Is Lotion Bad For Leather? (8 Pros And Cons)

is lotion bad for leather

In a perfect world, your leather would be able to maintain its essential oils and suppleness. Yet, the reality remains that factors such as weather, environmental elements, harsh cleaners, and use dry them out, leaving leather looking less ideal.

So from time to time, we need to layer on moisturizers, oils, and conditioners on the leather to help maintain it. But one the burning question is: with some of the human skincare products applicable to leather, is it bad to use lotion on leather? and if so what are the advantages and disadvantages.

There are some lotions that are safe and can be used to polish leather and to blend in blemishes. Some lotions will also make leather soft and smooth. However, there are certain downsides that may ensue when you use lotions instead of a leather conditioner or oil. A typical example is most lotions contain alcohols and scents that can dry out and discolor leather.

In order to determine whether lotion is bad for leather or not, I researched the possible advantages and disadvantages of using lotion on leather, and in the remaining parts of this article, I’m going to share with you all of my findings so that you can make an informed decision.


Let’s start by taking a look at the disadvantages of putting lotion on your leather!

1. Lotions That Contain Alcohol Can Weaken Leather

Alcohol is a common additive found in a lot of lotions. Alcohols like isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, methanol, and alcohol denat are often used as preservatives in lotions and also to help make lotions and creams feel lighter for better penetration into the skin.

However, the alcohol ingredient is not safe if lotion would be used on leather. The alcohol ingredient in lotions can cause your leather to weaken through extended exposure to it.

What the alcohol in lotions does to leather is dry out all of the essential oils that nourish and keep the leather soft and supple.

It’s even worse when you put lotion on your leather items and those items get exposed to the sun rays. Your leather will start get eaten away gradually by the alcohols contained in the product.

So if you’re thinking of using lotion on your leather items, you would want to look out for those without the alcohol content.

Related Article: 5 Simple Ways To Remove Rubbing Alcohol Stains From Leather

2. Lotions Do Not Last Long On Leather

One of the main characteristics of lotion when compared to creams and other skincare products is perhaps its low viscosity.

This means lotions have a high amount of water content. Because of this lotions tends to be a lot lighter and are easily absorbed into the skin when applied.

Due to this lotions will generally get washed off a lot quicker – usually after just about a day or two.

When it comes to its application on leather you can expect not very different results.

Because of how light the formulation of lotion is, just like the skin, lotions are quickly absorbed by leather and more importantly wouldn’t last very long like a typical leather conditioner or oil will.

Pro Tip: You would want the leather conditioner, leather oil, or leather cream you use on your leather goods to last or remain active in the fibers of the leather for at least 3-6 months so you don’t have to oil your leather items too frequently.

Related Article: How Long Does It Take For Leather To Patina?

3. Some Lotions Can Make Leather Greasy

Any lotion that feels sticky or greasy on the skin will be greasy on leather. This is usually going to be the case for most lotions and only a few special ones out there will be slightly non-greasy.

Although there are a few specialty lotions that are almost never greasy, most lotions will because lotions are made to oil the skin and to keep it that way until the lotion is taken off the skin during bath times.

So the key takeaway is if you would want to go the lotion route for treating your leather items, then you need to ensure it’s non-greasy.

Why? Because using such greasy lotions on leather items, whether leather shoes, bags, or jackets could possibly weaken or cause other forms of harm to it.

Greasy lotions can also form a residue that can get your hands, clothes, pants, or anything it comes into contact with greasy.

The benefit of using a non-greasy lotion for your leather items apart from not weakening the leather is that for items like shoes, buffing becomes very easy and beneficial to the overall look of the leather.

Although some lotions will be greasier than others, one of the best ways to have a fair idea as to how greasy a particular lotion is will be to test it first on yourself. Try it out on your body or hands and see how greasy it is before applying it to your leather.

Related Article: 9 Reasons Why Leather Steering Wheels Become Sticky Plus Fix

4. The Scented Lotions Can Cause Leather To Wear Faster

Another chief ingredient in most lotions that can affect your leather when it’s applied is the added scents and fragrances.

