Handmade soap has gained a TON of popularity in recent years, and this packaging guide will give you ideas on how to present YOURS to make an unforgettable impression on your customers!
When selling in person or at a boutique, artisan soap is usually left unpackaged so that it can be smelled and handled a bit. When selling online, however, soap is generally packaged to prevent damage during shipping or for gifting reasons.
Get ready to take some notes on packaging and unboxing ideas that will make your soap business stand out from the rest!
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Handmade Soap Target Market
Before we approach any sort of packaging ideas, you need to make sure you have a strong understanding of your target market to guide your business branding decisions.
Putting the time into really nailing down your target market will help you make solid decisions in every single aspect of your soap and its packaging:
- The type of soap bars you create
- The type of container you choose
- Your handmade soap label designs
- The outer packaging and included promo for a memorable unboxing experience
I urge you not skip this step.
Really knowing your target market is not just key for deciding your handmade soap packaging, but for the entire foundation of your overall business and ongoing success.
Handmade Soap Recipes to Make and Sell Online
Once you have your target market fully mapped out, you need to decide which types of soap they will be the most inclined to purchase.
There are several directions you can go with your product ideas:
- All-natural bars that are scented with essential oils and colored only with clays and ground plant materials
- Brightly colored bars scented with fragrance oils
- Function-specific bars, such as shaving soap, gardeners soap, and shampoo bars
If you aren’t sure which type(s) of soap is right for your product line, ask your audience (if you already have a following on a social network) or friends and family (if they are representative of your target market).
While I’m not a die-hard soaper like some of you reading this article, I did my fair share of cold process soaping (this was before I couldn’t handle the thought of my babies and lye in the house at the same time, ha)!
The following six types of all-natural soap were my top sellers:
- Exfoliating Gardener’s Soap
- Detoxifying Activated Charcoal Soap
- Neutralizing Coffee Kitchen Soap
- Detoxifying Moroccan Clay Facial Soap
- Moisturizing Fresh Indigo Soap
- Nourishing Shaving Soap
If you are new to soaping, be sure to check out this recipe bundle of six cold process soaps – they are crowd-pleasers and will give you a great foundation for your shop if they fit with your target market!
Download your free Packaging & Label Worksheets Here!
Types of Handmade Soap Containers
After deciding which type of soap(s) you will be adding to your skin care line, the first visual branding decision you need to make is the type of container to package it in (if any).
Consider the following details and your customer avatar before settling on any of your packaging:
- Is your soap a personal purchase or a gifting idea?
- Will they be storing it before use?
- Do you have details like dried botanicals on top that need to be protected during shipping?
- Will you be including extras (such as a wooden soap tray or a shaving brush)?
- What final price point would your customer be comfortable with?
- Does your target market have a preference (or aversion) to specific materials?
Handmade Soap Boxes
Soap boxes are a very standard way to package rectangular, 4-ounce soaps.
These come in a wide variety of colors and styles with great bulk pricing. Before you fall in love with one idea, think about how you’re planning on labeling your soap, as some of the exteriors would be tricky to apply a sticker label to.
Windowless Soap Box
These windowless soap boxes are a breeze to label, keep scents inside, and protect soap on all sides during shipping.
Fun fact: One of these boxes also fits exactly 10 oval lip balms, so would be a great multi-use container for your skin care line!
Soap Boxes with Windows
Window soap boxes allow you to see the soap inside, as well as smell it without removing it from the box.
There are tons of window types available: rectangle window boxes, oval window boxes, and even heart-shaped window boxes, some with a cellophane covering, some without.
Keep your label in mind as you consider this container for your soaps.
Boxless Handmade Soap Packaging
If you’re wanting to think outside the box, there are tons of ways you can package your handmade soap while still keeping it protected during shipment to your customer.
There are very detailed soap wrapping papers available in patterns, as well as kraft paper tissue for a more natural look.
This is a more time-heavy way to package your soap, but can be very striking if you are okay with putting in the hours!
Don’t forget to grab some washi tape or a bundle of jute twine to finish your wrapping job!
Soap Saver Bag
Soap savers are ‘container meets function’ and a great choice for the sustainable crowd.
The soap bag is an exfoliating piece of fabric that you keep the soap inside of while bathing, allowing it to suds up inside and hang dry when done.
You will still want to label the soap on the inside – see the wrap-around labels below.
Soap Band Labels
Wrap-around soap labels can either come as a piece of paper that you tape or as a sticker.
This is a fun look if you don’t mind the edges of your handmade soap not being protected during transit.
Also consider putting a patterned piece of cardstock under the sticker band label for an even more detailed aesthetic.
