Meet the Founder: Gaelle Thieme from Dust & Glow

Meet the founder: Gaelle Thieme from Dust&Glow
CBC Beauty Diaries, Product News

Meet the Founder: Gaelle Thieme from Dust & Glow

New to Clean Beauty Collective’s stellar line-up, Dust & Glow offers an ever-growing collection of waterless, powder-based, high performing products. By removing the water, plastic waste and nonsense, the company has delivered sensorial formulations for a healthy glow and a happy planet that we can definitely get behind. We talked to founder, Gaelle Thieme to find out more.


You worked within the industry for ten years before launching your brand, what was your role?

I worked for beauty giant L’Oréal in New Zealand as a Senior Brand Manager, then headed their full skincare portfolio. I went on to work for Trilogy as their Global Marketing Manager, before I took a big leap of faith eighteen months ago and decided to go out on my own and create Dust & Glow.


Your range is totally waterless – why did you go down that route?

There are so many scary facts about water. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions. 785 million people in the world live without clean water – that’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide. 

We all know water is a commodity we take for granted, but when water shortages hit, we realise how essential it is to our daily life. In New Zealand, the average person uses 227 litres of water per day, and 70 per cent of that is being used in the bathroom! 

Traditional beauty cleansing products contain 80-95 per cent water, and we often have to add more water when using them. Water is commonly being used as a cheap filler in beauty products. This means the active ingredients are diluted, and since water can easily grow bacteria, there is a need to add chemical preservatives. Not only this is wasted water, but it also has a massive impact on packaging and carbon footprint. 

Mintel has identified water as “the new luxury”,  one of four key trends set to impact the global beauty and personal care industry over the next decade. We’re so used to seeing water come out of our taps, but its position as an undervalued and overused resource is shifting. In beauty terms, water (aqua) is often the first ingredient listed on a label – so it is about time we start thinking about alternatives to protect this resource.


That must have required a lot of R&D! How long did the brand take to develop?

Creating waterless, natural, without any preservative system products was no easy task. I had the idea in my head for a while before creating Dust & Glow, but from a development point of view it took over a year trying to re-engineer how you would usually formulate beauty products. I initially spent hours myself trying to source the ingredients and testing and learning before literally contacting every single cosmetics manufacturer I know in New Zealand.

After a false start – I changed manufacturer along the way – and countless samples, we managed to re-imagine beauty and personal care in a powder form. The powder-based conditioner which just launched this week took even longer to develop – I had to not include it as part of the initial lineup as it was super hard to get a hydrating formulation.

By completely removing the water from our formulas, we’ve also removed the need for chemical preservatives – creating cutting edge formulas that are ultra-clean, 100 per cent naturally derived, genuinely sustainable and leave your hair and skin happy and healthy.


Even your label has been carefully considered, made from limestone which doesn’t use any water in the production process and made right here in New Zealand. How did you first hear about this as an option? It blows our mind!

In an ideal world, I would have no label on our bottles but a direct screen print, but as we are starting up that wasn’t an option. I contacted so many printers and label suppliers and did lots of trials in my bathroom as I also needed a label that was water-resistant, too.

Our labels look like a normal paper label but are not! They are made of natural limestone waste off-cuts and recycled resin in a process that uses solar energy and generates zero waste. It has a low CO2 emission profile, and its manufacture does not pollute waterways and rivers with toxic effluent. 

I am also about to move all labels for the certified home compostable pouches to paper labels. The refill pouches are designed to be cut in pieces and put in your home compost, breaking down within 12 weeks. I initially had the limestone labels on these too, but the paper labels are a better option as they will also degrade in home compost. The brand is trying to close the loop and be as circular as possible. This involves also being transparent, learning and improving as we go and grow.


Where would you like to see Dust & Glow in ten years’ time?

In 10 years, I would say be in as many bathrooms as possible! The big ambitious goal is to give back 1,000,000 days of water by 2025 – we still have a long way to go but every small step makes a difference.