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April 16, 2023 5 min read
If you’ve used enough leather products, you’re bound to hear some terms come up repeatedly. One such term is leather gel. Leather gel is used to refer to two different types of products:
The first is a type of repair balm for leather. The other refers to a highly specific type of bonded leather. We’ll explore both of these broad-spanning definitions below. From there, Andar is going to showcase why leather gel, the product, can be easily used on all your leathers.
First, we’ll start with leather gel fabric. Leather gel is a type of bonded leather made from leftover scraps of traditional leather materials. These fabrics are then bonded and applied with polyurethane, which supposedly provides enhanced breathability. In practice, there are several reasons to avoid polyurethane leather, suitably named PU leather.
One of the most attractive parts of any leather product is the grain. The grain is the natural nap of the fabric, which gives it its texture and appearance. In full-grain leather, the grain is left unaltered. Bonded leather features the most highly adulterated leather grain of any potential leather product.
Because it is a composite of many pieces, there is no natural grain to the fabric. This means that there is less durability and water resistance to the fabric. Ultimately, while bonded leather may be cheaper, that affordability comes at a higher cost.
So, leather gel fabric is a bust. On the other hand, leather repair gel is highly beneficial. At its core, it protects your leather to help extend its lifespan and improve its durability. It makes a good thing even better.
Don’t just take a simple sentence of advice as the final word on the matter. Below, we’ll go into more detail on why using leather repair gel on your goods is so beneficial.
Your leather products see extensive use, especially bags and footwear. Eventually, they’ll encounter a nick or scratch that’s too noticeable to ignore. It’s almost a fact of life. While these don’t overtly harm the functionality of your leather, they do mar its appearance.
Leather gel is for those saving moments when nothing else will do. Now, admittedly, there’s no universal definition of what leather gel is or does. Some gels tend to resemble leather conditioners in that they enhance the appearance and natural oils of your pieces. However, in either case, you should consider using them.
Leather is given its distinctive appearance by a variety of things. The tanning process dates back thousands of years — this gives the leather its coloration. Natural oils applied to the fabric give it its shimmer and texture. All these details age over time, developing a gorgeous patina.
In the case of oils, they may periodically need replenishing. Conditioners and gels can add to these oils and restore the classic appearance of your leather.
Additionally, a deep scratch may expose the deeper layers of your leather to damage. This can accelerate the aging process, and not in a positive way. The deeper layers of leather are going to be more fragile and, more importantly, less easy to repair.
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider leather gel: Just as important are the components you look for in it.
In your leather gel, you should look for natural ingredients. While artificial ingredients aren’t inherently bad and often have specific purposes, natural ingredients can better support leather products.
For example, the oils used to produce leather, even when not native to the product, are often natural. A leather gel that incorporates natural oils shows an understanding of the leather-making process. It also may meld better with the design of your goods.
Another ingredient, helpful though not essential, is beeswax. Beeswax in nature is used to make the honeycombs that bees maintain. Beyond being delicious, beeswax sees a wide variety of uses in everyday contexts.
In food, beeswax is used as a coating for candies, fruits, and even some nuts. It’s also a popular ingredient in the health and beauty industry. Beeswax is allergen-friendly and extremely delicate for sensitive skin. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties promote skin health and reduce muscle inflammation.
Beeswax is also extensively used in the furniture, footwear, and leather industries. One word: Polish. Beeswax creates a healthy sheen and offers protective and subtle waterproofing properties. This makes it a popular ingredient in artisanal leather balms and repair gel.
If you are looking for coloring, look at the color of your leather repair balm. Some are clear or light-colored and won’t change the color of your leather. These are great if you’re looking for a cream to restore the appearance of your leather.
Some gels are more intensive and are colored to create a polish-like change in color. These can be immensely helpful, but you should also be careful around them. If they don’t precisely match your leather color, they may create odd coloring.
Gels are also subtly different from creams. The two are highly similar but have a small degree of difference. We’ll go deep into the details, lest the two be confused.
Functionally, leather gel and leather cream have the capacity to serve roughly the same purpose. Both can provide waterproofing, can restore leather appearance, and can add to the natural oils. It all depends on the specific ingredients on a case-by-case basis.
They differ in one key regard: Gels sometimes serve the same purpose as leather fillers. In this case, your gel can fill in cracks and damaged spots in your material. The use of leather fillers is centuries old and can even be found in restored antique books.
Make sure, before investing in a leather gel, whether you are looking for a filler or a protectant. These two serve highly different purposes, and thus using the wrong one can be harsh on a piece of leather.
Regardless, both can be used in the right context to elevate the quality of your leather goods. Learn more below.
The best leather goods last for years. With the right quality and care, decades may even be within reach. Some items, like our wallets, see only gentle use. But what about our footwear or our bags?
At Andar, our bags range from the small Indie belt bag to the larger, carry-on-sized Memphis weekender. These span the range of styles and needs for all travelers, whether daily commuters or jet-set world wanderers. All the carrying and stress they are placed under, after a while, takes its toll.
When that happens, what can you turn to for help? Leather gels. Only creams, conditioners, and gels offer the mild yet restorative properties needed for long-term maintenance. Only leather gel acting as a filler can turn severe damage into minor or unnoticeable scratches.
Of course, leather with an impacted grain, like bonded leather, is more challenging to repair to a beautiful state. After all, it doesn’t hold up nearly as well to daily damages. That’s why we don’t use bonded leather or anything close to it. Full-grain traditional and vegan cactus leather makes up our offerings. When you have a better product, repairs work better and become less necessary.
Waterproof, Breathable and Infrared-Invisible Polyurethane/Silica Nanofiber Membranes for Wearable Textiles I National Library of Medicine
Traditional Leather Tanning Processes: Brain Tanning, Vegetable Tanning & More I Nomomente
The Health Benefits of Beeswax I Bees 4 Life