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This invention relates to hair styling means and apparatus and, more particularly, to hair styling irons such as hair curling irons and hair straightening irons. More specifically, although of course not solely limited thereto, this invention relates to handheld hair styling with heated styling heads.
Hair styling apparatus are widely used in hair applications. A common type of hair styling apparatus is tong-shaped and comprises a pair of hinged arms with a pair of heated styling heads, which are mounted on the free ends of the hinged arms with the styling surfaces facing each other. Hair is typically styled, for example, by a pair of curling or straightening heads, when the pair of heated styling heads is in compressive engagement. Another common type of hair styling apparatus is flute-shaped and comprises a handle with an elongated metallic rod which is substantially coaxial with the handle. The elongated metallic rod comprises a heated styling head and a spring-biased clamping arm, which is hinged to the apparatus near the junction between the handle and the metallic rod. Hair is compressively held between the clamp and the styling head during styling. The aforementioned hair styling apparatus are commonly and collectively known as hair styling irons.
Although heated styling heads provide a useful and convenient means for hair styling, the degree and duration of heating required is known to be damaging to hair. Hence, it will be desirable if improved styling means can be provided to alleviate shortcomings of conventional hair styling means.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide improved hair styling means. At a minimum, it is an object of this invention to provide alternative hair styling means as a useful alternative for the public.
Broadly speaking, the present invention has described a hair styling apparatus comprising a styling head, said styling head comprises a contact styling surface for contact styling of hair, heating means and a magnet, characterised in that said magnet is disposed so that magnetic force due to said magnet appears on said styling surface.
According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a hair styling apparatus comprising a pair of styling heads, each said styling head comprises a contact styling surface for contact styling of hair when in cooperation with the contact styling surface of a counterpart styling head, heating means and a magnet, characterised in that said magnet is disposed so that magnetic force due to said magnet appears on said styling surface, wherein the magnetic polarity on the contact styling surfaces of a counterpart pair of styling heads is the same.
According to another preferred embodiment, there is provided a hair apparatus comprising a pair of heated styling heads, a magnet and a pair of cooling heads, each said heated styling head comprises a contact styling surface for contact styling of hair when in cooperation with the contact styling surface of a counterpart styling head, each cooling head comprises a cooling surface for contact cooling of hair exiting from said contact styling surface, wherein said magnet is disposed so that magnetic force due to said magnet appears on said styling surface, said cooling heads are disposed immediately adjacent to said heated styling heads and said cooling surface comprises a non-metallic heat sinking mass.
Preferably, a magnetic density of between 300-20,000 Gauss appears on said styling surface.
Preferably, said magnetic density is about 4,000 Gauss.
Preferably, said magnet comprises a permanent magnet slab, said contact styling surface being magnetic permeable, said magnet slab being disposed underneath said styling surface so that magnetic field of said magnet slab is distributed on said contact styling surface.
Preferably, said permanent magnet slab, said heating means and said contact styling surface forms a sub-assembly which is resiliently movable relative to the main housing of said styling apparatus.
Preferably, said non-metallic heating mass comprises a slab of rock-like substances with a high heat mass, such as granite, marble, quartz, mica or the like.
Preferably, a metallic heat sink is attached to said heating mass for dissipating heat away from said contact cooling surface.
Preferred embodiments of the present invention will be explained in further detail below by way of examples and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view showing a first preferred embodiment of a hair straightener of this invention in its closed position,
FIG. 1A is a side view showing the apparatus of FIG. 1 in its open position,
FIG. 2 shows a top view of the styling apparatus of FIGS. 1 and 1A,
FIG. 3A shows a cross section of the styling head portion of the apparatus of FIG. 2 along the section line A-A,
FIG. 3B illustrates in more detail the internal structure of the head portion of FIG. 3A,
FIG. 4A shows a cross section of the cooling head of the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 2 along the section B-B,
FIG. 4B shows in more detail the internal structure of the cooling head of FIG. 4A,
FIG. 5 shows a second preferred embodiment of a hair straightener of this invention,
FIG. 5A shows the apparatus of FIG. 5 with the cooling heads in the open position,
FIG. 5B is an end view showing the cooling heads of FIG. 5A in the flipped open position,
FIG. 6 is a top view of a third preferred embodiment of a hair straightener of this invention, and
FIG. 6A is a side view of the apparatus of FIG. 6.
