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Tradition Meets Technology—Celebrating 150 Years Of Shiseido’s Innovations

The global beauty market is flooded with a deluge of new brands and shiny, new launches, Shiseido is a brand that has stood the test of time. Making its mark more than a century ago, Shiseido’s philosophy for years has been the same—Japanese rituals blended with scientific practices and cultures. Founded in Ginza, Tokyo in 1872 the brand didn’t begin its journey the regular way—it was actually the country’s first private western-style pharmacy that aimed to bring western science with eastern philosophy. “Shi Sei” translates to “where everything is born”, while “Do” translates to “house of”—a pure representation of what the brand set out for itself more than 150 years ago, something it continues to retain in the 21st century too.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Back in the day, Japan relied highly on traditional herbal medicine and therefore blended this knowledge with scientific advancements from the western world to create Shiseido, the pharmacy. In 1888, however, the brand deviated slightly away from pharmaceuticals and launched their first product and Japan’s first ever toothpaste. This opened up a whole new gateway for the brand, where they eventually ventured into the cosmetic industry in 1897 with the launch of Eudermine, one of the brand’s most iconic formulations.

Eudermine, An Icon Since 1897

If you’re wondering why this sounds so familiar, it’s because Eudermine exists even till today (obviously, the formulation has been iterated and improved over the years). Shiseido’s Eudermine Revitalizing Essence was one of the brand’s pioneering innovations and a geisha go-to. Geishas would use the softening formula to protect their skin under heavy makeup. 151 years later, it still stands as one of the brand’s most iconic skincare products that aids in nourishing, revitalising, and hydrating skin.

Firsts Of Many

After the success of Eudermine, Shiseido went on to launch its Seven Colors Face Powder aka the Rainbow Face Powder in 1917. The idea behind this launch was to create face powders that match the skin tones of its consumers, something that set the brand apart from the regular ‘white’ face powders available in the market—even the geishas loved it, as it looked beautiful under heavy lighting. Branching out into fragrances, Shiseido launched another iconic product of its time in 1918, Japan’s first perfume, Hanatsubaki. Back in the day, perfumes in Japan were mostly imported from Paris. Hanatsubaki used scents that were familiar to Japanese culture and traditions—flowers like camellia, plum, and wisteria, were brought together to create Japan’s very own perfume. From then, the brand then went on to create 21 types of different floral Shiseido fragrances. 

Around the same year, the Japanese brand introduced the country’s first high-quality cold cream. An amalgamation of expensive and authentic ingredients, the formulation immediately gained popularity and paved the way for other skincare brands to introduce their versions of the same in the 1920s. While the formula was re-invented multiple times over the years, the Shiseido Cold Cream retained its popularity for over forty years and became synonymous with cold creams for the Japanese population. Expanding its cosmetics portfolio in 1932, Shiseido went on to launch De Luxe, an exquisite collection that initially comprised five products—face powder, vanishing cream, soap, perfume, and lipstick. The products were of the highest grade and were therefore priced more than the others. The idea was to create products that were worthy to give to France, without ‘causing embarrassment’. Due to its extravagance the collection was seen as a luxury and therefore  production was halted post the outbreak of World War II. It eventually resumed in 1951, however, it lost its image of indulgence once newer products were launched in the market. 

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The Journey Continues For More Than 150 Years

Shiseido has continued to hone its title of ‘innovator’ for over a century—with each idea, formula, and product being the first of its kind. The brand stays true to their mission to combine Japanese rituals with western medicine and technology continues to be a core pillar of Shiseido’s philosophy till date. Catering to markets across the globe, they modify and customise their products to suit their customers’ requirements. Now, a successful cosmetic brand that has branched into skincare, colour cosmetics, fragrances, and personal care, Shiseido has a global consumer base of over 500 million customers and counting. In fact, the brand has recently announced South Indian cinema & Bollywood superstar Tamannaah Bhatia as their India ambassador. Innovation being the heart of the brand, there’s a piece of Japanese history, culture, and tradition centered in each and every product till date—and that’s what makes Shiseido stand apart.