Brand Glossary

Meet our brand glossary. This is a place that was created to be here for you to reference how we define terms at Susteau as you explore our products, blog posts, and more. Here we define the terms we use on our site (like natural, sustainable, waterless) and more information you might be wondering about, like the purpose of our ingredients in our products.


General Terms 

Waterless Beauty  A category of personal care products in which there is little to no water present in the product itself, yet the conventional formulation of that product contains primarily water. For example, waterless shampoo is a good example of a waterless beauty product as the conventional formulation contains 80% water on average.

Water-activated Beauty  A just add water beauty product that transforms from an anhydrous formula to a liquid product upon use. In the case of Moondust waterless shampoo, our powder transforms to a rich, velvety lather within seconds.

Powder-to-Lather  An innovative cleansing shampoo format developed by Susteau that allows for a sustainable shampoo formulation with a silky, creamy lather that delivers salon-quality performance for the hair and scalp. 

Powder-to-Liquid  A science-backed conditioning format developed by Susteau that allows for a sustainable conditioner to emulsify when water is added, retaining ingredient concentration that delivers moisture and retains elasticity in the hair. 

Powder-to-Foam See powder-to-lather.

Natural Ingredients  Ingredients of natural derivation are qualified by identifying the ingredient origin (plant, mineral, fossil, and animal) and the amount of processing the raw material experiences to get to the final safe ingredient for use in cosmetics.

Clean Beauty  Clean beauty is safe beauty. It's as simple as that. We believe all beauty should be safe beauty.

Sustainable Beauty  Beauty products for the conscious consumer that are developed with the environment in mind. Sustainable beauty products use ingredients, formulations, and packaging that decrease a product’s impact across the entire supply chain.

Cruelty-Free Beauty  Products that are cruelty-free are not tested on animals in any capacity. This includes the testing of the final product and the individual ingredients used.

Vegan Products  (Vegan Beauty, Plant-based Beauty) Products that are described using any of these terms are not developed with any ingredients of animal origin.

Unscented  Cosmetics that are formulated to have no scent. These products can contain added-fragrance ingredients. Read more about unscented beauty products here on our blog. 

Fragrance-Free  Cosmetics that are formulated without any added fragrance. This means there are no ingredients added to make the product smell “unscented” and the product will maintain the scent of the ingredients themselves. Read more about unscented beauty products here on our blog. 


Packaging Terms

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Flexible polymer-based plastic that is derived from petroleum. Known for its durability, this plastic is typically used for milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and kitchen utensils. HDPE is the most recycled plastic, the easiest plastic to recycle and can be recycled at least 10 times, which has resulted in a valuable resale market for the material.

Ocean-Bound Plastic (OBP) Plastics that are considered at risk of entering our oceans or rivers at the coastline, approximately 50 km (~31 miles) from coastlines that lack essential community-based recycling programs. Typically, these plastics are high density polyethylene (HDPE) one of the strongest plastics out there. This is the type of plastic we use for our bottles (over 95%) and we source our plastic resin from Envision Plastics.  Read more about ocean-bound plastics here on our blog. 

Ocean-Waste Plastic (OWP) Plastic that has been removed from our oceans to be sorted, rinsed, and converted into new pellets for repurposed plastic goods.

Post-Consumer Resin (PCR)  A raw material that is made from recycled plastic and can be used to replace virgin plastic for packaging like shampoo and conditioner bottles.


Ingredient Categories

Chelating Agents A category of ingredients responsible for preventing, and in some cases removing, build up in your hair by forming multiple bonds to a metal ion or metallic compound. Read more about chelating agents in our blog post here.

Cleansing Agents A category of surfactants that act as detergents responsible for the cleaning action in cosmetics. They’re the ingredients that do the dirty work in formulas for shampoo, body wash & hand soap. Traditional surfactants, like sulfates, can strip oils and irritate your scalp, which is why we formulate Moondust Hair Wash with gentle cleansing agents derived from coconut to effectively clean and maintain moisture.

Fragrance  An ingredient in beauty products used to increase the sensorial experience. Fragrance ingredients in cosmetics can be synthetic or natural. The FDA term “fragrance” can be over 3100 different chemicals in the US. 

Sulfates A category of surfactants that are known as strong cleansing agents (detergents) in personal care. These ingredients are such good cleaners, that they can be drying and irritating to skin and scalp. It is not necessary to have sulfates to create a formula with lather. For example, Moondust Hair Wash is a sulfate-free formula that has a velvety, rich lather.

