Ahead of the Curve Rider's Blog, Gear & Cycling Tips for Riders

Should Black Leather Motorcycle Gloves Turn Hands Black?

Posted by Rhonda Hurwitz



On Facebook, a rider recently commented that after riding in the rain, the black leather from his gloves leeched its dye into his skin.

This shouldn't happen, but sometimes does ...

... so we thought we'd explain why it happens and how it can be prevented.

Why Black Leather Motorcycle Gloves Sometimes Turn Your Hands Black

Sometimes, new leather gloves “bleed” when wet -- especially premium leather gloves made from drum dyed leather. 

Drum dyed leather is actually preferred for gloves, because it's softer and more breathable than cheaper leathers where the coloring is simply sprayed onto the top surface of the leather. 

But this is also the reason for the "color migration" problem that riders sometimes experience. Here's why:

The Cause of the Problem

With premium drum dyed leather, dye is applied to the leather by soaking all the way through. This more "naked" drum dyed leather is a better and more costly grade of leather, and feels softer and more supple to the touch. There is no top finish (like spray paint) applied to hide imperfections in the leather grain.

But when the leather surface closest to your hand has pigment, as a drum dyed glove would, when you sweat or the glove gets wet, it can bleed onto your hands.

By contrast, with some cheaper leathers, dye is sprayed on top, so the surface closest to your skin actually doesn’t contain any dye … but they won't be as soft or breathable or hold up as well, and are not the best choice for making a high quality glove.

The Solution:  How To Avoid it

We prevent this in a couple of ways.

1.  By using more costly drum dyed leather that has been specially treated to prevent it.
When a tannery uses more costly, "developed" dyes when tanning the leather compared to less costly "basic" dyes, it reduces the chance of "bleeding". 

Also, using a silicone additive in the tanning process can also diminish color migration. But while both of these steps can help to reduce it, prevention isn’t always possible. 

So, onto solution #2.

2.  Designing and constructing the gloves with a barrier between the leather and your skin.

For instance, waterproof or windproof gloves shouldn't bleed, due to the liner that is added between the leather and the glove's inner lining.

Lined leather gloves shouldn’t bleed, either ... but sometimes, lined leather gloves aren't the answer. 

For instance, our black leather fingerless gloves -- popular in the summer -- are not lined, because that would make them too warm. 

So in the case of buying unlined gloves, make sure you buy a brand where the leather is properly treated to avoid this problem (like ours!).

So -- even though you may mistakenly assume that your hands turning black is a sign of a cheap glove or a defect in the glove, that's really not the case.  But steps can be taken by the manufacturer to prevent it.

Now you know what to look for when purchasing a black leather glove, to keep hands from turning black!

P.S. We make over 70 styles of gloves, and some with free shipping. To learn more about our leather motorcycle glove styles, visit a local dealer or our online store:

Find an Olympia Gloves dealer near you shop for leather gloves

Topics: leather motorcycle gloves

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