Leather can be glossy or matt. Which is best depends on individual preference and also the purpose of the item. Modern leather car interiors are usually matt, while most leather shoes tend to be very glossy. However, friction from daily use can make matt leather shiny. In cars, this is particularly noticeable in the driver’s seat.

The good news is that restoring a leather matt finish can be done. You can also change the look from gloss to matt, or vice versa. Here’s how.

How to alter gloss or matt finish on leather

To remove some gloss from pigmented leather we recommend cleaning the surface with Colourlock Strong Leather Cleaner and a Colourlock Leather Cleaning Brush. This process will take some of the gloss off. If cleaning the leather achieves the desired degree of dullness, we advise you to apply Colourlock Leather Protector to maintain the leather and retain the finish.  

If you still need to bring down the shine on your leather item, you should degrease the surface using Colourlock Leather Cleaning Spirit after following the cleaning process described above. The cleaning spirit will dull the surface of the leather completely, so it might be necessary to use the Colourlock Leather Protector or Colourlock Leather Shield (for newer leather) to bring some of the gloss back. Make sure you don’t buff or polish the surface when applying these products to avoid making the surface glossier.

Ideally, you will be able to achieve the desired finish with the above options. However, if these didn’t produce the correct level of gloss, you can apply Colourlock Leather Fresh Neutral Gloss or Colourlock Leather Fresh Neutral Dull, depending on the finish required. These products can alter the level of gloss or matt on the surface. It is always easier to turn matt glossy, than remove the shine. If you would like to make shiny leather less glossy, we advise you to contact a specialist, particularly for large areas, as the product could leave visible marks when applied at home. A leather professional will be able to spray the product on more evenly for a uniform result. If you would like to commission them, please contact us by email and we will assist you. 

If you are attempting to do this yourself, it is very important to follow the instruction for each product, and the process as explained here to ensure you achieve a good result.

Firstly, degrease the area thoroughly with Colourlock Leather Cleaning Spirit. Apply it with a clean cloth in order to remove any traces of fat or grease on the leather surface.

After this, apply Colourlock Leather Fresh Neutral on the required level of gloss. This can be applied lightly with a sponge, or a spray gun for a more even finish. 

We recommend protecting the leather with Colourlock Leather Shield for new dull leather. Older leather should be protected with Colourlock Leather Protector. The Colourlock Elephant Leather Preserve is one of our best selling products - it is great for protecting and maintaining glossy leather. Please be aware that applying too much product could make the surface very glossy. Don't try to remove it by polishing it as that again will bring more gloss to the surface. Instead, use a lightly wet cloth to remove the excess product. 

And to end this article, a bit of science! When inspected under a microscope, you can see the level of gloss on a piece of leather. These images show cross-sections of leather as seen under the microscope. Matt leather (images 1 and 2) has sharper deeper edges, and it is their reflection of the light and shadows that creates the dull effect. The smoother the surface, the less shadows reflected, and hence it looks shinier (images 3 and 4). This explains why polishing or buffing leather makes it shiny!

Matt Leather cross-sectionGloss Leather cross-section