How To Choose Between Permanent And Removable Adhesive For Your Labels

There are certain aspects of labeling that require research, and then there are those that seem self-explanatory. “Removable adhesive,” is one such presumably obvious phrase. It is from this perceived obviousness, though, that confusion can arise. Many have realized, as they neared the end of their label design journey, that they don’t totally understand the difference between permanent and removable adhesives. So in an effort to prevent confusion, we’re going to break down the differences between them in the article below. 

What Is Label Adhesive?

For starters, what is an adhesive anyway? Well, it's a kind of gunky substance with a certain adherent quality. Or in other words, a gluey gel-like substance that occupies the back of the label. It matters not if that label is made of paper or plastic. This substance is what allows the label to cling to the exterior of your container. 


Think of a label adhesive in terms of the classic prank from Home Alone. Your container being Harry, the feathers - your label, and the glue is the label's adhesive. Those feathers aren't going anywhere.

Rubber Vs. Acrylic Adhesives

Now, a label adhesive can made be made from one of two things. Rubber or acrylic. Rubber-based adhesives are great for the long-term. If your product is housed in a plastic container, then these are your go-to. Just make sure the plastic container itself is stored in a reasonable room temperature environment. See, most rubber adhesives tend to lose their stickiness when made to endure really cold or really warm temperatures. Speaking of warmness, exposure to direct sunlight can also reduce the label’s ability to stick. If you have a product that is not meant to be left outside, or stored in extreme temperature conditions then you’ll want to give rubber adhesives a try. Otherwise, consider acrylic adhesives. 


Acrylic adhesive is made with the capacity to endure a wider range of temperatures. It can take on direct sunlight without losing any of its stickiness. It has difficulty clinging to plastic or other low surface-tension surfaces, but will adhere to most other containers and items with ease, and for a long time too.

What Is Hot-Melt? What Is Emulsion? What Is Solvent Coating?

These kinds of adhesives are typically used in conjunction with the liners of pressure sensitive labels. There are three ways that this is done. One method involves melting a rubber based adhesive. Once the rubber adhesive is in its melted and liquid state, it can be applied to the back of the liner. Acrylic liners, on the other hand, are typically applied using emulsion. Emulsion refers to the mixing of two liquid-like substances that are unable to form a homogenous liquid. Think water and oil. This heterogenous mixture is then dropped on the liner, and allowed to separate so that the adhesive can settle on the liner. The third method can be used in conjunction with either base adhesive, and makes use of solvent coating technology. As its name suggests the adhesive is applied via a solvent solution. 

What Is The Difference Between Permanent And Removable Adhesives?

So you’ve gotten the low down on adhesives. The question still remains what exactly is the difference between permanent adhesives and removable adhesives. Permanent adhesives typically make for a more cost-effective option. They’ll stick to your container and hang on for dear life, but that means you must be meticulous about the way in which you apply them. The reason being that once they’re attached to the container, it’ll be close to impossible to remove or reposition them without damaging the adhesive, label, or container.


One of our long time clients, Due South, machine applying labels to their craft beer, Mexican Standoff. These labels feature a White BOPP material with a permanent adhesive fit for cold and wet environments.

Removable adhesives allow for greater flexibility. With removable adhesives you are free to apply and reapply at your discretion. So it matters not if you mistakenly place it in a misaligned position on the container the first time. Some have even used removable adhesives for promotional peel-away labels. 

When ordering removable labels, however, it's important to understand if they are designed to be removed once or if they are designed to be re-positioned, as there are varying degrees of removability. Depending on your needs, a variety of removable adhesives can be considered.

So there you have it. The difference between permanent and removable adhesives. If you’d like to inquire further, consider reaching out to customer service team at 800.750.7764. If you’re good to go, you can get started ordering your labels with our online custom label tool, InstaProof. Thanks for reading and remember LabelValue is open Monday through Friday.