Leather Patina [Detailed Guide + Everything You Need To Know]

Patina is something that leather lovers adore, and is a word you will commonly hear when talking about leather goods. All natural materials such as wood and metal form a patina over time. This also includes leather as one of the natural materials that get a patina.

So what exactly is patina?

Patina is the signature sheen that shows on a leather surface after a leather item has been used for an extended period of time. It is a natural occurrence that happens when the leather item is exposed to the elements or just simply used by its owner. Scratches and marks are also an indicator of a patina which gives quality wallets that authentic look.

Essential things you should know about leather patina

full grain leather patina

These are the essential things you need to know about patina.

How does the leather patina get formed?

There are a couple of ways that a patina can be formed:

Everyday use

Using your leather item on a daily basis can change the form of the leather surface. For example, if you carry your leather wallet in the back pocket of your pants it will form a patina from it.

The patina is also easy to notice on bifold or trifold wallets where there is a line at the exact place where the pocket can be opened. This forms due to the fact that you regularly do the same motion to open your wallet every day.

Sharp items

Sharp items can form scratches on the leather surface and give it a unique look. This isn’t something that everyone likes, so it’s a good thing to know if you want to prevent it from happening.

Exposure to sun or water

If your leather item is exposed to the sun for a long time, or if it regularly gets drenched and soaks up water, it will change its appearance.

Anything else that can cause a change to the initial form of the leather

Basically, anything that can have an impact on the leather can cause a change to its look, which is why each patina is different and one of a kind. Even rubbing two leather items can cause a change in one of the leather items’ color.

What are some of the characteristics you will notice in a good leather patina?

The one thing you can’t miss about a good leather patina is the amazing sheen that it has. Apart from this, you will always notice unique marks or even scratches, that will be different from any other leather patina.

How long does it take for a leather patina to form?

There isn’t a specific amount of time in which the leather patina is formed. You can see the first signs of a patina forming in the first week after you start using your leather item. The patina that forms from aging will be visible the more time that passes.

The best way to see how a leather patina gets formed is by taking before and after pictures of your leather item. This way you can track and clearly see all the changes your leather item will have.

Can tanning affect patina leather?

Tanning is a process that transforms the animal hide into a usable leather material. This is something that can very much affect the patina of the leather. For example, chrome-tanned leather that has a heavy coating is not able to form a good patina, compared to vegetable-tanned leather that has no synthetic coatings.

Does patina affect the leather quality?

Not at all. If anything else, it can be a good indicator of high-quality leather. Patina won’t affect the leather items’ longevity, nor will it affect its quality.

Leather wallets and patina

These are some of the things you should know about leather wallets and their patina.

Do all leather wallets form a patina over time?

Not all types of leather are able to form a patina over time. Out of the four main types of leather, only full-grain leather and top-grain leather can form a patina, while corrected-grain leather and genuine leather can’t.

Do people like the patina that is formed on leather wallets?

The specific patina that forms on each individual leather item is loved by many. There are a couple of reasons why people love this look. One of the main reasons is that because of the patina, the leather item has a unique look that can’t be replicated, so only that one person will have that specific patina.

As mentioned before, this type of patina doesn’t form on just any type of leather, only on the highest quality ones. So many people consider it to be a mark of quality for leather goods.

Also, some people seem to think that leather items look way better the more they age, and this is due to the patina that forms on leather from aging.

What are the best patina leather types?

Leather that is full grain and has been vegetable-tanned will show the best patina development. This is because it has a surface that can easily absorb natural oils, sun, and even warmth.

Will leather patina form if you don’t take care of your leather wallet?

Not taking care of your wallet will encourage the patina-forming process. Meaning that there will be more scratches and changes to the leather surface. If you do decide to do some maintenance for our leather item, it could result in slowing down the aging process.

Things you can do to slow down the wallet aging process

compact trifold wallet

Some individuals enjoy owning leather items but aren’t that big of a fan of the patina that forms over time. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to make the aging process slower. Just keep in mind that the patina will form on high-quality leather either way, but if you do these things, it will do so at a slower pace.

Clean it regularly and properly

Cleaning the surface of your leather wallet means that you will refresh it so that it can maintain its natural form for a longer period of time. By cleaning your leather item, there won’t be any dust, dirt, or oils left on it, which all contribute to patina formation.

