Waterproof vs Water Resistant Labels: What's The Difference And How Do I Choose The Right One?

Waterproof vs Water Resistant Labels: What's The Difference And How Do I Choose The Right One?

Guide to Labels for Your Refillable Shower Bottles

I see labels being offered for shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other liquid soap and body care products all the time.

Some say they're waterproof.

Some say they're water resistant.

And some don't tell you what they are (most likely because they haven't been tested for water uses).

When it comes to placing a label on something that's going to have water running over it and being handled on a daily basis, I believe it's important to know the difference.

And I did all the research before I ever came out with my first label in 2017 so I could be sure the labels would last for years, and not just a few uses or a few months.

In this article, I’m answering some of the most important questions about choosing the right label for your refillable bottles, particular the ones you’re using in your showers and at your bathroom and kitchen sinks.

Let’s start by learning the difference between the terms “waterproof” and “water resistant” as they apply to labels you place on your refillable bottles.


What is the difference between waterproof and water resistant when it comes to labels?

You may be surprised to learn that there is no standardized body of definitions to using the terms “waterproof” or “water resistant” for labels. You can’t call a watch waterproof unless it undergoes rigorous testing according to certain standards. But the same isn’t true for labels. What one company calls waterproof could be considered only water resistant to someone else.

Generally speaking, however, waterproof labels are typically more resistant to water seepage and infiltration than water resistant labels.

They’re also typically more durable.

A paper label with no film covering can be considered water resistant if it doesn’t immediately bleed or peel when exposed to water or humidity.

But you won’t find a paper label that’s waterproof.

And waterproof doesn’t have to mean permanently impermeable by water or humidity but is generally accepted to mean it’s impermeable for a longer period of time than water resistant materials.

And then there’s the distinction between whether a label is just exposed to water or humidity and whether it’s submerged in water.

Add to that the fact that labels will be handled on a daily basis when applied to a refillable bottle, particularly in the shower or at the sink.

All these factors should be taken into account when determining whether a label is water resistant or waterproof.

At, Bottiful Home, we take all these factors quite seriously because we want you to have the best label your money can buy so it lasts for years and years.

We purchase all our waterproof labels from Avery, a well-known label manufacturer in California.

And we only purchase their pre-printed waterproof labels for use on refillable bottles for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, lotion and other liquid products because the process of printing them, then coating them with a waterproof membrane on top ensures they will remain waterproof for many years into the future.

Avery has already spent the time testing their labels for watertightness, and we’ve tested them too, since 2017.

And we haven’t experienced any failure to the labels yet.

An Avery.com blog article explains the thorough testing process they apply to their labels to ensure they can feel good about calling a label waterproof or water resistant.

Check out that article.

You may be surprised by the high standards they hold.


Waterproof vs Water Resistant Labels Quick Reference

graphic comparison of main qualities of waterproof vs water resistant labels

Can I print waterproof labels at home?

One of the burning questions you may have is, can you print your own waterproof labels at home?

If you’re a DIYer at all, you may have tried to create your own labels for your shampoo and conditioner bottles.

When I first started Bottiful Home in 2017, I researched and tested every method I could think of for creating waterproof labels in bulk.

So I tried some of the DIY options where you can purchase so-called waterproof labels and print them at home.

You’re supposed to let them dry for while before using them.

I did.

I let them dry for days.

But they still bled when exposed to water after several days.

Plus you have to consider that your shower isn’t just humid.

You’re actually going to have water running over the surfaces of your refillable shower bottles sometimes, and you’re going to be touching them and handling them while they’re wet too.

Anything that is a DIY option did not prove to hold up to these conditions in my own personal testing.


Can I make a label waterproof?

There are a couple of ways you could print your own labels and then make them waterproof if you really want to.

Keep in mind, it won’t be the exact same look and feel as buying professionally printed waterproof labels, but if you’re just looking for something that will serve the purpose, you can accomplish it.

