What is the difference between PU leather and real leather?

If you are in the market for new leather product, you might have realized by now that you can no longer just approach the counter and ask for a real leather product.

There are a number of different kinds of leather for different purposes.

Even the labels of different products can be confusing.

If you’ve been doing some window shopping on Amazon or eBay, you might have encountered the terms PU and genuine leather. Last time you checked, there was only one kind of leather, so what gives?

In this article we will give answer of the question is PU leather real leather?


So what is PU Leather? What does PU material stand for?

Well, PU leather is simply artificial leather, know also as vegan leather.

It was created to look and feel like leather but without having to use real animal skin.

It is safe to say that when you see a wallet that says it’s made with PU leather, it’s not authentic leather.

There are a number of ways to make PU leather but the most common one is to use split leather and combine it with polyurethane then paste it on to a surface.

Although PU leather is different from genuine leather, there are still a number of similarities with the real thing.

After all, PU leather was created to fool your sense of sight and touch. That’s why a lot of people who aren’t connoisseurs can get confused in telling the two apart.


Difference Between PU Leather and Genuine Leather

The first red flag you should be wary of would be the price.

PU leather products are usually at the lower end of the price spectrum.

This is because PU leather is easily manufactured compared to genuine leather. While PU leather looks genuine enough at times on the surface, careful examination of the back side can make you see how the “leather” part is just glued on.

Lastly, check the surface of the item.
Genuine leather may not be 100% smooth because animal skin has natural grains and imperfections. PU leather, on the other hand, are smooth to the touch because they are manufactured that way.

You can also check the leather for pores as natural and genuine leather come from real animals so the pores will be present compared to PU leather.

Product of Demand

Leather products are a necessity for modern people. The leather products, and particularly leather wallets are an everyday item.

No longer leather wallet is it just a symbol for the rich and famous gentlemen of society but even the everyday jack needs one.

In the past, people who weren’t too particular with wallets did not care much about what it is made out of as long as it serves it purpose. As time passed, more and more people switched to wallets from coin purses and putting their money in their pockets. Due to this rising demand, wallet makers needed to find a way to create quality wallets in record time without making it cost a fortune.

The result are wallets that look like they are made out of leather but aren’t.

See, leather wallets are nice to look at but making them is not easy.

First, you have to skin an animal and then cure and cut the leather to specific sizes then lastly stitch them together to form a wallet. Just imagine how many cows, lambs, deer, fish, goats, and ostriches are killed just to make wallets for everybody. Plus, not everybody is particular with the make of their wallets so leather wallets still are a thing for the brand conscious.

For these reasons, PU leather was created…

Here is our infographic on: 5 ways to Distinguish PU leather and real leather


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❓ Is PU leather as good as real leather?

Nothing is as good as real leather. Although similar, PU leather and genuine leather have their differences in texture and price. PU leather is less course and rigid than natural leather because of how it is manufactured. This separates it from the real thing, and so while good, it is not as great as genuine leather.

🤔 Does PU leather peel?

The most common way PU leather is created is by using split leather and combining it with polyurethane, then pasting it onto a surface. Therefore, with time, PU leather will start to peel. Careful examination of the edges will show the glued parts that will begin to peel after some time of use.

🙋 What is the difference between PU leather and faux leather?

PU leather is a type of faux leather. The term ‘faux leather’ is used for any kind of artificial leather. PU leather is the most modern type of synthetic leather and has some animal materials mixed in them. Most faux leather products are actually PU leather, especially if they are smooth with a silky finish.

🧐 Is PU leather safe?

PU leather, though a type of faux leather, has been found to contain animal material like real leather. However, it will not perform as well as regular leather because, again, it is pasted on to the surface. It is safe than PVC, however, but also, it is not nearly as durable as real leather.

✅ How can you tell if it’s real leather or PU leather?

There are two main effective ways to check for PU leather by sight and touch. First, the labels should tell you whether it is real or artificial, so should the manufacturing country. Second, check the edges and the surface. PU leather is very smooth and looks like it has layers on the edges.

17 thoughts on “What is the difference between PU leather and real leather?

  1. It should be illegal to call it leather. “Vegan leather” is just as bad. PU leather is like calling Tupperware synthetic glass. None of the PU I’ve bought has any leather in it. It’s supposedly safer than PVC, but it will not perform as leather nor will it last a tiny fraction of the time real leather lasts.

  2. If properly applied, a PU coating will be perfectly waterproof as long as it lasts. Real leather can be made waterproof but the treatment will rarely last very long.

  3. It wears over time. You know how genuine leather gets better over time? It feels softer and looks more comfortable? That’s not the case with PU leather. It will wear, crack and expose the fabric beneath it very quickly, depending on usage.

  4. The main difference you will find is the cost. PU leather will generally be cheaper than genuine leather because it is easier to produce. Doing a water test is also an easy way to determine if it is real or fake leather. Although it wouldn’t be advised to do a water test tcabsorb the water. PU leather will not absorb the water.

