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Health & beauty label printing: this is how it’s done

Labels Health & beauty label printing: this is how it’s done


by Danny Mertens

Not one label is the same - different applications require different digital technology, which is precisely why printing is such an exciting business. Wine & spirits, food, beverages, pharma, durables or industrial chemicals: every label comes with its own aesthetic and functional requirements. In this article, we focus on health & beauty labels, a group of products with very specific requirements in terms of substrates and white opacity level.

Cosmetics, fragrances & make-up labels

Cosmetics, fragrances and make-up labels are mainly produced with synthetic substrates (white or clear, BoPP or PE). They must be resistant to humidity, contain sufficient levels of white opacity for the clear labels and look stunning on the shelf. There are two technologies which Xeikon recommends: dry toner and UV inkjet. The choice ultimately comes down to the desired image quality the brand owner expects.

1) Substrates

Two factors determine if a printing technology is suitable for a certain substrate: adhesion (if and how well the printed image stays fixed to the substrate) and pigment penetration (if and how well the ink or toner penetrates the substrate). For health & beauty labels, adhesion should be high, while pigment penetration should be avoided at all cost.

Synthetic substrates are most common for cosmetic labels. Due to its chemical affinity dry toner is a great choice as it can be used without any coating or primer. UV-curable inkjet requires a corona treatment to ensure a high enough surface tension and proper spread of the UV inkjet ink.

2) White opacity of cosmetic labels

For health & beauty labels, a sufficient level of white opacity is required. The opacity of a color is determined by the concentration of pigments and pigment particle size. Dry toner scores well on both accounts. White dry toner combines the highest pigment load with the largest particle size, offering white layers of an opacity that is generally higher than that of flexo white, in a single pass.

For UV-curable inks used in single-pass high-frequency jetting systems, the pigment particle size should be small enough to avoid nozzle clogging. Also, the required viscosity of the inks does limit the maximum possible pigment load. However, inkjet inks are capable of achieving an opacity comparable to that of screen printing, provided the print head features a low native resolution, producing a large-sized droplet, which is a disadvantage for design elements other than solids, and at potentially  lower printing speeds.

Look and feel of cosmetic labels

Dry toner gives a matte impression which, by applying a varnish, can give a glossy impression. When fine image details (offset look) are required this technology is preferred. UV inkjet gives a very high gloss and tactile impression, which can appeal to certain people. The image details are not as sharp as dry toner but this is not necessarily a requirement. The appearance of both technologies is not influenced when the labels get in touch with the water (condense) on the outside of the bottle.


In offering both UV inkjet and dry toner solutions, Xeikon can consult you in choosing the right technology for your business. The Xeikon PX3000 combines our trademark quality, versatility and speed with the possibilities of inkjet. The Xeikon CX3 is our top of the line choice for dry toner printing.


End-use label application Dry toner UV inkjet 
Food xx not recommended
Beverage xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Wine & Spirits xx too challenging a material
Pharma xx (finest detail in print) Xeikon CX3
Durable / Industrial Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)
Health & beauty xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Chemical Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)

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More on food label printing? Would you like a more in-depth look at the different digital printing technologies?

For our complete digital label press line-up, visit our label pages.

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