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Matte or Glossy Label Finish?

Which Do You Want on Your Packaging?

When designing your labels or packaging, you’ll need to decide between a matte or glossy finish. Or, put another way, do you prefer shiny or dull?

If you’re asking me, I would choose matte gold rather than shiny because I just love a matte finish. I always choose matte when having photographs printed or selecting wall paint. On the other hand, I’m well aware of how many people out there prefer something shiny and they will always go with a glossy finish.

Which looks best on labels and Stickers – matte or glossy?

When having custom labels printed, customers have to choose whether they want a matte or glossy finish. This decision will make a huge difference in the overall look of the label or sticker. There are so many choices to make that it can boggle the mind. Should you choose a matte or gloss paper, dull or bright foil, UV or imprintable varnish, matte or gloss lamination, dull flat ink or lustrous foil stamping?

Each of these decisions will change the look of your label; but more importantly there are other things to consider when making this decision:

Aside from the look of your labels or stickers, you need to consider that these two finishes feel totally different to the touch. Is that going to matter? Also, you might want to factor in your design and the type of content being printed. The extra shine of glossy paper makes the colors more vivid, so if your design includes giant colorful graphics, this might work best. Matte paper is more muted, so if your label has a pastel design with a lot of text, a matte finish may be best.

Custom Embossed Stickers

If you’re thinking of ordering custom embossed stickers you have four different choices, starting with matte and bright in either silver or gold. If you’re considering an embossed foil without ink (blind emboss), you need to consider the artwork because if you choose bright foil it could be too reflective for the text to be read, so the matte foil may work best. If you still want a bright shiny foil, you might want to add a metallic ink for some contrast to get the artwork to “pop” while maintaining a metallic look to the stickers.

Full-color Shaped Labels and Stickers

When printing these types of labels, we typically recommend using poly or glossy paper, rather than going with matte. This is because a glossy substrate will do a better job of holding the ink, making it look clearer and more vibrant when printed. If you use matte paper some of the ink will absorb into the paper, making the label look a bit washed out. So, unless you want your labels to have a faded look, avoid ink on matte paper.

However, some label designs are meant to have a distressed, vintage look and if this is what you want then a matte stock might work great. But most people want a bright well-defined look when it comes to their inks. Our recommendation for creating a balance between a matte finish and a solid color would be to use a matte lamination on glossy-printed stock paper.

Another thing to consider would be whether you want a label that can be written or stamped on. If so, you would be better off choosing an imprintable varnish or matte lamination than a glossy finish. Gloss lamination actually sweats, and this repels the ink in a lot of pens, markers, and stamps, which can end up causing a mess.

How to Make the Text on Your Labels Shine

If you want the text on your labels to shine, you need to know that a lot of inks are water-based. This means that even if they come in gold or silver, they really don’t have any metallic shine to them like you would find with actual metal or foil. Therefore, if you want a shiny luminescence to your text, you have a few different options:

  • You can use water-based ink on shiny stock paper, maybe shiny gold, and cover the entire background in ink, but not the text. This way, the text is shiny gold. If you’re using light-colored ink, there’s a chance that some of the metallic flecks from the paper could pop through the ink, so if you want more opacity, white ink could be used as a backup beneath the colored ink.

  • You could also stamp or imprint a colored metallic foil onto your label instead of using liquid ink. This process is called fast foil, hot stamping, or foil stamping. This is not the same as embossing, which creates a 3D impression on the paper. Fast foil creates flat, shiny lettering.

  • Another option is to use thermal resin inks. These are used when you digitally print something on a synthetic substrate, like printing shiny silver lettering on a clear vinyl surface.

In the end it all depends on how you plan on using your labels or stickers. If you want them to look shiny and luxurious, a glossy finish is your answer, otherwise a matte finish may execute your design just as well. You do not have to figure this out all by yourself because our label experts are ready to help you determine the best options for your application. Please contact us with all your questions.


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