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This invention generally relates to manicure and pedicure products, and in particular to a disposable corn and callus remover tool for use on hands and feet.
The cosmetic industry enjoyed unparalleled growth in recent years fueled by rising salaries and reduced leisure time. Nail salons are positively booming as people with more disposable income, find less and less time to take care of their beauty needs. Fortunately, they have utilized a part of their newfound wealth to patronize nail salons with greater frequency. A typical nail salon customer may visit their favorite salon every week for complete manicures and pedicures.
During a typical salon appointment, a beautician will smooth rough patches of skin such as corns and calluses on a client's hands and feet. Corns and calluses normally grow in places where the skin rubs against clothing or is under constant pressure and heavy usage. Normally this occurs at the heels and balls of the feet and the base and ends of the fingers. Corns and calluses are the result of the body attempting to protect itself from abrasion damage by building additional layers of skin over the affected areas.
In most cases, corns and calluses are not a health issue; however the thick layers of dead skin do reduce sensitivity and feel rough to the touch. Furthermore, calluses and corns may look unsightly. This effect is especially pronounced on darker skinned individuals, because there is less pigmentation in corns and calluses. More severe cases of corns and calluses may result in pain and inflammation. In severe cases, the skin hardens and cracks in the affected area leading to secondary infections. In such situations, medical advice should be sought before attempting self-treatment.
For non serious cases of corns and calluses, treatment usually involves softening the skin by soaking the affected area. Once dried the corn or callus is gently abraded with an abrasive and then a topical moisturizer is applied to the affected area. The abrasives most commonly employed are pumice stones and sand paper. Natural pumice stones are the result of volcanic activity. The intense heat and pressure causes lava to froth when ejected into the air. The gasses trapped in the lava create vesicles and as the lava cools, the vesicles solidify becoming pores in the stone. Artificial “pumice stones” are typically made of hard foam. Like the natural version, the foam is highly porous and lightweight. The sharp edges of the vesicles in both natural and artificial pumice stones create an abrasive surface suitable for rubbing off layers of skin.
As with any industry that affects the general public, certain standards are required to keep the public safe. Title 16 Division 9 §981(a) of the California Code of Regulations Board of Barbering and Cosmetology require that:
One solution is to disinfect all surfaces which contact clients, with alcohol or similar disinfectants. The problem with this solution is that buffing blocks are made of a sponge or foam core. The foam or sponge would obviously soak up any solution rendering the buffing block useless. Also the abrasive outer layer cannot be cleaned with solutions because the sand paper may dissolve. The same results occur when cardboard emery boards are placed in solution.
A potential problem of using disinfectants on pumice stones is that the very structure of the pumice stones makes cleaning them extremely difficult. The pores in a pumice stone trap dead skin. Merely submerging the pumice stone in a disinfectant will remove the dead skin packed into the outer pores of the pumice stone. Most customers would be disturbed at the thought of another person's detritus touching them regardless of how antiseptic that skin may be.
Thus the simple solution is to discard the used buffing block after each client. As with most regulations, there is a cost of compliance. Buffing blocks cost approximately $2.00 each. Pumice stones are slightly less expensive at $1.00 each. A typical salon session may use several different types of buffing blocks or pumice stones to remove corns and calluses. Beginning with the more abrasive variety and ending with a finer grit to smooth the more delicate skin underneath. A typical pedicure costs about $10.00. If even three buffing blocks are used, ⅗ths of revenue is used up. Furthermore this cost cannot be passed through to the client, because at some point, the convenience of a professional pedicure will be outweighed by the price.
Reducing the size of the buffing block would reduce the cost of manufacture. However, this is also not a perfect solution because the smaller the buffing block the harder it is to hold. In a typical day, the average nail care professional sees as many as twenty clients. After extended use, the practitioner's hands would cramp, leading to pain and fatigue.
The implement currently in use at nail salons and in cosmetic stores resemble a hair brush. A pumice stone is usually glued to a flat plastic backing forming the “brush” part of the implement. The backside of the “brush” may be a piece of sandpaper providing an additional abrasive surface. As the pumice stone is attached to a handle, a smaller stone will not cause hand cramp and fatigue. The pumice stone may be flatter and smaller yet remain effective. However, even though some cost is saved through the use of a smaller stone, the overall objective is unmet because the entire implement still must be disposed of after each customer. The pumice stone is permanently attached to the handle, and thus a perfectly reusable handle must also be discarded as required by law.
Another implement currently available for pedicures is the metal file. Unlike traditional metal files, the type used on corns and calluses resemble a cheese grater. Needless to say customers would likely object to the application of such an object to their feet. Also, the trimming of corns and calluses using a razor is not recommended by healthcare practitioners and likely banned by law in most states.
It is thus apparent that the need exists for a corn and callus remover tool that is easy to use, cost effective to manufacture, and complies with sanitary regulations. Such a tool would necessarily be disposable yet less expensive than the current art.
An aspect of the invention relates to a disposable corn and callus remover tool having two distinct components. An abrasive block and a holder for an abrasive block. In one embodiment the abrasive block can be formed using a pumice stone, buffing block, sand paper, etc. In this embodiment the abrasive block can be disposable.
