7 min read

The 8 Best Waterproof Tapes for Skin

By Lee K. House on Apr 21, 2023 3:15:56 PM

waterproof skin tape

Suppose you had gotten surgery, but just as you left the hospital, you walked straight into a monsoon. 

While there might be more pressing matters, you’d still register the fear of, “Oh no! My bandages are soaked through.” 

Waterproof skin tapes fix wound dressings and medical devices to the skin while rejecting debris and fluids. Additionally, these tapes can be die cut for athletic or cosmetic purposes. 

From medical technology to eyeliner stencils, Strouse has used waterproof skin adhesives to build products intended for everyday usage. It can be challenging to know what you’re looking for when you’re starting out, so we’ve listed our top recommendations to give you an idea of factors to look at when it comes to waterproof skin tape.

Once you understand the different types of waterproof skin tapes and have examples, you’ll be better prepared to pair a material with your design. 

Types of Waterproof Skin Tapes

You might notice a running similarity between these tapes, but we aren’t trying to pull the rug out from underneath you: we genuinely believe these are the best waterproof tapes. However, many of the tapes we’ll discuss are polyurethane, which may or may not suit your needs. 

Before we get into our list of the top eight waterproof skin tapes, we’ll give you a brief overview of the different types to prepare you for the selection process. 


Polyurethane films, known as PU films, are designed for breathability despite their liquid barrier, making them the ideal choice for many waterproof stick-to-skin applications. 

In adhesive applications, the breathability of an adhesive is measured by MVTR (moisture vapor transmission rate), a measurement of how many grams per square meter of water vapor pass through the barrier of a given area daily. 

For instance, you might have heard the phrase “letting a wound breathe.” Wrapping a wound too tight can result in infections, whereas a high MVTR helps prevent the buildup of sweat/exudate. 

The downside? Polyurethane tapes can, unfortunately, be challenging for converters to process. That’s why another material might better suit your design and application. 


Foam tape, especially polyethylene foam, is relatively popular for waterproof skin tape. 

For a material to adhere to the skin, it must be high in flexibility. Foam is highly conformable, making it an excellent choice for certain products. However, it’s worth noting that foam lacks breathability

Without breathability, injuries macerate over time, becoming soft, moist, and prone to bacterial infections. Whether you choose foam will depend on your product’s use and application. 


Hydrocolloids are a unique material used for purposes other than skin attachment. 

The primary purpose of a hydrocolloid adhesive is to keep the skin slightly moist to promote healing without scarring. Manufacturers typically build hydrocolloids with a polyurethane backing, which gives them waterproofing. However, since their primary purpose isn’t fixing objects together, not all hydrocolloids have adhesive coatings.

While hydrocolloids can function as waterproof barriers on the skin, they are meant for highly specific applications. 


Polyurethane isn’t the only film-backed tape that can succeed in waterproofing. Many film-backed tapes can successfully waterproof even when attached to the skin, including polyethylene (PE), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), and polyester (PET).

At this point, you’re probably wondering, why single out polyurethane? 

Unlike polyurethane, these additional film-backed tapes are traditionally less breathable or conformable. Depending on where you use them, this can lead to a slightly more uncomfortable or risky application. 

What are the Best Waterproof Skin Tapes?

The best waterproof skin tapes are generally breathable AND flexible, making them comfortable for the user while delivering a secure performance. 

Given our experience with converting waterproof skin tapes, we’ve chosen these eight adhesives, in no particular order, as the most effective options. These tapes come from different suppliers with varying adhesive types, strengths, and thicknesses for a wide range of choices. 

After comparing these adhesives, you’ll have examples of materials you could use and understand the different factors to consider when using waterproof tape for a product.


3M’s 9833 single sided polyurethane tape is a relatively thin, breathable adhesive with a liquid barrier and conformable backing. It has a pressure sensitive acrylic adhesive. 

The strong acrylic adhesive also allows the tape to carry more weight, making it ideal for wearable devices.


