Shiseido Company, Limited is a Japanese multinational personal care company, that is a skin care, hair care, cosmetics and fragrance producer. It is one of the oldest cosmetics companies in the world. Founded in 1872, it celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2012. It is the largest cosmetic firm in Japan and the fifth largest cosmetics company in the world. Shiseido is only available at cosmetic counters at selected department stores or pharmacists. The company owns numerous brands and subsidiaries worldwide, in addition to its founding label. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, and is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.



Arinobu Fukuhara, former head pharmacist to the Imperial Japanese 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 Parlor restaurant business, and eventually led to the introduction of ice cream in Japan. The name Shiseido derives from a Chinese expression meaning "praise the virtues of the earth which nurtures new life and brings forth significant values".

Arinobu passed on his company to his son, Shinzo Fukuhara, who became the company's second president in 1913. After Shinzo's experience traveling to Europe and the United States, he became interested in advertising as a large selling point for Shiseido which lead him to dedicate extensive resources to the company's design, much of which can be seen from product packaging and magazines from this time.


In 1917, Shiseido introduced Rainbow Face Powder. This was a face powder with seven colors 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. A joint-stock company was formed in 1927.

Early 20th Century

In 1916, Shiseido transitioned from using historical images of Japanese female beauty to more Western ideals of beauty. The more contemporary images showed women with hair swept up rather than cascading back and incorporated trendy art nouveau style block scripts. This shift in imagery coincided with increasing Western influence in Japan, allowing Shiseido to capitalize on this cultural change.

The Ginza district burned during the Kanto Earthquake of 1923. This incident and the great depression in the 1930s caused a decrease in sales of Shiseido. Shiseido partnered with stores to form the Shiseido Cosmetics Chain Store System. Therefore, consumers could rest assured that they could purchase Shiseido products at the same price at any store. In 1932, the representative Shiseido brand of top class cosmetic products of the time, De Luxe, was born. Following the outbreak of World War II, the De Luxe brand was considered an extravagance and production ceased. However, it was re-launched in 1951 when the economy began to recover. Shiseido started to expand its cosmetics markets to the international market in the 1950s to 1980s.

Company magazines

The company began publishing company magazines in 1924 with Shiseido Monthly (Shiseido Geppo), which contained product advertisements and advice about cosmetics and fashion. Shiseido Monthly was replaced in 1933 with The Shiseido Graph (Shiseido Gurafu), and then renamed to Hanatsubaki in 1937. Shiseido Monthly and The Shiseido Graph featured photographs by Shinzo Fukuhara, the company's second president and a well-known photographer.

Shiseido's public relations magazines are aimed at “inspiring a life of beauty and culture,” following the company's stated corporate ideal.


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13 February 2021


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