Make Your Own Photo Soap

Homemade picture soap by A Beautiful MessI love to make homemade soaps. You can customize the ingredients, fragrance, and even the look of soap. Using a photo to personalize the look of your soap is a project you may have seen before (it’s in our first book, A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book).

But one thing I had never tried before that I was curious about was if I could use transparency paper instead of plain white paper. I really wanted to create a soap that you could easily see through. So I gave it a try, and the first time around I had an epic FAIL. But then I figured it out. I’ll show you both in case you’re curious too.

Homemade picture soap by A Beautiful Mess For this project we are working with our longtime friends at Canon USA. I also used some colorful, pop art inspired photos I recently took of my friend Andie for this project. They’re kind of weird, admittedly. Weird or art? To-ma-to or To-mah-to? That’s hard to type. But I can say for certain that if you have a friend who will try any photo idea you dream up, you have a good friend. Don’t lose them. 🙂

You all ready to make some soap? Get excited! It’s happening!

Supplies to make custom soapSupplies:
clear glycerin soap 
essential oil 
soap molds or small cardboard boxes (bottom of a milk carton)
-photos on transparency paper or copy paper, scaled to fit your molds
-packing tape (if using transparencies)
-microwave safe bowl
Canon PIXMA iP8720 Photo Printer

Best photo printerFirst print your photos. I used our PIXMA iP8720 printer to print on transparency paper because we were able to get the richest color here. That’s extra important when you’re printing on transparencies. Although from this photo you really can’t see the images, huh?

Love my Canon printer!Here I just added a piece of white paper under the transparency after it printed so you can see those pretty colorful images a little better.

I also printed one of my photos to plain white paper so I could show you the difference throughout this post. Both work well, so feel free to use whatever you prefer. They just create a slightly different look, which I’ll show you.

How to make picture soapCut out your photos so they are slightly smaller than your molds. If you are using transparencies, add packing tape to the inked side of those. This will help lock in the color.

Picture soap!!Melt your soap according to the package directions (most have a microwave option). Pour the soap into the mold, then add your photo. The goal is to get the photo directly in the center of the mold. Be careful as the soap will be hot after melting. You can use a spoon or a tooth pick to move the photo around without touching the hot liquid.

I found that the transparency photos lay much flatter in the soap than the plain white paper. The white paper as a tendency to curl once you add it to the liquid. So be sure to use your tooth pick to uncurl it once it’s inside the liquid.

Allow the soap to set for about 30 minutes (or according to the package directions) before you remove them from the molds. If you are using plastic soap molds, you can just press the soap out. If you are using a milk carton or other cardboard, you can tear the paper away after the soap has set.

Homemade picture soap by A Beautiful Mess Here’s the soap made with the photo I printed on plain white paper. I like how vibrantly the colors show through the soap, but you can see that the edges curled some as the soap set.

First transparency tryHere is my first attempt at the transparency photo soap. The ink swirled away from the transparency after I poured the liquid, loosing the image. Although I like the swirly look, it’s not at all what I was going for. So that’s when I figured out that you have to add packing tape to the ink side of a transparency before making the photo soap. Go figure.

Homemade picture soap by A Beautiful Mess And there you have it: see-through photo soap. Fun, right?! I’ll be keeping these in my guest bathroom, but I think this would also be a fun project to make and gift. You can use any photo you have to personalize it. Make some soap this weekend! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.


  • Can u use photo paper? Or edible image paper so the image can dissolve with the soap once its reached?

    • Hi! We recommend using transparency paper for this project. I just added a link in the supply list!

  • Nice idea, recently I have been searching for the alternative ideas on the photoshop soaps, now its a great relief for me, it will be a different variety soap in my soap business. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas

  • i just commented above forgot to ask how to wrap these and do you half to keep them cold etc as will be driving 8 nhours to wedding etc thanks please email me

  • like your soap idea want to make for my nieces wediing do you put the packing tape on both sdides and where do you get the transpercy sheets also if you put paper inside like a photo rtc wont it cklug drain when they go yo use
    want to make a few to give to the bride and groom please email me thanks

  • That is so cool! It looks amazing, so simple but so pretty. I think it would make a really good gift.

  • Haha! These are so cute and quirky. I’m getting such a 90’s vibe from these, which is awesome!

  • Also you can skip the packing tape and transparency paper and get actual water soluble paper that is made specifically for what you wanted to achieve! That way you won’t get to the center and have a weird plastic card in the middle.

  • Love this idea! I shared with a friend who is going to get married soon. I suggested she do a picture of the bride/groom and give them as a parting gift. She makes soap for fun so it would be perfect for her to do!

  • These are so cool! What a unique idea. Love it.

    Sarah Nicole

    The French Press

  • This looks so cool! Thanks for the tutorial! 🙂

  • This is a very creative DIY project. Looking forward to making it soon.

  • This is one of the most amazing DIYs I’ve seen, by far! So innovative, and really cool! You did an excellent job, I CAN’T wait to try this <3


  • Haha! People are going to clean their bodies with my face parts. Love it! I’m famous.

  • YES!! My aunt is an amazing photographer of funky and weird things, it would be so cool to gift her some of her pics in the form of soap. She would LOVE!! Amazing idea.

    Latest Post – Gift Guide for the Young Professional Female – Let’s Be Real!

  • Hey girls! Awesome you did this, I used to make Melt & Pour soaps (now I only make Saponification) and did this as well with logos and other designs, but I used Sulky Fabri-Solvy paper! It dissolves along with the edges of the soap.

  • These actually turned out very nice! I love the look of the ripped paper. My friend at work makes soap all of the time and I can’t wait to show her this tutorial so she can give these a try! 🙂

    M – Mocha and Moccasins

  • This isn’t related to this post, but when will Elsie’s office tour be posted? From the teaser photos that you’ve given us it looks beautiful!

    -Michael 🙂

  • I feel like this is the perfect (and somewhat subtle) way to take my level of Cat Lady up a notch. Cat themed guest soaps? SO PERFECT!

    xx Kathryn

  • Love all your soap DIYs…this one’s cute..definitely making one of these DIYs soon…


  • Haha this is just the best. I’m so trying this, perfect gift for my bestie!

    Love, Laetitia –

  • Woahhhh you guys are so innovative! Who knew there were so many ways to display photos? I was wondering how you were able to do this without letting the ink run–what a wonderfully effective solution you came up with! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • Ha! Yes, I can’t wait to have house guests next week to see what they think of my new guest soaps. 🙂


  • Yes. It was a just for fun photo challenge I did with a friend (she is the ‘model’ in them). 🙂 I never really intended to share them but I thought they’d work so well in this project I just went for it.


  • Hahaha, these look amazing! I’ve made my own soap before, but it was always the hippie stuff with fresh herbs like lavender. It had honestly never occurred to me that you could hide little photos inside. Adorable.


  • This is such a great idea- it would be perfect for gifts!! I definitely want to give it a try- thanks for sharing 🙂
    Emily xx

  • What an awesome idea! I make candles and have been thinking about dabbling in soap for quite some time…


  • I loved!
    I’m gonna do this for my mommy as a christmas gift. 😉

    Tks Emma!

  • such a fantastic idea! absolutely adore it. did you take the images? they’re so fun!

  • Seriously?! This is hilarious and amazing!

    ♥ Naomi Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups

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