BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages are a product you’ve probably used as far back as you can remember: Getting that scrape when you fell off your bike or having a playground mishap was somehow instantly made better by a bandage featuring your favorite cartoon character.
And given how well-known and well-loved BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages are, you may think you know plenty about the unassuming but indispensable adhesive strips. Not so fast! These household staples not only have a fascinating history, but they also continue to evolve more than 100 years after their invention.
Jenny Du-Soriano, research and development leader at Kenvue, says the company is constantly innovating to offer different types of products with consumers’ needs and health in mind. That ongoing commitment to care is the reason BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages have remained the leader in the category.
Ready to uncover eight interesting facts about the most-trusted brand in the U.S.?*
1. BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages began as a labor of love.
BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages are synonymous with care, so it’s no wonder they were invented by a thoughtful husband.
In 1920, newlywed Earle Dickson watched in dismay as his wife, Josephine, repeatedly cut her fingers while toiling in the kitchen. Dickson, who worked as a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson1, saw the need for a bandage Josephine could apply herself that would keep her cuts clean and covered while cooking.
Using two of the company’s popular products, Earle Dickson designed the very first BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages by placing a strip of gauze down the middle of a long piece of surgical tape. This allowed Josephine to simply snip and affix her own bandage as needed.
Earle showed his creation to his boss, and a new product was born.
While it’s hard to imagine a time in which BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages aren’t the go-to for cuts, scrapes and scratches, initially, they weren’t a big seller. In fact, only $3,000 worth sold in 1921, their inaugural year.
A traveling salesforce changed that: they were hired to call on doctors, butchers and retail pharmacists to demonstrate the value of the new product, sales took off.
Proving their “sticking” power, in 2020, the one-billionth BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage was produced.
2. BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages’ extensive testing delivers on the Stuck-on-You promise
If BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages had a theme song, it would have to be the catchy jingle from 1975. Much like the product, the lyrics, “I am stuck on BAND-AID® Brand ’cuz BAND-AID’s stuck on me,” really stick in your head. As it turns out stickiness is, well, a sticking point for the most trusted brand in the U.S.
To fulfill its promise to consumers, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages’ adhesive undergoes a rigorous testing process.
“We do tests on consumers of all ages,” says Du-Soriano. “We also test it on all body parts, including fingers, knees and even flat surfaces because that impacts stickiness. We test on water exposure conditions to find out what happens if that area with a bandage gets washed over and over.”
Du-Soriano added that the company uses its proprietary testing methodologies on every new adhesive and new material before the strips go to market so “consumers from every walk of life can benefit from the performance and stickiness.”
To illustrate just how effective BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages are, another popular commercial once featured a BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage so firmly “stuck on” an egg, the orb could be suspended in mid-air.
That serious stick factor may leave consumers wondering about the best techniques for removing a BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage. While BAND-AID® Brand doesn’t instruct consumers on how to remove bandages because they should remove easily in most situations, Du-Soriano explained that there are ways to make removal easier, including taking it off under running water, pulling the adhesive along the line of the skin, or applying baby oil around the edges before removing it.
3. Decorative BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages got a patriotic start.
While most kids would agree that even a plain bandage can help make a boo-boo better, using one that features a fun design or favorite characters seems to take the “ouch” away that much faster.
Wondering when decorative bandages first hit the market? In 1956, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages first introduced its Stars ‘n Strips adhesive bandages, featuring a toy train, clown, elephant and, of course, stars. This colorful twist on the tried-and-trusted product was an instant success. Throughout the years, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages’ decorative strips have kept up with the times by showcasing various designs and characters.
4. No longer seeing red: BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages replace the red pull-string.
Opening a BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage got a little easier in 1992 when its red pull-string was replaced by a new tear-apart design.
Du-Soriano explained that the red string was added in 1940 a way to open the package more easily, while at the same time preserving sterility.
“The wrapper we have right now does not have the red string, because of a new technology as a result of an improvement in high-speed manufacturing,” she said. “The new wrapper can seal and preserve the bandage strips to remain sterile throughout their shelf life, which is usually three years.” (And the new wrappers can also be opened easily, even without the string.)
5. BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage cardboard boxes are fully recyclable.
BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage cardboard boxes are made from 30% post consumer-use cardboard board.
“Also, in terms of advancement in technology, machines can pack the product in cardboard cartons faster and more efficiently,” said Du-Soriano.
6. Making moves: BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages debut Skin-Flex® adhesive bandages.
Even with a serious papercut, people still need to text and send that email! Recognizing that, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages introduced Skin-Flex® adhesive bandages in 2017. Made with touch screen-friendly material, these bandages were designed to move like a second skin. They can stay on for 24 hours and dry quickly, all while allowing consumers to go about their active lives as comfortably as possible.
7. BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages introduce OURTONE® bandages.
With all consumers in mind, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages introduced OURTONE® adhesive bandages in 2021, providing a skin tone complementing adhesive bandage in shades for Black and Brown skin tones.
8. A TikTok trend inspired a new bandage.
BAND-AID® Brand’s adhesive bandage evolution took a decidedly social turn in 2021 when inspiration came from an unexpected source: TikTok.
Users on the popular platform often go viral for showing off their creative BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage hacks, Du-Soriano explained.
One recent trend saw people using hydrocolloid bandages to treat pimples. BAND-AID® Brand took notice and, true to its innovative roots, developed BAND-AID® Brand HYDRO SEAL® Acne Blemish Patches.
These non-medicated pads work by absorbing fluid while covering and protecting the skin. As the hydrocolloid patches get to work, a white bubble will form, making it easy to see that the bandage is doing its job. At the same time, they’re ultra-thin for added comfort.
1. Kenvue became a fully independent company in August 2023; prior to its separation from Johnson & Johnson, Kenvue operated as Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.