Surfactants A category of ingredients that are responsible for dispersing, emulsifying, cleaning, wetting, foaming and anti-foaming properties in cosmetics. “Surfactant” is short for surface active agent. Surfactants decrease the interfacial tension between two physical states. Surfactants are based on their polarity, which can give them different properties in cosmetics. There are four surfactant categories- nonionic, anionic, cationic, amphoteric. 

Parabens  (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben) This category of synthetic broad-spectrum preservatives were a very popular choice for use in cosmetics for a long time because they replaced the need for multiple preservative ingredients. Broad-spectrum preservatives are effective against mold, yeast, and bacteria. To replace parabens, multiple preservatives need to be used.



Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice  Aloe vera. A plant extract with conditioning properties for hair and scalp alike. Aloe vera contains over 75 components including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It’s like a superfood for your hair.

Aqua (Water, Eau)  Water. The primary ingredient in all liquid shampoos and conditioners used as a carrier solvent to deliver ingredients to your hair, or to dilute any harsh detergents (like sulfates) present in the formula. Water is no longer necessary as a primary component in shampoo and conditioner formulations due to raw material innovation and the increased absence of sulfates. You may see “aqua (water, eau)” listed as an ingredient in some of our formulas, and that’s because water is in some of our raw materials in trace amounts. We do not add any water to our formulas.

Cananga Odorata Flower Oil  Ylang ylang essential oil. Used as a floral note in our Moondust fragrance that is slightly sweet and a little woody.

Cellulose Gum  Acts as a thickening agent to give a rich, creamy texture.

Citric Acid  A natural acidic ingredient particularly found in citrus fruits that is used to adjust the pH of our formulas, so that once water is added, our products are the ideal pH to interact with your hair and scalp. (future blog post on ph)

Cocamidopropyl Betaine  A gentle, sulfate-free, cleansing agent derived from coconut to mildly clean hair and scalp without over-drying. Acts as a secondary surfactant.

Coconut Acid A plant-based surfactant derived from a mixture of coconut fatty acids and used to gently cleanse the hair and scalp. It is a by-product of the primary surfactant used in some of our formulas, sodium cocoyl isethionate.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil  Coconut oil A plant-based oil derived from the inner fibers of coconuts used to deliver moisture and tame frizz; leaving hair smooth, shiny, and soft. 

Ethylhexyl Olivate  A plant-based ester derived from olive oil used to lock in moisture without weighing down your hair. This ingredient also acts as a carrier agent for our olive-oil derived squalane. 

Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil  Clove essential oil. Used as a spicy, but sweet, note in our Moondust fragrance.

Eugenol  A naturally occurring aromatic oil that is a component of eugenia caryophyllus (clove) leaf oil and a known allergen in the EU. We disclose this ingredient as part of our fragrance transparency standard. Read more about fragrance transparency on our blog.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride  A cationic conditioning agent derived from guar bean that leaves hair free of tangles and static, without weighing hair down.

Hydrolyzed Rice Protein  A plant-based rice protein, rich in amino acids, that adds natural shine and fullness. A conditioning agent for hair and scalp alike.

Maltodextrin  A plant-based sugar that can be derived from a number of starches, but ours is derived from corn. Maltodextrin has many functions in cosmetics that include acting as an absorbent, binding agent, stabilizer, film-forming agent, and skin-softener.

Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil  Geranium essential oil. Used as a floral note in our Moondust fragrance.

Ribes Nigrum Bud Extract  Black currant extract. Used as a light floral note in our Moondust fragrance that is slightly fruity and woody.

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate  A gentle, sulfate-free, cleansing agent derived from coconut to mildly clean hair and scalp without over-drying. Acts as a primary surfactant.

Sodium Dehydroacetate  A preservative used to keep products fresh & you safe.

Sodium Phytate  A chelating agent used to remove build-up in your hair and soften the water you use to cleanse & condition. Having a small amount of a chelating ingredient present in your shampoo leaves hair soft and lightweight.

Tocopherol  Vitamin E. Used as an antioxidant to maintain our naturally-derived fragrances.

Triethyl Citrate  A fragrance fixative ingredient that allows the fragrance to last longer.

Xanthan Gum  Acts as a thickening agent to give a rich, creamy texture.