Similar to the previous adhesive, 3M’s 2484 is a thin film with a polyurethane film backing. 

However, 3M’s 2484 has a silicone adhesive on one side rather than acrylic, which lends itself to gentle applications on patients with thin or more delicate skin, such as diabetics, infants, or the elderly. 

It’s worth mentioning that 3M offers an alternative to 2484 called 2475P, made from TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) instead of polyurethane, but similar in conformability, breathability, and appearance. Consider using TPE if you’re looking for more elasticity and flexibility, but if you’re focusing on toughness or durability, you might want to stick with polyurethane. 


Avery Dennison’s MED 5560A is a soft, pliable polyurethane film with a waterproof barrier to shield against bacterial infections. 

This film is designed for skin applications requiring breathability and transparency, like incise applications, wound care, and IV securement. MED 5560A also has built-in rigid polypropylene support suited to kiss cutting for easier processability. 


Mactac’s TM8750 is a clear, polyester (PET) coated, double sided medical tape with synthetic rubber adhesive and a densified Kraft release liner. 

TM 8750 is designed for surgical draping, dressing, wound closure, or device assembly applications. It can bond to foam, felt, metal, plastics, and most low or unplasticized substrates. 


Polymer Science’s PS 2041 has three layers: silicone gel adhesive, polyurethane film, and pressure sensitive acrylic adhesive. Its silicone gel side has a polycarbonate liner, while the acrylic side has a bleached kraft siliconized release liner. 

Thanks to the trilaminate, PS 2041 has instantaneous tack with acrylic adhesive, yet it can still be removed and repositioned on the silicone gel side. Because of its double sided nature, this film is useful in many applications, including the attachment of wearable technology


You might recognize this particular film from our list of the top 10 best wound dressing tapes, where we talked about its moisture vapor transmission rate. DermaMed’s DM 4009 purposefully allows moisture to escape from wet wounds.

DM 4009 can be used on bed sores, venous or diabetic ulcers, and third-degree burns to sap away moisture and prevent maceration. While it might not be the ideal tape to wear if you’re going for a swim, this adhesive dispels liquid in another way. 


Mactac’s TM5170 is a transparent polyurethane film supported by a gloss polyethylene carrier and polycoated release liner.

As a medical film, TM5170 is intended for long term use (3 days) where conformability and moisture vapor transmission is desired. It has good chemical resistance and can be used for I.V. securement, wound covering, wound dressing, and many more applications.


The PS 1266 Polymer Science polyurethane film is another silicone gel adhesive tape. This material is single sided and comprises a layer of silicone gel adhesive sandwiched between a polycarbonate liner and a polyurethane carrier.

This film is hypoallergenic and can be easily removed from the skin without trauma due to the silicone gel. 

How Do I Know Which Waterproof Tape for Skin to Use?

You’re staring down the list of recommendations in front of you like a detective at a crime scene: Where do I begin?

There isn’t one factor to go off of when choosing a waterproof skin tape. Instead, the choice relies on a combination of preferred traits based on your application.

When it comes down to it, the best way to choose a waterproof tape for skin is by evaluating the purpose of your product, then seeking out the advice of a manufacturer. 

Your instinct might be choosing a material based solely on what benefits product use, but functionality is only half of the battle. Although it’s impressive to build a functional prototype, in order to create a successful product, your chosen material should be adaptable to large-scale production.

However, this isn’t to say you should disregard the usage altogether. Suppose you’re looking to use tape in a hospital setting. In that case, you will want to select a material that can undergo the proper sterilization and a manufacturer with the capability to ensure a clean environment for the sake of your part. 

To avoid making a risky purchase, consider your product usage and discuss your manufacturer’s capabilities before ordering adhesive material. If you think any of these products will work for your application, feel free to request a sample:

Request a Sample Today

Lee K. House

Written by Lee K. House

Copywriter & Content Creator for Strouse. Lee graduated from the University of Alabama in the Spring of 2022 with a double major in English and Spanish.

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