How to identify real skin

Recommendations and tips on how to identify genuine skin. Photos of the skin under the microscope.

Summary: You can feel only a small part of real dyed leather (properly "leather") or high-quality fake leather. Internet advice and a microscope often do not help.

Mixed plastic and animal fragrance can mean a combination of genuine and artificial leather but also genuine leather dyed.

Genuine skin (even colored) smells like sunburnt hair.

On the net you will find several basically parental advice and not much functional how to recognize genuine skin. Especially if you compare right dyed skin and well-made artificial leather (eg eco-leather) or combination leather - polyurethane or PVC foil top and rubble of genuine leather on the reverse (PU leather, split leather, faust leahter, bonded leather etc. Czech correct "fibrous" leather or "reconstituted" leather). For the sake of clarity, we will use the term “polouměláskin. For the sake of simplicity, we use the layman's term leather, properly understand leather, i.e. processed animal skin free of hair and skin.

Relatively reliable criteria for recognizing faux leather and genuine leather regardless of finish

Flame - some artificial leather in the flame of eg a lighter (set to a small flame) after 3 seconds bubbling (some up to 5s) and stinks burning. The smell of burnt plastics or tires may not need to be approached. Thick genuine leather, for example, the thickness of the tape… ie 2mm… a few seconds of flame, whether it does not damage the face or the reverse, but if it is light or colored, so it will irrevocably smudge. A longer flame of about 7 seconds or more may already start to deform it in the eye in an observable manner and later to glow until complete combustion.  The thin calf skin of 0.5mm twists instantly and ignites after about 2 seconds& #8230; It also depends on whether you are burning a large area or a small piece that will fire the lighter flame from all sides at once. But you do not know many eye or smell for burning millimeter strip.

However, unlike plastic, genuine leather never starts to boil or bubble. The burned genuine skin smells just like a scorched hair. Sometimes it can be felt when burning, sometimes only when you wipe the married area with a wet finger.  The leather should be tested with a flame only on the face (ideally for a small piece with the reverse side covered). With semi-artificial leather, you would of course burn the real leather on the reverse side...:).

Disadvantages: Damage to artificial leather, damage to very thin genuine leather, stun on light or dyed genuine leather cannot be washed (stun on dark undyed leather is not visible). Even if the test is successful a few times, at the next piece it is impossible to guess what artificial leather has technology, resistance of coating or surface treatment and what glade will eventually color the real leather (in terms of test reliability and in terms of flame damage).

Solvent - the plastic should dissolve in the solvent and the skin should not - we will check it over time, although this advice is as practical as the fire test 🙂

Criteria for recognizing genuine skin with limited functionality


Genuine leather characteristically smells only uncoloured or stained on the face and raw on the reverse. In the case of raw or stained leather, we consider fragrance as the number 1 criterion, but in those cases the determination problems are not so common. Dyed genuine leather, which You won't let go on the reverse or just a bit of the reverse on the reverse, often just does not smell (eg handbag with lining, padding at handcuffs). For products Composed of partially genuine and artificial leather or semi-artificial products skin you feel predominant plastic or paint or other chemistry, and slightly i skin suddenly and you do not know whose you are… because the same or nothing often feels even with colored leather genuine. If you have no idea what plastic smell is, then In almost every home before in the kitchen there used to be a corner bench with a plastic cover, so it probably stinks. Or as an eco leather seat… 


Good magnification (standard ČSN for identification of genuine skin is 20x magnification) for observation is 10-70x. It can handle i the cheapest microscopes. Top artificial lighting will help. With low-cost microscopes, it is usually low or no. Higher resolution will no longer help the amateur especially when distinguishing genuine and crushed genuine leather (on the back of semi-artificial leather) or the more complete image disappears.

Skin structure

The relatively thin upper part of the skin - skin in leather (ie tanned leather in the shop) you will not see, because it is removed during tanning.

Upper papillary part of the dermis

Under the skin is the most valuable part of the skin - the dermis. The upper papillary part of the dermis (as we normally imagine smooth skin in leather products) tends to be thinner in most animals, it contains hair papillae and collagen fibers. The collagen fibers are so densified that they form a continuous mass even under the 20-100x microscope. Pores (hair papillae) often have an oblique direction to one side (hair direction).

Real processed leather (ie leather) such as cow, sheep, pig, goat are quite different from the perspective of an amateur observer. There is also a big difference between the skin of a young and an adult. E.g. high quality white veal leather (uncoloured) it can take the form of snow (very regular, uniform, without scars and wrinkles) with dimples from the hair papilla tilted in one hair direction. Beef kthe skin on the cheek looks like a bag over itself or an apple pie (peeling cells). The cowhide looks after tanning on the reverse like they are there irregular bag splinters tapering into fiber bundles (visually rather shreds or splinters) and ultimately very irregular and very short fibers. So-called “grain” leather (or Full grain leather or slightly less dense lower layer of Top grain leather) is produced from this top-quality layer (upper part of the joint).

Lower reticular part of the dermis

In the lower reticular part, there are relatively loose and intertwined fibers formed by the protein collagen. Fat cells penetrate into them from the subcutaneous tissue. In English, the term "genuine" leather is used for products from this section. Under the microscope, at a magnification of 50-100x, it looks like irregular lines intertwined with each other, but with relatively large gaps compared to the thickness of the fiber, sometimes covered with fat drops of different sizes.