One of the ways you can clean your leather is by using Saddle soap, but the best way would be to get a leather cleaner that is suitable for the type of leather you are trying to clean. The first step is to wipe the leather surface with a soft cloth, then you should apply some of the cleaners on your leather item. After this, you should do some circular motions to proportionately place the cleaner everywhere, and afterward, you should let it set for some time. Lastly, you should wipe the item upon using it.

An easy method for cleaning leather is to use a microfiber cloth to wipe the leather every time it is exposed to the elements.

Use leather conditioner

Using a conditioner can also help slow down the aging process of the leather item. Similar to skin, leather needs to be moisturized, and the best way to do this is by using a good leather conditioner. By adding moister to the surface it will remain soft, which means that it will be harder for cracks to form. You shouldn’t condition your leather item every day, it’s best to do it once a month unless you live in a location that is dry, then you should condition it more frequently.

Seal any moisture

It’s also a neat idea to use a protectant for the leather surface. This will help the leather to keep its natural oils and moisture, which is especially helpful if it is regularly exposed to the sun.

Keep it out of the sun

The sun dries up the leather and makes it easy for different cracks and scratches to form. This is exactly why a lot of people use protectants and regularly moisturize their leather items, or simply just keep them out of the sun.

Keep your wallet in your front pocket

If you usually keep your wallet in your back pocket, it means that you also regularly sit on it.

The more pressure you put on the same place, the more visible traits you will notice on some parts of the leather. For example, if a specific card was hitting the same place the whole time you were sitting on your wallet, there will be a visible line on the leather in that exact place.

Avoid carrying sharp things in your wallet

Keys, sharp cards, or other similar items can easily form a scratch or two on your leather. If you really want to give it your best to not get any type of patina on your leather, you should never keep sharp items like this inside your leather items.

Ways to speed up the patina-forming process

Wally Micro wallet in hands in front of bike

As we have already established, a patina is something that forms over time, which means that it might take a long time for your leather goods to get the patina you want. Even so, there are a lot of ways that can help you develop your wanted patina faster. These are some of the methods you can try to do this.

Use your leather wallet a lot

The more you use your wallet, the more it will be tossed around, opened, folded, and placed in different places. Each of these things contributes to the patina-forming process in its own way. This method will help you get distinct lines, and maybe even scratches, on the leather surface, but it won’t do many changes to the color of the leather.

Place it in a sunny spot sometimes

Sunlight is something that can cause a change in the color of the leather. Basically, the color of the exterior surface kind of fades the more your leather is exposed to sunlight. Even if this is a legitimate method to change the color of your leather item, it’s not the best option in my opinion. Sun doesn’t only change the color of leather, it can also damage it with UV rays.

A little water on your leather wallet is okay

If you leave water on the surface of your leather item, you might notice a stain in that place. This is because when the water dries and evaporates it also draws out the oils of the leather.

This method will form a patina, but not one that’s very attractive, in my opinion. Your leather wallet will look like it has a bunch of stains on it, which isn’t all that pleasing to look at. However, smaller drops of water might give it a grainy look, which should look better.

Some items that cause friction can form a leather patina

Anything that can cause friction on the leather surface can form a specific patina on it. It can even be a simple item such as a key in a wallet. If you usually carry this sharp item in your wallet pocket, you might have already noticed a scratch or two from it.

Don’t be too careful with your leather wallet

The conclusion we can get from all this is that you need to allow your leather item to form its patina, and it won’t be able to do this if you keep it in a safe spot in your drawer. You should try to use your leather wallets as much as you can, and you don’t have to be all that careful with them. Most of the distinctive marks are formed this way, so you should just enjoy using your leather items, and marvel at the beautiful patina that will develop.

Patina is inevitable so you should try to enjoy it

Bellroy The Low filled with contents

Whatever you do, in the end, some sort of patina will form on your leather wallet. The best course of action, in this case, would be to just enjoy the whole process.

No one patina is like the other, so the one that forms on your leather item will be as unique as you are. All the marks that make an individual patina on a leather good have a story to tell, which is what makes this material such a special kind that’s loved by many.

Want to get cool tech and gadget tips, exclusive discounts and promotions, and unseen tech hacks? Join TechSecrets.

Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
I love all things tech, so I decided to make a blog about technology, electronics, gadgets, accessories, and all the various items we use every day that make our lives easier. I like doing a lot of research on various models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience.