You’ve reached the product development phase where you’re looking for material: congratulations! It’s time to cover your eyes and press order on the first tape you see online… Or not.
Although the advertisements on the first page tempt you, you’re also aware that quality demonstrates itself best through proof of concept.
Strouse has filled hundreds of orders with stick-to-skin applications, but we’re always looking for new materials and ways to process stick-to-skin adhesives for maximum effectiveness.
Before diving into our recommendations, it’ll be helpful for you to review the primary types of stick-to-skin tapes and how to select which category is right for you.
Which Adhesive Tapes Can You Use on Skin?
Although duct tape is excellent at holding down tarps, it’s not the most reassuring material to see in a skincare kit or an operating room.
Nowadays, manufacturers build tapes explicitly meant for skin applications. These materials lend themselves to the converting process and have been through rigorous testing to ensure their composition and capabilities are well-documented.
For the safety of your loyal customers or patients, it’s essential to research the material that will work best for you. Here’s a quick overview of your two main types of skin adhesives to give you an idea of what you’re looking for before we move on to the specifics:
SILICONE SKIN ADHESIVES
Silicone skin adhesives typically form weaker adhesive bonds, which is ideal for delicate/fragile skin and repositionable applications.
Elderly, children, diabetic patients, or anyone with pre-existing skin conditions can benefit from malleable silicone skin adhesives that prevent tearing. Silicone skin adhesives are also considered biocompatible because they don’t tend to cause harm.
Unfortunately, silicone adhesives can also be more expensive, and they don’t always have enough holding power to handle what you’re attaching.
ACRYLIC SKIN ADHESIVES
Acrylic skin adhesives are often stronger than silicone and hold more weight at a lower cost.
While silicone skin adhesives are used for light fixings or gentle cosmetic purposes, acrylic skin adhesives can hold wearable devices such as glucose monitors.
Suppose you’re interested in learning more about the difference between silicone and adhesive before making a choice. In that case, you can read about a broader range of differences:
7 of the Best Stick to Skin Tapes
As we all know, “best” is subjective, so what makes these seven tapes better than any others?
Strouse has processed most of these materials in large-scale projects, running them through our machines and cutting them with standard die cut tools to observe how they perform.
We’ve also accessed, compiled, and compared data about the tape’s material composition, test results, and other information regarding each tape, most of which you can also find online. Our list is organized from tape that covers general stick-to-skin applications to more specific uses.
This article isn’t sponsored: it’s a compilation of products Strouse has worked with throughout the years and found especially useful to our projects.
#1: 3M MEDICAL SILICONE TAPE 2476P
3M’s 2476P medical silicone is a breathable, repositionable, and fluid resistant adhesive tape. This adhesive is actually used in several constructions depending on the use case. It is the most widely used adhesive in stick-to-skin applications.
This material has one of the broadest suggested applications on our list, which are as follows:
- General medical applications requiring breathability
- Device attachment to skin
- General taping to fragile skin
- Healthcare or medical device construction
- Cover tape for finished device
This tape is a white spunlace polyester nonwoven fabric medical tape that comes with a clear non-silicone release liner. It is flexible, conformable, and it doesn’t pull hair.
#2: AVERY DENNISON’S MED 5707
If you’ve been keeping up with Strouse’s blogs, there’s a slight chance that you’ll recognize this tape from the #5 slot on our wound dressing tape ranking.
Avery Dennison’s MED 5707 is an all-around, breathable tape with an acrylic adhesive designed for medical applications. The fabric is another white spunlace nonwoven, and the overall tape has a storage and shelf life of about two years when stored at the recommended conditions.
While it managed to rank number 5 on our ranking for best wound dressing tape, MED 5707 can also function exceptionally well in situations other than wound dressing, such as fixing devices in electromedical, ostomy, and other wound care applications.
Other listed features and benefits: Avery Dennison’s MED 5707 is a comfortable, breathable, moisture-resistant, heat-sealable, and gamma/EtO sterilizable product.
#3: 3M MEDICAL TAPE 1526
Although this adhesive tape is labeled as medical, you can use it in a wide variety of applications in fields such as cosmetic adhesives.
3M Medical Tape 1526 is a tackified acrylic adhesive with a polyethylene film coated on one side and a pressure sensitive acrylic adhesive. The polyethylene film makes it printable and flexible, and the overall tape is translucent with a matte finish.
Medical tape 1526 has many properties, including a liquid barrier, fluid resistance, and the capacity for heat sealing. It’s also EtO and radiation sterilization compatible and specifically developed for skin contact.
This tape is unique because, despite its versatility, it differs from many skin tapes by being water-resistant, making it applicable to specific case uses.
#4: MACTAC TM8101
Designed for breathable and conformable applications where moisture vapor transmission is desired, Mactac’s TM8101 is used in long term applications.
TM8101 is conformable and intended for a 3-5 day wear with good adhesion. It’s a white, polyester spunlace nonwoven fabric, resistant to aqueous solutions, and has a two-year shelf life when stored in the recommended conditions.
Mactac TM8101 is sterilizable by EtO, gamma, and autoclave. According to Mactac, it’s typically used in electrode and sensor construction, ostomy, wound dressings, fixation devices, device coverings, and surgical garments.
#5: AVERY DENNISON MED 5634
Avery Dennison’s MED 5634 is designed for mounting electrodes, grounding pads, and other devices for periods of time.
This tape is a white, conformable EVA foam coated in an acrylic adhesive. MED 5634 is a powerful adhesive that resists moisture and forms a strong bond to the skin despite any stress conditions.
The foam itself is thick and the tape has a high initial tack, which is why it can withstand stress and hold up wearable devices.
If you’re working with or interested in learning more about wearable devices, see what the different types are and what to consider before collaborating with a converter on wearables:
#6: 3M MEDICAL TAPE 4576
Another top contender for both our wound dressing tape ranking and stick-to-skin list is 3M Medical Tape 4576, which uses a strong, pressure sensitive acrylic adhesive for long-term wear applications.
The material of 4576’s backing is a white polyester spunlace nonwoven tape. It has a paper-based silicone release liner, and it’s EtO sterilization compatible, but a unique feature of this adhesive tape is that it has up to 21 days of wear time on the skin.
Suggested medical or retail applications for this product include attaching finished devices to the skin for extended wear for up to 21 days. In addition, it can be used as a material for constructing different devices. Finally, it has great adhesion to low surface energy materials.
#7: AVERY DENNISON MED 5720P
If you’re looking for a more specific application, Avery Dennison’s MED 5720P is primarily designed for and used in ostomy applications.
MED 5720P is a porous acrylic adhesive made from a tan, embossed polyester nonwoven material. The material's porous nature allows air and moisture through the adhesive and nonwoven carrier, creating a breathable environment to reduce skin damage caused by maceration.
This adhesive is breathable, conformable, heat sealable, and gamma/EtO sterilizable.
Which Adhesive Skin Tape Should I Use?
Before you start filling up your cart, remember supplying your own material can cause issues and that you should always consult your converter about chosen material to ensure it’s a good match.
Your choice of adhesive skin tape should reflect the needs of your product. Ask yourself the following questions about your product:
- How long does your product need to stay fixed to the skin?
- Will this product be used on individuals with potentially sensitive skin (injured, diabetic, children, or elderly)?
- Does it need to hold any devices or tubes?
- What are they made out of?
- How heavy will they be?
These are all questions converters should ask you while you create your skin adhesive product.
People want to avoid dealing with the frustration of making design or material changes down the road.
Instead of waiting to stumble upon problems with your initial product design, get your design evaluated today to see whether a specific material suits it better based on the geometry and solution you’re working on: