are safe to use, but it’s best to use gloves when you are applying them. You should also apply them in a well-ventilated environment.

How can I select the best oil for my specific items?

Think about the kind of leather you have, what condition it’s in, and what your required finish is. It’s always wise to read reviews before you go ahead and make a purchase.

Do these products have a shelf life?

Shelf life can vary from one product to another. Check the packaging for specific details and store the product as directed.

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We hope you enjoyed our article on the best leather oil.

If you have any questions or comments, contact us at, or leave them in the comments.

Want to read more? Check out our Leather pages.

Author: Albert Varkki

Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you.

We always aim to have the highest editorial standards, and only publish accurate information on our website.

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