    1. pu leather can also be absorb the water.

  5. PU stands for polyurethane not Synthetic leather :/
    Polyurethane is used as a synthetic leather but was not developed to be a synthetic leather. PU is a cheap alternative that DOES NOT LAST nearly as long as real leather. It is thin, easily scarred, easily torn, easily stretched and easily worn. It also does not have the breathability of organic and natural materials that are far more porous in molecular makeup.

    Whoever has written this needs to go back and fix it and stop duping people just to sell their knock-off products.

  6. You say that PU is animal skin free, but then go on to say it is split leather but coated – so it IS leather! That means it is no good for me as I will not use anything which even partly comprises the skin of murdered animals. Leather stinks, it smells dead, and leather shoes when I had no option but to wear them made my feet sweat terribly and I ended up with athlete’s foot. I will never wear leather now and I think your article should be much clearer as you say it is not leather and then describe that it is. No-one needs leather for anything, shoes, ugly wallets and purses or anything else, there are so many much better and cruelty free materials out there!

    1. i always buy real leather, not simple fake products. We “murder” animals anyway. Most of us eat burgers and so on, so why not use the leather from the same animal?
      You on the other side buy materials that most often come from oil products, and you think that is better?

  7. I have many comments, but they are simply my opinions. One very important thought though, is, people should be concerned about the chemicals used on clothing, including shoes, sheets, blankets, hats, etc. that are getting into their skin. Just as important as what you eat. You are what you eat. Remember that ol’ adage? What an item or food is made of, should be the first most important piece of information you want to know before one makes a purchase. It’s your life, your health!

  8. It is horrible that real leather shoes and sandals in the United States are not available. It is a shame how people do not know better about shoe wear. People in the United States read about expiration date on an item that will probably last for year, but they do not know how synthetic fabric can hurt them. I have come to find out the hard way, that I am allergic to synthetic fabric in shoes. Since I have learned that, I realized that it is hard to find leather shoes and what’s more important, leather insoles and leather lining to keep your feet healthy. People are paying high prices for garbage and they don’t even know

    1. Agreed. Especially with all the meat consumed in the USA, where are all those skins going? Certainly there must be people here who would keep the business alive.

    2. Real leather footwear are available in the USA , just not at walmart.

  9. FORS for immitation leather ( PU )
    i ) The very considerable price difference for the item.
    ii ) Easy cleaning — just give the shoe ( or whatever the item is ) a quick
    spray of furniture polish and wipe off and polish with a duster — so quick and unmessy, unlike using the small pot of cherry blossom ( or another similar brand ) from which you have to dab out a small amount, then brush / wipe it into the shoe leather, and, finally give it some elbow grease to give the shoe a nice shine !
    iii) If you’re not very careful, you can get the wax onto your shirt sleeve cuff !
    iv) Saving money again in regard to the prices of the cleaning product . The wax tin is so much more expensive than a large aerosol can of furniture polish !
    v) Furniture polish much quicker to apply than the old fashioned shoe wax !
    Advantages of using Cherry Blossom ( or similar ) !
    i ) The end result can be a better, deeper shine . That’s if a little extra work is put in ie more time spent polishing !
    ii ) Cherry Blossom will feed the leather !
    iii ) Cherry Blossom will help leather to last longer ! ( See ” ii ” )
    iv ) It is doubtful that ” ii ” and ” “iii ” would apply to PU leather !

    If you’re looking for the better / deeper shine, then the wax application would, most likely, prove superior ! Scoring each product for shine quality, I would vote wax 10 and furniture polish 7.5 !!
    If you’re looking for speed and convenience, Furniture Polish 10, Wax 6 !

  10. My experience with PU leather was not so good. I had ever heard of pu leather. It is very soft but does compare to real leather it is just not even compared to faux leather nor real leather it marks easily and I found that you cannot get a stain out once made especially if it’s a pen mark. I don’t like it

  11. I heard that PU leather is sometimes made with animal skin, it is PU coated leather.

  12. I can tell the difference because I grew up with the real leather. Now a days they hardly make anything from real leather and they charge the high price of something fake that used to be charged for the real thing. I don’t mind paying the price for genuine leather but I don’t like to pay a lot for imitation. I have hung on to my real leather from days gone by. I just polish it up and go. Even if it is out of style, who cares? The old styles come back out again and again. We are back to the 60s and 70s era now. Fooling people is just pain wrong though. Thanks for your article.

  13. “Let the Buyer Beware!”
    Sellers should be honest about what they’re selling in their advertising and online listings. Too often they are not or try to avoid coming out and calling it what it really is. Not caring if the buyer is fooled into buying their product as long as they get paid before the buyer finds out. Chances are once a buyer finds out they’ve been ripped off they won’t do anything about it. Which is what these unscrupulous sellers are hoping for. So they can just wait for the next sucker to come along.
    Many buyers and sellers do not know what PU Leather is and ignore the PU part entirely, to just assume if it has the word “Leather” in it that it must be leather.

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