Shu uemura

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Shu Uemura is a Japanese cosmetics brand started by Shu Uemura in the [1960s]. The line currently operates stores throughout the world and takes in an annual revenue of more than $100 Million.


Shu Uemura was born in Tokyo in 1928. He became interested in hairstyling and makeup while a teenager, bedridden with a severe illness. When he was first able to, he enrolled in the Tokyo Beauty Academy as the only male student in a class of 130. Uemura attempted to break into the film industry, first working on the 1957 film Joes Butterfly, which was being partially filmed in Japan. He soon after left Japan to seek a career in the much larger, more lucrative American film and television industry.

When the make-up artist for the film, My Geisha, fell ill in 1962, Uemura was called in to replace them and was given great acclaim for his work in transforming Shirley MacLaine into a Japanese woman. He soon became a regular Hollywood makeup artist, working with stars such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball.

In 1960, Uemura launched his first product, a cleansing oil which cleaned better than soap while moisturizing. The product is still used today in Japan and lead to the development of Uemura’s Makeup School in 1964 after returning to Japan.

His first company, Japan Makeup, was founded in 1967 with the opening of a boutique in the Omotesando District of Tokyo. The name was officially changed to Shu Uemura cosmetics much later, in 1983. The 1980s were a boon for the company as Japan continued to actively seek Western products and enjoyed a healthy economy.

In 2004, Uemura’s controlling interest in his company was sold to L’Oreal, the French cosmetics company for an unknown amount. The company now has stores in France, Great Britain, the United States, China, and Japan and sells everything from cosmetics to hairstyle and lifestyle products.

On December 29, 2007, Shu Uemura died of pneumonia in his home of Tokyo. He was 79 years old at the time. The funeral was held on January 4, 2008.

Company Philosophy

The philosophy behind Uemura’s cosmetics was that the health of the customers’ skin was more important than the effectiveness of the product. For this reason, many products were designed to offer naturally appealing aspects without causing blemishes or future problems. He also believed in bringing out natural beauty over artificial appearances with his products.

Each year, Uemura held a public demonstration of his techniques where he would introduce his newest products. These demonstrations would usually be held in Tokyo, New York, or London. He used these demonstrations to showcase what he believed to be the highest qualities in makeup and cosmetics and to show what his company was doing to further these philosophies in the market place.

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