Can You Print Color On Clear Labels?

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You may have wondered if it’s possible to print color on clear labels. Clear labels offer better visibility than most label types, many people are skeptical about how colors will turn out on them. Our team has searched wide to find the truth about printing color on clear labels. Read on to see what we discovered.

Can you print color on clear labels? You can print any color of your choice, including white color, on clear labels. These clear films can host different shades of white, as well as other colors. Since they have no base color that your printed image may interact with, whatever color you have set on your graphic design is what you will see on the label after printing.

Printing color on clear labels is not as simple as it may seem. Many people have noticed that colors printed on clear labels often have a transparent or washed out appearance. Based on this experience, many people don’t know that it is possible to print vibrant colors on clear labels. But we can show you how to do it. Keep reading as we share the open secret on how to achieve high visibility when printing colors on clear labels.

A sample of how clear labels look when you print color on them

How Can You Print Vibrant Colors on Clear Labels?

The only way to improve color visibility on clear labels is to buy a label paper that has a white underprint. This offers the colors in your design an opaque base and, in turn, makes them more vibrant. Generally, colors usually appear duller and lighter on clear cast bases than they do on opaque materials.

This “white underprint” technique might seem like a simple addition, but it makes a lot of difference when printing with clear labels. They make your colors pop out the way they should, as opposed to appearing pale and washed out.

Will White Underprint Affect Color Shades?

White underprint will not affect the color shades in your design. It only makes the colors more vivid and increases the sharpness and overall quality of your design. It’s a great technique with absolutely no drawbacks.

✅ Video – White Underprint for Clear Labels

In this video, Erica Presco talks about why white underprint is a great technique for color labels. You will see examples of labels with the white underprint and how they differ from those without it. When you see the labels, you will better appreciate the importance of white underprints.

Can You Print White Ink On White Underprint?

You can still print with white ink on clear labels with white underprint. The white underprint does not give your film a white base. It is opaque, so your film will still have a clear base. So, any white color in your design will print out as white on the clear label despite the white underprint.

This means that you must ensure that your design has a transparent background if you do not desire to have a white background. Label printing is not like standard printing where white simply prints as no color. If you are printing on a clear label, white color will appear as white.

Can You Selectively Apply White Underprint?

For a more professional artistic effect, you can use white underprint only on areas where you want to enhance important texts. Other areas without the underprint will appear duller, giving them a watermark appearance. This effect appears better on clear labels than on any other print material.

However, if you are printing a logo or solid image, you should apply the white underprint to the entire print area. Your label would come out with brighter colors and better contrast when you do this.

How Else Can You Enhance Colors on Clear Labels?

Coating boosts the tactile and visual properties of clear label prints. It yields more color with a thin layer of ink and produces more contrast. It also adds thickness and weight to clear labels and makes them stiffer. What’s more, coating increases the durability of labels because it adds a protective layer to the base that helps prevent ink scuffing.

Coatings are mostly made of pigments, such as chalk, talcum, or clay. So they need binding agents, like starch, to help hold them together. Without the binding agents, powdery substances, like chalk and talcum, would not be able to adhere to the label’s surface and remain in place.

What Types of Coating Are Available?

There are two coating types available: matte and gloss. The matte coating helps to reduce the natural shiny tone of clear labels. The Gloss coating, on the other hand, enhances the shiny tone. Of these two types, gloss coating helps preserve the transparent background of clear labels better.

If you like clear labels for their waterproof quality, but prefer a dull finish, you should add the matte coating to your label. Note, however, that matte coating will reduce the otherwise clear film. The labels won’t lose their transparency but they will become slightly more opaque.

Gloss coating is ideal for labels with promotional branding, photos, and logos. The colors become more vibrant due to the reflective property of gloss coatings. What’s more, it preserves the clear film of your label and features color prints very nicely.

✅ Video – Inkjet PET transparent self-adhesive film

This video demonstrates the process of printing color on an inkjet clear film. It also shows a few demos on how to apply clear label prints on different items. In the end, there is a flashy display of various beautiful items with clear labels, including bottles, button badges, candles, guitars, helmets, and various household items among others.

Benefits of Printing on Clear Labels

Clear labels are ideal for labeling all kinds of products. They allow your product’s natural look to show through the packaging and label. In other words, your business or product branding shows alongside your product itself. This gives you a marketing advantage. What’s more, they are long-lasting and can withstand extreme conditions better.

Let’s examine the benefits of printing on clear films more closely:

The Labels Are Long-lasting

Clear labels are very durable. They can last anywhere from 3-15 years depending on where and how you use them. They often hold up against water, oil, chemicals, and the elements. But you should still take good care of your clear labels to increase their lifespan.

While clear labels can hold up against moisture and sunlight, it is better to store them in dry places without sunlight exposure. They would last longer under these conditions.

The Material Is Resistant To Water Damage

Clear labels are made of vinyl. Unlike paper and many other printing materials, lots of vinyl stickers are waterproof. This means that clear labels are ideal for outdoor products that can be under rainfall, such as car wraps. They are also ideal for products that require washing, including mugs and glassware, among other household items.

Clear Labels Can Withstand Extreme Conditions

Aside from rainfall, clear labels can also withstand other extreme conditions, such as chemical exposure and freezing temperatures. They have a long service life even when exposed to these conditions.

They Do Not Damage Under UV-ray Exposure

Many clear labels come with a UV-resistant film. This feature makes the already water-resistant clear label practically damage-proof. Generally, water and UV rays are the leading causes of damage to label prints. They make the colors fade over time and affect the print material too.

Related Questions

Can I Use Clear Labels For Shipping Labels?

You can use clear labels for shipping labels but it may not be the best option. So long as the barcode color appears dark enough, many scanners would detect it. But since clear labels often make colors duller, you might encounter difficulties with some scanners.

It is best to use a print material with white background and black ink for your shipping labels. The lines and spaces will appear distinct enough for all scanners to detect them without stress.

How To Apply Clear Label Prints To My Products?

You can apply your clear label print by hand or with an application machine. Either way, make sure you clean the surface thoroughly before you start applying the label. If you don’t remove contaminants like oils and dust, your label would not adhere properly.

All you need to remove contaminants is a clean cloth with warm water and mild soap. But make sure to wipe the surface dry before you start applying the label.

While applying the label, ensure that the label aligns properly. If you are using your hands, only touch the edges of the label to avoid staining the inner part of the label with your fingerprint. Finally, be sure to smooth out the label after application to remove any bubbles underneath it or along its edges.

How can I Prevent Ink From Smearing On My Labels?

Ink would smear on your labels when the label does not match with the printer. For instance, Laser and inkjet technologies require different film coatings for seamless printing. If you try printing with an inkjet printer on a laser label, you should expect the ink to smear. So ensure to use the label with its appropriate printer.

Also, note that it takes about one minute for ink to dry on clear labels with gloss coating. To prevent smearing, wait for the ink to dry before touching the labels. You should also avoid stacking multiple labels together before the ink dries.


In the end, the goal of branding and labeling is to make your items and product look more polished and give them a professional appearance. This is what you stand to achieve when you print color on clear labels. Using colored clear labels on your items or products would make them stand out. But don’t forget to apply the white underprint where necessary.

In this article, we have answered the question, “Can you print color on clear labels?” We have seen that this is not only possible but also valuable. You can surely count on the high print quality and vibrant colors that clear labels produce. With their gloss or matte finish, color prints on clear labels would attract customers and/or clients and help enhance your business.

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