You've made your product. That swirl is just right; the scent is amazing! Now comes the big decision… how are you going to package it?
When it comes to packaging soap and cosmetics, there are many different options on the market. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and everyone has opinions on which type is best; we won’t try to decide that in this article. Instead, we'll explore the pros and cons of popular ways to package soap.
There are a several ways that you could choose to package your soap bars; boxes, cigar/belly bands, paper, shrink wrap, or naked with a descriptive card. There is no right or wrong way to package, as long as you are in compliance with all labeling requirements.
Pro: Boxes can be made out of cardboard or recycled materials, and are great for those who want an elaborate package that makes a statement. There is generally more room for information on a box, and it can add protection during shipping. Custom printed boxes can save time; just drop in the soap and you're done.
Con: Boxes do not offer much, if any, visibility for your product. If you have a product that is extravagantly swirled or colorful, a box will hide this. If you do use a box, set a sample bar in front of the display of boxes to allow your potential customers to see the product first.
Pro: Shrink wrap is a great way to protect your product from the elements while still allowing customers to see what your soap bar looks like. Shrink wrap will also provide a barrier between your customer’s hands and the soap before purchasing.
Con: If soaps are not completely cured, the shrink warp may cause them to sweat as the water can't evaporate. If you are using shrink wrap packaging, be aware of your soap’s individual curing time. Packaging it too soon may jeopardize the integrity of your product.
Note that there are several types of plastics that can be used for shrink wrapping soap. If you decide to go with shrink wrap, make sure you research the best type of plastic to use in your particular situation.
Pro: This popular method of soap packaging allows for creativity with a printed band and the advantage of space for a logo and proper labeling information. It keeps your soap visible to potential buyers, and also gives them something to hold on to when they pick it up.
Con: Bands do not offer any protection to your product. If banded before being properly cured, the soap will shrink causing the band to come loose which is unsightly and inconvenient. Tip: As with shrink wrap packaging, pay special attention to your product’s curing time.
Pro: Papers provide a secure place to affix a label, and can be bought in a variety of patterns and textures. They provide a barrier between the elements and your soap, and can run the gamut from classy and elegant to rustic and simple.
Con: Packaging your soap this way can be timely, and you will need to find a reliable adhesive to close the package, or a label to affix over where the paper meets. Depending on the paper used, if the soap sweats or has excess oil, the paper may become discolored, damp or oily over time.
Pro: Selling your product without a label may seem risky, but many soapmakers have found a way to keep their product au natural. You can meet the label requirements by providing the required information on signage and a card or paper given to the customer at purchase. You can choose to customize a card or flier per product, or, if you have a standard recipe, you can make just one card and simply write the name of the specific scent on it upon purchase. This can significantly cut back on packaging time.
Con: This method offers no protection for your product against elements or consumer hands. Some customers may be offended or consider it unsanitary to purchase unwrapped soap. It may be best to put out a sample for smelling and inspection, while keeping the other naked bars in a case.
In addition to the above single options, you can combine; shrink wrapped with a cigar band, for example. Whichever packaging type you choose, make sure you have a compliant label, providing the identity of the product ("soap"), your business name and address, and the net weight of the product.
Remember that to your prospective customer, your packaging is an indication of the quality of the product it contains. It is what sells your product when you aren't right there. By the time you’ve formulated and produced your product, it may feel like an eternity; but don’t rush through your packaging process! An incorrectly or inadequately packaged soap can damage your product and lead to returns or worse, a lost customer. On the other hand, when your product is well packaged, the customer has confidence, the product is protected and you will have more sales.