The Difference Between Glossy, Satin, and Matte Labels

There are plenty of finishing options for product labels, but there’s only one that’s perfect for your design. Glossy, matte, and satin finishes can all look amazing in different situations, so it’s important to figure out which options are right for the look and feel of your labels. Let’s break down the differences between these types of label finishes and why one might be the best option for your products.

Glossy Satin Matte
Durability High with laminate Moderate Moderate
Print Quality High vibrancy and contrast Balanced sheen, good clarity Soft, elegant appearance
Material Flexibility Less flexible Somewhat flexible Most flexible
Water Resistance High with proper coating Moderate to high Moderate to high
UV Resistance High with UV coating Moderate Moderate
Temperature Resistance Moderate to high Moderate High
Cost Higher cost Moderate cost Generally lower cost

What is a Glossy Label Finish?

A glossy finish is a characteristic of laminate or varnish that has a high shine effect. This finish will leave a glossy sheen to your product labels that will certainly pop to consumers.

The reason for this shine is because glossy finishes reflect light. A gloss laminate adds a protective film to the top of your label that will not only protect your design, but also catch the light in attractive ways. A gloss varnish is applied as a liquid that cures and dries to form a protective layer that also reflects light while shielding your label from harm.

Applications for Glossy Labels

Glossy labels stand out thanks to their high-shine finish that does more than just catch the light. This type of label is known for enhancing color contrast, making it an ideal choice for designs that feature complex vivid colors or intricate details.

A jar of muscle builder gummies with a glossy label.

Glossy labels can be ideal for:

  • Beverages and Frozen Items: Glossy labels are ideal for beverages and frozen items due to their moisture-resistant properties, ensuring the packaging remains vibrant and intact in cold conditions.
  • Luxury Products: The premium look and feel of glossy labels aligns well with luxury beverages, gourmet foods, cosmetic items, and health supplements.
  • Colorful Labels: Products featuring vibrant colors or detailed artwork benefit from the added depth and dimension offered by gloss finishes.
  • Hair Care Products: Given their ability to resist moisture, glossy labels are a popular option for hair care lines that often face humid environments.

Apart from visual advantages, glossy labels come with practical benefits as well. Their capacity to withstand moisture makes them suitable candidates for beverages and food items prone to condensation or stored in refrigeration units. That kind of durability ensures these high-shine labels maintain their composition through each stage—right from transportation all the way up to shelf placement.

What are Satin and Matte Label Finishes?

Unlike a gloss, a matte finish is an effect that creates a dulled and non-reflective surface. Matte laminates are applied to the top of your label material in the same fashion as their glossy counterparts, except that these finishes have the opposite of shiny. A satin finish accomplishes the same goal as matte laminate. The key difference is that satin is the term used for UV varnishes, whereas matte is used in describing laminates.

While glossy surfaces shine for consumers, matte and satin finishes attract attention for different reasons. The dulled effect is by no means boring – in fact, the subtle, muted look imparts a sophistication that creates a more mature, natural feel for your products.

The “flat” effect of a matte or satin finish also allows other design elements to shine. These capabilities allow you to play with the softer aesthetic of matte and satin finishes to add some class and intrigue to your packaging.

Three beer bottles with matte labels.

Applications for Satin Labels

Satin labels are a great middle ground in label finishes, marrying the understated elegance of matte labels with a hint of the reflective charm found in glossy labels. This blend results in a satin-like surface that softly catches light, offering visual appeal without overwhelming shine. This makes satin labels a common option for brands wishing to project sophistication and quality through their packaging.

Satin labels can be ideal for:

  • Custom Candle Labels: The soft glow from candles is perfectly complemented by the muted luster of satin labels, enhancing the product’s aesthetic while maintaining an air of luxury.
  • Beauty Products: From lotions to serums—beauty products benefit from the sophisticated touch offered by these labels; it suggests quality and care put into what’s inside.
  • Wine Bottles: Wine producers often choose satin-finished labels as they add a layer of refinement suitable for showcasing on dining tables or gifting occasions.

In general, it’s easier to write on matte and satin finishes than glossy ones. That can be important if you handwrite batch numbers or add other details to your labels after application.

Rum bottle with custom label

Applications for Matte Labels

Matte labels offer a distinct look that sets them apart in the world of product packaging. Known for their non-reflective finish, matte paper labels bring an air of sophistication and understated elegance to products. These non-reflective labels excel at making text and intricate designs stand out without the distraction of glare.

