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Beauty Brand Breakdown: Le Rub - New Sunscreen Brand


Le Rub Sunscreen Brand

Analyzing Le Rub Through a Strategic Lens

As a beauty brand expert and brand strategy consultant, my work revolves around dissecting and understanding how beauty brands, both nascent and established, navigate the complex market dynamics of the industry. This blog post aims to dissect the branding, marketing claims, and product positioning of emerging beauty brands, with a special focus on how they introduce themselves to the market and resonate with potential consumers. Today, we turn our critical eye towards sunscreen and after sun care brand Le Rub. My analysis is rooted not in personal product experience but in a comprehensive critique of how Le Rub presents itself to the world—primarily through its online presence, which for many consumers, is the first point of contact with the brand.


Introduction of Le Rub

Le Rub is a Belgian beauty brand launched in 2023 that specializes in sunscreen and after sun. They use mineral SPF formulas enriched with Mediterranean ingredients to create products that are not only effective but also gentle on the skin. The brand prides itself on sustainable packaging solutions, aiming to minimize environmental impact. Le Rub's main selling points include their dedication to natural, high-quality ingredients and a commitment to eco-friendly practices. The brands playful branding made them stand out to me. Let’s take a closet look at Le Rub and how they present themselves on their website.


Aesthetic of Le Rub

Le Rub’s visual presentation is what stands out most about the brand to me personally. The brand identity was created by Leslie David, a Paris based creative studio. Speaking about the project they state that “We created a Mediterranean-inspired identity for the brand, featuring a bold logo, strong colors, and a soft vintage typography.”. I think they did a great job; I think the brand looks very modern and the vintage touch makes it more interesting. The product photography by Benjamin Vigliotta is also fun and modern. From the packaging to the website design, the brand identity is just spot on.


Le Rub

Brand Story

“LE RUB is a new range of luxury sunscreen and after sun, created to answer the simple question: why can’t suncare feel amazing and be kind to the planet? The answer? It can.”

They refer to themselves as a “luxury” brand, anyone can and indeed all kinds of brands do claim to be a luxury brand. This doesn’t mean anything but go off king. Le Rub set out to create sunscreen that feels amazing while still being planet friendly, they claim to have succeeded.


“By combining the Mediterranean’s finest natural ingredients with modern clean beauty techniques, LE RUB delivers next-generation luxury suncare that feels incredible and doesn’t harm the environment.”

Next Le Rub claims to be using the Mediterranean’s finest natural ingredients, which I’m glad to hear they’re not using trashy cheap natural ingredients, right? Anyways, these Mediterranean’s finest natural ingredients are combined with the power of modern clean beauty techniques. Can someone tell me what “modern clean beauty techniques” means? Clean Beauty is just a marketing term that means little to nothing, so remove that and we have “modern techniques”. I sure hope they are not using obsolete techniques.


Apparently, this has resulted in next-generation luxury suncare that feels incredible and doesn’t harm the environment. There’s an apparent contradiction in Le Rub's marketing language—praising "modern techniques" and claiming to be "next-generation luxury suncare" while relying on zinc oxide, a traditional mineral filter. Zinc oxide is a well-established sunscreen active ingredient known for its broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Its use in suncare products dates back decades, which might seem at odds with claims of modernity, especially considering the development of newer chemical filters that offer high levels of protection with less visibility on the skin.


Le Rub's product lineup

Founding Story

“We were inspired to create LE RUB trying every other sunscreen on the market and weren’t satisfied with the options available, which often came down to a choice between sticky textures that leave a white cast on skin, or luxury options which used synthetic or harmful ingredients.”

As someone specialized in competitive market research in the beauty industry, I’m very skeptical about the claim to have tried every other sunscreen on the market, I understand that this a hyperbole statement, but still. Whenever someone claims they started a brand because there was nothing on the market, to me, it reads as being very naïve about the vast variety of options already available. It’s probably more accurate that they tried some products and we’re not satisfied.


Their assessment of the options available are basically:

  1. Mineral Sunscreens with Sticky Texture and White Cast

  2. Luxury Sunscreen with Chemical Filters

 

Sticky texture and white cast are typically features that come with mineral sunscreens, due to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide being white when used at high enough concentrations to give high protection often end up being sticky and give a white cast. There are regulations on what ingredients are allowed in cosmetics, implying that chemical filters are harmful is just fear mongering.


The positioning we can derive from this is that Le Rub’s sunscreen is:

  1. Mineral Sunscreen that doesn’t suck

  2. Luxury Sunscreen but with Mineral Filters



Le Rub Lifestyle photography of women in the ocean on a sunny day.

