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".
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.