Cutex is a brand of nail care products, the most prevalent of which is a cuticle extract. The original product was developed and established in 1911 by Northam Warren Company, based in Stamford, Connecticut. Though the brand has changed hands numerous times, Cutex Brands is the current owner.
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. By 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. Then 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. Following that, 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.
Cutex was the world's best-selling nail care brand in several decades of the twentieth century. 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 Carson Products became bankrupt, resulting in Cutex being sold to Medtech (later Prestige Brands).
Initially the Medtech company 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. After failing to improve sales through 2006, coupled with the decision to divest its Health & Beauty category, Prestige Brands began efforts to sell Cutex. This culminated in its sale to Arch Equity Partners, who created 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 brands also introduced Baseworx in 2012, 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.