The holder for the abrasive block may be made of a light weight but strong material such as plastic, ceramic, graphite or other composite, and metal or metal alloy. Part of the body of the holder forms a palm sized handle. The handle may also be ergonomically shaped for comfort. Examples of such ergonomic design may include rounded edges, a flatter wider body where the handle fits into the palm, and a thicker but narrower “neck” where the handle meets the abrasive block receptacle.
The handle is attached to a receptacle for an abrasive block. In the exemplary embodiment the receptacle is one piece with the handle. The exemplary receptacle is a four sided frame, hinged at the top (end distal the handle). The hinge allows one half of the frame to open outwards. This movable section of the frame has a securing mechanism at the end proximal to the handle. This securing mechanism is a tab and slot catch in the exemplary embodiment, but may be any securing mechanism which can removably secure the movable section to the stationary section of the frame.
In the exemplary embodiment, the receptacle also has spikes on the inside edge of two sides of the frame. The spikes are on opposing frame sides and are aligned perpendicular to the inside surface of the frame. The spikes attached to the stationary section of the frame are equal sized. In contrast, the spikes attached to the movable part of the frame increase in size the further away from the hinge they are placed. The spike furthest from the hinge being equal in size to the spikes on the stationary part of the frame. The spikes are placed on the inside of the frame so that in the closed position, i.e. when the movable section is secured to the stationary section of the frame, the spikes are embedded in the abrasive block. The spikes help to hold the abrasive block securely within the frame of the receptacle.
As mentioned above, the spikes on the moveable part of the frame of the exemplary receptacle are different sizes. One of the reasons for using different size spikes with the smallest being nearer to the hinge is to allow the spikes to drive into the abrasive block at a roughly 90° angle to the abrasive block. A larger spike near the hinge would drive into the abrasive block at an acute angle widening to a 90° angle as the movable section of the frame swings into a closed position. Such an entry would cause a hole wider than the spike and result in a less secure hold on the abrasive block.
The abrasive block receptacle has been described as a frame with a hinged section which opens to allow the removal and replacement of an abrasive block. One of the advantages conferred by this arrangement is replacing the abrasive block can be done quickly and easily. Another advantage is the spikes can hold a variety of abrasive blocks including buffing blocks made of hard foam or sponge as well as conventional pumice stones. So long as the spikes are capable of impaling the abrasive blocks the invention should work as intended. An advantage of using a frame to hold the abrasive block is that top and bottom of the abrasive block are exposed. The width of the frame is generally smaller than the width of the abrasive block exposing most of the surface area of the abrasive block.
One of the novel traits of the invention is the size of the abrasive block used. In the exemplary embodiment the abrasive block is substantially smaller, and therefore less costly to make, than prior art. The exemplary abrasive block is between 55-65 mm in length and 35-45 mm in width. As mentioned previously, a small abrasive block is hard to hold and over time may cause pain to the user. To overcome this problem, while retaining a cost effective size, the abrasive block is removably attached to or removably placed into a receptacle attached to a handle, such that the buffing block can generally be easily removed from the receptacle or easily attached to the receptacle.
An exemplary abrasive block is made of a compressible layer such as foam, hard sponge or other material which is compressible under pressure but retains its original shape once pressure is relieved. The compressible layer slightly deforms when the abrasive block is applied to the corn or callus. This compressible layer acts as a cushion, evenly distributing pressure around the entire corn or callus giving a more even abrading. The compressible layer is attached to an abrasive layer. The abrasive layer may comprise one or more of the following; silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, diamond dust, metallic filing, etc. In the exemplary embodiment the abrasive material is sprayed directly onto the compressible layer during manufacture, but any method of adhering the abrasive layer onto the compressible layer would suffice. Such methods may include embedding the abrasive material onto a paper layer and sticking the paper layer onto the foam layer. Generally the compressible layer is thicker than the abrasive layer(s). A thicker abrasive layer is usually more expensive to manufacture and seems unnecessary because the abrasive layer does not usually wear through with normal use.
As the title of the invention suggests, the exemplary embodiment is disposable. Specifically the abrasive block part of the invention may be disposed of after each client. The holder part of the invention may be retained for the next customer. Simply disinfect the holder and pop a new abrasive block into place. Disposing the abrasive block is an effective way of complying with sanitary regulations. Using a new abrasive block for each customer should reduce the risk of spreading a contagious skin disease. An additional benefit is less use of Barbersol or similar disinfectants, which emit hazardous fumes into the workplace.
The invention presents an elegant solution to the aforementioned problems. One objective met by this invention is providing a callus and corn remover that is comfortable to hold and use for smoothing rough skin.
Another objective met by this invention is complying with various safety and sanitation codes requiring the disposal of abrasive blocks and pumice stones after each customer. Each abrasive block is removable from the receptacle and a replacement easily installed.
Still another objective met by this invention is reducing the cost of manufacturing the corn and callus remover. The exemplary abrasive block is significantly smaller than those in commercial use. Furthermore, because the receptacle is a frame, both sides of an abrasive block may be used before disposal. In the current art only one side of a pumice stone may be used, because the opposite side is glued onto a handle.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 2 is an overhead view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 3 is another perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention with an exemplary abrasive block attached.
