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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 is 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.

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.

Glossy label finishes have some visual benefits aside from just catching the light. The shine from a gloss give designs a lot of color contrast, which is great for label design with an interesting on more complex color scheme. That bright luster also makes products feel very new and exciting, much like a toy that just came out of its packaging for the very first time.

A jar of muscle builder gummies with a glossy label.

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.

Which Type of Label Finish is Right for Your Products?

Gloss, matte, and satin finishes are all excellent options for product labels, but they’re very different in terms of aesthetic. The key to figuring out which decorative finish is right for your brand largely depends on what type of message you want to communicate with your packaging.

Benefits of glossy labels

When you want your products to look bright and new, glossy is a great look. Glossy finishes feel decidedly more classic than their matte and satin equivalents. They also feel inherently new and exciting, which is great for many retail products. Glossy finishes pair nicely with designs that feature vivid colors, high-contrast images, or other visual elements that need to stand out on their own.

Because of it’s reflective nature, glossy laminates and varnishes work well in low-light environments or places where you really need your packaging to pop. They’re also a natural choice for labels made with holographic materials or other flashy substrates. While a matte or satin finishes would dull these showy effects, glossy finishes allow them to shine right through and wow your customers.

Benefits of matte and satin labels

One major advantage of matte and satin finishes is that they create a much more natural look than glossy finishes. A shiny surface could feel a bit artificial, so a soft matte or satin finish will feel more organic. That’s especially important if you want to attract people with all natural ingredients or showcase some other natural benefits of your products.

Matte and satin finishes can also have a decidedly unique feel to them. A non-reflective label plays nicely with vintage designs, as well as anything you want to feel unfussy and handcrafted. If you want a classic look that screams quality, look no further than matte laminates or satin varnishes.

There are also some practical advantages of matte and satin finishes. 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. The flat look also makes it easier to read text on matte and satin finishes since you won’t have to deal with any glare.

Three beer bottles with matte labels.

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.