Is sheepskin waterproof or water resistant blog

Anybody who follows trends will know that the Sheepskin or Shearling (as it is also known) coat, jacket, hat or mittens is experiencing more than a bit of a revival at the moment. Fashion designers all over the globe are including real sheepskin in their collections.

As Owen Barry is one of only a very few experts left in the UK nowadays, we are getting a lot of customers asking about what happens when their sheepskin gets wet.

  • Are my sheepskin hat and gloves waterproof? 
  • How do I dry my Sheepskin coat, hat and/or Sheepskin Mitts and Gloves if I get them saturated? 

Handmade Sheepskin Outerwear and Winter Clothing

So here are my thoughts on those key questions.  – I have written the answers about sheepskin coats, mitts, gloves and hats. If you have an OB sheepskin-covered hot water bottle or beanbag, here’s the help you were searching for.

If you’d prefer to speak to us in person, do call our team on (+44) 01458 442858 or contact us online.

Yes – in general, Sheepskin is very waterproof plus it has wonderful insulation and warmth. There is one main caveat here, please do check and ensure it is real sheepskin, whether a coat, hat, mitten, or gloves. If it is synthetic or faux shearling, it is not going to protect you against any kind of weather, let alone blustery, cold, wet conditions. It will be like wearing a dripping wet dishcloth. Real sheepskin is what men  and women have worn for over ten thousand years, so you can definitely rely on genuine sheepskin in any weather conditions 

So I thought I would answer of few of these queries in this blog post:

Can I wear a sheepskin coat in the rain?

The straight answer is YES, every sheepskin coat should survive a rainstorm. They aren’t wax jackets that are built specifically for wet weather, so much like fabric coats, some will survive better than others. Will the quality of the sheepskin make a difference?  Not really. Some of the very finest sheepskins won’t repel the rain for as long as a robust, chunkier sheepskin, but in general, any good modern sheepskin will protect you.

All Owen Barry products come out the other side in one piece when you follow my tips below:-

How do I treat my sheepskin coat if I get caught in the rain ?

So the most important thing is to let the coat dry as naturally as possible, DO NOT try to dry it too quickly or expose it to too much heat. Sheepskin is basically wool, and you wouldn’t chuck a wet woollen jumper in the tumble dryer or put it on a piping radiator – so don’t do that with sheepskin either!

Let it dry in a warm airy room, as it dry’s the pelt (the outside) might start to tighten up so next I tell you how to manage that: –

My sheepskin jacket has gone stiff as it dried, what shall I do?

 It is a bit like when your leather shoes get wet they will go hard and you have to wear them to break them open again, or old fashioned denim jeans ( before stretch versions) the fibres would tighten up and retract or “shrink” and you had to manipulate the fibre to loosen it  – sheepskin can be like that after it has been dried following a soaking.

You need to “work”, here’s the method I recommend: If you have a stiff sheepskin pelt, you can soften it up by working it. This involves kneading it, rolling it through your hands, and even stretching it open a little. However, be careful not to overstretch it, especially if it is a particularly fine or lightweight skin.

To work the sheepskin, start by laying it out on a flat surface. Then, knead it and roll it through your hands, using your fingers to break up any stiff areas. You can also try stretching it open a little, but be careful not to overdo it.

If the sheepskin is very stiff, you can try soaking it in lukewarm water for a few minutes before working it. This will help to soften the fibres. When you are stretching the sheepskin, be careful not to stretch it too far, or it may tear. Once you have worked the sheepskin, leave it to dry flat in a well-ventilated area. Do not put it in the dryer, as this can damage the skin.

If you have a particularly fine lightweight skin, don’t stretch it from here to breakfast time, but similarly, if you have a robust heavy piece, don’t be afraid to put a bit of elbow grease into it.

The rain has left rings on my sheepskin gilet/hat etc– what can I do ?

Rain spots can happen, especially if the sheepskin has a fine suede and it has been caught in drizzle, some areas can “change” slightly and very often little rings appear, these are just where the suede has been flattened by the rain drops – it very easy to remove these.

I suggest you buff the suede with a DRY scouring pad, the kind that you use for washing up, with the crusty on one side and the foam on the other.

Firstly use the foam side of the scouring pad, to generally brush off and revitalise the flattened suede nap.  Be sure when brushing, to try to use longer more fluid and random direction strokes rather than concentrating on a small area, make the area you are working on quite generous then you won’t strip the suede colour from a single patch.

Please use the foam side first, and only progress to the tougher crusty side if really dirt and the foam isn’t having any impact. This is a good tip for removing dirt and grubby marks as well.

The wool has gone coarse and curly

Oh dear – this is more of a toughie, wool is like hair, some hair will frizz when wet, other hair will go lank and flat, others will carry on looking stunning (don’t you just hate those people?  – sorry sorry diverted there!).  This is just nature, there is very little you can do without the combing/polishing and ironing facilities that specialist tanneries would have.