FIG. 5 is a view of the top of an exemplary embodiment of the invention showing the hinge.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an exemplary abrasive block.
FIG. 7 is a side view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention with an abrasive block attached.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention 100 shown in the “open” position and without an abrasive block attached. The holder 101 may comprise two distinct yet connected parts; a receptacle and a handle 102. The holder 101 may be constructed of a light weight but strong material such as plastic, ceramic, graphite or other composite, and metal or metal alloy. The handle 102 may be rounded at the edges and curved at the area where the handle 102 joins the receptacle. For the sake of clarity, this area will henceforth be referred to as the “neck” of the handle, and the rest of the handle may be referred to as the “body”. Furthermore in the exemplary embodiment, the neck is slightly thicker than the wider and flatter body of the handle. Thickening the neck of the handle seems to add extra strength to the design which may be beneficial in preventing the receptacle from snapping off the handle. For that and other reasons related to cost, the receptacle and the handle may be of one-piece construction for added strength. The pronounced curve on the side of the neck not only lends the design aesthetic appeal, but also serves as a place for the salon professional to place a thumb to guide the device in a side to side motion.
The receptacle mentioned above holds the abrasive block, not shown. The receptacle is in essence a frame for holding the abrasive block stationary while allowing access to both sides of the abrasive block. The receptacle comprises; a non-moving section 102, a moving section 103, a hinge 104, spikes 105, and a securing mechanism 106. The non-moving section 102 may be of one-piece construction with the handle. The entire frame i.e. both moving and non-moving sections are rounded at the edges to prevent accidental cuts and nicks during use. The inside edge of the non-moving section 102 and the moving section 103 are lined with spikes 105. The moving section 103 is attached to the non-moving section by hinge 104. Hinge 104 allows the moving section 103 to swing outwards and away from the handle. In such an “open” configuration, the receptacle may accept an abrasive block, shown later. Once the abrasive block is impaled on the spikes, the moving section 103 may swing back into a “closed” position, forming a four sided frame once more. A securing mechanism 106 may be engaged to prevent the moving section from accidentally swinging outwards. In the exemplary embodiment the securing mechanism 106 is a tab and slot mechanism. However, any means known to one skilled in the art of removably securing the moving sections of the frame in a “closed” position may be substituted.
FIG. 2 is a bottom view of an exemplary embodiment of the invention 100. The receptacle is shown in the “closed” position without an abrasive block attached. The spikes 105 are shown on opposite sides of the receptacle. In the exemplary embodiment there are four spikes 105 to each side and they are directly opposite each other. No claim of preference is made to the number of spikes or to the positioning of the spikes. In one embodiment the spikes are used to hold the abrasive block in place. As such it is probable that three spike on each sides in an offset alignment would serve the same function of holding the abrasive block stationary. Similarly more than four spikes would likely serve just as well.
The part of the handle distal from the receptacle is pierced with a round hole 107. The hole may be used to hang the invention 100 during display for retail sale or storage.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the invention 100 depicted at a slightly flatter angle. Again the invention 100 is in the “open” configuration and without an abrasive block attached. The figure illustrates the tab portion of the tab and slot securing mechanism 106 mentioned previously. Also more clearly illustrated is the neck portion 108 of the handle which is thicker than the rest of the handle, as mentioned previously. The thick construction enhances the aesthetics of the invention and also may serve the functional purpose of adding strength to the join between handle and receptacle.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the invention 100 shown with abrasive block 110 attached. As described previously, the abrasive block is first impaled on the spikes attached to the non-moving section of the receptacle. The moving section is then closed and secured. The spikes embedded in the abrasive block on two sides securely holds the abrasive block in place. One of the advantages conferred by this arrangement is replacing the abrasive block can be done quickly and easily. Another advantage is the spikes can hold a variety of abrasive blocks including buffing blocks made of hard foam and conventional pumice stones. So long as the spikes are capable of impaling the abrasive blocks the invention should be work as intended. Furthermore the entire surface area of the top and bottom of the abrasive block is exposed for use by simply rotating the invention around and using the opposite side.
FIG. 5 is a view of the top of the invention 100 showing the hinge 104. As shown in this figure the abrasive block 110 is thicker than the receptacle. This conveniently places both top and bottom of the abrasive block outside the boundaries of the receptacle allowing unimpeded access to the most surface area on the abrasive block.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an exemplary abrasive block. This exemplary abrasive block has two abrasive layers 112 attached to a compressible layer 114. The abrasive layer may comprise one or more of the following; silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, diamond dust, metallic filing, etc.
FIG. 7 is a side view of the invention 100 with abrasive block 110 attached. Again the relative thickness of the neck portion 108 adds strength to the join between the receptacle and handle. The abrasive block 110 is thicker than the other parts of the invention 100 allowing unimpeded motion of the invention during use. Because the abrasive block 110 is generally thicker, the receptacle and handle should not come into contact with the customer.