How to choose the right material for adhesive labels

Choosing the right material for adhesive labels is a decision that goes beyond aesthetics. Because in most cases, it affects functionality, efficiency, durability and brand image.

This article will guide you through the main materials used in label manufacturing, their characteristics and applications in different industries.

Etiquetas adhesivas para alimentación


The importance of choosing the correct material for your label

Contrary to what many think, the choice of material is not just a matter of aesthetics or branding. It is true that the finish of the material is important at the plastic level, but it will also have a direct impact on efficiency, wear resistance and other factors.

Activities such as inventory management and order tracking, logistics or quality control depend largely on the versatility, durability and customization capacity offered by self-adhesive labels.

But, returning to aesthetics, the material also influences the perception of quality of a brand. A low-quality finish that wears out and text that is difficult to read quickly conveys a bad image that can offer a negative view to customers. On the other hand, labels made of more resistant materials, which also incorporate attractive designs, positively reinforce the brand thanks to their quality.

For all the reasons stated, choosing the right material for adhesive labels makes the difference between an efficient or poor labeling process, and between projecting a company’s image of quality or mediocrity.

The main label materials and their characteristics


When choosing material for labels, the most common options are the following:

  • Contact paper is the most economical option. It is light and suitable for printing, although less durable and resistant to humidity or sunlight.
  • Polyester is distinguished by its resistance to adverse conditions such as solvents and UV rays. It is one of the most durable.
  • Polyethylene and polypropylene are almost indestructible materials, with which plastic bags are also made. They are ideal for the food industry and outdoor applications thanks to their impermeability.
  • Foams are very light materials for irregular surfaces.

Ultimately, the choice between these materials will depend on the use and conditions to which the label will be exposed.

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the importance of the type of adhesive material. Acrylics are the most common, but there are other options such as those made from rubber or solvents. The behavior of the adhesive can be permanent, removable or repositionable. In addition, it may have other special behaviors such as temperature resistance (freezing adhesives) or that it does not leave a mark when removed.

Labels by industry: recommended materials

Each industry has particular needs that require specialized materials for their labels:

The food industry needs moisture-resistant materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene, to avoid degradation and contamination. The pharmaceutical company usually uses polyester or resistant papers to print detailed information, traceability codes and other data.

On the other hand, cosmetics, chemical and cleaning products demand waterproof materials that are resistant to aggressive substances. They use, for example, polyester or vinyl. The logistics sector adopts papers for its versatility in printing barcodes. The automotive industry uses polyester, aluminum or polypropylene labels suitable for extreme temperatures.

There are many more examples for many other types of products or sectors. In many cases, the advice of a professional is the basis for the choice.

Innovations in label materials

Technology is also transforming label materials in various industries. Let’s look at some examples.

Food and beverage companies use smart labels that indicate freshness and storage conditions. They can, for example, warn of contamination of food.

Pharmaceutical companies implement anti-counterfeiting labels for authentication and traceability.

Logistics companies use RFID tags for inventory control and theft prevention.

As a final example, the chemical industry uses thermosensitive labels that change color if there are abnormal temperature variations.


Tips for Selecting Label Material

To finish this guide, we just need to give some additional tips for choosing the material for self-adhesive labels. Some recommendations to keep in mind are:

  • Rely on expert advice based on use and needs.
  • Opt for suppliers with experience in different materials and printing methods.
  • Ensure the quality and durability of the material.
  • Order test samples before placing large orders.
  • Evaluate properties such as resistance, flexibility or printing capacity of each type of label.

Take into consideration ecological options, such as recycled or biodegradable paper.

Consider the use of special labels such as removable, thermal, photoluminescent, etc.


Asking a company specialized in manufacturing adhesive labels for advice on the available options and testing samples is one of the best tips to make the best decision according to your needs.


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