Is It Leather

How to tell the difference between real and fake leather

How do you know whether the item you just purchased, whether it’s a pair of designer shoes, a jacket, a handbag, or even a new car, contains real or fake leather? We have to admit, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Real leather can be heavily corrected by buffing, pigmentation, and embossing to hide defects, while synthetic leather can be so technologically advanced that it can trick you into thinking it’s actually real leather. Here are a few tests you can do yourself to help determine whether you are dealing with authentic or faux leather.
Inspect the tag
Check the tag/product information. If it is real, It may say “genuine” or “real” leather. It may also identify the grain type such as top grain or full grain leather. On the other hand, watch out for common fake leather terms such as faux leather, vegan leather, PU leather, pleather, imitation leather, man-made leather and leatherette, as well as any confusing terms that appear to just be fancy marketing.
Feel The Leather’s Surface

Real leather should feel a bit bumpy, thick, and high quality with some real substance to it. Fake leather often feels artificial, stiff, and cold. When you apply pressure at the surface with your finger, real leather will stretch and wrinkle, whereas your finger will simply depress the surface of synthetic leather, and it will retain its rigidity and shape. 

If you can, twist the leather gently. If the color changes slightly and you see wrinkles, it’s probably genuine. If no wrinkles appear and there is no change of color, it’s probably fake. Real leather is naturally flexible.

Lighter test

The lighter test is one of the more effective ways to tell if leather is real or not. When held over a lighter’s flame real leather is resistant to burning. It may darken or damage the material but should not catch on fire quickly.

Artificial leather, on the other hand, will likely catch fire quickly and may even burn a hole in the material when the lighter test is conducted.

Warning Disclaimer:  Only try this test on products you are willing to possibly damage and follow proper fire safety protocol. is not responsible for any damages caused by irresponsible use.

Pinch Test

Real Leather is typically heftier than synthetic materials, as it is the hide of an animal. It often measures 1.0-1.4 millimeters in thickness and should resist folding. Real leather is a more hearty and flexible material. When folded, it should return to its natural shape. Fake leather, on the other hand, is likely to be thin, stiff, and have more of a plastic or cardboard type of feel to it. When folded, it is likely to create a temporary wrinkle or impression in the material.

Inspect the backside

Viewing the backside of the material can be helpful for determining its authenticity. The backside of real leather has a rough, resistant, and suede like feel to it. It almost feels like a rug or shaved down carpet as it is resistant to run your fingers across it. 

The backside of fake leather may be fabric or some other synthetic material that is glued as opposed to being a natural suede.

Magnifying Glass Test

If you have a magnifying glass or a loupe, you can use it to inspect and help determine whether a material is real leather or synthetic. By closely examining the material, you should be more able to see imperfections and the natural pores. Real leather should have an inconsistent and imperfect look as it comes from the unique skin of an animal. The image attached is a close-up picture of real leather and helps to show what you want to look for.

Fake leather, on the other hand, is likely to be suspiciously uniform and flat and should not be three-dimensional.

Inspect The Pattern
Check the pattern of your material to help determine whether or not it is Real leather. Real Leather is unique, and no two hides are the same. This means that you can often spot irregularities and imperfections in leather that make it distinct. Its texture can vary from one hide to another, or even one part of a hide to another. Fake Leather, on the other hand, is often precisely uniform and has a consistent pattern to it. It is worth noting that technological advancements can make this test tough to tell.
Inspect the cross section
If you are able, take a look at the edge of the leather. The edges of real leather are rough and uneven, and look like they are frayed, whereas the edges of man-made leather appear clean-cut and close to perfect. In addition, real leather should be dyed all the way through, so you should see a lighter version of the topcoat’s color throughout the cross section. On the other hand, fake leather’s interior will appear layered, with a different color in the middle and bottom.
Smell test

Real leather comes from the hide of an animal and is often noted for it’s distinct “leather smell.” This test is not perfect but can sometimes help to determine authenticity. If the material has a unique natural and earthy smell to it, it is likely real leather. 

Fake Leather may have a less noticeable smell or it may smell more like chemicals depending on the materials used.

Trust your senses
If it looks good, feels good and smells good, it’s probably real leather. If it looks and acts like plastic, it probably isn’t!
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