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Skidmore's Leather Cream Review

Below: A container of Skidmore's Leather Cream.

Skidmore's Leather Cream container


After a few early years of not taking the time to properly care for our leather - and then watching our expensive leather items die a premature death - we have become regular users of leather conditioners and water proofers. We use them on all kinds of leather goods: Boots, spur straps, chaps, saddles, headstalls, reins, and more.

Our favorite "go to" product for years has been Skidmore's Leather Cream. It's always worked great for us as a leather conditioner and restorer, but we were curious to know if it repelled water well enough all on its own or if we really needed to follow it with a waterproofing product like the company suggests.

So, we dug out our box of leather scraps then assembled three of our favorite leather conditioning/waterproofing products:

Next, we performed three tests of applying the different products to separate pieces of leather, then soaking the leather in water.

Caution! Some leather conditioners and/or water proofers might change the color or (in some cases) the texture of leather. This is true for a wide variety of leather, but is particularly true of certain types such as roughout.

Use any leather conditioners and/or water proofers on your own leather at your own risk.

The Tests

We realize our tests were far from scientific, but we did our best to be consistent and fair to each product.

 Waterproofing Test Number 1

This was a short test where we treated each piece of leather with a different product (except for the control piece which was untreated), gave it time to absorb, then soaked the leather pieces in water for five minutes.

Below: After five minutes the untreated leather gained 33% of its weight in water. The other pieces of leather stayed the same.

Graph showing review results with Skidmore's Leather Cream


Skidmore's Leather Cream, at least for this short test, held it's own with the waterproofing products. Skidmore's Leather Cream is described by the company as a conditioner and restorer but the label clearly says it makes leather water resistant, not waterproof. And yet, for this short test, it did a great waterproofing job.

Waterproofing Test Number 2

This was a longer test where we treated each piece of leather with a different product (except for the control piece which was untreated), gave it time to absorb, then soaked the leather pieces in water for one hour.

Below: After a one hour soak all of the leather pieces had gained a considerable amount of water, but the Skidmore's Leather Cream piece gained the least.

Graph showing Skidmore's Leather Cream is the winner


The Skidmore's Leather Cream surprised us by being the winner. Remember, this is a product the maker describes as water resistant, not waterproof. We feel it did a very respectable job by gaining 62.50% of its weight in water. Yes, that's a lot, but it still out performed the two waterproofing products.

Waterproofing Test Number 3

In this test each piece of leather received two coats of its respective product. There was also an additional piece that was treated with one coat of Skidmore's Leather Cream followed by one coat of Skidmore's Waterproofing. There was still a control (untreated) piece, and each coating of product was allowed time to absorb. The leather pieces were then soaked in water for 15 minutes.

Below: The bar on the far right shows that Skidmore's Leather Cream followed by Skidmore's Waterproofing definitely performed the best.

Graph showing results from a leather waterproofing product test


The clear winner was the piece of leather that was first treated with Skidmore's Leather Cream followed by a separate coat of Skidmore's Waterproofing. This is what many manufacturers of these products recommend (conditioner followed by a water proofer), and it did perform the best for us.


Skidmore's Leather Cream Is Great Stuff

This stuff not only does a great job conditioning leather, it worked surprisingly well in our tests for waterproofing, too.

For Waterproofing, Skidmore's Leather Cream Followed By A Waterproofing Product Worked Best Of All

For the best waterproofing protection Skidmore's Leather Cream followed by Skidmore's Waterproofing gave us the best results.

Yea, we know. That's what all those product labels, your local saddle maker, and probably your mom, have been telling us all along: For the best waterproofing use a leather conditioner followed by a water proofer. And they're right.

PS - Why Is Water Bad For Leather?

The reason water isn't good for leather is simple: When a raw hide is processed and turned into leather, one of the last steps in the process is called ”fatliquoring.” During this step lubricants that are essential to leather's softness, flexibility, strength, and longevity are infused into the freshly-tanned hide.

Later on, if the finished leather product gets wet, water bonds to these lubricants and lifts them to the surface of the leather where they evaporate. After the leather has dried it feels stiffer and isn't as strong because some of the lubricants infused into it have been lost.

This is why it's so important to take care of leather. Using a good leather conditioner (followed by a waterproofing product if the leather is subjected to the elements) can go a long way to prevent loss of essential lubricants, and can help restore them after they have been lost. Proper care helps to keep leather soft, supple, and strong.

PPS - About Those Product Labels

Skidmore's Leather Cream Has Three Different Labels

According to the company the Leather Cream, the Leather Cream Biker Edition, and the Restoration Cream are all the exact same product with different-looking labels. Apparently, it's a marketing thing. (By the way, the Restoration Cream label is for people shopping for a wood-care product. In case you didn't know, this stuff is great for wood, too.)

Below: Skidmore's Leather Cream with the "regular" label. They also have a Biker's Edition label and a Restoration Cream label, but it's all the same product.

Skidmore's Leather Cream container

Skidmore's Waterproofing Has Two Different Labels

Once again, according to the company these are the same products with different-looking labels.

Below: The top of a container of Skidmore's Beeswax Waterproofing with the "regular" label. The also have a Biker's Edition label but it's still the same product.

Skidmore's Waterproofing container

Skidmore's Leather Cream and Skidmore's Waterproofing Have Labels That Look A Lot Alike

We'd like to mention that Skidmore's Leather Cream and Skidmore's Waterproofing have labels with a similar look and it's easy to grab the wrong one by mistake. We've even seen some online sellers offering the leather cream for sale, but are showing an image of the waterproofing (and vice versa). When shopping for these products don't get the wrong one by mistake!

Ray Holes Waterproofing Also Has Two Different Labels

According to the company website, these are the exact same product. Cowboys and cowgirls tend to pick up the Chap Wax label, while hikers, bikers, and hunters seem to prefer the Dri-Boot label.

Below: A container of Ray Holes Waterproofing with the "Chap Wax" label. They also have a "Dri-Boot" label that is the same product.

Chap Wax by Roy Holes container 


We love Skidmore's. It is our personal favorite for conditioning leather. It also does a good job of waterproofing on its own, and even better when followed by an actual water proofing agent.

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