Leather Patina – Everything You Need to Know

by Galen Leather July 29, 2022 1 Comment

the leather patina of two different leather notebooks

What is Patina on Leather?

Patina is the character and thin sheen that develops slowly on the surface of leather goods through time, regular use, and exposure to natural forces. This improves the natural appearance of the leather, giving it unique qualities. Patina makes full-grain leather second-to-none.

This guide helps you understand the process and what leather patina is.

leather patina before and after

Start with Quality Leather for a Perfect Patina 

For a patina as unique as the item itself, we here at Galen Leather Co. believe the best patina forms on quality undyed leather. The second-best patina forms when using crazy horse leather and the third-best leather for a quality patina is achieved using full-grain plain leather. So, if a stunning patina is your desire, keep these facts in mind when deciding on what leather to purchase. You will hear other terms used such as “top-grain,” “split-grain,” and “genuine,” when talking about leather – read our full rundown on grades of leather.

3 Factors in the Creation of Leather Patina 

Although time is the one factor most necessary in the development of patina, some other factors contribute to the process as well. Leather is organic and will absorb any substance that it comes into contact with - there are no artificial processes that can produce the character and beauty of a natural patina.

natural leather patina

1. Normal Use

One of the great things about leather products, unlike most things we buy that wear out with use, is that fine leather improves and transforms with age and everyday use. It builds a character all its own and is unique to the owner – complete with blemishes and scars as reminders of life’s interesting events.

2. Body Oils and Dirt

Another addition to normal use will be the touching, handling, and carrying of your leather items that transfer oils from your body, dirt, and moisture to help aid in the patina formation, creating a darker, richer hue in the areas that you touch most.

3. Sun/Ultraviolet Rays

Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and its heat will also influence your leather goods, aiding in the aging process and development of a fine patina. Sunbathing your leather goods will give them a tan, or organic darkening, the same way it does you. But use caution in the amount of sun your leather gets, as the sun can cause drying, and damage the leather. You can consider a leather balm to ensure proper aging.

Your Fine Leather Before and After Aging

natural leather patina

You may be tempted to preserve that clean, “new” look of your piece in its natural leather state. The pristine, unmarked leather is surely a thing of beauty, but the aging process is inevitable. However, you can take steps to slow it down if you wish, by doing the opposite of the things mentioned above, and cleaning, conditioning, and sealing your leather products. You won’t be getting much use out of your goods, but the process will be slowed down. If, on the other hand, you want to develop that patina look and feel, you should start to notice changes from friction and normal use in a fairly short time. Your leather will begin to darken noticeably after six months, and after a year the rich earthen tones will begin to smooth with regular exposure to the elements.

Why Care About Your Leather Patina?

leather patina after 5 months

The beauty that forms with age, the one-of-a-kind look and feel, and the sign of high-quality possessions, are all good reasons to enjoy the veneer that is developing as your special leather product ages. Taking an active role in the aging of your leather is vital, as these products will last for a very long time and can even make their way through many generations 

View all the leather goods that get a beautiful patina at galenleather.com.

**All patina journey pictures taken by a-man-and-his-word on Instagram.

Galen Leather
Galen Leather


1 Response


June 26, 2023

Will pull-up or chrome tanned leathers patina slower than vegetable tanned leathers?

Also, will leather dyed tan stay tan for some time, or will it just continue to darken at the same rate?

How does leather dyed blue or green patina over time?

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