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Egypt series of cosmetics by Korana, by Karolina Anna Kulpa

Egypt series of cosmetics by Korana, by Karolina Anna Kulpa

Korana, a Polish manufacturer of natural cosmetics, introduced their “Egypt” skincare series to the market. Its packaging is adorned in golden or bronze tones and features the bust of Queen Nefertiti in a left-facing profile. Also noteworthy is the rectangular soap, in a creamy color, featuring a bronze raised bust of Nefertiti in a left-facing profile, like on the series logo (Soap of Egypt [Mydło Egiptu]) (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1 (Source: https://www.korana.pl/produkt/krem-egiptu/ and https://www.korana.pl/produkt/mydlo-egiptu/)

An intriguing example of the blending of two iconic images of Egyptian queens, Cleopatra VII from the Ptolemaic dynasty and Nefertiti from the 18th dynasty, is evident in several products from this series. While the packaging bears the bust of Nefertiti in bronze-gold hues, the names of three products, two salts and a bath cream, incorporate the name of Cleopatra (The Secret of Egypt – Cleopatra’s Cream Bath [Sekret Egiptu – kremowa kąpiel Kleopatry], The Salt of Egypt – Cleopatra’s Bath [Sól Egiptu – kąpiel Kleopatry], and Cleopatra’s Night [Noc Kleopatry]- a bath bomb with little golden stars, currently not available) (Fig. 2). Much is still unknown about the life of Nefertiti, whose name refers to beauty. However, her bust has continually fascinated audiences since its discovery in 1912, and it has become one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt. Cleopatra lived 13 centuries later in Hellenistic Egypt under the Ptolemies. Although what she looked like remains a mystery, the processes of classical reception and Egyptomania have created a representation of her, especially since the 19th century, as a beautiful, ancient femme fatale, who used her beauty to achieve her goals. Korana’s products reflect the use of Egyptomaniacal images of these two rulers in everyday items.

Fig. 2 (Source: https://www.Korana.pl/produkt/kremowa-kapiel-kleopatry/ and https://www.Korana.pl/produkt/sol-egiptu-kapiel-kleopatry/)

According to the manufacturer, The Secret of Egypt – Cleopatra’s Cream Bath should give consumers a luxurious, comfortable, and aromatic bath that combines the gentleness of milk with cleansing properties. The ingredients, including annatto oil, lotus flower extract, and linden honey, are mentioned as active substances used in African ritual treatments. The second product, the effervescent bath salt, is described as gently cleansing and moisturizing for all skin types. According to the Korana company, “The exotic scent pleasantly soothes and recalls the ritual baths of African beauties.” In addition to its relaxing properties, the bath salt is described as being rich in nourishing ingredients, such as annatto oil, linden honey, blue lotus flowers, and milk. Therefore, on the one hand, the company refers to the African roots of its Egyptian products. On the other hand, Korana recalls the pop-cultural image of Cleopatra, who is most often portrayed as a white woman and an expert in beauty care as a result of her taking milk baths. This exemplifies the modern use of the Ptolemaic queen’s image in popular culture as an expert in beauty care, and it elaborates on the contemporary perception of her rituals, particularly her association with milk baths. Such imagery has been prevalent since the early 20th century. For example, between 1917 and 1919 Palmolive produced advertisements featured in magazines, which lauded the properties of their shampoos, powders, creams, and soaps by utilizing the image of Cleopatra and short texts describing her use of precious oils. The motif of milk baths also appears in several films, such as Carry on Cleo, a British comedy by Gerald Thomaso from 1964; the animation Asterix and Cleopatra, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1968, based on their comic from 1965; and Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra from 2002, directed by Alain Chabat.

Korana’s marketing reference to two female rulers, who are both contemporarily associated with being beautiful, is probably intended to create a certain myth of ancient forms of beauty care as being worthy of the highest circles of society. These marketing images not only recall the representations of Nefertiti and Cleopatra in pop culture but also inspire the desire for consumers to feel luxurious and royal in their private, often small bathrooms.

Author: Karolina Anna Kulpa, Independent researcher. Alma Mater: Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland.

Further readings: 

Palmolive Soap and Cleopatra: An American Expression of Egyptomania and Consumerism, by Tara Sewell Lasater – Egypopcult website (link here)

Antiquipop – In the bath with Cleopatra, by Soizic Hirel (link here)

Carry on Cleo (1964) – Egypopcult database (link here)

Astérix et Obélix: L’Empire du milieu (2023) – Egypopcult database (link here)

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