Hello! I’m Mary Helen from Mary Makes Good, and I’m over the moon to be joining the team here on ABM. It’s pretty thrilling to tell you the truth. I’ve been following A Beautiful Mess for nearly as long as I’ve been blogging! (Hint: That’s a very long time.) A little about me—I’m a full-time blogger, freelance writer, and DIY beauty formulator living in Austin, Texas. I’m mama to one wild little boy, and spouse to one musical, inventive, and hard-working man who loves to tinker. Right now he is building a hydroponic veggie garden in our garage! I can’t wait to get to know the amazing community here on ABM as I share my own DIY projects in this space. Are you ready for my first project? Here we go!
I love playing with glycerin soap. This melt-able, mold-able, easily colorized substance is pure magic. I’ve ogled many a sweet treat or popsicle only to realize that I was looking at soap. With the right technique, I’m sure you could mimic just about anything (or at least anything delicious) with soap.
My favorite experiments with glycerin soap often include swirls of sparkling mica and copious amounts of cosmetic grade glitter. Add a few drops of essential oil, and I’m in heaven. When I first saw a tutorial for crystal soaps on Youtube, I knew I had to try it out.
These soaps have been a big hit when I’ve shared them as gifts, and they can add a beautiful detail to a powder room or guest bathroom. Crystal soaps look gorgeous displayed in metal or ceramic soap dishes, or nested with candles and chunky bath salts.
What I love most about this project is the way that it embraces imperfection. Every individual crystal ends up looking unique, making each cluster of crystals its own little work of art. In a way, every mistake adds character and beauty to the final product. Perfect for a messy crafter like me!
-1 pound clear melt and pour soap base
–colored cosmetic mica
-iridescent cosmetic glitter
–4-cavity circle soap mold
-small sprayer bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
-skin-safe essential oils (I used lavender)
Step One: Cut the soap base into large chunks using a knife and cutting board. You can melt the cut soap in a double boiler on the stove top or in the microwave using a heat-safe container like a large Pyrex measuring cup. Be careful to heat the soap just until it has melted. Overheating the base can cause your soaps to be brittle. Allow the melted base to cool off for about one minute, then stir in up to two teaspoons of your favorite skin-safe essential oil. I used lavender.
Step Two: Fill each cavity of the soap mold about ⅓ of the way up with the clear melted soap base. Spritz the surface of each cavity with rubbing alcohol. This helps the layers stick together. Allow the soap to cool and harden for about five minutes—just long enough to form a thick skin on top of the soap.
Step Three: Add a small pinch of colored mica and a small pinch of glitter to the melted soap. You may need to re-melt the soap a little if it has hardened up. Just pop it in the microwave or double boiler for a quick heating to warm it back up. Stir the mica and glitter well to break up any clumps. Pour a second layer of soap into your molds, leaving about ⅓ of each cavity empty for the last layer. Spritz with alcohol again.
Step Four: Allow the soaps to cool and harden for another five minutes or so. Again, you want to wait just long enough for a skin to form. Add another big pinch of colored mica to your melted base and stir well. Pour the melted soap into your mold to fill the last ⅓ of each cavity. Spritz the soaps with alcohol to remove any air bubbles on the surface. Set aside the remaining soap base for later.
Step Five: Allow the soap to cool for another five minutes. When a thick skin has formed on the top of the soap, transfer the filled mold to the freezer. Chill the soaps for about 20 minutes, or until they can be easily removed from the mold. Turn the soaps out from the mold and onto a cutting board. If the soaps don’t release from the mold easily, pop them back in the freezer for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Tip: If the layers didn’t end up sticking together (this happens to the best of us!) use a thin layer of melted soap base to glue the layers back in place.
Step Six: Using a sharp knife, slice each of the soaps into slabs about ¼” wide, then slice the slabs into ¼” pieces. This should give you a whole bunch of tricolored rectangles. Don’t worry if your rectangles are not uniform in shape or size. Little differences in each piece will make the finished product even better.
Step Seven: Carve the tip of each rectangle into a crystal shape by slicing the top at several different angles. Save the shards from the cut soaps in a separate pile. Your soaps will look best with a variety of crystal shapes, so this is a great time to get messy. Experiment by slicing at different angles and depths. Really go for it—but be careful of your fingers!
Step Eight: Reheat the remaining soap base until it is just melted. Add one more pinch of colored mica, and if you are feeling extra glitzy, an additional pinch of glitter. Stir the base to mix in the colors, then pour a very shallow layer of soap (about ⅛”-¼” deep) into the first cavity of your mold.
This layer will form the bottom of your soap and will act like glue for your crystals. Carefully place crystals into the cavity to fill it up. You can use the crystal shards to fill in gaps or to add height to sections of the soap where you’d like your crystals to jut out farther. If the bottom layer cools and hardens before you are finished, just drizzle a tiny bit of melted soap into empty spaces. Repeat these steps to assemble soaps in the remaining three cavities.
Step Nine: Transfer the filled soap mold to the freezer and chill for at least 20 minutes. Gently turn the soaps out onto a clean work surface when they are fully hardened. If they aren’t releasing easily from the mold, just pop them back in the freezer for an extra ten minutes or so.
If you aren’t planning to use your soaps right away, it’s best to wrap them in airtight packaging like plastic wrap or a cellophane bag. Melt and pour soaps tend to sweat in humid environments, so wrapping them up will help keep them beautiful and worthy of gifting!
You can make these soaps your own by choosing your own blend of essential oils and colored mica. I used a pretty purple mica to create an amethyst soap, gold mica to make citrine, pink to mimic rose quartz, and white shimmer to make my personal favorite of the bunch—quartz crystal. I hope you have a blast creating your own beautiful clusters of gemstone soaps! xo. Mary Helen
Credits // Author and Photography: Mary Helen Leonard. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.