Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a bit obsessive about caring for my tack and leather products. What can I say, I try to buy the best leather I can afford and I want it to last for many years to come. That’s my favorite part about high quality leather, it really will last and last with proper care. The investment in good leather is worth it to me, and a lot of my pieces have only gotten nicer with age and use. Good leather doesn’t just stay nice with zero effort though, you definitely have to put in a little elbow grease occasionally. I’m pretty picky about my leather products, so when Christian Lowe wanted to send me his leather care line (Christian Lowe Leather Care) I was definitely interested to try out the products and so how they stack up against some of my current favorites.
Note: I did receive these products, but this blog review is 100% my own opinion and is not in exchange for the product. I’m under no obligation to share my thoughts. I’ve spent weeks testing the products, as well as sharing them with my barn mates and asking for their feedback.
About the Brand
Christian Lowe grew up in a stable and used his many years of experience as a saddler to develop his brand. Christian Lowe Leather Care products are described as being a unique blend of soap, oils, beeswax and the wonderful properties of tea tree. The products are prepared in small batches in his studio located in Northern Ontario. I always love supporting a small business, as am happy to support products made by our northern neighbors.
Testing the Products
First up: the candles! Is it weird I want to talk about the candles first? I obviously smelled them right out of the box, so they were technically the first thing I tried out. The candles are made of coconut soy wax and a custom blend of Christian’s favorite scents. I quickly started burning “Clean Your Tack” which is whiskey, oak, and tobacco scented. That may sound overwhelmingly “manly” but it’s really not. It smells DIVINE. Both my husband and I love it. The other candle is called “Polish Your Boots” and is rose water and sandalwood scented. A lighter, slightly sweeter scent, it also smells amazing. It is perfectly balanced in my opinion, and not overwhelmingly sweet. I’m a huge fan of the candles and will not hesitate to buy more in the future or gift them to friends.
Leather Cleaner & Balm
Next I tested the leather cleaner and balm. A glycerin based soap with tea tree to prevent mold, the cleaner is labeled as leaving no residue. The balm is a blend of essential oils, beeswax and tea tree. Applied to clean tack the balm is said to keep leather soft, supple and protected from the elements without feeling greasy, and is formulated for traditional vegetable tanned leather. I opted to test them on my Ovation bridle that I’ve had hanging in my closet for… about 10 months. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this bridle and have had it for 6 years or so, but it was replaced as Rio’s everyday bridle by a PS of Sweden one early last fall. I had noticed it was looking a bit rough and could do with a thorough clean & condition.
The cleaner performed well, but I can’t say too much about it other then that. I’ll admit it- I think most cleaners perform the same. I remember years ago people absolutely raving about Higher Standards leather cleaner so I got some. It seemed the same as my other soaps, I could never see a clear difference. I’m going to say the same about this cleaner. It’s perfectly adequate! It does smell nice, and seems to work well. I’m not sure how soap can be improved on to be honest. I would agree that it didn’t appear to leave a residue.
Now to the balm, which is where I always have strong opinions. I feel balms and conditioners vary the most from brand to brand. The Christian Lowe Leather Care balm is NICE. Smells good again (but not overly scented/artificial smelling) and has a great consistency. You can stick your towel in it and get a glob out, similar in consistency to other leather balms like Voltaire and CWD. It’s not solid like the Sterling Essentials conditioner.
I started with a towel to apply it but quickly switched to my bare hands, because I really like to work the product in the leather. The leather definitely started out a bit dry and the balm revived it beautifully. I was very happy with how it performed! It didn’t leave it greasy either, which is a definite plus.
Saddle Cleaner & Oil
Next I tested the saddle cleaner and oil on my saddle. The Saddle Soap is an unscented liquid glycerin soap PH balanced for fine leather. It was easy to use and cleaned well. After a thorough clean I tried our the Saddle Oil. I’ve never used an oil on my saddle, because traditional neatsfoot oil isn’t good for most calf and buffalo leathers. The Christian Lowe Leather Care Saddle Oil says it’s specially formulated for modern French calf skin saddles, so I was willing to try it out. I was also sent a sheepskin mitt, which I used to apply the oil. I was a bit hesitant to put oil on the mitt because I thought it would be super messy and potentially ruin the mitt. It definitely didn’t!
The oil is super lightweight and not at all like traditional neatsfoot oil. It spread on easily and I felt like the mitt really helped it get in all the nooks and crannies. It absorbed quickly and I was very impressed with the result. No film/grease was left behind and the leather looked soft smooth. I also felt like I could have ridden in it right away without fear of an oil stain on my breeches.
I left the saddle cleaner & oil in a common area at the barn with a note encouraging others to use it and let me know what they thought because I wanted as much feedback as possible on various saddles. One of them send me this review on the Christian Lowe Leather Care products:
“Soap: Really nice, not overly sudsy & not sticky at all, even in the nooks and crannies. My boots were disgusting and it cut through the dirt quite well.
Oil: Liked it as well, it was a bit lightweight for my preference but I could see using it in addition to a more conditioning balm type product. Liked that it wasn’t greasy also.”
Another barn mate and I used the products on her saddle and boots. She said it was a “game changer” on the boots, it cleaned them so quickly and easily, making them look new again. We both agreed the cleaner and oil worked great on her saddle as well (a CWD). Her saddle looked really really nice afterwards.
My good friend Olivia (you guys might know her as @remarkablemare) said this about the products:
“I cleaned my saddle with some Christian Lowe Leather Care products yesterday and holy cow, it really is so good. Definitely better than anything else I’ve ever tried.”
Two thumbs up for the Christian Lowe Leather Care products!!! I will definitely be incorporating them in my regular leather care routine, which honestly speaks volumes since I’m so selective about tack care products. I also think they are super reasonably priced for the amount of product you receive, which is a lot! I would recommend this line of leather care to anyone in the market. The saddle oil is perfect for a lighter conditioning, and the balm is perfect for items needing a deeper condition. The soaps pair perfectly with the conditioners and are easy to use with great results. If you throw a candle or two in with your order you won’t be disappointed- they smell GREAT!