How To Darken Leather Boots

by Jason Flores

We all like leather boots due to their style and durability. One of the common things done to make the old leather look fresh and change. Its style is darkening the leather. Darkening process, Various products in the market can be used for darken leather

If you are worried about how you should darken leather, we have provided you with the actionable method in this article which you can use. You need to understand first which product you need; what will be the effect of the chemical or treatment on your boot?

Different methods darken the leather differently. However, you need to pick the correct method if you want to darken your boots. Using the wrong product on your boot can ruin your shoes.

How To Darken Leather Boots
How To Darken Leather Boots

Leather Preparation for Darkening

Some leather fades with time and makes them look less attractive. To make it breathe again with fresh air, it must be cleaned and prepared well before using any method to darken it. The preparations include

Vacuum the leather or dust- The first step is to dust off all the dirt or dust from the leather surfaces. Use a medium-soft brush to do this; avoid developing scratches on the leather surface.

Clean the leather- Using your favorite soaps or chemical, dip in a soft cloth and try to wipe the leather. Ensure you have cleaned well. If you don't know, you can check our website. We have highlighted procedures for cleaning leather boots.

Allow the cleaned leather to dry- Let the cleaned boot dry naturally before you start the darkening process. A wet leather boot can't be darkened, and it will affect the leather material.

Effects of Using a Wrong Method to Darken Your Leather Boot

  • Scarring and discoloration of the leather
  • Hardening the leather in the boot
  • Rotting and bad odor caused by fungi and bacteria
  • Prone to dirt and dust
  • Seepage into the insoles
  • Frayed seams
  • Creasing and shrinkage
  • Increase the difficulty of using the products in future
  • The leather becomes rancid and falls apart entirely

How to effectively darken leather boots?

There are often situations when you need to repaint leather shoes. Maybe you don't like the color, maybe there is a lot of damage and minor defects, and maybe you just need to update the leather. In any case, the question arises - how to repaint leather shoes? After all, just buy shoe paint is not enough. Here's trying to figure out what to do to repaint shoes quality and for a long time.

To repaint leather shoes, it must be cleaned. Any paint, even the highest quality and professional, better to go on a perfectly clean and degreased surface. And it is not just a simple shoe wash or removal of coarse dirt, dust and mud. Shoes must also be cleaned of residues of creams, lotions, oil, grease, wax and previous layers of paint.

Shoe cleaners and paints Sapphire

Even shoes that have not yet been worn require careful cleaning. It is necessary to remove the protective layer from it and degrease it. This will ensure that the paint penetrates deeply and will make the paint more effective and last longer.

There are special cleaners for cleaning shoes before painting this. There are several products appropriate for this purpose. Some are suitable for products already painted or repainted, others for those that are still "untouched".

Some shoe paints come with a cleaner. For example, like Tarrago Color Dye Kit. This cleaner is good for removing dust and dirt. To remove old layers of paint, you will need something else, such as Saphir Decapant or Saphir Renomat.

After applying the cleaner, the shoes should be allowed to dry. After such a procedure, the leather should be matte. This indicates that it is really ready to be painted.

To darken leather boots, you need to follow some basic steps on the first place. Which are as follows:

Prepare everything you need in advance

  • Quality shoe paint has a strong staining effect. This is understandable, because no one wants to face the same problem as repaint leather shoes in a week. But it stains not only shoes, but also all around, as well as the one who works with it.
  • Tarrago shoe cleaners and paintsSo take care that all areas that may come into contact with the paint are well insulated. Wear gloves on your hands. If possible - do the painting process outside the living room or fence off the workplace, as some types of paints penetrate well into any surface.
  • Before painting shoes - shake the paint, so that the color is homogeneous. Prepare all the necessary accessories: a sponge, a brush or a cloth to apply the paint.
  • Apply the paint evenly, avoiding runs, without pauses. That is, you cannot paint the heel first, then distract, then finish painting the toe part. When applying paint to the whole surface of the shoe - do it all at once, in one go. Then take a break to allow the medium to absorb well, and repeat the procedure. For maximum effect the paint should be rubbed in well and applied in several thin layers.
  • The shoe paint should be applied in a circular motion. Before applying the next layer, make sure that the previous one has dried well completely.

