Sue Jonas

Nothing is more relaxing than a nice, hot bath or shower, complete with lots of lather and bubbles. So we spoke with Sue Jonas, VP of product innovation for Crabtree & Evelyn, about how the best suds are made. What she told us made us want to grab our rubber duckies and jump in!

LN: How did you get into the field?

SJ: I’ve been in product development my whole life. I once had a small company that worked with herbs, home fragrance and potpourri, which was sold to Crabtree & Evelyn in 1980. I came on with them and have and been with them ever since, working with fragrances and evaluation. I love the products! They really help you enjoy every moment of your day.

LN: What is it like working for the company?

SJ: I work with the lab to develop new formulations. We’re in the process of launching a new line, the Floral Fragrance Collection, which is a revisit of fragrances that have been in lineup since the company started 40 years ago. We looked at fragrances and decided which ones needed to be revamped. It’s the first time our lavender fragrance has changed in 40 years.

Right now it’s very exciting working at Crabtree & Evelyn because we’re taking it to a whole new level. We’re making ourselves more appealing to younger consumers and helping a new generation discover our products. We’re working with beautiful formulations, trying to make the products more benefit-rich. They’re really healthy, so there are no parabens, mineral oil, no propylene glycol. We’re also adding benefits from the natural oils, coconut oil and wheat germ oil.

LN: So how has the lavender changed?

SJ: Before it was more masculine smelling, and the packaging is so feminine that I wanted to lighten it and make it more appropriate for 2011. We use a great lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, which is produced in France, as the heart of the fragrance. We also include some lemon blossom and lemon leaf, with some light florals around it to take the edge off. Then we added tonka bean and musk. It’s very wearable, easy and clean smelling—so uplifting and cheering. I’ve been living with it for the past few months, and I just love it.

LN: What are some things people should look for in a good soap?

SJ: It depends whether you’re looking for a bar that’s fragrant for your body or if you’re looking for your face. We mostly emphasize bringing fine skincare bars for body use. We make these bars very pure: All of our soaps are triple milled, so they’re going to last a long time. All the air is pushed out and triple amalgamated, so it lasts about twice as long as other soaps that don’t go through this process. We do a lot of tests, wetting and drying the bars to make sure they don’t crack. Another thing to look for is the quality of the ingredients. All of Crabtree & Evelyn’s soaps are vegetable based and we try to use sustainable oils.

LN: What are some things you should stay away from?

SJ: I go by brand, because I’m looking for somebody I can trust. Look for products made with well refined, high quality oils. There are a lot of products that use rancid or low quality oils that are drying for the skin and they cover it up with the fragrance.

LN: Are there any benefits of bar soaps that you won’t find in liquid soaps or vice versa?

SJ: Taking a shower or bath with a bar is such an indulgence, it goes beyond a gel. Gel is great for fragrance, but bars give you the opportunity to love and lather on your skin and they’re very good for you. They avoid what I call chemical soup. Bar soap is traditional, and has been made for thousands of years. We’re using old, old technology. These bars are crafted with beautiful colors and shapes, and the way they sit in your hand—it’s an aesthetic experience.