How do I make professional-looking homemade lip balm labels?
February 22, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

How do I make semi-professional, waterproof labels for handmade lip balm tubes?

I am looking for a way to make labels that will fit on .15oz (4.25g) lip balm tubes. The labels need to be approximately 2 X 2 inches, have permanent adhesive to stay on the plastic well, need to be water resistant so the ink does not rub off, and have the ability to print on an ink jet printer. I have tried Avery 6572 Permanent labels, however the ink smeared and rubbed off the label. I then tried Avery 6578 Durable I.D. labels that are water-resistant, then I realized they were for laser printers only and will not work on my ink jet printer. I am seeking the most effective, best-looking way to create a durable label for the lip balm I make or an attracive, professional way to water proof permanent labels. I appreciate any suggestions.
posted by starsnstars to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Any good commercial printer will be able to help you. Basically, you're looking for a sandwich featuring an adhesive-backed stock which is printed, then overlaid with a clear protective film.
Alternately, the adhesive-backed stock can be overprinted with a clear protective coating. The film would be the most water-resistant.

An additional plus is that any professionally-printed piece will tend to look far more polished than anything you run-off on your ink-jet.

Anything you buy in a store and print yourself will rub off, because the ink is being laid-down on top of the paper and is not protected. You could experiment with hand-spraying the prints with a clear sealant, like CrystalClear. CrystalClear, though, can sometimes cause the ink to bleed, depending on how heavy you lay it down.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:57 AM on February 22, 2008

The only way you will be able to get truly waterproof labels is by having them printed. Any local printer can help you, or you could use one of the on-line label printers.

Any label you try to print yourself will run or pucker.
posted by Futurehouse at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2008

I haven't used the stuff myself, but this might do the trick if you want to stick with home printing. Alternatively, you could just steal their sealing method and use it on normal labels: "Spray your printed sheet evenly with Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear High Gloss spray until the sheet has a shine (2-3 coats)"
posted by contraption at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have a Brother P-touch label maker that makes good-looking laminated labels and claims to be suitable for outdoor use; there are a variety of tapes you can use and the labeler will do a variety of fonts although the exact feature depend on the model. they are widely available at office supply stores. The biggest drawback according to your specifications is that the widest tape is 1.5 inches. Dymo makes similar products but I have no personal experience with them.
posted by TedW at 8:31 AM on February 22, 2008

I once re-labeled lip balm tubes as gifts for a few friends, and I sealed them with Mod Podge. (I also used Mod Podge successfully in decoupaging my first cellphone.) It lasts a good long time, but it's not very professional-looking. I've also used clear packing tape for a bunch of things, as Greg Nog mentions. Both of these I'd recommend if you're making things for a friend or two, but it sounds like you need your finished product to be more polished... in which case, yeah, hie thee to a commercial printer.

(An added bonus of having them printed versus DIY is that you will save yourself the frustration of having the labels misalign for the twelfth time and throwing your printer across the room in disgust. Printing my own labels always makes me want to smash things.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:23 AM on February 22, 2008

There's probably no inkjet or laser printer lable system that's going to do what you want. Covering a good quality Avery label with tape or contact paper may work, but is hard to make look nice and is also very labour intensive.

We use both the Dymo and the Brother systems mentioned above at work. They both print on a white (or clear) adhesive which is then covered by a polyester coating. They both make good-looking B&W waterproof labels that are hard, but not impossible, to remove from plasic and glass. Both run in the $100-$200 dollar range. Colour label makers are in the $1-2k range.

The Brother system is like an older labeler, best for text only. The Dymo is a bit easier to put bitmaps/pictures on but it's still black and white, no gray scale, at least on the ones we've got.

Both the Dymo and the Brother are great if you need to do one-off or short-run labels. Consumables costs and time are both considerations if you need to do a lot of labels, more than a few hundred. If you need a lot of the same kind of labels, it's best to talk to a print shop.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2008

I just reread your question: 2" x 2" is not going to happen with either the Brother or Dymo labelers. The largest tapes they can take are 1" wide. There are other system which can make bigger labels, Brady for example, but they are quiet expensive.
posted by bonehead at 10:29 AM on February 22, 2008

I own a boutique bath and body business, and I have used waterproof labels from Online Labels successfully.

That said; word of advice...if these are for friends, you're good...but if these are for resale, and you haven't met the FDA requirements for could be in for a world of fines and legal issues. The FDA is really cracking down on homemade cosmetics people. I'm not sure why they've gotten so hardcore about it, but they have. So, make sure that your manufacturing facilities meet the standards, and certainly make sure your labels meet the requirements. If your labels meet the reqs, they'll often just pass by you at shows and whatnot.

Secondarily; do NOT *sell* anything for public consumption unless you're carrying at least a million dollars in product liability insurance. I recommend a policy that has an attorney retainer clause and a replacement value clause if you do shows or retail. I've never been sued, thank gods, but this is America...and people are litigious. (Sell is the key word there. Gifts aren't liable for the same sort of law suits according to my attorney...who is not your attorney and is not giving advice.)
posted by dejah420 at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

this isn't exactly helpful, but i've seen a professional lip balm label printer and it basically takes a ribbon of labels and then one or more ribbons of very thin colored tape and has a big head full of little pins that melt the colored ribbon onto the stickers in the desired pattern. it's kinda cool. (it also uses a laser to identify the beginning of each sticker.)
posted by snofoam at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2008

Laser printing onto the correct Avery labels will work really well. That's what we use for our very precious samples in the -80 freezer where they get wet and frozen and rubbed against each other. I can probably find out the exact kind we use if you need, but anything suitable for lab-use would work for you too.

Ink-jet, however, I think you're out of luck. The ink isn't waterproof and will make a mess when wet no matter what you print on. In this case I think the clear tape, carefully cut and applied, would be your best bet. FWIW my Blistex lip balm has a layer of clear plastic over the tube, covering the whole tube, label and all. So yours wouldn't look out of place or any less professional.
posted by shelleycat at 1:18 PM on February 22, 2008

I've had good luck with Papilio waterproof Inkjet Vinyl.
posted by whoda at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2008

Mmm, I loathe labels and printing that wipes off... ugh!!

What about a clear lid? (With the label sealed in under it?)

Or - what is on the label exactly? Maybe you could have a little flyer and the jar marked with a little design/logo to match?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2008

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