How Security Labels Work

by Maverick Label | September 05, 2019

One of the things I was really intrigued by when I first started working at a label company were the security labels. How do they work? What should be your strategy for using them?

Since then I've had the chance to play around with a number of our security labels. The vast majority of security labels that we sell fall into two types: Tamper evident and anti-forgery/anti-counterfeiting. Each of these types include a couple of variants. Here's how they work and when you might want to use which.

Tamper Evident Labels

Tamper-evident labels, as the name implies, can show you when someone has tried to mess with your label. There are a couple of different strategies to deal with this. Note that these labels should be applied to a clean, dry surface and left to cure for 72 hours before being put into active use. The adhesive is strong, but needs time to bond.


Destructible labels are made from a somewhat brittle material that splinters easily one applied to a surface. The adhesive on these labels is fairly strong. Once the label has cured to the surface, if someone tries to remove the label, the material may come up, but it breaks into small pieces.

It's very difficult to remove all the pieces from the surface where the label was applied. Speaking as the person trying to remove the label in the video, I can tell you it was pretty frustrating. The labels had been applied to the clean, dry plastic surface and left over the long weekend. As an aside, the trials I made with a metal surface were even more frustrating; I could hardly get any pieces off the metal.

Destructible labels are great to prevent item swapping. You can use them to check for actions that void warranties or that could signal sabotage or intended damage. The material is rated for indoor and outdoor use. It's available in our asset tag program as well. [/su_column][/su_row]

"Residue" Labels

Another form of tamper evident labels are the ones that leave a residue pattern behind. These labels are made with several layers. The top layer has your artwork, logo, text, etc. The next layer is the residue pattern. The most common residue patterns are VOID, a checkerboard pattern, or a series of small dots. Then below that is a very strong adhesive that bond tightly with the residue pattern and the application surface.

The labels seem fairly easy to remove, but the only part that really comes up is the top layer. The pattern layer remains on the item, and requires some real work to remove. Once the top layer has been pulled up even a little, it can't be laid back down, so small attempts at removal will show tampering.

Anti-Forgery / Anti-Counterfeiting

What are anti-forgery labels? They're labels containing some sort of device that is difficult to copy or replicate. Our most commonly-ordered ones either have a holographic surface or our speciality laminate on some or all of the label. We've also made some really cool custom labels where what seems to be an empty space on the label shows an image under a black light - seriously cool, but useful to a very narrow range of applications.

Holographic Labels

We have a number of different holographic labels suited to pretty much every use. Our small security seals have both a holographic surface layer that says "Secure" and "Genuine" and a residue pattern of small silver dots when removed. You can order them with a small amount of text, if you want. These are great for sealing your packages; video, software or music DVD cases; or for use as inexpensive cautionary labels.

Our best selling holographic labels, however, are larger and come in three different shapes, with five different patterns. Three of these are designs - hyper plaid, mosaic, and cracked ice, and two are word patterns, stating "Secured / Void if Removed" and "Genuine Original."

All five patterns are displayed in the video, in the large oval labels on top. You can also order these labels with a Void or a checkerboard residue pattern, to double up on security.

Diamond Dust Laminate

Diamond dust label at an angle

The holographic labels are very cool, but sometimes that look just doesn't work with your product. Maybe you want something more elegant, or you just want a touch of glitter rather than a labels-worth. Our diamond dust laminate offers you this, while still providing a label that is difficult to counterfeit.

What's really great about it is that it can be placed on a wide range of label sizes and even allows for cutouts and irregular shapes. In the sample shown, the laminate has been applied to only certain parts of the label. When looking at the label straight-on, the colored area appears to be purple and white. It's only when you look at it an an angle that you can see the glitter of the laminate.

We've applied diamond dust to labels destined for the cosmetics, personal care, and electronics industries. It also adds some glamor to promotional or limited edition items.

We offer free samples of all these security labels. To request those, follow the links for the labels you want, and click the blue "Free Samples" button. If you want samples of more than one kind of security label, state that in the notes section provided in the sample request. We'll bundle the samples together for you.