Arinobu Fukuhara, former head pharmacist to the Japanese Imperial Navy, established the Shiseido Pharmacy in 1872. After a visit to the United States and Europe, Arinobu added a soda fountain to the store.
This later grew into the Shiseido Parlour restaurant business, and eventually led to the introduction of ice cream in Japan. The name "Shiseido" can be translated as "praise the virtues of the earth which nurtures new life and brings forth significant values".
Shiseido was the first to develop the softening lotion, a lightweight liquid of toner-like consistency. The oldest softening lotion is named Eudermine, which is still marketed and sold at all Shiseido counters. The softening lotion was developed in response to lead poisoning, as the Japanese women used makeup based on white lead.
In 1917, Shiseido introduces Rainbow Face Powder. The idea of a face powder with seven colors was very novel in a period when white face powders were the norm in Japan.
In 1923, the company began expanding its store-base; it now has approximately 25,000 outlets.
In 1927, a joint stock company was formed.
In 1957, Shiseido began sales in Taiwan, closely followed by Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1962, Shiseido expanded to Hawaii; in 1965, it established Shiseido Cosmetics America. European sales began with Italy in 1968 and Oceania with New Zealand in 1971.
In 1985, Shiseido was the first company to produce sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid/hyaluronan) from non-animal origin sources.
In North America and Europe, Shiseido products are sold in major department stores, pharmacies and Asian retailers.
Current skincare products
In Japan, Shiseido sells Elixir Superieur skincare products for women, Aqua Label skincare and toiletry products for daily use, Uno skincare products for men, Clé de Peau Beauté makeup, skin and body care, Benefique skincare and Anessa suncare lines.
The current skincare products developed and produced by Shiseido elsewhere include "Future Solution", "Bio-Performance", "Benefiance", "White Lucent", "The Skincare" and "Pureness". Each includes make-up removers, cleansers, softeners (toner-like liquids) and moisturizers. Some of these lines include speciality products such as serums, masques and exfoliating scrubs. Shiseido also produces a line of suncare and a line of skincare specially formulated for men.
"Bio-Performance" has more targeted products—predominantly, its eye cream is one of the most popular products in this line and focuses on preventing fine lines and dark circles around the eyes. The Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizer and Advanced Super Restoring Cream are two of Shiseido's most popular anti-aging creams. The Bio-Performance line was introduced in 1987 following the synthesis of hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate). Shiseido was the first to formulate and synthesize hyaluronic acid and owns the patent rights therefore all cosmetic lines must use sodium hyaluronate rather than hyaluronic acid on their ingredient lists. Product containers are sleek and modern. Recent additions to the Bio-Performance line include a Refining Essence and Super Exfoliating Discs.
"Benefiance" was introduced in 1996 and is formulated for mature and dry skin types. Most of their containers are glass and are beige. Recent additions to the Benefiance line include a reformulated antiwrinkle eye cream which also treats dark circles, and a retinol face mask.
"White Lucent" is used to lighten the appearance of skin discoloration due to sun exposure. This line replaced the UV White skincare line, which is one of the most popular skincare lines in Asia. Contrary to popular belief, the term whitening refers to a brightening of the skin tone, not a lightening of skin tone. This product line relies on Japanese botanicals and vitamin C esters to brighten the skin tone, reduce the appearance of sun damage, and promote skin clarity. Because the "White Lucent" line does not contain an actual bleaching agent, it is one of the few lines of skin brightening products that has not been affected by new US laws prohibiting the production and distribution of skin bleaching agents.
"The Skincare" is for all skin types, but targets women in their 20s to 50s, and is therefore more hydrating than Pureness. Uniquely,this line carries three eye creams, sold in containers which are pearly white and are made of plastic. The Skincare line was introduced in 1997 and replaced the Vital Perfection skincare line. It was recently updated and repackaged.
"Pureness" is Shiseido's oil control line introduced in 1995. Because it is aimed at a younger consumer (who typically has oilier skin), it is Shiseido's least expensive skincare line on average due primarily to the containers being simple plastic bottles and tubes of light blue. Pureness products contain plant-derived ingredients like palo azul, a skin conditioner Shiseido claims stimulates the skin's moisturizing capacities and rosemary extract, which has a well-known antimicrobial effect.
"Suncare" products include UVA/UVB sun protection lotions and creams for face, eyes, lips and body, self-tanners (without sun protection) for face and body, and 3 types of foundation makeup (with sun protection). Sun protection products range from SPF 16 to 60 and provide broad spectrum sun protection against UVB and UVA rays. Shiseido uses its own unique UVA rating system of PA ranging from "+" to "+++" as there is no established standard for labelling products that have UVA protection.All Shiseido Suncare products with sun protection (and several foundations) have received The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation
Shiseido also markets "Shiseido Men" skincare products including shaving cream, face wash which doubles as shaving foam, aftershave lotion, moisturizers, anti-wrinkle creams, eye products, and self tanners.
In Japan, Shiseido sells Benefique pre-makeup and foundation products, Maquillage full-line makeup counselling-based products, and Integrate full-line makeup self-selection-based products.
In China, aside from Maquillage, Shiseido also sells Aupres, its major makeup brand there.
Elsewhere, Shiseido produces a line of cosmetics simply called "The Makeup" that provide a full range of products including lip products, powder eye shadows, eye liner pencils, mascara, fluid and compact foundations, concealers, and powder blush. Their hydro powder eye shadows which have a creamy texture are among Allure magazine's top beauty picks.
In addition to producing products under the Shiseido brand, Shiseido also has several other subsidiaries and brands.
Beauté Prestige International, based in Paris, France, produces perfumes under the Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, and Narciso Rodriguez brands. It also distributes fragrances and men's skincare under the John Varvatos brand. NARS is also owned by Shiseido.
Aupres is a line of prestige cosmetics and skincare products made and sold exclusively in China.
UNO is a self selection line for men.
Clé de Peau is their expensive line offers skincare, makeup and bodycare. The most popular item from Cle de peau is the concealer.
ff and aqualabel are their drugstores line offer cheaper skincare and makeup.
Revital is available exclusive in Asian countries, it's an anti-again line targeting women in their 30s-40s.
d-program offers full range of skincare and makeup for sensitive skin.
UV White targets women who wish to preserve their bright and clear skin from exposure to the Sun.
IPSA offers skincare with ability to maintain one's physical condition at the best, but it is different for each person. Therefore, IPSA offers co-create of my own recipe that will bring forth your unique beauty.
Ayura focuses on the connection among skin, body and mind. Ayura combines the traditional wisdom with cutting-edge formulations that would help bring about your innate beauty.
Until recently, Shiseido also owned ZIRH International, a New York City-based producer of men's skincare and fragrance products under the ZIRH and Corduroy brands. In September 2007, Shiseido sold ZIRH back to an investment group owned by Brian Robinson, the former president of ZIRH. Shiseido continues to own and manufacture the John Varvatos fragrance and skincare brand, and transferred distribution of the John Varvatos brand to their Beauté Prestige International subsidiary.