Referring to FIGS. 1 to 4B, there is shown a handheld hair styling apparatus illustrating a first preferred embodiment of this invention. The hair styling apparatus 100 comprises a handle 110 and a pair of styling members 130. The handle resembles a pair of tongs and comprises a pair of arms 113, 115 which are pivotally joined at a hinge 117 near their respective ends so that arms 113,115 are pivotally movable about the pivotal hinge 117 between a fully “opened” position and a fully “close” position. The pair of styling members comprises a pair of styling heads 131, 133 which are disposed at corresponding locations near the fee ends of the handles distal to the hinge 117. The handle 110 and the styling heads 131, 133 are disposed so that, when the pair of arms is at the “closed” position, tresses of hair can be engaged under pressure by the styling surfaces 135, 137 for contact hair styling. On the other hand, when the pair of arms is at the “opened” position, tresses of hair can be captured or released. The pair of arms is preferably ergonomically shaped so that a user can operate the styling apparatus 100 with a single hand.
Each of the arms comprises a hollow and elongated main housing 120 for accommodating electrical parts or other components which are necessary or useful for controlling styling operation by the styling heads. The main housing can be made of durable plastics or other appropriate materials known to persons skilled in the art. An electrical power cord 140 is connected to near the pivoted end of the handle so that supplying operating power can be supplied to the electrical parts, for example, heating elements of the styling apparatus. A master electrical switch (not shown) is provided on the main housing to control power supply between the electrical parts and the mains power supply. The master electrical switch can be a conventional electrical switch such as a slide switch, a push-button switch, a rocker switch or other appropriate switches.
The pivotal hinge 117 joining the pair of arms may be spring biased so that the arms are urged towards the open position when a user or a locking mechanism is not holding the arms together. A pair of latch 119 for holding the pair of arms at the closed position is provided near the pivoted ends of the arms. The latch can be a rotary lock as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5. As can be seen in FIG. 3, the pair of handles are locked in the closed position when the ridge on the rotary lock is orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the handle. In the ridge position of FIG. 5 when the ridge is parallel to the handle's longitudinal axis, the handles are in the opened position. This rotary lock 119 keeps the pair of styling heads and arms in a bundle form for a very compact design with the longitudinal axes of all the four pieces substantially parallel of course, other locks can be used to lock and un-lock the pair of handles to prevent them from spring apart. As a convenient example, another appropriate lock comprises a rotary wedge which is rotatable about an axis which is substantially parallel to the pivotal axis. The rotary wedge is disposed at the pivoted end of the handles and beyond the pivotal joint so that the rotary wedge can slide to fit into the space or gap between the ends of the handles to keep them in the closed position, like a wedge. Likewise, the handles are opened when the rotary wedge are rotated away from the space between the ends of the handles, whereby the handles are released.
Each styling head 131, 133 comprises a contact styling surface 141, 143, electric heating means 145 and a magnet 147. The contact styling surface 141, 143 is formed from a thermally conductive material which is permeable to magnetic field. Aluminum, aluminum alloys, copper and copper alloys, coated glass are examples of suitable materials. Electric heating means 145 for providing distributed heating to the contact styling surface are disposed underneath the contact styling surface. Resistive heating elements, Infra-red heating elements, glass-type coated heaters, PTC heating elements and other distributed heating elements are examples of suitable as heating means. The magnet is installed so that its magnetic force will appear on the contact styling surface to supplement styling by the heating means to be explained below.
In this example, the contact styling surface comprises a metallic sheet which is magnetic permeable. The magnet 147 is a permanent magnet slab which is disposed underneath the contact styling surface 141, 143 and the heating means 145. With this arrangement, the magnetic strength of the magnetic slab can penetrate the contact styling surface and interact with tresses of hair being styled by the heating means during styling operation. The magnetic slab can be made of ferro-, nickel-, cobalt-magnetic materials, magnetic alloys or appropriate magnetic substances. Experiments and studies show that the application of a magnetic flux of about 300-20,000 Gauss at the contact styling surface during styling will significantly mitigate adverse influence of hair due to the heating required for styling. Hence, a magnet slab which produces a magnetic flux of 300-20,000 Gauss, preferably 4,000 Gauss, is used in this example. As an alternative or in addition, an electromagnet can be used to produce the above-mentioned appropriate level of magnetic flux to supplement heated hair styling. If an electomagnet is used, the electromagnet can be heat conductive and can be disposed intermediate the contact styling surface and the electric heating means.
