How Sunlight Affects Leather

How Sunlight Affects Leather

Sunlight can take its toll on practically any fabric or garment, and leather is no exception. Leaving your leather jacket outside where it’s exposed to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays day after day will inevitably cause damage. This isn’t something that happens immediately, but constant exposure can and will damage your leather. To learn more about this phenomenon and how to prevent it, keep reading.

As you may already know, sunlight contains radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) light. This is the same light that’s largely responsible for triggering the formation of cancerous skin cells such as melanoma. UV light is inherently powerful, causing disturbances on a molecular level. But it doesn’t just affect our skin cells. It can also affect leather.

When leather is exposed to UV light over a prolonged length of time, its structure begins to change. The first thing you’ll likely notice is discoloration. The once dark, neutral color of leather will transform into a lighter, more faded color. If it’s exposed to sunlight for long enough, will turn almost white, with a slight tan coloring. This alone isn’t exactly a serious issue that’s going to damage your leather, but it’s just one of the many ways in which sunlight affects leather.

As leather remains exposed to UV light, it will begin to dry out. This is due to the fact that UV light evaporates the moisture from it. We’ve talked about this before on our blog, but it’s worth mentioning again that leather is incredibly porous, featuring thousands upon thousands of tiny pores that absorb and release moisture. Sunlight causes the moisture within these pores to literally evaporate into the air, leaving the leather feeling dry and weak.

Does this mean you should avoid wearing a leather jacket or other garments/accessories outside when it’s sunny? Not necessarily, but you should be conscious of where you store and keep your leather items. Leaving a leather jacket in your car seat, for instance, will allow the sunlight to beam down on it, causing it to dry out and even crack. Try to get into the habit of bringing your leather items indoors rather than storing them outside. Doing so will make a world of difference in preserving the look and integrity of your leather goods.