how to darken leather

How to darken leather: 6 methods

In Home & Family by WebLifeTips TeamLast Updated: September 3rd, 2019

Leather items are susceptible to tarnishing naturally after a certain period of time. The aspect of leather has a tendency to fade when it endures frequent use, but especially when it is often exposed to extreme weather conditions.

In any case, you don’t have to be troubled because there are a lot of ways you can revamp your leather shoes, jacket or skirt and make them appear darker and edgier as if they were brand new.

In this guidebook, we will provide you with specific details about how to darken leather items.

1. Vegetable oil

Oils, in general, are known for their nourishing virtues that it can offer to the skin. And since leather is originally a skin, it can benefit from these virtues too. Moreover, oils not only nourish leather but tone them down as well.

Olive oil and coconut oil are our best recommendation because they are particularly loaded with antioxidants that smooth out the surface of your leather item. Although, you can use any given natural oil you can get your hands on.

Make sure to clean your leather item first, afterward, apply a small amount of vegetable oil onto the surface of your leather and keep rubbing so the oil can distribute evenly.

You will notice that the leather is getting darker already. Leave it to dry for a whole day, and you’ll be surprised by the result.

2. Animal oil

Oils of animal origins such as neatsfoot oil which is extracted from cattle feet, or mink oil which is derived from milk fat. These oils are usually used in the process of leather conditioning as they are reliable preservative agents that prevent the leather from fading and deteriorating.

Apply a thin layer of either one of these animal oils to the surface of your previously cleaned leather garment. Spread the oil proportionately and make sure it is well diffused.

Leave your garment to air dry for no less than a day because otherwise, the non-dried sticky oil will catch piles of dust which is something you never want to happen.

3. Baby oil

Baby oil is light and gentle because it is destined for babies with sensitive skin. This is why you need to rest assured that baby oil won’t do any damage to your leather item.

Although, you might want to avoid applying large amounts of oil at once because it may stain and you don’t want this to happen.

Start by cleaning the surface of your leather. Next, gently massage it with a cloth that is soaked with baby oil.

At last, let the oil set in for at least one night. The result will be astonishing.

4. Professional leather darkening oil

Actually,  manufacturers are producing more and more synthetic oil mixes that are exclusively intended to be used in darkening leather.

Although this option may be costly, it is considered a safe and effective way to darken your leather garment permanently. Furthermore, you can apply generous amounts of these oils without worrying about getting stains all over.

You are free to coat your leather garment with as many layers as you wish as long as you make sure to let it dry properly after each coat.

5. Shoe polish

Shoe polish is an obvious and quick solution for darkening leather. However, you need to choose the type of shoe polish that does not transfer because if your leather item is not a shoe, this factor will become crucial and decisive.

Transparent shoe polish is the safest option but if you want an accentuated somber effect, do some research and go for a shoe polish product that is tinted.

All the instructions will be provided with the product, however, the key elements of a successful reconditioning are: cleaning your item before applying the product, applying the product evenly, and finally, allowing the product to dry completely.

6. Leather dye

We suggest you purchase an oil-based dye for a lasting result. Pick a dye color of your choice, and pour a small amount of it on a clean rag. Use this rag to rub your pre-cleaned leather item in circular motions to get an even application.

It should take about 30 minutes for the first coat to set in, and the number of coats you should apply depends on how dark you want your leather to become.

When you finally achieve the desired shade, let your leather item dry for 24 hours at least.


Reconditioning your leather garment is a smarter choice than getting a new one. It’s because reconditioned leather is almost equal to new leather. So if you want to go smart, go for recycling.

We hope this guidebook was handy for you.


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