A Simple & Effective Guide of Genuine Leather

real leather gloves

Genuine leather is leather made from animal skins. Genuine leather is a quality material that used to make clothes, shoes, handbags, gloves, car seats and much more. How much do you know about genuine leather? Let’s learn about leather with Bessteven~!

What is genuine leather?

Genuine leather is the raw hide from cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, deer or other animals, which is tanned and processed by leather factories to make leather materials with various characteristics, strength, feel, colour and pattern, and is a necessary material for modern leather products. Cowhide, sheepskin and pigskin are the most commonly used leather materials.

What are the processes of genuine leather?

Raw hides – soaking – fleshing – degreasing – dehairing – soda dipping – swelling – de-ashing – softening – acid dipping – tanning – dissecting – chipping – retanning – neutralising – dyeing and oiling – filling – drying – tidying – lether finishing – finished leather.

What is grain leather and split leather?

Grain leather is cattle, sheep or pig leather with a grain surface, which has natural scars and bloodstain marks, occasional knife wounds from processing and a very underutilised belly area. Full grain hides can be distinguished from animal hides by the thickness and density of the pores. There are many different types of cow hides, such as cow hides, beef hides, grazing hides, cow hides, bull hides, uncastrated bull hides and castrated bull hides. The pores of sheepskin are finer and more dense and a bit more sloping, there are two main types of sheepskin and goatskin. Pig skins are easy to distinguish because the long hairs are distributed in small handfuls of 3 to 5. Hog skins are most often used in captivity, followed by wild boar skins, such as the famous South American wild boar. This type of skin has the distinctive pores and grains of pigskin and, thanks to its special collagen fibre structure, can be processed into very soft garment leather or glove leather, which is highly valued. In addition, ostrich skin, crocodile skin, short-nosed crocodile skin, lizard skin, snake skin, bullfrog skin, seawater fish skin (there are shark skin, cod skin, slate skin, eel skin, pearl fish skin, etc.), freshwater fish skin (there are grass carp, carp skin and other scaled fish skin), fox skin with hair (silver fox skin, blue fox skin, etc.), wolf skin, dog skin, rabbit skin, etc. can be easily identified, and these animals do not have split leather.

Split leather is a two-layer part with loose fibre tissue, which is sprayed with chemical materials or covered with PVC or PU film.

So, a good way to distinguish between grain leather and split leather is to observe the density of the fibres in the longitudinal section of the leather. grain leather consists of a dense and thin layer of fibres and a slightly looser overlayer that is closely linked to it. It can only be used to make leather products after being sprayed with chemical materials or polished.

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What are the characteristics of genuine leather?

Breathability: permeable to perspiration

Durability: scientifically tested to withstand up to 2.5 kg per square metre of leather

Thermal insulation: some skins can withstand temperatures of 120-160°C and cold resistance of -50-60°C

How to identify genuine leather?

Touch: that is, touch the surface of the leather with your hands, such as a smooth, soft, plump, elastic feeling is real leather; and general synthetic leather surface astringent, poor softness.

Look: genuine leather surface has clearer pores, patterns. Cowhide has more proportional fine pores, goatskin has fish scale pores.

Smell: genuine leather has a faint leather scent; artificial leather generally has a more irritating plastic smell.

Ignite: Tear off a bit of fibre from the back of real leather and artificial leather and ignite it, where a pungent smell is emitted and lumps are formed is artificial leather; where a hairy smell is emitted and no lumps are formed is genuine leather.

What is recycled leather?

Recycled leather is made from the residual leather or trimmings of various animals that have been crushed and processed with chemical materials. The characteristics of recycled leather are neat edges, high utilisation rate and low price; however, this leather is generally thicker and less strong, and is only suitable for the production of low-priced briefcases, trolley bags, cue covers and other shaped craft products and low-priced belts, whose longitudinal section has a uniform fibre organisation and can identify the solidification effect of mixed fibres of fluids.

What are the main factors that affect the quality of leather?


Strong sunlight exposure will cause the moisture and oils in the leather to evaporate, the leather will become stiff and cracked, and the surface of the leather will fade or discolour.


The closer to the surface temperature of the body, the better the physical and chemical properties of the leather. When the temperature is too high, the leather will expand internally, which will lead to deformation, blistering, fading and dulling of the lustre. When the temperature is too low, the leather tends to become hard and brittle, with poor elasticity.


High humidity may lead to mouldy leather

Insect infestation

Genuine leather retains the smell of animal skin collagen and is susceptible to insect infestation and the formation of cavities.


Perspiration, stains and water stains can cause a degree of contamination to the leather, the longer it is, the less easy it is to deal with.

How to care for leather products?

. Avoid high temperatures, heavy pressure, humidity, scuffing, mildew and acidic environments.

. Remove dust from the surface of the leather with a dry towel dampened with water and wrung out, once a week.

. For stains on leather, blot with a clean, damp sponge using an appropriate amount of warm, special cleaning oil (detergent) to avoid fading or contaminating other items. After removing the stain, allow it to air dry. The detergent should be tried in an inconspicuous corner of the leather before official use.

. If you spill a drink on the leather, you should immediately soak up the liquid with a clean cloth or sponge and wipe with a damp cloth, allowing it to dry naturally, never with a hairdryer.

. If you get grease on the leather, wipe it off with a cloth and let the remaining grease dissipate naturally or clean with detergent, not water.

Need more information? Talk with Bessteven!