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I found a neat little trick while experimenting with ways to darken leather. I own an old pair of brown leather shoes that had grown weathered and faded over time, and I decided that I would freshen it up a bit.
At first I tried skin moisturizing lotion, which managed to fill in the surface cracks (micro cracks). It had the intended effect of softening the leather as well, but it wasn’t exactly what I had been looking for. While wet, the leather appeared to have gotten slightly darker, but after the lotion had dried, the shoes reverted back to their original color.
Then I tried WD-40. I’m not sure why I had thought this would have worked, but I gave it a shot anyways. It didn’t work at all. As a side note, the WD-40 did make the shoes water repellent. I will have to re-do this in the winter when the weather starts getting wet again. If you do this with your shoes, make sure not to let any WD-40 come into contact with plastic surfaces. Also, avoid getting any WD-40 on any part of the shoes with glue on them. The WD-40 will cause the plastics to degrade and it will cause the glues to come apart.
Then I tried grapeseed oil. It was a choice between canola oil and grapeseed, but since grapeseed oil is scentless, I used grapeseed. It worked. It didn’t leave a scent, and the shoes are a whole lot darker now compared to before.
The top strip was what the color looked like indoors in the beginning. Outdoors, it was a super bright mustard color. After using grapeseed oil, the shoes turned a nice dark brown color, with almost a slight hint of red, and it was magnificent. When the grapeseed oil dried it did not leave behind a glossy sheen, which is exactly what I wanted. I liked it a lot.
Outdoors, it is similarly dark as it is indoors. Maybe the grapeseed oil caused the surface to become less reflective. Or maybe I’m just biased. It has been 2 months already and I haven’t noticed any adverse effects with grapeseed yet.
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