Choose the right product

Aiming to repaint leather shoes - clearly define the effect you want to achieve. This determines the choice of paint. Some models allow you to repaint shoes in darker tones, others merely enhance the color of the leather, and some can dramatically change the color of leather goods.

We suggest that you pay attention to several products that are suitable for the repainting of leather shoes:

  • Tarrago Color Dye Kit - allows you to repaint shoes even a lighter color, resistant, creates a water repellent effect, does not crack;
  • Saphir Dye Teinture Francaise - allows you to repaint shoes in a darker color, creates a strong staining effect, does not wash off with water.
  • Tarrago Quick Color - allows you to repaint shoes and also restores the damaged upper layer of leather.

But repainting shoes is not everything. After your shoes have been successfully repainted, they need to be cared for. As a rule, the paint takes a few hours to dry. After it has completely dried, the shoes should be treated with cream, balm, shoe oil. If necessary, polish them with a horsehair brush or sponge. To keep the color as long as possible, use creams with a dye pigment.

You can repaint leather shoes in a shoe repair shop or atelier. Or you can do it yourself. We hope that the above tips are useful and your shoes will enjoy their excellent appearance as long as possible.

According to most shoe restoration professionals, the only correct way to paint and repaint shoes is to use penetrating paint and then create a finish with creams and waxes. We couldn't agree more, because unlike working with concealer, there is no risk of peeling or "cracking" when using liquid penetrating paint. In addition, the very notion of "penetrating" implies that the dye is absorbed into the structure of the skin, so the end result looks more natural.

This tutorial is based on the experience of the creator of the Aqatellier blog (original article). It is the experience of an ordinary person and not at all a professional in shoe care. The author achieved an acceptable result using only a few Saphir products. Repeating such steps will be possible for everyone directly at home.

To paint with penetrating paint you will need:

  • Saphir Teinture.
  • Saphir Decapant
  • Saphir Renovateur
  • Saphir Pommadier
  • Saphir Pate de Luxe
  • Brush for dyeing

Always try to have them at your disposal beige colored high boots. After several months the color had faded and in some places the leather showed a natural, crusty hue. Here we are providing a step-by-step guide to darken your leather boots at home:

Step 1: Removing the dye

First, try to use Saphir Decapant to remove the top layer of paint. There is a lot of advice on the internet that acetone or gasoline might be suitable for this purpose, but according to experts, such a treatment is extremely detrimental to the skin. The advantage of Saphir Decapant is the balance between the ability to remove dyes without negatively affecting the skin.

Then, wrap a cotton cloth around your finger (wear rubber gloves beforehand) and soak a small area in the solvent. After that, try to rub the remover in a circular motion into the surface of the shoe, but over time only a small portion of the paint was able to come off. Then follow the advice of one of the forum participants, that you can use the back side of the knife wrapped in a cotton cloth. It really worked - you can quickly scrape the paint off that way.

Waxa Shop comment: Saphir Decapant is effective at removing some paint, but not all. We recommend using the finest emery cloth to effectively remove the paint "to bare paint".

Shoes after paint removal: Left the shoes to dry for a day. The next step was to paint.

Step 2: Painting with penetrating dye

You should us two packages of Saphir Teinture dye. One in dark blue 06 or the other in blue 23.

The original plan is to mix 4 parts blue and 1 part dark blue for the base coat and 1 part blue and 1 part dark blue for the patina.

The instructions on the package were confusing: according to it you need at least 100 ml of dye for high boots. Since you only have 100 ml at my disposal, not enough dye for patination.

Therefore, you should try to go the safe way and paint the shoes a single color, making a 1:1 mixture of each color.

Using a paint brush, make a test dab on the newspaper. As it turned out, Teinture dye has a very liquid consistency, just like water. Then apply the first layer on the shoes, trying not to overlap the strokes and, consequently, not a different shade of blue.

Applying the first coat of penetrating shoe paint evenly.

Shoe painted in one coat and unpainted.

The first coat is applied. Protect some areas from accidental staining with paper tape.

And then the final coat.

A total of 5 coats should be applied and you may end up with another 25ml left! Do stop at 5 coats because you should be happy with the color and applying subsequent coats would have changed the shade to an even darker color. In hindsight, If you could have followed the original plan and tried patination, then 2-3 coats is more than enough, and therefore the paint would have been more than enough.

