Ski Glove Leather Treatments, Conditioners and Balms: Guide to ingredients
The GOOD ingredients for leather ski glove treatments:
Pure Anhydrous (water-free) Lanolin: Derived from sheared sheep's wool, this wax is a strong emollient (moisturizer). It replicates the natural oils of animal skin, softening the leather 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!
Most negative perceptions of lanolin are rooted in previous generations of farmers using heavy pesticides around sheep grazing land, and mixing the lanolin with chemical compounds. Our lanolin is pure. Another negative arises when water is added to lanolin (hydrous lanolin), which often causes microbial growth. Our lanolin is anhydrous, which means it is 100% free of water. Learn more about lanolin
Beeswax: A substance secreted by worker honeybees from glands on the underside of their abdomens, used for the construction of honeycomb. The all natural, triple-filtered, pure yellow beeswax that we use comes from a small bee farm in Idaho. It is far superior to more common barrier creams like petroleum jelly, which contain chemicals that damage stitching. Beeswax is an excellent emollient for softening leather, and retaining moisture. It's anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic and a germicidal antioxidant. It also acts as a natural water-proofer, with natural SPF properties that protect leather from the outside environment. Because of the healing, softening, and antiseptic properties of natural beeswax, there is an endless list of human skin care lines that incorporate it.
Avocado Oil: Another excellent 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 goods. What makes avocado oil really special is its antioxidant properties (Vitamin E), known to eliminate free radicals from the skin, as well as its fat absorption qualities that help produce collagen in healthy skin, and slows the aging/deterioration of animal skin. Most everybody knows about the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids of the avocado for healthy nutrition, but those Omega-3's are also highly effective at protecting animal skin from UV solar radiation, drying, and long-term damage. Avocado oil has a high melting point, so it makes for a great choice for balms.
Cocoa Butter: Made from the beans of the cocoa tree, native to Central and South America. IT'S WHERE CHOCOLATE COMES FROM! High in triglycerides of fatty acids (saturated fat), it acts as a strong emollient. Like avocado oil it also contains natural antioxidants (Vitamin E) that help animal skin fight off free radicals, which lead to premature aging and deterioration. It is a natural preservative and SPF. Cocoa butter is one of the most effective and beloved skin conditioners for humans. Less common in leather treatment, mainly due to its high cost, cocoa butter is pure goodness for all things leather.
Coconut Oil: Perhaps the most popular natural moisturizer, it is the one crossover ingredient that appears in both mass-marketed, chemical skin conditioners and expensive boutique, organic skin conditioners. It has two properties every producer loves: it's highly effective as an emollient and exfoliant AND it's inexpensive. Just above room temperature, unrefined coconut oil is a liquid, which is great for lotions, but it's also commonly mixed with wax to create incredible balms for leather and lips.
Tahitian Manoi Oil: The "Sacred Oil of the Polynesians" is made from soaking Tahitian Gardenia (Manoi) flowers in coconut oil. The Manoi gives the coconut oil an extremely soft and supple texture, as well a million dollar scent of a beach in the South Pacific. I discovered its magical properties when my wife received an expensive gift bottle from Neiman Marcus. According to its disciples, "Manoi oil is unparalleled in its natural power to heal and repair the skin". My wife raved about it so much, I snuck some of hers and stuck it on my leather ski gloves. And wow, it worked wonders!
The SOMETIMES GOOD ingredients for leather ski glove treatments :
Olive Oil: It does almost everything good in terms of moisturizing (which is why humans use it on their skin), but there is a catch: it can develop bacteria and go rancid. That's not a problem on human skin if you bathe regularly, but on leather that is rarely washed with soap, it will become a problem.
"Neatsfoot Oil". Some rave about it, others say it deteriorates leather and damages stitching. There are two different Neatsfoot products on the market: 100% natural Neatsfoot Oil made the old-fashioned way (boiled cow hooves), and "Neatsfoot Oil Compound", which is a synthetic product. Neatsfoot Oil advocates are using old-fashioned natural Neatsfoot Oil, and those who say it damages leather and stitching have been disappointed by synthetic Neatsfoot Oil Compound.
The BAD ingredients for leather ski glove treatments :
Chemical-based compounds, often made from petroleum by-products. They are by far the most commonly used ingredients. But why? It's simple, they are very inexpensive to produce and they work very well for water sealing leather, but they have significant side-effects that better, more expensive ingredients do not.