As you have no doubt realized from your research, there is a lot of debate online and in-person regarding the best leather treatment, moisturizer and softener for baseball gloves and mitts. And of course, rampant, are all the age-old “secrets”.
The number one issue is differentiating between products that use only the best ingredients in their formula and those that use some good ingredients and some bad in their formula. The challenge is to find a leather treatment that includes all good and NO bad.
How do you do that?
You must weed out the leather treatments with ingredients that have bad side-effects, which usually include damage to delicate stitching and tendency to promote rancidity. Chemicals and petroleum-based ingredients break leather down efficiently and are great for softening leather, but they are hard on the stitching. Common vegetable oils, often used, promote biological growth.
So, which ingredients avoid these two main problems:
Pure Lanolin: the reason why Big League ball players have been rubbing shaving cream on their mitts for a long time. Derived from sheared sheep’s wool, this wax is a strong moisturizer or emollient. It replicates the natural oils of animal skin, softening the leather skin and preventing drying. It has water-repellent, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Lanolin is so effective at retaining moisture on animal skin that it has become a very popular ingredient in human skin creams and lip balms, while it's medicinal properties (antimicrobial and disinfectant) have made it common in topical creams for burns, acne, and others. It's even FDA-approved for chewing gum!
The problem in trying to use “Lanolin” is that it is often mixed (such as shaving cream) with chemicals and soap. A second reality is that the high cost of quality lanolin has caused shaving cream manufacturers to substitute it with other materials. What you should look for are treatments that use pure anhydrous Lanolin without the chemicals.
Beeswax: a substance secreted by worker honeybees from glands on the underside of their abdomens and is used for the construction of the honeycomb. It is far superior to more common barrier creams like petroleum jelly which contain chemicals that damages stitching. Beeswax is an excellent emollient (moisturizer) for softening and moisturizing the thick, rigid leather of any baseball mitt. It's anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic and a germicidal antioxidan . It also acts as a natural water-proofer, with natural SPF properties that protect leather baseball gloves from the outside environment.
Avocado Oil: it is nature’s skin moisturer emollient because of its ability to retain water. Many people, including the ancient Mayan and Inca, rubbed raw avocados on their skin to soothe and soften it. Along came the Spanish conquistadors, and as the legend goes, pressed the avocados into oils and used it to treat their leather. What makes oil derived from avocados really special is their antioxidant properties (Vitamin E), known to eliminate free radicals from the skin, as well as their fat absorption qualities that help produce skin collagen which slows the aging/deterioration of animal skin. And everybody knows about the healthy Omega-3's (fatty acids) of the avocado, which are highly effective at protecting animal skin from UV solar radiation, drying and long-term damage.
Cocoa Butter: made from the beans of the cocoa tree, native to Central and South America. High in triglycerides of fatty acids (saturated fat), it acts as a strong emollient or moistuzizer. It also contains natural antioxidants (Vitamin E) that helps animal skin fight off free radicals, which lead to premature aging and deterioration. It is also a natural preservative and SPF. Cocoa butter is one of the most effective and beloved skin conditoners for humans for those traits. Less common in leather treatment, mainly due to its high cost, cocoa butter is pure goodness for all things leather, especially baseball mitts.
Coconut Oil: perhaps the most popular natural animal skin moisturizer. It is the one crossover ingredient that appears in both mass-marketed, chemical skin conditioners and boutique, expensive organic skin conditioners. It has two properties every producer loves: it's highly effective as an emollient and exfoliant AND it's inexpensive.
You will rarely see these premium ingredients in a baseball glove leather treatment because they are expensive. They are normally reserved by most manufacturers for high-end human skin treatment. But not Free the Powder! We use them exclusively in our Leather Treatment. Learn more