Step 3: Reserve Patination

After leaving the shoes to dry overnight, try a special patination method in which certain parts of the shoe are treated with Saphir Decapant. The result is that these areas are lighter in color and look composed. Justin from shoesnob describes this method as "backup patination." The top of the boot is treated with Decapant to achieve a light patination.

Step 4: Creating the finish

Having achieved a satisfactory result, you should treat the shoe with Saphir Renovateur Balm and leave it for half a day.

After that, continue according to the process of comprehensive shoe care.

One more coat of Renovateur regenerating balm.

2 coats of neutral cream Pommadier.

1 coat of black Pommadier on the sock.

Polishing the sock with Pate de Luxe waxThe following are photos of the treated shoes.

How to Darken Leather without Using Dyes

Yes, you can darken your leather boots without using dyes. The trick with this method is that you need to have multiple applications to your leather boots. To me, it is good to have various applications in darkening the boot than using a straight light color to make your boot darker. These different natural methods include

1. Using Vegetable Oil to Darken Leather

Various vegetable oils like canola, olive, and coconut oils are good in the darkening and condition of leather boots. Yes, this is a trick you haven't known. The oils are not just ideal for the nourishment of boots, but they can be used in boot darkening. They are simple, convenient, and quick to use in leather boot darkening.

Introducing the oil to the leather refreshes it and helps it to last longer also. However, when using oils in the darkening boot, you need to be keen; make sure the oil you are using is not rancid before applying it to the boot. Any contaminants and scents in the oil will seep into the boot during the darkening process.


  • Pour three spoonsful of the oil into a piece of clean, soft cloth or rag
  • Brush the cloth or rag on the leather surfaces of the boot to coat it with the oil
  • Rub the oil on the leather boot gently with your hands
  • If you had used gelatinous oil, ensure it has melted entirely before you rub it
  • If you see there are any visible drops of oil or clumps on the leather, remove it
  • Allow the leather boot to rest for the whole day, 24 hours, for the oil to seep into the leather
  • Apply another layer of oil if you wish
  • Allow it to rest 24 hours again before you use it.

What we like with the method

  • The materials are readily available
  • It gives a beautiful sheen
  • Easy to use
  • It nourishes the leather and makes it more supple
  • It helps to increase the durability of the leather

What we didn't like

  • It does not darken the like other methods
  • With rancid oil, you destroy your boot
  • It attracts rodents
  • Residual remain causes smelliness

2. Darkening Leather with Coffee

This method uses brewed coffee to make it darker. The technique is pretty natural free from chemicals, and you can easily use it at home. The method is cheap as you only need distilled water, brewed coffee, a microfiber cloth or rag, a leather conditioner, and a sponge.


  • Brew the coffee to ensure it is strong
  • Arrange your burner to bring the coffee to a boiling point for 2 minutes. Ensure you are stirring the coffee properly to avoid settling at the bottom.
  • Please remove it from the fire and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • At this moment, the coffee is ready, and you can apply it using a sponge item on the surface of the leather. Apply a layer at a time and let it dry in the open air. Continue applying the layers of coffee up to the desired hue is achieved.
  • Let the coffee sit on the leather for 12-24 hours to allow it to seep into the leather well.
  • Remove the leather from the coffee and rinse with clean water. Wipe it with a clean damp cloth and allow it to dry on an open area.
  • Condition the boot with the best leather conditioner once it has dried well. Condition is good because it will restore the natural oil that got lost when applying the process.

What we like

  • It is easy to carry out the process
  • Materials are readily available
  • It darkens hue after drying
  • This is nourishes leather
  • It is waterproof

What we didn't like

  • It takes time
  • It can stain the leather if residues are not wiped well.

3. Using Leather Dressing

A leather dressing includes a mixture of beeswax and neatsfoot oil that have melted together to have a creamy paste. This is a top-grade home method that can make your leather boot darker. The result is a clean golden tan that has superior water-resistant due to beeswax.


