The Top 5 Popular M&P Designs in 2011

Melt and pour soap artisans and entrepreneurs are creating such a wide range of soap designs, with new ideas brought to market every day. It’s part of the ease and beauty of working with melt and pour soap. Anything from Ninja themed to Froot Loops soaps  - you can find it on online. But what about the most popular designs? The ones that are selling over and over again online, at craft shows and in retail stores?

Whether you’re looking to add new soaps to your existing product line or start a new soap line you might want to take a look at the top five mold and visual designs in melt and pour soaps.  Combing websites like Etsy, Artfire and hundreds of Google results gave a clear indication of which designs are winning the popularity contest.  This time around we’re thinking beyond basic shapes (round, rectangle, square and oval) and looking at 2-D and 3D theme shapes.


It should be no surprise that bees make the top of the list, with the popularity of artisanal honey and also honey-based soaps. In fact, Google Trends, an internet marketing tool that allows users to extract data about keyword searches in the Google search engine, indicates that there is a demand for “honey soap” on the internet (see below).
Their popularity comes in the form of bee, honeycombs and hive-shaped soaps (or a combination of all). There are approximately 63 pages on Etsy for “honey soap”. Some soap designs are decorated with little bees, flowers and beehives. Many soapers scent with a honey fragrance oil, although there are a wide variety of fragrances on the market for these kinds of soaps. Average sale price is $1.20/oz.

Forget that spring has come and gone. Bird soaps are on the top of our list. There are bird, baby bird and little egg soaps too. From robin’s egg soaps to lovebirds, they are sold all over the internet. They are mostly created and sold as decorative guest soaps. Kissing bird soaps are popular for wedding favors. Single packaged, tiny bluebird guest soaps are also very popular.

Although no Google Trends results match for anything related to bird soaps or bird favors, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t online shoppers looking for them. It just means that the search numbers are not high enough for Google Trends to warrant posting them.

In fact, owl soaps came onto the interior design and craft scene a year ago, and soaps in these wise old shapes are still popular as decorative statements. In addition to many crafters and small businesses selling them, Urban Outfitters is selling bath accessories (owl toothbrush holders, soap dishes and towels) – a good sign that the trend will continue in this area. Average sale price is $1.50/oz.

Regardless of the season, roses take the lead in melt and pour flower 3-D soap shapes. Most are guest soaps (1-2 oz.) in solid colors, although there are many muted swirls. In addition, there are lotus, calla lilies, daisies, plumeria, and pansies shapes and with silk flower embeds. There are 3,590 products listed on Etsy under “flower soap” and only 377 specifically listed as a “flower soap favor”.  

There are no results on Google Trends for “flower soap” or “flower soaps” but there are results for “flower favors”. The decline may be a result of a decline in fresh flower favors. But this market can still be targeted with floral soaps. These soaps tend to command a higher price point at $2/oz. average.

At time of publishing, a quick stroll over to Etsy will show you approximately 1,547 heart soaps for sale. They average $1/oz. Many are sold and suggested for use as wedding and bridal shower favors.  In addition, there are more than 82 pages of “heart soap” results from Google’s search engine. However, it is surprising that there are no “heart soap” search results on Google Trends. Less surprising is that there are results for “heart favors.”


Hard to believe, but cupcake soaps are still very popular. From petite, “bite-size” shapes to “life-size” they sell mostly as gifts and favors.  There are about 1,299 chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcake soaps on Etsy with frosted whipped soap “frosting”, although that figure changes slightly on a daily basis.

Google Trends for “cupcake favors”, but not cupcake soap. Perhaps potential customers searching online aren’t aware that cupcake soaps exist. This is why it is important to research keywords and implement them on your website and blogs. If a potential customer is interested in finding “cupcake favors” perhaps they would consider purchasing cupcake soaps. They average in price at $0.75/oz.

The sky is really the limit when it comes to creating designs for melt and pour soaps and it’s important to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Although it is important to offer fresh ideas, it is also insightful to examine top selling soap shapes and designs to perhaps develop a twist for a new product. Who knows? Maybe a few of these designs will remain in the top five for 2012.

Marla Bosworth is the CEO and Founder of Back Porch Soap Company, ( She teaches group and private classes on how to make natural skincare products in Boston and NYC. Ms. Bosworth also provides product, brand and marketing strategies for handmade beauty companies.   Marla wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie (, an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.