Satin labels can be ideal for:

  • Luxury Goods: Products positioned at the higher end of the market often leverage matte labels attractive qualities to signify exclusivity.
  • Organic Products: The natural-looking label surface aligns perfectly with organic or eco-friendly brand values, suggesting simplicity and purity.
  • Vintage-style Designs: Brands looking to evoke nostalgia or artisanal craftsmanship find a perfect match in the textured backdrop offered by matte finishes.

If you want a classic look that evokes quality, look no further than matte laminates or satin varnishes.

Invest in the Right Label Solution for Your Products

No matter which aesthetic you prefer, it’s important to use the right finish to enhance and protect your design. Blue Label works with you to determine the best mix of material, adhesive, and finish for your exact labeling needs. Whether you need custom matte labels, high gloss labels, or some other solution, we can deliver the right solution for your exact needs.

Ready to invest in quality, custom printed labels for your products? Contact us today to talk about your next label project.

How Labels are Made: Digital Printing from Design to Finished Product

Ever wondered what it takes to print your labels? Whether it’s a minimalist design or an ornate construction, each label goes through a specific process to produce an eye-catching finished product. Here’s what it takes to turn a label design into a finished product label.

Step 1: Label Quotes and Prepress

The very first step of the digital printing process involves gathering information and putting together a quote. As a digital label printing company, the first things we’ll need are: the size of your label, the material you want your labels printed on, and some quantities of your total label order. With that information, we’ll send back a quote for the project. If everything looks good, we’ll then need your artwork so we can send a digital proof for final approval before print.

With all the approvals confirmed, your artwork gets sent to our prepress department to review your print ready file. The prepress process essentially acts as a last line of defense before anything goes to the printer. This team reviews various elements of your art file to make sure that your artwork is prepared for printing. This includes making sure that the fonts are outlined, spot colors and Pantones are correctly labeled, images are embedded, and any other key details are addressed before we print your labels.

A prepress expert examinging barcodes on a product label.

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The prepress team will also look for any label elements that may be improved. For example, if your label has a barcode, they may do a test print of your label to see how well the barcode scans. If it doesn’t grade out well, they will double check with you to see if you want to modify the barcode or surrounding areas to improve the scan-grade.

Whether they discover an opportunity for improvement or issues with the art file, the prepress team will alert your account manager and send back your file so that your label is perfectly prepped for the printers. Once that’s done, it’s time for the next phase.

Step 2: Printing

When the art file is good to go, it moves to our state-of-the-art HP Indigo digital printing presses. Unlike traditional printing methods, digital printing doesn’t require the use of plates to transfer images onto labels. Instead, the HP Indigos read the digital files and use electronically charged particles in the inks to apply designs directly onto the label material. By cutting out the need for plates, digital printing not only saves you money on plate costs and setup fees, but also provides quicker turnarounds to save you precious time.

The process during the printing phase is simple: to print. The label material comes in long rolls that are fed through the printer, where the machine will print your design onto your material of choice. Once the rolls are printed, it’s time for them to get any finishing treatments and be cut for use.

Product labels going through a finishing machine.

Step 3: Finishing and Die Cutting

Once the labels are printed, they go through a finishing machine. This machine can apply many different treatments to a label, ranging from aesthetic elements like embossing or hot foil stamping to protective top layers like laminates and UV varnishes.

Another important purpose of the finishing process is to die cut each label and slit down the large roll into manageable, multiple rolls. To minimize waste and printing costs, we’ll lay out the labels to print side by side. After being die cut, the labels roll through a slitting portion of the finishing machine, the rolls are slit by little razors so that there are two or three rolls at the end of the press. This prepares them for the final stage of the label-making process.

Product labels being rewound to exact counts.

Step 4: Winding and Shipping

Now that the rolls are finished and slit to a manageable size, it’s time to rewind each roll. The labels come off the finishing machines with large quantities on each roll, but that can be an issue for certain applicators. That’s why rewind machines re-roll your labels with exact quantities to break them up into more manageable amounts for your business.

After rewinding, the packaging department conducts a final quality check to review and ensure that your labels are good to go. Once everything is clear, your labels are packed up and shipped out so that you can use them for your products.

Simplify the Label-Making Process for Your Business

It takes multiple steps to produce a quality product label, but that doesn’t mean the experience has to be difficult. At Blue Label, we guide you through the process from start to finish. This collaborative approach allows us to understand what you and your labels need. Contact Blue Label today about your next label project.