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January 23, 2023 4 min read

by Moniqe Youzwa

Monique has been a full-time freelance writer for over 5 years, plus has a few fiction credits under her belt and is currently working on a novel. When not writing, she spends her time reading, playing video games, hiking, and camping with her husband and daughter.


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Leather is a strong, long-lasting material created from the hides of assorted animals. There are several types, including full grain, top grain, split grain, corrected grain, and bonded leather, which vary in quality and durability. Leather processing can also differ to create distinct results, from aniline to nubuck to metallic leather.

One popular option for those interested in extra protection is waxed leather, though not every consumer is familiar with this particular type. So, what is waxed leather? Let’s find out.

What is Waxed Leather

Waxed leather goes by a few names, including pull-up, oiled, or greased leather. It is created when an oil or wax finish is applied to a tanned hide. In some cases, the wax contains dyes that alter the color of the finished leather, though doing so risks color transfer if you’re not careful with your waxed leather products.

How Is Waxed Leather Made?

To make waxed leather, the hide first needs to be tanned. There arethree possible methods for this, chrome tanning, vegetable tanning, and chrome-free tanning. Though the processes aren’t identical in the tanning agents, timeframe, and environmental impact, they are all suitable options for making waxed leather.

After tanning, the wax is applied to the leather in one of two ways. Hot waxing involves applying the wax to soft, light leather, with the excess removed before the material is left to dry. For cold waxing, leather is given a wax coating and then buffed until it shines.

There are also a few options for the wax used to make this type of leather. Beeswax is pure and high-quality, though coconut oil or birch tree oil are also popular. All three are natural and safe for the environment.

How To Identify Waxed Leather

Waxed leather has a distinctive glossy look that stands out from other leather types. In fact, the shine of the leather is often mistaken for faux leather since it has a similar appearance. There are a few ways to tell them apart, though.

First, waxed leather has the same natural scent that leather is known for. It may feel slightly slippery but becomes softer and more supple over time. The wax on the leather can be scratched with a fingernail, leaving a noticeable mark, which can then be buffed out with a finger to eliminate the scrape. Though the wax coating offers some protection, the leather still absorbs moisture and is just as breathable as wax-less leather.

Where Waxed Leather Is Used

Waxed leather is used to make a variety of items, including shoes, belts, bags, and purses. It is also used for furniture, such as couches, chairs, and car seats, giving them a lovely shine and a layer of protection.

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Pros Of Waxed Leather

Waxed leather is more durable than other types of leather since the wax or oil applied to the material offers protection. With beeswax, leather maintains its shape, while oil resists dirt and moisture.

The wax can be scratched off easily, though a quick buff restores it to its former glory. Of course, those little wear spots also add a vintage look to the material, which many people find appealing. Even when dye is used in the wax, the leather maintains its rich, natural color and unique scent.

Cons Of Waxed Leather

Though the vintage look of worn leather is attractive, it also makes waxed leather look older than it is if not properly cared for. It takes time and effort to maintain the material, including the correct cleaning method and upkeep. If the wax contains dye, there is also the risk of color transfer, so you need to be careful to avoid accidentally staining your clothing or other items when using your waxed leather items.

Waxed leather

Final Word

Waxed leather offers a slick, glossy look that few other leather options can compare with. It is durable, breathable, and easy to care for. Even though the wax can be scraped off, a quick buff renews the finish while giving the leather an attractive vintage-like appearance. Best of all, waxed leather maintains the distinct scent and supple softness leather is known for.


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