It is noted that when the magnets on the corresponding styling heads are disposed so that the magnetic polarity of the magnetic filed appearing on the pair of corresponding contact styling surfaces are the same, the styling effects are better. To further make use of the advantage of magnetism on human body, a negative magnetism or negative magnetic polarity as known to therapeutic applications is applied to appear on the contact styling surface. Because of like magnetic polarity on the contact styling surface, the pair of styling heads is repulsive to each other.
In this example, the styling head 131, 133, comprising the heating means 145, the magnet 147 and the contact styling surface 141, 143, is a module contained in a non-magnetic permeable metallic housing. The styling head module is resiliently supported on the main housing and is under spring bias 151 so that tresses of hair engaged between the pair of styling heads are under an appropriate maximum compressive stress. Although the contact styling surface is planar in this example so that the apparatus is essentially a hair straightener, it will be understood that the contact surfaces can be made correspondingly wavy, curvy, ribbed, rippled etc for hair curling or other styling applications.
As an alternative example, this invention can be applied in a rod-type styling device which comprises a styling head with a rod-type handle and a spring urged hair clamp pivotally attached to the handle under spring bias. The hair styling head can be one which is similar to that described above. A magnet slab is disposed on the hair clamp so that magnetic flux of the same polarity as that of the contact styling surface of the styling head will appear on the corresponding contact surfaces of the hair clamp and the contact styling surface. In an alternative design, the clamp arm is not equipped with a magnet slab or is not made of a magnetic material so the magnet slab is the sole source of magnetic flux for hair styling. Likewise, the styling head of this rod-type apparatus can be cylindrical with a convexly curved contact styling surface. A curved, non-curved or appropriately shaped magnet slab, including, for example, an ensemble of magnet strips or elongated magnetic slabs, can be disposed underneath the convex contact styling surface without loss of generality.
Although the precise mechanism by which magnetic flux interact with hair to mitigate damage due to heating is not yet fully understood, it is believed that the application of an appropriate level of magnetic flux to hair during heated styling helps to retain moisture in hair or help to alleviate or mitigate damage to protein or other organic substances of the hair. It is further believed that moisture retention may relate to ionic interaction with the magnetic flux. As a result, enhanced hair styling can be achieved.
Hair styling by direct heating on hair is convenient and efficient for most practical hair styling applications. The styling surfaces of a hair styling appartus are usually heated to between 120° C.-200° C. in order to provide a more permanent hair styling while not burning hair. However, heating of hair to this elevated temperature range is damaging to hair. For example, studies show that heating of hair at an elevated temperature of 180° C. (which is usual for a heated hair styling ion) for 2-3 seconds is sufficiently damaging to hair. To alleviate such adverse side effects of heated hair styling apparatus, a cooling means is provided in this invention. This cooling means provides a two-fold advantage. Firstly, the cooling means helps to depress the temperature of the hair which has just exited from the heated contact surface to below a hair damaging temperature. Secondly, the cooling performs as a cold shock to the hair just heated and provides better setting.
In the first preferred embodiment of this invention as described above, a cooling means is also provided. However, it should be understood that this cooling means is provided only as a useful option and is not a necessary part of the above-described hair styling apparatus with a magnetic hair styling head. Specifically, the heated styling heads can be without a magnet to illustrate a styling apparatus with the cooling means.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 4A and 4B, the hair styling apparatus further comprises cooling means in the form of a pair of cooling heads 161, 163 attached to the unpivoted ends of the handle 110. The pair of cooling heads 161, 163 are disposed, immediately adjacent to the pair of heated styling heads 131, 133 and are disposed in such a manner that immediately after tresses of hair having been heated by the contact hair styling surfaces, the tresses of hair will be compressively engaged by the contact cooling surfaces 165, 167 of the pair of cooling heads when the hair being styled is being drawn so that the temperature of the tresses of hair can be depressed quickly to below the damaging temperature. An elongated air-gap 171 is disposed between a cooling head 161, 163 and a heated styling head 131, 133 to insulate the cooling head from the heated styling head. A plurality of venting apertures 169 are provided on the cooling heads for more efficient heat dissipation or sinking.
