Gloss vs. Matte Inkjet Labels 

When it comes to color printing, there are many decisions to make when creating your custom inkjet labels.

Choosing the right shape, size, and material will set your label apart from others and determine how customers will view your product.

One way to separate your label look from others is by adding a gloss or matte finish.

Gloss and matte finishes help highlight the overall look of your label. Colors, texts, and images can all be enhanced by simply using a finish.

The main difference between these two finishes is the contrasting final look they give products. The completed label look you want will be the deciding factor on which finish is best for your application.

Gloss Labels 

As the name suggests, gloss labels have a glossy shine to them.

The sleek finish reflects light from all angles as it moves across the label’s surface. This reflection enhances colors and accentuates details for more pronounced pictures. Prints and designs are able to “pop!” as gloss coatings provide a crisp look and sharp contrast.

Gloss is a popular option for prime labels. These are customer-facing labels that need to stand out on retail shelves against other products. By adding a gloss finish, colors are richly enhanced to appear more vibrant with a polished, professional look. This draws attention to your label without being distracting.

A gloss label shows the light reflecting off of it as it's moved back and forth

Gloss finishes can be added to different label materials, such as paper or film.

One benefit of using coatings is their ability to add a layer of protection to labels when combined with synthetic materials. For example, gloss paper inkjet labels have low levels of resistance to water and abrasions. However, gloss film labels are extremely durable when in contact with these conditions.

If you’re looking to draw attention to your labels with a shiny, reflective look, gloss inkjet labels might be the right fit for you.

  • Makes labels “pop”
  • Shiny, reflective look
  • Enhances color vibrancy
  • Accentuates details
  • Customizable for paper & synthetic materials
  • Not recommended for barcodes & QR codes
  • Not recommended for shipping labels
  • Glare can make labels hard to read

Matte Labels 

While they may not be as vibrant as gloss, matte offers labels a more subtle, decorative effect and smooth feel.

Light does not reflect off of matte labels, which gives them a satiny appearance. Matte softens the look of colors and prints so they may not appear as vivid. This subdued finish is ideal for printing labels that need a muted, non-reflective look.

Handcrafted, organic, and natural-looking products have a more vintage appeal with matte. The unpolished look displays a natural texture that is better for unique hand-drawn or written designs, lending to a more authentic look.

Matte is also popular for adding a luxurious feel to labels, making customers feel as though they are purchasing a high-end product. They can be seen on food and beverage labels, beauty product labels, and alcohol labels.

A matte label reveals an unpolished, non-reflective surface as it's moved from side to side

Most industrial applications use matte labels as it enhances the quality of the image. Shipping and address labels utilize the non-reflective finish, making prints easier to see by humans and machines. Scanners for barcodes and QR codes are able to better read the printed image without an added glare.

Matte finishes can be added to different label materials, such as paper or film.

One benefit of using coatings is their ability to add a layer of protection to labels when combined with synthetic materials. For example, matte paper inkjet labels have low levels of resistance to water and abrasions. However, matte film inkjet labels are extremely durable when in contact with these conditions.

If you’re looking for labels with an unpolished, smooth appeal, matte inkjet labels might be the right choice for you.

  • Softens colors and designs
  • Unpolished, smooth finish
  • Gives authentic, vintage look
  • Great choice for barcodes & QR codes
  • Customizable for paper & synthetic materials
  • Colors are more muted
  • Can sometimes have a dull appearance
  • Can lessen the clarity of small details

Label Look vs Packaging

While your label’s look is an important part of choosing a finish, there are other elements that should be considered before making a final decision.

The overall finished look of the product needs to be a main factor. The reason for this is because certain finishes flatter some material surfaces over others. Your label look and application surface should compliment each other.

The material of containers or packaging that matte or gloss labels will be applied to should be another part to your finished look. These materials include:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastic

Applications can vary depending on the type of finish used.

For example, gloss inkjet labels are ideal for glass bottles and jars, like wine or jams, as the surface is also reflective and adds additional shine to the product. Matte inkjet labels are ideal for frosted containers by enhancing the smooth, satin look of the product.

Container color and design will also impact the color and design of your label. Matching colors and tones is key to ensuring they balance each other instead of canceling each other out. This includes background colors as they can also affect the overall look of your labels.

If your products will come in contact with moisture, heat, oils, or chemicals, or need to be resistant to smudging and scratching, a film inkjet label is best. Paper inkjet labels are best suited for indoor, short-term applications away from these elements.

Buying Gloss & Matte Inkjet Labels 

Inkjet labels come in a large variety of sizes, materials, and finishes, offering users the ability to customize labels for any application. This includes business, manufacturing, and industrial settings.

Most inkjet roll labels rolls have a 3” core inner diameter (ID) and 6” outer diameter (OD) to properly fit inside the printer. 2” core ID is also a popular size for inkjet labels. Labels can be die-cut or continuous with reflective sensors for customized labels at any size.

Many inkjet printers support labels with gloss or matte finishes. Some inkjet printers, like the Epson C7500G, are primarily designed to print on gloss surfaces, although they can support multiple media types and finishes.

An Epson C7500G inkjet printer with a color prime label being printed

At Smith Corona, we carry various label sizes in different materials and colors to ensure you are choosing the best label for your application. Shop smithcorona.com to view our full range of products or call 1-800-875-7000 to place your order!

Conclusion

There are a variety of label applications that can benefit from a gloss or matte finish. 

These coatings are a unique way to add versatility to your labels and enhance the appearance of your product for a more sophisticated, customized look. 

Be sure to explore your label options so you know you are getting the best product for your application!