It’s the difference between going to a leading brand of hairdresser and having a go at home – sorry. If the wool was originally straight and flat you might well be able to gently brush and comb the wool, and get it to soften and lie flat. But if it was curly most likely it is still curly, you best leave it well alone,  combing will make the wool go fuzzy,  alternatively, you could CAREFULLY prise open the tight curls with the prongs of a fork but really they will break open and loosen given time/ and wear.

Sheepskin Outerwear – What happens when I get caught in a storm downpour?

Sheepskin Outerwear – What happens if I do get caught in a downpour? 

  • Well, as they say, “Trust the process”  …….Keep your hat/gloves on – don’t worry about them,  do not take them off or start messing with them; if the rain gets inside, it won’t hurt the skin, but it will feel very uncomfortable. 
  • Just keep them on and enjoy the invigorating weather – it’ll be fine.
  • When you do take your sheepskin hat or mittens off, the key is to let them dry as naturally as possible,   however, depending on the level of saturation, you need to think about how much heat to expose your sheepskin accessories to.  
  • NEVER put your Sheepskin accessories in a tumble dryer. 

Handmade Sheepskin Hats Mittens and Gloves – Sueded and Napalan

The first thing to consider is your sheepskin hat, mittens, or gloves – Sueded sheepskin or Napalan finish Shearling?

Let’s presume it is sueded, like the traditional sheepskin finish with a velvety suede (napalan answers are lower down).

handmade sheepskin mitts mittens Womens  UK Somerset m03

And, let’s say, wet but not dripping: –

  • Dry, slowly, and naturally is the best way, 
  • Away from direct heat in an airy room 
  • When your sheepskin hat is dry, use a scouring pad ( DRY) to brush the suede; this will level the rain spots out and revitalise the suede nap.  
  • More about the household scouring pad:  it is the one you use for washing up rough texture on one side and the foam on the other.
  • When brushing, try to use longer, more fluid strokes rather than concentrating on a small area.
  • Make the area you are working on quite generous; then, you won’t strip the colour from a single patch.
  • Please use the foam side first, and only progress to the tougher rough textured side if the foam isn’t having any impact.
  • Then it might be necessary to go closer to a radiator, turning regularly, especially if you want to wear it again soon – this could make the “hat” tighten up. 
  • NEVER use a tumble dryer.
  • When the hat is dry, you may find the pelt has become tight or rigid, so you must “break it open”.
  • You do this by manipulating it, twisting it around, kneading it and basically opening the fibres of the pelt to make the skin softer and more flexible again. Now, take your trusty scouring pad (above) and start revitalising the nap. Brushing will bring back the velvety suede that has been flattened by the rain.

What If my Napalan Leather Finished sheepskin hat is absolutely saturated :

My Sheepskin Hat has a Napalan (leather finish) 

  • Well, the only thing that you should do differently from above is not to use the scouring pad as this could scratch or rub away the leather finish; the kneading and manipulating the pelt should soften and revitalise it.

For Leather-Finished Sheepskin Hats and Gloves: Which Sheepskin Hats are best for bad weather?

Of course, a lot is down to personal taste, but the key to it is keeping your ears and forehead covered. The Owen Barry handmade sheepskin beanie hat is a winter favourite, especially in the Great British weather!

Beanie styles hats with an ample crown depth like the Deane above, offer adjustability to protect ears and neck. our signature handmade Trapper hats with ear flaps are ideal for full coverage and wind resistance. Just toggle the flaps up or down as needed.

Our unisex pull-on Deanie beanie handmade sheepskin hat has plenty of depth in the crown.

A modern staple in any wardrobe, this sheepskin Beanie Hat has the benefit of a turn-down cuff or band. When the weather gets really bad, it can be adjusted further to protect the neck and forehead against biting winds.

Sheepskin Trapper – Hats with Flaps for Wind

Alternatively, we have a selection of Sheepskin Trapper hats, always an OB best seller. The ability to adjust the ear flaps, from a must-have fashion statement to Gale Force 10 protection, is very quick and easy, which is what everybody enjoys about a storm flap Trapper hat.

Whether the traditional Outdoor and Country style sheepskin trapper, see our style Garth or the Sheepskin hat Aviator style, which has the benefit of leather-covered seams, a la WWII Flying Jackets that offer an extra layer of wind resistance. 

A Sheepskin Tie Trapper Hat is always a very safe bet for extreme weather conditions. If these get wet, avoid the scouring pad as it could scratch the leather. Kneading is enough to soften the pelt.

All of the above is just advice from years of experience, I know you could do all of the above with an Owen Barry product. 

Do remember, I obviously cannot make the same guarantees for all sheepskin products, because some are from different areas of the globe with different quality skins, tanning and manufacturing methods.  But if it is a reasonable quality sheepskin coat from a reputable supplier it should easily survive the rain, be it shower or downpour.

If you are in any doubt please contact the supplier, they will hopefully be pleased to help you. 

If it’s an Owen Barry coat, then what are you waiting for give us a ring or an email – that’s what a lifetime guarantee is all about folks!

Finally, there is more about cleaning your Owen Barry products here on our product care page.

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