  • Mix equal parts of beeswax and Neatsfoot and melt them together gently.
  • Allow the creamy paste to cool down.
  • Using a soft cloth, apply the paste mixture on the boot by working and rubbing on the leather surface.
  • Let alone the leather for an hour to nicely set on the boot
  • Buff the surface of the leather using a clean cloth to glow it shine

What we like

  • It is easy to apply
  • It makes the boot clean golden
  • The ingredients are water-resistant
  • It nourishes the leather

What we didn't like

  • It takes time
  • Leaves stains if the residue isn't wiped off

The Use of Dye and Polish In Darken Leather

1. Use of Shoe Polish

With the use of shoe polish and rags items, you can darken your leather. The method is not natural, but it is easy to use. All that is required is to apply the polish on the boot using a soft cloth in a small circular movement. Once you have applied, you need to leave the polish dry up naturally.


  • Place some shoe polish on your soft or polishing cloth; put a small amount at a time.
  • Gently rub the polish on the leather on the entire leather surface. Maintain the small circular motions when applying it to the leather.
  • The leather should start to darken after the first layer. Continue adding layers on the surface until the desired hue is achieved.
  • Using another soft dry cloth, buff the surface of the boots. This will help in removing excess polish from the leather surface.
  • Let the boot dry overnight. If you need to make it darker, you can apply another polish layer and let it dry.

What we like

  • It is easy to use
  • Smells good
  • It makes the show darker compared to another method
  • It is water-resistant
  • Provide a long-lasting sheen
  • It prevents rotting through bacteria
  • It does not damage your boots

What we didn't like

  • It's pricey, buying the leather polish
  • It doesn't darken with one layer

2. Use of Leather Dye

The use of leather dye is one of the most preferred and familiar methods among many. Before using a given dye, it is good to determine how safe it is and its impact on your boot. Some dye requires you to strip off the protective leather layer before you use them to be adequately absorbed.


  • Select the right type of dye on your leather piece. Alcohol-based make the leather stiff while the water-based dyes make it soft, although it might change the color.
  • Use protective latex gloves to protect your skin.
  • Apply the leather preparer to remove the leather's finish and make the dye be absorbed well into the leather.
  • Make the leather wet on all the surfaces with some small amount of spryer.
  • Apply the leather dye on the surfaces starting from the cover edges using a paintbrush. Use a sponge material to create a texture effect on the leather when darkening it.
  • Allow the first layer to dry before applying another layer. You can repeat the process up to when you get the desired hue.
  • Let the boot dry for 24 hours before you buff the leather to remove the residue. Polish the boot with a soft brush to make it shine.

What we like

  • It makes it smell good
  • Waterproofing
  • Easy to apply on the leather surface
  • Improves the durability of the boot
  • Restores the boot suppleness

What we didn't like

  • It is expensive, buying the leather dye

Is it possible to dye shoes?

It is worth stating at once that the most carefully done home dyeing is not comparable to factory dyeing. When dyeing by industrial method, the leather is dyed to its full depth, and only after that it is cut and sewn. At home you can do only superficial dyeing, which is significantly inferior to factory dyeing in terms of durability.


  1. The easiest way to dye light-colored shoes in a darker or brighter shade.
  2. Black shoes to make a lighter shade are very difficult, it is better to just update its color and make it brighter and more uniform.

What to dye shoes at home?

The choice of dye depends on whether you plan to change the color of the shoes completely or just want to decorate it with details. For dyeing shoes over the entire area, it is better to choose specialized paints for leather, suede, nubuck or leatherette. You can buy such dyes in specialized stores.

You can decorate individual parts with ordinary acrylic paint for leather. Parts made of suede or textile can be painted with a special paint for cotton fabrics. The best way to dye shoes is with a soft sponge with fine pores.

Final word

Do you get this article helpful? Hopefully, the darkening of leather boots is something that you can do at your home. Once you darken your leather boots, you restore their style and enhance their lasting time. There are various methods to do that work. The methods we have reviewed are ideal and can help you darken your boot to the desired hue.

Has your favorite pair of shoes lost their appeal over time? Are you happy with the style of your shoes, but would you like to change their color? Maybe a dark one or darken the original color of the shoes. Is it possible to give your shoes a second life without the help of professionals? We'll tell you how you can darken your leather boots all by yourself.

About Jason Flores

Jason Flores spent his childhood breaking around in his grandpa's workshop getting to know a thing or two about handiness. At the same time, he loves fashion. As such, he's become invloved in writing about fieldwork fashion to pass on his precious passion.

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