Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we’re willing to bet that you’ve at least heard of Japanese beauty brand Shiseido. What you may not know is that the brand is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022. Although it tends to keep a low profile in western department stores, it is actually the 4th largest cosmetics company in the world and arguably the most recognized Japanese beauty brand in history. In fact, the Shiseido name is so well-respected and trusted, that it’s common to find complimentary Shiseido toiletries in luxury hotel chains across Asia, as a mark of quality and comfort to guests.
Shiseido was founded in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhara in the heart of Ginza, Tokyo, as the first western-style pharmacy of its kind in Japan. Its first inventions include Japan’s first toothpaste (1888) and the famous Eudermine Softening Lotion (1897), which continues to be loved by fans 125 years later. From the very beginning, the brand was a pioneer of blending western science with Japanese aesthetics, and it subtly introduced western ideas in a way that met the needs of Japanese consumers. By 1937, it released its first line of cosmetics, and later went on to emerge as the leading manufacturer of makeup, skincare, fragrance, haircare, and body care in Japan – a position the brand is proud to still hold today. By the early 1960s, Shiseido had made its way into the U.S. and Europe, and by the 1980s, it developed an exclusive product line for top U.S. luxury department stores, including Bloomingdales and Bullocks.
Over the decades, Shiseido became synonymous with cutting-edge technology and glamor, and it dared to push the envelope by defining and redefining the “modern” lifestyle again and again. Shiseido played a significant role in the crossover from traditional Japanese makeup to its western-influenced counterpart. Cosmetics gave Japanese women the opportunity to reinvent themselves, and Shiseido was at the forefront of this evolution. For example, Shiseido introduced Japan’s first tinted face powders in 1906, which was lead-free and considered skin-healthy, and highly differed from the thick white o-shiroi foundation used in traditional Japanese makeup. In 1919, the brand introduced floral perfumes packaged in western-style designer bottles, but their ume plum blossom and wisteria scents nevertheless evoked an appreciation for Japan’s distinct natural beauty. In the 1960s, American pop culture increasingly dominated Japanese youth, who were opting for more contemporary looks and cosmopolitan values. Shiseido promoted pinks and pastel shades, with marketing campaigns “candy tone” (1961), “cherry pink” in (1965), and “pink pow wow” in (1969), which branched off from traditional Japanese makeup colors - red, black, and white. In the late 90s to the present, the current kawaii aesthetic as we know it started to take shape, and we see Shiseido’s glowy cheek colors, colorful lipsticks, bright eyebrow shades, and shimmery, vivid eyeshadows gaining popularity. Trends also diversified and consumers segmented into subcultures, including the OL (office worker), urahara (urban or street fashion), and gal or gyaru, and subsidiary brands and makeup lines catered to these specific aesthetic niches.
150 years later, Shiseido continues to provide fresh and exciting experiences through its commitment to innovation and high-quality. It not only revolutionized the global beauty scene with its East meets West dualism, but it has remained a tried-and-true brand whose products speak for themselves - a reason why we believe Shiseido continues to have enduring success.
Celebrate your skin with Shiseido this month! The brand’s ULTIMUNE Power Infusing Concentrate has won 200 beauty awards, and is said to improve radiance, vibrance, and smoothness in as little as 3 days. Click below to shop.