Back To Top

K-beauty meets 18th century Princess Hwahyup

Three prototypes of foundation, a hand cream and lip balm that were developed based on cosmetics found inside the tomb of Princess Hwahyup (1733~1752), the seventh daughter of King Yeongjo (CHA)
Three prototypes of foundation, a hand cream and lip balm that were developed based on cosmetics found inside the tomb of Princess Hwahyup (1733~1752), the seventh daughter of King Yeongjo (CHA)

The National Palace Museum of Korea on Tuesday announced that it will revive cosmetics products used by Princess Hwahyup from the 18th century jointly in conjunction with the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage and local cosmetics maker Cosmax before the end of this year.

The three entities will jointly launch a new brand named “Princess Hwahyup” that will be developed based on findings of cosmetic products that were presumably used by Princess Hwahyup (1733-1752), the seventh daughter of King Yeongjo, the 21st ruler of the Joseon era. According to historical documents, the princess was known for her beauty, but died of measles before the age of 20.

“We have already registered the trademark for the brand name Princess Hwahyup,” Chung Young-jae, a professor from the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage’s heritage conservation and restoration division, said during a press briefing announcing the new brand on Tuesday.

During the research done on Princess Hwahyup’s tomb from 2015 to 2017, relics including a comb, a mirror and cosmetic products were found. To re-create the cosmetics used over 270 years ago, the National Palace Museum of Korea analyzed 93 different items that were found.

Three prototypes of a foundation, a hand cream and a lip balm based on research and product development by the three entities were showcased on Tuesday. According to the museum, they contain elements from propolis and safflower that were discovered in the princess’s items.

“We used the materials from the excavated cosmetics while removing some of the harmful ingredients that were used at the time such as heavy metals. We also added some modern pigments and material to improve the quality and extend the expiration date,” Chung said. “We have not specified the price range for the new brand, but it will not be high. The general public will be able to purchase them casually.”

Chung also explained that cooperating with Cosmax was crucial in re-creating the princess’ cosmetics items.

“We knew a lot about researching and analyzing relics but, to create commercial products, we needed experts in the area,” Chung added.

Established in 1992, Cosmax is a key producer for global beauty giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Estee Lauder and L’Oreal

“We see that the new brand has great potential. These days, on top of product quality, storytelling has become important for a cosmetics brand as well,” Lee Jun-bae, general manager of Innovation Lab at Cosmax, added.

During the press conference, the three organizations also showcased blue and white porcelain cosmetics containers that were created based on items that were excavated from Princess Hwahyup’s tomb.

“These are just prototypes. For the new brand, we will not be using these containers, since ceramic wares cannot keep products fresh as they do not prevent air from entering. But we will create plastic containers and use the patterns of the blue and white porcelains,” Chung said. 

Character goods of the Princess Hwahyup brand (CHA)
Character goods of the Princess Hwahyup brand (CHA)

Along with the new cosmetics products, the organizations also created Princess Hwahyup character goods.

“The development of modern cosmetics and cultural products based on the cosmetics relics of Princess Hwahyup is a re-creation of traditional values,” Chung said. “We expect this cosmetics development to contribute to the further vitalization of K-beauty.”

The three organizations on Tuesday also signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed on further cooperation for the next four years.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
MOST POPULAR