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Which plaster stays put the longest?

We pitted Elastoplast against own brand products and an eco plaster to see which had the most staying power
Putting a plaster on a knee

How often have you put on a plaster only for it to loosen and slip off too soon?

Needing multiple plasters for the same cut not only costs you more cash but is also bad for the environment as a succession of discarded plasters end up in landfill.

We wanted to find out which was going to stay in place the longest and get the job done. We also wanted to see how a popular eco plaster compared.

After subjecting popular plasters to a series of tests to see which would last the longest, we discovered that you don't need to pay more for a plaster that lasts. But if you're looking for plaster longevity, then an eco-plaster, or a 'wash-proof' plaster, might not be the best choice.

We subjected each plaster, and a willing cast of volunteers to:

  • one-hour sweat test stuck to the arms of a cyclist on an indoor turbo trainer
  • an additional sweat test stuck to the back of a jogger on a 50-minute run
  • one-hour soak in a bubbly bath
  • game of netball followed by a shower
  • game of five-a-side football followed by a shower and a full night's sleep
  • stuck to the arms of a six-year-old boy during a day at school
  • And finally, a weekend-long test where a researcher wore the plasters for three nights' sleep, three showers and a 50=mile bike ride, among other usual day-to-day activities.

We pitted leading plaster brand Elastoplast, which you can buy in any supermarket or pharmacy, against own-brand alternatives from Boots and Tesco as well as a cheaper branded alternative from Steroplast. We also tested the leading sustainable plaster alternative, Patch Bamboo plasters.

Test after test, and almost regardless of what we threw at them, the same three plasters were the last ones standing.

Applying plaster to knee

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Best plasters for staying power

Editor's Choice/Great Value: Steroplast Premium Elastic Fabric Plasters x100

Cheapest price: £5.46 available at Steroplast, also available at Amazon, Firstaid4less.

Cost per plaster: 6p

Pros: Incredibly long lasting, water resistant, sweat resistant, great value

Cons: Some gluey residue is left behind, just one colour available, only available in bulk

Our verdict: So sticky it hurts

Steroplast's website carries testimonials from St John's Ambulance and the British Red Cross, among other clients.

We found its premium fabric plasters incredibly long lasting, surviving hour-long soaks in the bath, sweaty rides on a turbo trainer, runs, bike rides, netball matches and more.

These plasters really are difficult to budge, almost regardless of where you put them. In fact, they're so sticky they hurt more than most to pull off.

The deep-red shade of the plaster doesn't particularly blend in on any skin tone, and we found that the plaster does leave some sticky glue behind after use. But if you just want a plaster that lasts and doesn't cost the earth, then you can't beat Steroplast for longevity, or value, compared with others we tested.

Editor's Choice: Boots Hard-Wearing Extra Tough Plasters x20

Only available at Boots: £2.

Cost per plaster: 10p

Pros: Very hard-wearing, water resistant, sweat resistant

Cons: A bit of gluey residue left after use, just one colour available

Our verdict: Best of our high street picks

The next time you're in Boots, you can save yourself a bit of cash by opting for its own brand long-life plasters over the more well-known and more expensive brand, Elastoplast.

These plasters survived an assault of seven durability tests, including bathing, running, showering, and even a 50-mile bike ride.

They even stayed attached to the skin of a six-year-old boy throughout a tough day at school.

It's difficult to knock these plasters, but there was a small bit of gluey residue left on the skin after use.

Editor's Choice: Elastoplast Extra Tough Waterproof Extra Strong Adhesion plasters x12

Cheapest price: £2.04 available at Boots, Superdrug, also available at Amazon, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco.

Cost per plaster: 17p

Pros: Durable, waterproof, sweat resistant

Cons: Small pack size, relatively expensive, leaves some glue residue behind, just one colour available

Our verdict: Priciest of our picks but lives up to its name

Elastoplast is the biggest name in the world of plasters, and you'll find its products in every major supermarket, pharmacy and even many corner shops.

Based on our testing, its long-life plasters are absolutely brilliant, but they are more expensive than some alternatives we found that are just as good.

The plasters we tested survived long runs, sweaty turbo trainer workouts, hour-long baths and more, and they were still tough to remove from the skin almost every single time.

While they're pricier than many alternatives, we'd still recommend them if you're after a long-life plaster and don't have any of the cheaper options available.

