What can beat the luxury of leather or the affordability and easy care of well-made faux leather? Products that nourish the beauty and longevity of these deservedly popular coverings are always in demand. Whether the items that are covered are clothing, furniture, or accessories, the look of leather remains popular from generation to generation.

The three keys to keeping both leather and synthetic leather looking their best are protecting, cleaning, and conditioning. Both types of coverings benefit from conscientious handling, and the possibilities for cleaning and conditioning are widely varied. Creams, balms, butters, liquids, and polishes are all good options for leather and faux leather care. The diversity of options in product texture creates opportunities to generate signature products for your brand’s range. The optimum healthy-looking glow for both leather and faux leather comes from maintaining the outer layers and adding only ingredients that will benefit the covering and help it to last for many years.

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At Koster Keunen, we understand that diverse consumer needs demand carefully formulated products that offer the benefits your customers are looking for. We have created the following example formulas to showcase the myriad ways in which our waxes and emulsifiers work to your advantage within formulations, both basic and complex.

Caring for Leather: Looking Great, Old or New

Whether the leather is top of the line full grain, top grain, or one of the lesser grades, the look says leather, and consumers want to keep it in good shape over time. Koster Keunen understands how waxes feature in maintaining leather’s appearance and durability.

Saddle soap is a true soap, a classic product made specifically for cleaning leather goods. Centuries of saddles have been maintained this way, and the beeswax that gives the formula viscosity and structure also acts as a natural film former. When dry, rubbing with a soft cloth brings out the glow that this formulation imparts. Choose the beeswax for its yellow or white color, or choose one that suits your brand’s message, from sustainable to organic.

Formula#: 8/21-421-15A

Ingredient Trade Name %
Phase A  
Deionized Water  57.95
Disodium EDTA  0.05
Glycerin  4.0
Sodium Hydroxide  2.0
Optiphen  1.0
Phase B   
Stearic Acid  15.0
Beeswax 10.0
Hydrogenated Tallow Glycerides  7.0
Lipomulse 165  3.0

Polished shoes put the finish on an outfit. Leather shoes require care that shows off their quality and classic shoe polish delivers with waxes to shine and waterproof. Paraffin and microcrystalline waxes—hard waxes with excellent film-forming properties—deliver the sleek shine while binding the pigment to keep the leather looking its best.

Formula#: 10/22-175/140-1

Ingredient Trade Name %
Phase A   
Paraffin 160/165  25.0
Microcrystalline Wax 170/180  10.0
T-3 Carnauba Wax  2.0
Lilac Alkanes 25.0
Phase B   
Isostearic Acid 10.0
Nigrosine 5.0
Phase C   
Toluene 23.0

Ease of use takes center stage in this example formula. Leather Milk flows easily from a pump or squeeze bottle. The formulation utilizes the unique properties of Permulgin D, an emulsifier that was developed expressly to handle the most difficult systems and uses it to enhance the smooth spreadability of this conditioning leather treatment. Cocoa butter provides recognizable creamy emollience, bringing your label the appeal of this natural plant butter with its pleasantly rich scent.

Formula#: 10/22-164/165-4

Ingredient Trade Name %
Phase A   
Deionized Water 86.7
Glycerin 3.0
Pemulen TR-2 0.1
Triethanolamine 0.1
Kathon CG 0.1
Phase B   
Permulgin D  2.0
Peg-12 Carnauba Wax  2.0
Cocoa Butter  2.0
Dermol IPP (Isopropyl Palmitate) 4.0

Faux Leather: Helping It Go the Distance

Consumers who choose faux leather want their purchase to last and to look its best throughout its life. While a good quality conditioner made for leather could generally be safely used on most faux leathers, consumers appreciate companies that provide a product expressly made for faux leather’s unique construction. The following example formulation showcases ingredients that make faux leather look great, while creating a pleasant experience for the user. Ozokerite-70, builds viscosity and adds the film-forming properties that assist in waterproofing and giving a glossy finish. The addition of all-natural Bayberry Wax enhances the formulation with a signature scent and label appeal.

Formula#: 10/22-838/109-6

Ingredient Trade Name %
Phase A   
Ozokerite 70  25.0 
Emulsifying Wax  3.0 
Bayberry Wax  3.0 
Octocrylene  0.5 
White Mineral Oil  43.5 
Lilac Alkanes  25.0 

Every generation finds new ways to love the look of leather. Your product lines can be part of sustaining the beauty of leather and faux leather products for decades to come. While the optimal care formulations may differ, the right waxes ensure their good looks last. If you have formulation questions or would like to explore options that include more sustainable ingredients, please contact us.

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About Koster Keunen

Koster Keunen has been working with wax since 1852 and has used our extensive experience and knowledge base to continuously develop new chemistries. Whether you are developing a new product, or need help with a reformulation or replacement, contact us to learn more about how we source, refine or develop waxes so you can create the perfect formula.