We're often being asked what brand of leather conditioner to use for antique leather and exotics like python, and we haven't had enough experience to recommend any one of them, until maybe now...
** I apologize in advance for not having Before pictures, I didn't think of making this a blog post til part way through**
We recently had the unique opportunity of being able to test 3 brands, side by side, on the exact same style and color of jacket. We have some antiqued sheep leather and python jackets that were manufactured in high humidity and packaged without silicon packets, and got extremely moldy. They subsequently got cleaned and hung up to try to get the smell out, and then forgotten about completely for a whole winter.
For the cleaning we normally use Dr Bronners (1tsp-1qt warm water) with a washcloth wrung out to be damp not wet. It's what we commonly have on hand and works great for anything (like playa dust), but the deepest stains need a bit more love and specialized cleaners. Another great product for this is Leather Honey Leather Cleaner
Fast forward to spring, and these sad crusty jackets need some love, but on the upside, the smell is now gone. We went to the local Tandy Leather and they recommended both Dr Jacksons Hide Rejuvinator, and NaturGlo, so we bought both to check them out.
The internet recommended Leather Honey so we reached out to them for more info about whether they're good to use on antiqued leather or exotics, the nice lady said it might darken the leather a bit and would graciously send us a sample so we could check it out for ourselves.
NaturGlo: $9.99 for 4 oz, was $24 (!!), now that we're actually writing this it looks like it's being discontinued. Smells like a salon and looks like a hand cream
Dr Jacksons Hide Rejuvenator $12.99 for 6 oz: Super thick paste like shoe polish, smells quite bovine, might actually have cow fat in it to replace the oils naturally.
Leather Honey $17.95 for 8 oz super viscous, clear, mostly odorless liquid. Smells vaguely of school glue.
The operating instructions for most leather conditioners are mostly the same, use a clean, dry cloth (we used the microfiber cloth included in our sample pack from Leather Honey), apply to a clean leather item, wait some time, preferably overnight, and then wipe down with clean cloth to get any residual gunk off.
NaturGlo: The jacket is still fairly crusty, this stuff is going in the garbage. Smells nice though...
Dr Jacksons Hide Rejuvenator This immediately leaves the leather softer than the other 2, the bovine smell is reduced to a fresh leathery smell, but still there a bit. Doesn't darken the leather as much as Leather Honey does.
Leather Honey Easy to apply, you definitely don't need much of it. This is an economical choice for sure. Softens leather nicely, but darkens it a bit more than Dr Jacksons does. Both the python and the leather are a bit shinier now than the Dr Jacksons. No noticeable smell.
--All the conditioners darkened the leather somewhat, Leather Honey darkened it the most, and then NaturGlo, and then Dr Jacksons only darkened it somewhat--
24 hours later:
NaturGlo: yup, still crap.
Dr Jacksons Hide Rejuvenator still nice and soft, darkened the python a little bit, but overall a great product. Smell has dissipated quite a bit.
Leather Honey Got softer as time went on, the darkness of the leather still stayed. No smell at all.
NaturGlo: Going in the garbage. Not even worth clearance prices. The lovely smell in no way makes up for the product.
Dr Jacksons Hide Rejuvenator nice to use, easy to apply. The smell is a bit of a turnoff but mostly dissipates over 24 hrs time. Just as good as the leather honey, I will use again. Price per ounce is pretty much the same as Leather Honey so I guess it just comes down to availability in your area, and this is also a good choice if you don't want your leather to get overly dark.
Leather Honey Nice to use, easy to apply. Nice customer service, and I will use again. Price is the same as Dr Jacksons, but I'd probably pick these guys again over Dr Jacksons purely based on my customer service experience, and the time it takes their smell to dissipate. I'd also pick this because I don't mind the color changing a little bit.