The fascinating story of Shiseido!

If you’re a regular Cityline viewer or follower my twitter contests and stories, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Shiseido brand. Not as well-known as say Clinique or Estee Lauder in North America or Europe, Shiseido is in fact, the fourth largest cosmetics company in the world. It is renowned for its quality and science throughout Asia boasting dozens of research and development centers and labs. Many top hotel chains in Asia proudly offer Shiseido toiletries in their deluxe rooms as a sign of ultimate quality and respect for their guests.

shiseido vintage ad

The reason Shiseido flies under the beauty radar is due to its rich Japanese history. It is considered in bad taste to be boastful or talk about oneself too much in Japan. So Shiseido tends to whisper in its ads and politely smile when you walk past its department store counters. Sadly, many of its advances and skincare advances get lost in the competitive beauty marketing environment in the Western World. Other brands are much more aggressive in their advertising.

Shiseido began in 1872 as a Western-style pharmacy in the heart of Tokyo. It quickly became known for its cosmetic technology and commitment to high-quality ingredients. Trained beauty professionals would take the time to counsel customers not only on the best products for their skin, but the techniques to get the best results from the formulas.

Here’s a little insider timeline to showcase some of Shiseido’s rich history and cosmetic breakthroughs.

shiseido first store in Japan

1872: Arinobu Fukuhara establishes Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy in Ginza, Tokyo

1888: Shiseido introduces Fukuhara Sanitary Toothpaste

early shiseido products

1897: Enters the cosmetic arena with Eudermine, a softening lotion that delivers immediate moisture and improves your skin’s own moisturizing power. It remains a best-seller today.

1915: Sets “Hanatsubaki” (Camellia) as the company trademark

1916: Opens a cosmetics shop at 11 Takekawa-cho (now Ginza 7-chrome). Unveils a design department and testing room.

vintage shiseido products

1917: Introduces Seven Colours Face Powder

1918: Launches a cold cream product.

1923: Begins building a network of chain stores for Shiseido cosmetics.

shiseido whitening cream

1927: Changes limited partnership to joint-stock company Shiseido Co., Ltd; Shinzo Fukuhara becomes becomes the first president

1931: Exports Rose Cosmetics to Southeast Asian countries; starts a full-fledged international business

1932: Releases De Luxe

1934: Miss Shiseido promotional campaign begins

1937: Inaugurates the Camellia Club and commemorative gift program (runs through 2003)

1937: Develops new Shiseido-style facial treatment and specialty products

1939: The Shiseido research and development lab is completed in Japan

1949: The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange

1953: Establishes Shiseido Institute of Beauty Sciences

1956: Opens Shiseido Beauty Salon in Shibuya, Tokyo

candy tone shiseido ad

1961: Conducts first ever makeup campaign “Candy Tone”

1962: Establishes Shiseido of Hawaii, the company’s first overseas investment

1963: Begins selling its products in Italy, its first export to Europe

1965: Shiseido Cosmetics America Ltd is established.

shiseido ad campaign beloved by sun

1966: Conducts “Beloved by the Sun” campaign and the first overseas shoot in Hawaii

1968: Opens the Shiseido Research Labs in Yokohama (renamed Shiseido Research Center in 2000)

1975: Launches “Shiseido – The Ginza”

1984: Starts the commercial production of the exclusive ingredient “bio-hyaluronic acid”

1985: Hosts “The Art of Beauty” Exhibition in New York City chronicling 113 years of Shiseido advertising

1989: Collaborates with Harvard University to establish the world’s first dermatological research center

1995: Establishes Shiseido International

1997: Marks the 100th anniversary of Eudermine

2000: Builds a new ultra high-tech research center

shiseido makeup artist

2004: Sponsors “Global Beauty Consultant Competition” to identify the best beauty experts in the world

2005: Unveils new corporate message: “This moment. This life. Beautifully.”

dick page

2007: Celebrity makeup artist Dick Page signs on a Creative Director of Makeup. He’s worked with Kate Moss, Bjork, Emma Stone, Marc Jacobs and Karlie Kloss.

shiseido makeup

2006: Opens the “Life Quality Beauty Centre” Therapy Makeup Institute

shiseido ginza store

2011: Opens a spectacular new flagship store “Shiseido The Ginza”

shiseido face colour

2015: Signs a multi-year partnership with the Canadian Synchronized Swimming Team

2015: Launches the first sunscreen that gets stronger when wet.


  • Reply
    February 9, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Very interesting,I had no idea. Thank you Dave for your wonderful articles.

    • Reply
      Holly Hannaford
      February 14, 2018 at 8:44 am

      I had never heard of them before you had mentioned them. This was an interesting article about the company’s beginnings and future. Thanks so much for this!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Amazing Dave. Thank You

  • Reply
    Anna Roszak-Robinson
    February 1, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    i loved reading this, very informative and interesting.

  • Reply
    Brittany Buenrostro
    January 31, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    What a good read. The history to beauty

  • Reply
    January 31, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I like Shiseido thanks to Dave and Cityline! I was watching and saw the honey soaps and tried those and expanded to other products….

  • Reply
    Pat Drouillard
    January 30, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Very interesting

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