Shiseido: A Brand Review and Its Best Products

Shiseido Brand Guide

@shiseido/Design by Cristina Cianci

Every day, as a beauty writer, I'm discovering a new brand, a new ingredient, a new treatment or technique that claims that it will change my life and give me an entirely new face. While I embrace new things constantly, it's also nice to reflect on the tried and true brands, the ones we've heard about for years–the brands that were both changing the game when they first come out and still maintain their original greatness. Shiseido is one of those brands: Before I was a full-time beauty expert, I was a beauty lover and connoisseur, and Shiseido was one of the brands that lead me down the wicked ride to loving skincare, simply by being aspirational and effective. Trust me: This brand absolutely gives you what you want and need in a line.


Founded: 1872, Japan

Based In: Tokyo, Japan

Pricing: $$-$$$

Best Known For: Being the oldest and fourth-largest cosmetics company, popularizing the four-step skincare routine.

Most Popular Product: Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen, Eyelash Curler, and Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream

Fun Fact: Shiseido's name implies "richness of life," which, according to Confucian thought, can be reached only through harmony of mind, body, and soul. 

Other Brands You’ll Love: Clé de Peau Beaute, Tatcha, shu uemura

Shiseido was founded in 1872—yup, we're getting in a time machine—when Yushin Fukuhara, former head pharmacist for the Japanese Admiralty, opened the Shiseido Pharmacy on the Ginza in Tokyo—effectively creating Japan's first Western-style pharmacy. "In 1872, Arinobu Fukuhara founded Shiseido as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy," Alessio Rossi, EVP Shiseido, Clé de Peau Beauté US & Head of Americas Digital Transformation, told us. The characters in the store's name and the store's general ethos were derived from classic Asian philosophy, Rossi explained. "The brand’s philosophy has been rooted in the dualism of East meets West, with a focused deep respect for the skin. Our deep heritage in skin science allows us to bring consumers skincare, sun care, and makeup formulas that are unparalleled."

In a populous shopping area, the small store attracted purchasers of traditional remedies as well as those curious and interested in the novelty of Western imports, but the personalized service and high-quality products are what kept them returning. In the 1880s, Shiseido began to manufacture medicines, and in 1888 the company introduced a new product to Japan: toothpaste. Shiseido began selling cosmetic products that were processed by the standards used for medicines in 1897. This deep history, as well as the commitment to high-quality products—they're the reason we're doing (at least) four steps in our skincare routines today. Looking to learn more about this legendary, game-changing brand in the cosmetics field? Read on for more.

01 of 10

Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector Lotion SPF 50+ Sunscreen $49.00

If there were a checklist for making sunscreens, this SPF would be the blueprint. 50+ SPF coverage? Check. Gives you a dewy glow and not make you look like you're related to Beetlejuice? Check. The brand uses WetForce Technology, a technology that makes combined negative ions with the positive ions from sweat and water to create an additional barrier of skin protection, in combination with HeatForce Technology, a heat-sensing essence that becomes stronger with external heat, to become SynchroShield, a stronger shield of defense against the sun. It's like your SPF is wearing SPF while you wear your SPF. What more could you need?

02 of 10

Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream

Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream
Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream $64.00

Byrdie contributing writer Bianca Lambert wrote a rave review about this eye cream, the one that made her realize she might need eye creams. This cream will virtually erase your undereye circles and help with makeup application. "After six weeks of using the cream, I can report my eyelids have never felt smoother. Also, while the darkness under my eyes didn't vanish, I could tell the difference if I skipped a day of applying the cream under my eyes," Lambert raved.

03 of 10

Eyelash Curler

Shiseido Eyelash Curler
Shiseido Eyelash Curler $22.00

According to Shiseido, this is the #1 lash curler in the United States, and it lives up to the hype and more. This is the lash curler that will help you realize not all lash curlers are the same, that no, you don't need to pinch your eyelid every time from using the $3 curler from the dollar store. In your hand, it feels luxurious and durable, built to curl those lashes the best they could be curled.

04 of 10

Creamy Cleansing Emulsion

Shiseido Creamy Cleansing Emulsion
Shiseido Creamy Cleansing Emulsion $35.00

This cleanser is built for those who know a thing or two about feeling stripped or like their face is wiped away of all the good oils and the bad ones after a good cleanse. This cleanser can be removed with cool or lukewarm water or with a tissue and works hard to remove all makeup—yes, even the most intensive of eye makeup. We love a product that works for you in all different locations—traveling or in the privacy of your own home; you don't need to worry about this product not working.

05 of 10

MicroLiner Ink

Shiseido MicroLiner Ink
Shiseido MicroLiner Ink $22.00

There are not enough metaphors in the world to cover how black this eyeliner is. Black as night? No, that's not it. Black like the blackest of hearts? Doesn't even graze the surface. If Vantablack could be an eyeliner, it would be the Shiseido MicroLiner Ink. The liner is a gel-based formula in a micro pencil form—and when we say micro, this thing is teensy tiny. It's so heavily pigmented; however, it nearly applies like a gel liner. Use a steady hand, light strokes, and you'll realize a little bit goes a whole long way with this liner.

06 of 10

Waso Beauty Sleeping Mask

Shiseido Waso Beauty Sleeping Mask
Shiseido Waso Beauty Sleeping Mask $38.00

I won't go so far as to say if you put this on before you go to sleep that you'll wake up with a new face, but I can absolutely tell you that it feels like you're going to wake up with a new face. It is hydrating but not so thick you'll worry about clogged pores or having a breakout the next day. Infused with yuzu citrus—a Japanese superfood high in vitamins A, C, and E–this sleeping mask will help you feel rejuvenated, even after the roughest of sleep.

07 of 10

VisionAiry Gel Lipstick

Shiseido VisionAiry Gel Lipstick
Shiseido VisionAiry Gel Lipstick $26.00

Hold onto your hats: This lipstick looks the same in the tube as it will on your skin. It's a breathable, weightless formula that feels like a gel lipstick crayon and less like lipstick. Moisturizing and creamy, you'll forget you're wearing it hours in—and because it doesn't transfer, you won't worry about your lipstick winding up everywhere it can go other than your lips.

08 of 10

Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate
Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate $110.00

It wouldn't be a piece about Shiseido without a serum, as the brand is the originator of the four-step cleanser/toner/serum/moisturizer routine most of us are doing every day. Whether you've got a "One, Two Step" routine or a ten-step routine, this serum is a must-have. It's nearly like radiance in a bottle, full of nourishing botanical extracts like reishi mushroom and iris root, working to even out texture and revitalize skin.

09 of 10

Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF 30

Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF 30
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF 30 $47.00

With medium coverage and a natural finish, this foundation kind of feels like a rarity in the modern makeup sphere. The brand claims the foundation "self-refreshes nonstop for an up-to-24-hour just-applied look and flawless finish," and that seems to be the truth. Not 100% sure what "self-refreshing" means, but fans of this foundation love it because it's not too dewy or matte and can be built up to be a higher coverage foundation. It's a must-try.

10 of 10

Facial Cotton

Shiseido Facial Cotton
Shiseido Facial Cotton $12.00

The first time this writer heard about Shiseido, it was from a rave review about this facial cotton. I mean, it's called "facial cotton," and not a "cotton pad"—get it right, and show some respect because this facial cotton truly is in a league of its own. They're soft and smooth, and you won't worry about them shedding all over your face because they were uniquely constructed for maximum absorption—the product goes on your face, not on the pad. I've since moved into a more eco-friendly form of applying the product, but I always keep a pack of these in my pantry for emergencies.

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