|This article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2012)|
Cutex produced the first nail tints in 1914. In 1917, using a “paint” derived from automobile paint finish, Cutex introduced a liquid nail polish. Prior to this time nail polish in the form of paste, cake or powder hadn’t change much from ancient times. By 1925, due to the example of Cutex, liquid was virtually the only type of nail polish.
In 1928, Cutex introduced an acetone based nail polish remover, safe for home use, removing the last obstacle to mass adoption of nail polish. Its remover was sold in tandem with its newest liquid polishes.
In 1934, Cutex released a new remover formulation called “Cutex Oily Polish Remover” that included special oils that mitigated the effects of acetone and conditioned nails and cuticles. Also introduced in 1934 was a new cream polish that was more opaque and glossier than other polishes on the market.
In 1938 Cutex released the first nail treatment product. Called Polish Foundation, it was a treatment with wax that smoothed ridges, protected nails and allowed nail polish to last longer with less chipping.
During the next several decades Cutex was the world's best-selling nail care brand.
In 1960 Northam Warren was acquired by Chesebrough Ponds company. Though one of Chesebrough’s smaller brands, innovation continued as indicated by a record number of patents filed relating to Cutex nail care products.
In 1988, the Knox Gelatin polish formula (containing gelatin) was introduced. This formula added protection to nails by its web of nylon fibers. Addressing consumers’ greatest complaint, Cutex released a quick drying polish in 1992. This polish was thicker and did not require two coats.
Cutex (US & Puerto Rico) was sold to Carson Products in 1997, though the brand was managed by AM Cosmetics, a sister company. Carson’s sole contribution was to rename the remover as “Quick & Gentle”. Poor management by AM resulted in the discontinuation of the polish by Walmart even though polish represented 23% of the market. After 21 months, during which time Carson Products became bankrupt, Medtech company (later Prestige Brands) acquired Cutex.
Initially Medtech had significant success, gaining new customers in food stores and increasing the number of retail promotions. Medtech also began to innovate, producing “Simple Gel” in 1998 (since discontinued) and “Simple Pads” in 1999. Medtech continued with other innovations including “Twister for Teens” and “Essential Care” but its efforts were being made in the face of the nail salon trend. So after failing to improve sales through 2006, coupled with it decision to divest the Health & Beauty category Prestige Brands began efforts to sell Cutex, culminating in a sale and the creation of Cutex Brands in September 2010.
After decades of retrenching by previous owners, Cutex Brands renewed innovation. In 2012 a new product was introduced, named Advanced Revival, the first new remover formulation in nearly twenty years, providing a greater degree of nourishing and strengthening required by the greater use of polishes and removers. In 2011, the nail polish index replaced the lipstick index as sales increased more than 32%.
Cutex also introduced Baseworx, the first nail care product utilizing bio-ceramic glass as an additive to provide strengthening and smoothing while promoting better adherence of polish to nails.