Brand Values

“To create the brand, we drew on our love for the Mediterranean, the sun, and its positive effects on our mood, health, and energy levels. A combination we like to call The Good Life. Our goal is to give everyone the chance to experience The Good Life for themselves — protecting your health and beauty and having fun while doing it.”

This is all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t tell me anything about the brand. That’s your idea of the good life, and you want to share that with everyone, through the medium of sunscreen that costs over $55 for 50 ml. I feel like this kind of messaging works better for brands that are sold at a more accessible price point. Do you want to be a luxury brand or do you want to be for everyone?



“…So we made a promise. To create game-changing suncare that feels invisible, smells incredible and leaves you feeling unbelievable. So you can protect your health and beauty and feel fantastic doing it.”

Personally, I love scent in my skincare products. My favorite sunscreens all have delicious scents. But since Le Rub is going so hard for the whole clean beauty positioning it’s a interesting choice to put fragrance in your products. Even if Le Rub delivers on all of their stated selling points, I wouldn’t consider it to be a game-changing product. But who knows, if I actually try the product it might “leave me feeling unbelievable”.



Le Rub

Sustainability

“We believe that nature should always come first. That’s why all our ingredients are reef-safe, vegan and cruelty-free. You won’t see us using octinoxate, oxybenzone, benzophenone or other ingredients that are harmful to reefs and marine life.”

Here we go full on misinformation and fearmongering. There is nothing that proves that mineral sunscreens are less damaging for the environment. Cosmetic Chemist Michelle Wong of Lab Muffin Beauty Science made a great video explaining this in far more detail than I ever could.


“Our beautifully designed packaging uses sustainable materials, including the first aluminium tubes made from post-consumer recycled aluminium — 95% post-consumer and 5% post-industrial. By reducing CO2 emissions by up to 70%, a significantly smaller carbon footprint than classic aluminium tubes.”

Aluminum is a great packaging material and is widely recycled, this paragraph is from the product page. It would be even better if they used aluminum caps also, there are other brands, like Sunslayer for example, doing this. But all in all an aluminum tube is all good with me. I do find it odd that they say they are the first ones made from consumer recycled aluminum, I’m skeptical since they launched last year and 100% recycled aluminum tubes have been a thing for a lot longer than that I’m sure.



Le Rub

What Information seems to be missing?

There’s no information on Le Rub’s website about who the people behind the brand are. While not at all uncommon, I think it’s a missed opportunity. We all trust people a lot more than we trust companies. Especially with the tone of Le Rub’s messaging it feels a bit odd to have no idea who all these sentiments are coming from. Like when they are talking about how they tried every sunscreen on the market and couldn’t find anything they were satisfied with, who did? Who tried all the sunscreens? Who wasn’t satisfied with them? Right now, the brand story is basically; we didn’t find a sunscreen we liked so we made it! I think they can do better than that. At least the people behind the brand are not a secret, through looking at the people working at Le Rub on their Linkedin page I can see that the founders of Le Rub are Raf Maes and Kim Maes.

 

The value of consumer goodwill

When we can see the people behind the brand we tend to care more about the brand. Don’t underestimate the value of the goodwill of consumers. When people get invested in a brand’s success, they will want to tell other people about it, and they are a lot more forgiving if the brand ever makes a mistake.


Le Rub

Final Thoughts

In closing, Le Rub presents itself as a beacon of innovation within the saturated suncare market, promising luxury, efficacy, and environmental consciousness. Yet, as we peel back the layers of their brand narrative and product claims, we are met with contradictions and marketing ambiguities that demand scrutiny. The brand's reliance on zinc oxide—a traditional yet reliable sunscreen ingredient—coupled with the proclaimed modernity of their clean beauty techniques, illustrates a dissonance between their marketing rhetoric and the longstanding principles of suncare formulation. Moreover, Le Rub's portrayal of their products as a panacea to the market's shortcomings seems to overlook the diversity and sophistication of existing suncare solutions. For new brands launching I feel like it’s short sighted to get onboard the sinking ship that is clean beauty. A more progressive pro science approach would align better with a brand focusing on sustainability. It’s still an interesting brand that has a lot of potential if they can solidify a stronger and more congruent brand platform.


Thank you for reading, I’m planning to continue this as a series covering a new brand each time. If there are any brands you would like me to cover in the future you’re welcome to leave a comment. Subscribe to the newsletter to not mixed the next one!

//Jennifer Carlsson

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Portrait photo of Jennifer Carlsson, short neon green hair and rainbow colored eye makeup
Jennifer Carlsson
The Beauty Brand Expert

I'm Jennifer Carlsson, a 30 year old strategy consultant, competitive market researcher, data analyst and designer from Stockholm, Sweden. I know more about more beauty brands than anyone else and I'm an expert in what it takes for beauty brands to succeed.
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