Shiseido Company, Limited (株式会社資生堂 Kabushiki-gaisha Shiseidō) (Japanese: [ɕiseeꜜdoː]) 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.[3][4] It is the largest cosmetic firm in Japan and the fifth largest cosmetics company in the world.[5] 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 trades on the Tokyo stock exchange, and it is a chief competitor of SK-II.


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".[6]

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 introduced Rainbow Face Powder. This was a face powder with seven colors in a period when white face powders were the norm in Japan.[7] In 1923, the company began expanding its store-base; it now has approximately 25,000 outlets. A joint-stock company was formed in 1927.

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.[8]

In 1985, Shiseido was the first company to produce sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid/hyaluronan) from non-animal origin sources.[9] In North America and Europe, Shiseido products are sold in major department stores, pharmacies, and specialty Asian retailers.

Finances and operations

In the first quarter of 2013, Shiseido had a net profit of 2.66 billion yen or USD $26.87 million on sales of 162.36 billion yen, or $1.64 billion.[10] On 15 July 2013, Shiseido announced it was opening a wholly owned subsidiary in India.[12] On 20 February 2014, Shiseido agreed to sell its Carita and Decléor brands to L’Oréal for €227.5 million (USD$312.93 million (2014) as it couldn't manage to capture the French market or understand the brands' potential; this sale resulted in Shiseido showing profits despite running into losses.[13]

In February 2016, Masahiko Uotani was replaced as the CEO.

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.

"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.[14] All Shiseido Suncare products with sun protection (and several foundations) have received The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation.[15]

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 (with a beauty advisor) products, and Integrate full-line makeup self-selection-based (no sales staff) products.

In China, aside from Maquillage, Shiseido also sells Aupres, its major makeup brand there.

The company is embroiled in controversial animal testing, lead usage in make-up, Shiseido Shock controversy related to unethical treatment of beauty advisors and women, displacement of factory workers after suddenly shutting down facilities, unethical removal of Chinese Sales team and more recently poaching three top executives from beauty player Coty despite they being legally bound by contractual obligations.

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.[16]

Company portfolio subsidiaries

  • In addition to producing products under the Shiseido brand, Shiseido also has several other subsidiaries and brands.
  • Aupres is a line of cosmetics and skincare products made and sold exclusively in China.
  • Ayura, this brand was sold to a Japanese pharmacy company with all employees in 2015
  • Bare Escentuals

Shiseido also once 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.