Turning to FIGS. 4A and 4B, a preferred example of a cooling head 161, 163 is illustrated. The cooling head comprises a heat sinking means which has a relatively large heat mass so that heat from the hair can be readily absorbed by the heat sinking mass without significantly raising the temperature of the heat sinking mass. This large heat mass ensures an effective heat sinking for a reasonably long period during the operation of the heat styling apparatus. A slab 171 of marble, granite, quartz, mica, ceramics and other rocks, rock-like materials or minerals of a sufficiently large heat mass is utilized as a passive heat sinking means. Alternatively, active cooling means, such as the use of Peltier elements, can be used as an active cooling means.
To further enhance the heat sinking capacity of the heat sinking mass, a heat sink 173 is attached to the back side of the heat sinking mass which is not in contact with the tresses of hair. The heat sink can be a thermally conductive plate made, for example, of aluminum, aluminum alloy, steel or other approprate substances which are made into appropriate heat sinking surface configurations for more effective heat sinking. A plurality of heat sinking apertures 169 are disposed on the main housing 169 of the cooling head and along the length of the heat sinking mass to facilitate more efficient heat dissipation by ventilation. The combination of the heat sinking mass and the heat sinking back-plate are formed as a module supported by a spring 175 so that the combination module is resiliently supported on the main housing of the cooling head so that the tresses of hair being engaged can be compressively held or under a reasonably constant or maximum pressure. Although the heat sinking means shown in this example is a planar stone slab for a hair straightener, it will be appreciated that the stone slab can be appropriately shaped for other styling applications as mentioned in relation to the magnetic styling head.
Referring next to FIGS. 5, 5A and 5B, a second preferred embodiment of this invention. The second preferred embodiment of a hair styling apparatus is in the form of a hair straightener 200 comprising a pair of pivotally joined handles, a pair of heated styling heads 231, 233 and a pair of cooling heads 261, 263. The internal structure of a pair of heated styling hair and a pair of cooling heads are substantially similar to those described above or other appropriate structures as known to persons skilled in the art upon reading the above. In this preferred embodiment, the pair of cooling heads 261, 263 are pivotally mounted at their respective longitudinal ends so that the contact cooling surfaces 265, 267 can be flipped in or flipped out so that the cooling step can be applied or not applied respectively.
FIGS. 6 and 6A illustrates a third preferred embodiment of a similar tong-hair straightener 300 comprising a pair of pivotally joined handles, a pair of heated styling heads 331, 333 and a pair of cooling heads 361, 363. In this preferred embodiment, the main housing of the hair straightener 300 comprises a slide engagement means so that the pair of cooling heads can be slidably attached or detached from the main housing of the hair straightener 300 so that cooling can be applied or not applied according to the will of a user.
In the above preferred embodiments with cooling heads comprising passive heat sinking masses such as slabs of marble or other rocks, it will be understood that since the hair styling apparatus is usually stored in room temperature before use and because of the large heat mass of the passive heat sinking mass, hair can be quickly cooled down to room temperature or near room temperature upon exit from the heated styling heads. Consequently, satisfactory hair setting by heating can be achieved without excessive damage to the hair.
While the present invention has been explained by reference to the examples or preferred embodiments described above, it will be appreciated that those are examples to assist understanding of the present invention and are not meant to be restrictive. The scope of this invention should be determined and/or inferred from the preferred embodiments described above and with reference to the Figures where appropriate or when the context requires. In particular, variations or modifications which are obvious or trivial to persons skilled in the art, as well as improvements made thereon, should be considered as falling within the scope and boundary of the present invention.
Furthermore, while the present invention has been explained by reference to hair straighteners and handheld hair curlers, it should be appreciated that the invention can apply, whether with or without modification, to other hair styling apparatus without loss of generality.