Here’s are two methods that can turn any label into a waterproof label (and one that will be water resistant):

  1. You can print your label on any inkjet or laser printer or even hand-write one on a piece of paper, then cover it with clear packing tape. In order to ensure water doesn’t seep in around the edges, you’ll need to go past the edge of your label with your tape. Keep in mind that if you ever want to remove this label, there will be adhesive from the packing tape left behind that you’ll need to remove with a goo remover like Goo Gone.
  2. You can print the same label or handwritten marking on regular paper and then cover it in a clear matte varnish like Rustoleum Clear Matte Finish Spray or Mod Podge Gloss Clear Acrylic Sealer. Either of these methods will do a decent job of sealing the paper as long as you ensure that you apply to the entire label, including the edges. Be aware though, that you should spray the labels after applying then labels to your bottles to ensure a tight water seal. And spraying your bottles could have an impact on its glossiness, frostiness etc. You may want to tape off every area of the bottle that you don’t want to spray to avoid changing the look of your bottle.
  3. And the third way you can make your own label close to waterproof is to use clear contact paper. This is will similarly to the clear packing tape method, but unlike the packing tape, contact paper has a less permanent adhesive. It’s designed to be removable. That means the adhesive will not permanently block water from running under it. So it’s more of a water resistant treatment than waterproof. And you’ll still need to go past the edges of your label to ensure water doesn’t seep in from around the edges.


Are vinyl stickers waterproof?

The short answer here is, it depends.

When it comes to vinyl stickers, there are different types of vinyl, different types of adhesive and different types of top coatings.

Most vinyl stickers will resist water for longer periods of time than paper stickers.

But that doesn’t mean they’re waterproof.

In order for a vinyl sticker to be truly waterproof, it needs to have a durable top coating, fade resistant inks and colorings and strong permanent adhesive.

The problem with these constraints is that you often don’t know what the top coatings are on vinyl stickers, especially if you’re purchasing them from a handmade sticker artist on a platform like Etsy or Amazon Handmade.

That’s because the artist doesn’t know what they’re coated in either.

They’re just using vinyl rolls they bought off the shelf that doesn’t supply that information.

It’s best to think of vinyl stickers as water resistant, albeit a higher level of resistance than a paper sticker with no top coating.


Choosing the right label for your refillable bottles

In order for your labels to be considered waterproof for many years to come when applied to your shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap bottles, there are several factors you have to keep in mind.

Some of these factors are:

  • water exposure frequency and level (full submersion vs. air humidity)
  • handling frequency
  • light exposure
  • adhesive strength
  • label paper durability
  • label paper top coat material

If any of these isn’t properly assessed, you more likely have a water resistant material than a waterproof one.

But how long it’s water resistant isn’t really quantifiable since there are no industry standards for labels.

It could be resistant for only a few days or it could resist water for years, depending on which factor isn’t perfect and how far from perfect it is.

The other half of the decision you have to make is, how much time and energy do you really want to invest in creating, applying and sealing labels onto your refillable shower bottles?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help assess your level of desired DIY:

  • do you love DIY, or do you prefer something that's done for you?
  • do you prefer a professional finish, or something more homemade or hand-written?
  • do you like everything to look uniform, or are you ok with some inconsistencies?
  • do you like the look of your own handwriting, or would you do better with a printed label?
  • Is the time you will spend on creating the labels more valuable to you than the cost of buying them already made?

Do you want the labels to last for many years to come? Or do you like to change your styles often? Frequent style changes could mean water resistant solutions are fine for you.


What you get when you buy Bottiful Home waterproof labels

At the time of writing this article, I currently have two design options for preprinted waterproof labels for your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, dish soap and many other liquid household products.

There’s a black and white version that is a bit reminiscent of the chalkboard style look.

And there’s a woodgrain background style that’s a little more farmhouse style.

Both are truly waterproof and look fantastic on any of our neutral refillable bottles that are unprinted. And they fit perfectly within the embossed oval on my wide mouth bottles.

I purchase all my bottle labels from Avery.

They make the best label I could find for placing on shampoo and conditioner bottles or any bottle that will be exposed to high levels of water, daylight and handling.

Our waterproof labels don't bleed.

They don't peel.

They don't smudge.

They're truly the best.

And the best is all I'm interested in offering you.

Check out my waterproof labels for refillable bottles all over your home at this link.

Or if you're ready to purchase, choose your set and click Add to Cart below:

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black & white rings waterproof labels for shampoo and conditioner
black & white waterproof labels: what you get in the package
gray wide mouth bottle w woodgrain waterproof label


Other articles you may enjoy:

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Top 5 Shampoo and Conditioner Refill Products on Amazon in 2023 – BottifulHome

Refillable Body Wash Bottle by Bottiful Home is the Most Versatile for – BottifulHome

2021 Guide to Lotion Pumps for Refillable Bottles: Everything You Need to Know

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