Do you like sunlight? Hope you do. That stuff is awesome. Whether it’s giving our skin our vital fill of vitamin D, turning our rose garden into a cavalcade of succulent color, ushering in a new era of renewable energy, or charging Clark Kent up like a super battery so he can go fight evil corporate executives – and, indeed, being pretty much an essential ingredient for all these things to exist in the first place – sunlight’s been your best friend whether you’ve wanted it or not. Unfortunately, your new best friend has a nasty streak, and this nasty streak is called UV radiation. Without our planet’s ozone layer, that stuff would be killing us. Want to know something worse? It’s already killing your awesome leather stuff.
It’s pretty well known leather doesn’t like UV radiation. Keep that stuff in the sunlight too long, too regularly, and it’s going to dry up like stale biscuits. You might even have leather in your car that looks much the same way: rough texture, cracks all over, and even a loss in color. Alternatively, if your car leather had a fair helping of finish, extensive UV damage might cause the texture to feel sticky instead, as its plastic pigments melt under intense heat. In the latter case, there’s naught to do but get yourself a powerful leather cleaner and open your leather’s pores up again – getting rid of all the sticky stuff – and rejuvenating it again with conditioner. Very fortunately, the solution for dry, cracked leather is also fairly simpler, which makes fixing UV-damaged leather all the more simple.
Cracked leather’s cause boils down to this: at its core leather is made up of a bunch of interlocking fibers which, when first prepared, are moisturized and lubricated with nutrients and oils. Overtime, whether from neglect or use, these fibers will become un-moisturized, allowing them to slowly degrade, or chafe against each other into dust as the leather bends and flexes. Eventually, these fibers can tear apart from each other completely, resulting in the crack you are (hopefully not) observing right now.
Fixing these cracks can be tough, and you should know that it’s not really possible to mend them per se. Once leather has broken apart, you can’t feed it back together. What you can do is reinforce the fibers surrounding the crack to prevent it from spreading, and in any gaps in the surface of your leather with conditioner, which will smooth its color, and disguise any blemish. Strong, pastey conditioners are best for this task, as they tend to fix themselves near leather’s surface, where blemish will be most visible. At Leather Milk, we carry a recipe specifically designed to disguise cracks call Healing Balm.
Whatever formula you use, make sure you test it first in a discreet area, and watch how it dries. If you are satisfied with your conditioner’s effects after drying, apply your formula gently to the leather’s surface, giving no more conditioner than naturally absorbs at a time. If your leather has been dry for a while, it’s likely to be very thirsty, and will drink your conditioner down very quickly. Don’t be fooled – if you give your leather too much conditioner at once, it will likely choke, as the pores become so full with conditioner that no more is able to penetrate – causing anything more you apply to be stranded on the surface, usually developing into a residue or film. Go easy, and pace yourself. Your leather might need several conditioning sessions over the course of a few days before your conditioner has time to penetrate and settle into the fibers completely, but you should notice the texture on your leather gradually improve. Depending on the conditioner you use, your conditioner should help to disguise the cracks in the leather’s surface and blend the leather’s color together, until it looks and feels brand new.
It’s also a good idea to keep your leather out of environments of extreme heat, or places where it will endure exposure to prolonged, direct sunlight. In the latter case, this can be difficult to avoid, especially for car and motorcycle leather. Fortunately, several brands of conditioners contain UV-resistant properties, so this feature is an important thing to look out for when maintaining auto leather.
For more tips on caring for auto leather or any other kind of leather you might have, feel free to drop us any questions you like at LeatherMilk.com. Best Wishes!