Will Leather Conditioner Darken Leather?

will leather conditioner darker leather?

Conditioning leather is an absolute priority to ensure your leather lasts as long as it should. But there are a few things that make conditioning leather a bit tricky.

This can be thoughts or questions about the kind of effects the leather conditioner will have on the leather apart from conditioning it.

So, in today’s article, I will be answering the number one question about one of the biggest effects most people ask or have on their minds when it comes to conditioning their leather:-

will leather conditioner darken leather?

There are a lot of things that can certainly darken your leather and the leather conditioner is one of them. Leather conditioner will darker your leather especially if it has a lot of wax as its main ingredient, or when it’s wrongly applied, or not dried properly after the conditioning is done.

However, the best leather conditioners will only slightly darken your leather and in a couple of hours if not minutes, your leather will be back to a nice vibrant look like it was when it was new.

There’s obviously more to learn and know about leather conditioners darkening your leather. So for the rest of this article, I’m going to elaborate on the ingredients in leather conditioners that cause leather to significantly darken.

I will also share with you a couple of leather conditioners I have tried and tested over the years that do not darken leather and a few others that actually darken leather. You definitely want to keep reading this article to find out more.

Why Does Leather Conditioner Darken Leather?

As highlighted in the answer section above, there are three (3) key reasons why a leather conditioner will darken leather. Now, let us take a detailed look at them!

Leather Conditioner Ingredients

It will be almost impossible to uncover all the reasons why a leather conditioner will darken leather especially when it comes to the kind of ingredients used for a particular leather conditioner.

This is simply because a lot of the leather conditioner manufacturers on the market, both high-end and low-end, always like to keep their ingredients close to their chest and wouldn’t want people stealing their long-standing (family) recipes.

Generally, you should be able to get the safety data sheet of some companies detailing the kind of ingredients that have been used.

But usually the situation on the ground is different. You will still not be able to find such important information even in the safety data sheet of the conditioner.

What you will often find is vague descriptions of the conditioner containing ingredients such as emulsifiers, conditioners, and moisturizers. Usually, this is all you get!

But after a thorough research into almost 2 dozen leather conditioners and testing some of them, one key ingredient stood out.

A lot of the leather conditioners I research and tried out left bits and pieces of hints about the special ingredients that make their conditioners unique amid mentions about how rich and dark the leather conditioner is going to make the leather item.

It’s clear that one of the major reasons why a leather conditioner will darken leather is due to its ingredients and I was able to phantom wax as one key ingredient that was common among leather conditioners that tend to darken leather.


One of the main reasons why a leather conditioner will darken your leather is due to the presence of wax or a combination of waxes.

This is why even the conditioners from the super high-end brands like Venetian and Saphir will still darken your leather.

This is because wax is a super common ingredients when it comes to leather conditioners.

You will often read the presence of wax in most leather conditioners because it plays a major role in the conditioner formula.

The presence of waxes in a leather conditioner will ensure the conditioner does its basic function of conditioning, polishing, preserving, moisturizing, waterproofing, and weather-proofing your leather goods.

To be able to do this, the leather conditioner has to sink very deep into the leather, and by so doing, clogs the leather pores causing it to darken.

Now, the issue of how dark the leather will get will depend on the amount of wax in the leather conditioner.

This is because while some brands will go crazy with the amount of wax they add to their leather conditioners others will basically combine different waxes so the darkening effect it has on the leather is a bit unnoticeable.

Related Article: Ultimate Guide To 5 Best Wax-For Leather Jackets

How The Leather Conditioner Is Applied

Another major reason why a leather condition will darken leather is if it’s wrongly applied on the leather. This is a very common cause for leather conditioner darkening leather.

Although most leather conditioners will come with their own set of application methods and procedures, there are certain standard procedures and practices when it comes to applying a leather conditioner to leather.

Your best bet will be to follow the outlined application processes for a particular leather conditioner you choose.

But what causes everything to go south is when most people over-do the conditioning.

Usually, what happens is that you get pretty excited about how a leather conditioner has improved the look and feel of your leather item.

So suddenly you get obsessed and do it the more only to end up with the leather totally soaked with conditioner.

Another way this happens is when you do not keep a good conditioning routine for your leather goods.

Your leather will especially darken if you condition it too frequently.

A good leather conditioning routine to follow is conditioning your leather goods at least twice a year (for regular leather goods) and thrice a year or quarterly for hard-wearing leather goods like hunting boots.

How The Leather Is Dried After Conditioning

How the conditioned leather is supposed to dry is another way leather conditioner will cause leather to darken.

This is very simple yet most people get it all wrong on this one.

While some people will dry a conditioned leather in the sun, others will put it right in front of a heat source so that the conditioned leather quickly dries out.

So instead of the conditioned leather gradually air-drying these series of drying method does not allow the leather to dry as it should in a more natural way.

What essentially happens when a conditioned leather is not properly dried is that it will result in the leather developing darkened patches or splotches on it.

This can be brutal and in many cases can be very difficult to deal with without completely altering the color of your leather item.

The worst-case scenario is that the leather can become baked if the heat source used is held too close or run over the same spot more than necessary.

What really works is simply allowing the conditioned leather to-air dry in a cool dry place. Usually, just leaving it in that cool spot overnight tends to be the trick.

Related Articles: 6 Best Leather Conditioners With UV Protection

Leather Conditioners That “WILL NOT” Darken Leather

There are instances where you will not need the leather conditioner you use to nourish, protect, or moisturize to change the look of your leather.

There is one main reason why you wouldn’t want this for your leather.

My first guess is your leather item is light-colored and you wouldn’t want it darkened for anything.

The good news is there are some high-quality products on the market that have formulated their leather conditioners to only condition, moisturize, protect but NOT DARKEN leather.

Here are 3 of the best leather conditioners the WILL NOT darken your leather.

Leather Conditioner Size fl Oz. Application Type Non-Darkening
1. Lexol Neatsfoot Conditioner 8oz. Polish Yes
2. Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner 8oz. Polish Yes
3. Saphir Renovateur 4oz. Cream Yes

Leather Conditioners That “WILL” Darken Leather

Unlike having leather conditioners that will not darken your leather, there are others that will actually darken your leather.

The darkening you will have with these conditioners will range from a slightly darkened look that is about a shade or two darker to several shades of dark tones.

These sorts of leather conditioners are very handy if your leather has faded over-time, or has dark splotches, or stains, etc.

Using leather conditioners that can darken leather is a great way to rejuvenate your leather items.

Here are 3 best leather conditioners that WILL darken your leather.

Leather Conditioner Size fl Oz. Application Type Darkening
1. Howard LC0008 Leather Conditioner 8oz. Polish Yes
2. Leather Milk Leather Restoration Kit 6 oz. Polish Yes
3. Lexol Leather Conditioner 1 ltr. Polish Yes


There are a few factors that would help you answer the question about – will leather conditioner darken leather?

In this post, I shared my research on the circumstances under which a leather conditioner will darken leather.

To make this article super short and as educational as possible, I also touched on the most important factors or circumstances under which leather conditioner will your darken leather.

I finished off by including the leather conditioners that will darken your leather and the ones that wouldn’t. This is so that if your preference is of the two, I would have you covered and make your search for a leather conditioner much easier.

I hope I was able to help you with this article. Thanks for sticking around!


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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