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How the rest fared

The following plasters weren't nearly as durable in our tests. We've listed them alphabetically.

Tesco Health Extra Strong Fabric Plasters x20

Only available at Tesco: £1.20.

Cost per plaster: 6p

Pros: Good if you don't get it wet, not expensive

Cons: No good if you plan to get sweaty, or wet

Our verdict: We found stickier

These plasters slid off easily during both our sweat and water-resistance tests. But they did stay stuck on the arm of a six-year-old during a day at school and survived a game of netball.

Considering the solid performance of some of the cheaper plasters, we felt a little let down by this Tesco offering. We found it generally a poor alternative to market leader Elastoplast and not noticeably stickier than standard Tesco fabric plasters, which are the same price and come in a pack of 40.

If you plan on getting it wet, or getting sweaty, we can't recommend them.

Tesco Health Fabric Plasters x40

Only available at Tesco: £1.20.

Cost per plaster: 3p

Pros: Not expensive, only last long if you don't get sweaty or wet, available to suit different skin tones

Cons: Rubbish when they get wet

Our verdict: Not as sticky as the best, but fine if you don't plan to get sweaty, or wet

These plasters performed identically to the 'Extra Strong' Tesco plasters, the only difference being that you get 40 in a pack compared with 20.

But despite being incredibly cheap, they're not as long lasting as the very best, so we can't recommend them.

These aren't specifically long lasting or extra-strong plasters, like many of the brands we tested, but they are available to suit a variety of skin tones.

Tesco Washproof Strips x10

Only available at Tesco: £1.25.

Cost per plaster: 12p

Pros: No identifiable benefits to these plasters for longevity

Cons: Not waterproof or durable

Our verdict: The least water-resistant plasters in our test

While we didn't expect them to be particularly durable (they're not marketed to be super tough or durable) we did at least think they'd be the best option in the bath.

So we were very disappointed when they were the first to fall off in the bath or shower.

Every other fabric plaster, including the eco plaster was more water and sweat-resistant than these plasters designed specifically to be washproof.

As a result, we wouldn't recommend them.

How the eco plasters compared

While not specifically marketed as long lasting or durable, we wanted to see how a leading eco plaster compared.

Patch Bamboo plasters x25

Cheapest price: £5.19 available at iHerb, also available at Ocado.

Cost per plaster: 26p

Pros: No identifiable benefits to these plasters for longevity

Cons: Not waterproof or durable

Our verdict: Not durable enough for our recommendation

Each plaster is adorned with a cute panda, so it's fair to say we were rooting for these eco plasters that are made with bamboo fibre.

Unfortunately, they were outlasted in the vast majority of our endurance tests. They were particularly disappointing when they got wet, either in the bath or through sweat.

While these plasters don't quite hit the mark, we've found plenty of Eco Buys worth investing in.

Five things we learned testing plasters

1. The heel is the hardest part to stick to. We stuck all of the plasters we tested to a jogger's Achilles' heel and sent him off on a run. None of the plasters lasted more than 10 minutes. We also didn't fare much better with blister plasters. So if you have a bad heel blister from a new pair of shoes, you might be destined for a short period of rest until it heals. You could also consider taping the heel, by following online tutorials.

Plasters on wet feet at the beach
2. Washproof plasters aren't necessarily the most resistant to water.
Out of curiosity, we also included a Tesco Washproof plaster in our test, expecting that it at least would last the longest in the bath and shower. But this wasn't the case. The washproof plaster was in fact the first to come off in the bath and was outlasted by every other fabric plaster we tested. Based on this, we wouldn't recommend them.
3. Blister plasters stayed put longer, but not much longer. 
These plasters are specifically designed to stick around the heel, where a blister is most likely to strike. After even the long-life plasters failed to last long around the Achilles' heel of our jogger, we repeated the test with blister plasters. While the blister plasters we tried did stay attached for longer, they had both come off the jogger's heel by the end of the run.

4. Glue residue is a side effect. The one side effect of the long-lasting plasters we've identified is that they will all leave a glue mark behind on your skin long after the plaster has been thrown in the bin. It's easy to wash the glue off, but you might have to give the affected area a good scrub to remove all trace of the plaster.

5. Skin tone options are limited. 
While most plaster brands do now offer a variety of skin tones on their plasters, this often isn't the case with their specifically designed long-life plasters. None of the long-life plasters that topped our test came in any other tones at the time of testing.