Although the scents and fragrances added to lotions help to give a particular brand its unique identity and more importantly help to ensure you have a nice smell on your skin, it doesn’t particularly do well for leather.

When leather extensively gets exposed to fragrances and scent ingredients in lotions it can also weaken the leather and also cause the leather to wear faster.

Also, you do not want certain types of fragrances from lotions on your leather. This is because some of these scents can be strange and can mess up the natural luxurious smell real leather has.

Related Article: 6 Reasons Why Leather Smells Like Fish Plus 4 Ways To Fix

5. Lotion Can Cause Discoloration On Leather

Generally, one of the best qualities of a good leather conditioner, cleaner, or oil will be that they shouldn’t affect the original color of the leather item.

Usually, these types of leather care products are hard to come by. What I usually settle for are those that simply darken the leather just a little bit and then return to a color close to the original color of the leather item.

This is very crucial as you do not want the color of your favorite leather shoe or jacket to turn into a different color you did not intend it for it to be in.

Discoloration is one of the challenges you’re bound to be faced with when you put certain lotions on your leather items.

Generally, lotions discoloring leather can actually be from a few different things. The main reason why a body lotion can discolor your leather can be that the lotion contains dyes.

Most people get a bit confused by this point knowing that most lotions are white. But the fact of the matter is even lotions that are white could possibly have color added to them.

Another reason why a lotion will be able to discolor your leather is also due to the alcohol contents.

So you would want to make sure the lotion you apply to your leather is free of any form of coloring. One of the easiest ways to ensure this is to look at the product packaging for a “No Color Added” indication.

Related Article: Step-By-Step Guide On How To Darken Leather With Sunlight


It’s quite obvious using lotion on leather has a number of major downsides. So in the end, when you use lotion on your leather items it will probably not turn out perfect.

However, here are a few benefits you could get when you use lotion on your leather items.

1. Lotion Can Be Used To Polish Leather

You can use lotion to polish leather items such as bags, shoes, jackets, etc. and the result is usually a nice clean shine.

Although the level of polish you will get with leather can not be compared with the one you get with an actual leather polish, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between their effect.

However, what will eventually become apparent to you is how a leather polished lotion will not hold up for long especially if the leather item sees a lot of use.

But all in all, you should be able to give your leather goods a nice clean polish with a body lotion that is alcohol-free and scent-free.

Related Article: Can You Use Shoe Polish To Dye Leather? (Plus 9 Pros & Cons)

2. Lotion Makes Leather Soft Feeling & Smooth

Just like the way lotion is made to make our skin smooth and soft the same way it will to a large extent make leather soft-feeling and very smooth.

After you have thoroughly applied body lotion on your leather and have carefully buffed or removed any remaining lotion residue from the leather, one of the very first things you’re going to notice is how smooth and soft the leather immediately gets.

If you do not notice any of these qualities then it can be a sign that your leather is seriously dry and that you applied the lotion just about the right time before the leather got to a worse state.

Related Article: 5 Easy Ways To Soften Leather After Dying

3. Lotion Help To Blend In Blemishes On Leather

Leather with time and wear picks up scuffs and blemishes. While these blemishes are natural and considered some form of character the leather builds up (patina), it’s always cool to have leather care products that can help cover up the blemishes quite a bit.

Related Article: How Long Does It Take For Leather To Patina?

There are some leather care products that can actually remove some minor scratches and scuffs but non can completely remove the blemishes that leather takes up with time and wear.

Your best bet is to have a product that helps to blend in the blemishes and make it less obvious. This is something applying body lotion to your leather items can do.

Pros And Cons Of Lotion On Leather – Summary

1. Lotion Can Be Used To Polish Leather
2. Lotion Makes Leather Soft Feeling & Smooth
3. Lotion Help To Blend In Blemishes On Leather
1. Lotions That Contain Alcohol Can Weaken Leather
2. Lotions Do Not Last Long On Leather
3. Some Lotions Can Make Leather Greasy
4. The Scented Lotions Can Cause Leather To Wear Faster
5. Lotion Can Cause Discoloration On Leather


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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