Suede leather is made from this layer (the lower part of the joint). Towards the surface, the collagen fibers ("hairs") rise vertically and thicken in such a way that they are visible as scraps or splinters. Various processing of real and artificial leather and their combinations are beyond our knowledge. E.g. in the case of very thin skin, where when scraping off a thin layer of the surface you immediately come across the loose collagen fibers of the lower joint, we are unable to assess whether the upper part of the joint (next paragraph) is really that thin or whether, for example, the lower "suede part" was longitudinal cut from the higher quality upper one, the surface ironed and smoothed and colored so that it resembles the higher quality joint of the upper one.

The lowest layer of raw skin is formed by the subcutaneous tissue, the function of which is to protect and isolate the muscle under it. In particular, the layer consists of fat cells.

Microscope limits for colored artificial (reconstituted - waste) skin

Artificial leather is said to have a regular pattern and texture without wrinkles and relief. They are artificial leather with a fairly irregular structure with irregular pores even in one direction (as is usual with genuine leather). Some artificial leathers have regular long microfibers on the back (unlike genuine microfibers, they look like small regular lines), and these are easily identified as artificial under a microscope.

The disadvantage of the microscope is the considerably limited recognition ability of dyed skin. Especially lacquered dyed leather, where even a professional probably won't know the difference from leatherette. In dyed leather, its structure on the obverse overlaps the coating to such an extent that genuine or artificial leather cannot be determined with certainty. In addition, most false skins in more expensive products will be semi-artificial, and if you have crushed genuine leather stretched on an artificial backing, you will not even notice it from the reverse.

A similar genuine image of irregular hairy fibers can be created by thin genuine skin of lamb or veal, which have about 0.5 mm and because of its regular structure, the color finish at first sight and hand on the face clearly artificially. On the reverse side, you can see a very regular, very fine suede with your eye, and you think it must be a microplush or other artificial & #8230; When you smell & #8211; for some of these true & #8211; especially where you do not get to the reverse you feel nothing, but in some unequivocally according to the strong smell you identify the right skin. ANDher advanced amateur often under the microscope does not distinguish true dyed thin skin from artificial skin (combined).

Vision and intuition

They will help in apparent cases, but in more demanding cases they will only suspect, even wrongly. How many times we thought it was definitely artificial or combined skin and it was dyed genuine thin.


Genuine leather - understand the connection of the skin with the skin (not eg the connection of leather and soles) is mostly sewn, non-glued. Of course, the artificial leather is also stitched, but sometimes it is sticky, for example, so as not to see the back, which is sometimes artificial to the eye. It can make sense with waterproof shoes or clothes, but with handcuffs (as we could see with the genuine leather, where the purpose was not to stop stitching over), whips, etc. is such a natural glazing artificial adhesive, artificial leather signal , lower quality of workmanship or bad taste of the manufacturer.

Completely inoperative criteria to distinguish between genuine leather and artificial leather

Back and front of real and fake leather

Only artificial leather can have a face on both sides and genuine leather is either smooth on the cheek and more or less suede on the reverse or suede on both sides. Even genuine leather is sometimes exceptional for aesthetic reasons wrapped in or over itself so that neither the back nor the side of the back can be seen.

Soak water after few minutes.

Again, it only applies to untreated skin. Everyone might have heard of the impregnated skin. Now imagine how sucking a heavily colored leather such as a purse ... sucks on the cheek. In addition, there are also artificial or semi-artificial leather with artificial holes and they soak as well, because the water flows through the holes into the microfiber on the reverse side, which also holds some water.

The power of the skin

The idea of genuine leather as a 2mm thick belt is often misleading. High-quality thinned veal or lamb skin can only have half a millimeter. The thinnest artificial leather with covered back is approx. 0.3mm. The difference is so small that it is not normally possible to tell by the strength of the skin.

Wrinkles genuine leather.

This is a complete myth because some skin is real and artificial they wrinkle when bent and others do not. So is it with creak.

Label, manufacturer's description or leather emblem on the product

Pvirtually meaningless, for example, a strap or some small part can be made of leather and everything else made of artificial ... 


made artificial skin normal person after touching the dyed genuine skin does not recognize. Even some genuine leathers are very backy - almost paper-like and less pleasant to the touch than artificial leathers.


Of course, we don't consider genuine leather for a few tens of crowns or a few hundreds of jackets… and we are looking for a differentiating criterion for the price level where leather products can really be expected. We have also experienced expensive products made of semi - artificial leather or composed of artificial and at the same time genuine leather. This advice is therefore completely useless.

Additional information

So how does real leather know and buy a bagman?

The bagman buys unpainted, uninfested, freshly scented processed leather (leather) in a larger whole and for that distinguishing criteria above apply.

Products made of partially genuine and partly artificial leather

We see room for cheap faux leather or more expensive genuine leather products. But to combine it - for example, handcuffs with a genuine leather tightening and carrying belt and artificial padding, does not make any sense to, although it is often nice and well made products. Sometimes we do not avoid it when buying a sample - in the sale, then mark the artificial parts.

We recommend uncoloured skin, respecting colored skin

Many prefer natural leather without dyeing or staining. And this is also our case and recommendation for the area of sexual aids. Here, we can indulge in this natural luxury without fear, because we usually don't take them out in the rain, etc., like a handbag, the color of which will extend its life outside. Not everyone is a purist, or likes more colorful colors (than natural white, brown, black and their degrees). It makes no sense to ask why we don't prefer to buy artificial leather when we cover the smell of real leather and the texture that is nice to the eye and touch with paint. One if for durability, although artificial materials can also be comparable or better or prestige, good feeling, but that's how it is. Both stained and dyed hides have a place on the market, even in the market for sexual aids.

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