Download your free Packaging & Label Worksheets Here!
Labeling Your Handmade Soap to Sell
Handmade Soap Labeling Requirements (for Selling Online)
Selling handmade soap online versus in person may have different labeling requirements depending on your location.
For some sellers, a manufacturing address and contact information are required to appear on the label when selling your products in a retail shop or in-person event, such as a farmers market or craft fair.
When selling online, a website URL may take the place of this information, assuming that ‘said website’ has an address and contact information available.
Other labeling requirements vary based on location and government regulations; this information is your responsibility to research and comply with.
Makers in the United States can refer to the FDA Cosmetics Labeling Guide.
Marie Gale also has an easy-to-follow book called Soap and Cosmetic Labeling (How to Follow the Rules and Regs Explained in Plain English).
Handmade Soap Label Design
After you’re comfortable with the rules and regulations for your location, you can take the next step and move on to designing your soap labels!
If you haven’t already decided on visual branding details for your skin care business (based on your target market, of course), take the time to make some consistent rules for yourself before you start designing:
- Color Palette Guide for Skin Care Businesses
- How to Choose the Right Fonts for Your Skin Care Business
Once you have your business color palette, fonts, and how/when you will use each, the most approachable online graphic design tool is Canva (which is currently free to use for the basic elements).
You can also get a month of Canva Pro free here to access the entire library of images, the resize feature, and background remover.
Handmade Soap Label Templates
If you aren’t interested in designing labels on your own, you have plenty of options for assistance.
- For completely ‘hands-off’ label design, consider freelance design services from Fiverr.
- Another option is using handmade soap label templates, available individually and in bundles.
The use of label templates isn’t just for beginners – they save tons of time for even the most seasoned entrepreneurs by avoiding that ‘blank canvas syndrome’.
Templates give you a headstart to design with the right to edit different areas: colors, fonts, placements, graphic imports, etc.
Here is an example of a small batch soap bar label template that kept the original design closely intact but changed the color palette and fonts:
Individual Soap Box Templates
If you’ll be using boxes, check out our individual soap box templates on Etsy (for standard 4 oz. rectangle bars):
Bundled Skin Care Label Templates
If your handmade skincare line extends beyond soap bars, consider getting a label template bundle that includes many sizes and product types (more bang for your buck in the long run).
Download your free Packaging & Label Worksheets Here!
Handmade Soap Unboxing Ideas
One of the BEST parts of selling online is the opportunity to provide an ‘unboxing experience.’
This is the difference between customers leaving a review or not, recommending your soap and entire product line to a friend or family member, and even sharing your products on their social media handles.
This is your chance to bring it home and remind your customers why they shop small to begin with – let your love for your business show through in these tiny (but-oh-so-impactful) details!
Providing a soap drainer with your handmade soap is a great detail, or even an additional gift set idea.
Drainers either come in these little lightweight pad versions, as well as wooden bamboo trays.
Get a spool of raffia to tie your soap and packaging to the drainer and done!
I have seen the PRETTIEST unboxing done of artisan soaps that wrap the entire order up with a simple piece of tissue paper.
Fold it with care, keep it closed with a logo sticker (see further down for details on that), and put your thank you note on top.
Beautiful, simple, memorable unboxing choice!
If it goes with your branding, I have four magical words for you: dried botanicals with stems.
Pop a single dried botanical on the top of your package filler, or even attach it to your thank you note with an intentionally placed piece of gold tape and WHAMMY.
Gorgeous, impressive handmade soap packaging and customers for life.
Getting a business branding stamp with your logo is an amazing investment.
Use it to stamp your soap boxes, cotton muslin bags, the outside of your shipping boxes, thank you notes, and other paper promo products.
I have purchased several business branding stamps from West and Sage on Etsy and LOVE them (and the shop owner, Kelly – she’s super fast and personable).
If an inked stamp doesn’t match your branding, you can also add personalization to your boxes with a branded logo sticker.
I purchase these in bulk and use them on my exterior packaging, as well as include extras for my customer paperclipped to their thank you note.
Think beyond your logo with this…add a trendy graphic, quote, or inspirational saying with your URL on the side.
Get Feedback on Your Handmade Soap Packaging
Wanting to know how you can improve your handmade soap packaging?
Needing feedback on a label design or unboxing choice before purchasing?
Looking for help generating ideas for a unique target market?
Ask for input and share feedback in our private Facebook group, DIY Skin Biz Community – connect with other makers in our industry!
Grow Your Skin Care Business!
Browse through the resources below to boost your handmade business visibility and profitability!