Title:
Stretch comb hair retainer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stretch comb hair retainer has opposed combs connected together by elastic filament strand segments that extend at spaced intervals between the spines of the combs. The elastic strands are crisscrossed to form a cris-cross pattern having stretchable openings between the combs. Hair can be pulled through any of the multiple stretchable openings of the cris-cross pattern if and as desired to create particular hair styles. The individual elastic strands forming the cris-cross pattern can be used without decorative elements on the strands, or with decorative elements such as decorative beads of various sizes and shapes. The crisscrossed strand segments can be interconnected or interlaced or partially interconnected or partially interlaced, or can be comprised of a combination of interlaced and interconnected strand segments.



Inventors:
Kuglen, Francesca (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/372980
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
03/09/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D24/04; A45D8/12; A45D8/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DOAN, ROBYN KIEU
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BEESON SKINNER BEVERLY, LLP (OAKLAND, CA, US)
Claims:
What I claim is:

1. A stretch comb hair retainer comprising two opposed combs, each of said combs having a spine and comb teeth projecting from said spine, and a plurality of stretchable elastic filament strand segments extending between the spines of said combs in a stretchable crisscross pattern, said crisscross pattern providing openings through which the wearer's hair can be pulled.

2. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein said opposed combs are wire combs comprised of a metal spine and a row of looped wires attached to and projecting from said metal spine to form projecting teeth of the combs.

3. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein said strand segments are at least partially interlaced with each other.

4. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein the crisscrossed strand segments are fully interlaced with each other to provide a crisscross weave pattern.

5. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein at least one of said elastic strand segments is beaded with a plurality of decorative beads.

6. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein a plurality of said elastic strand segments are beaded with a plurality of decorative beads to provide a decorative mesh of elastic strands.

7. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein a plurality of decorative elements are affixed to said strand segments.

8. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 1 wherein said cris-cross pattern of strand segments is substantially balanced about the centerline of the stretch comb hair retainer.

9. A stretch comb hair retainer comprising two opposed combs, each of said combs having a spine and comb teeth projecting from said spine, and at least two sets of stretchable elastic strand segments extending between the spines of said combs at spaced intervals, the strand segments of one set of strand segments being crisscrossed and interlaced with the strand segments of the other set of strand segments without said strand segments being interconnected to provide a stretchable cris-cross weave pattern between said opposed combs through which the wearer's hair can be pulled, said cris-cross pattern being substantially balanced about the centerline of the retainer with an equal number of strand segments in each set of strand segments.

10. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 9 wherein at least one of said elastic strand segments is beaded with a plurality of decorative beads.

11. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 9 wherein a plurality of said elastic strand segments are beaded with a plurality of decorative beads to provide a decorative mesh of elastic strands.

12. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 11 wherein each of said strand segments is beaded.

13. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 12 wherein substantially the entirety of each of said strand segments is beaded.

14. A stretch comb hair retainer comprising two opposed combs, each of said combs having a spine and comb teeth projecting from said spine, and at least two sets of stretchable elastic strand segments extending between the spines of said combs at spaced intervals, the strand segments of one set of strand segments being cris-crossed and at least partially interlaced with the strand segments of the other set of strand segments to provide a stretchable cris-cross weave pattern between said opposed combs through which the wearer's-hair can be pulled, the strand segments of said crisscrossed sets of strand segments being beaded for decorative effect.

15. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 14 wherein said opposed combs are wire combs comprised of a metal spine and a row of looped wires attached to and projecting from said metal spine to form projecting teeth of the combs.

16. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 14 wherein said criss-crossed strand segments are fully interlaced with each other.

17. The stretch comb hair retainer of claim 14 wherein none of said crisscrossed strand segments are not interconnected.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Non-provisional Application No. 10/764,279, filed Jan. 22, 2004, now pending, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/466,244, filed Apr. 28, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to hair retaining devices used for hair styling and ornamentation, and more particularly to stretch comb type hair retainers comprised of combs held in opposition to each other by stretch elastic members.

Stretch comb hair retainers are in widespread use and are most often used by women to create a particular hair style or to provide a hair ornamentation. U.S. Pat. No. 6,123,086, issued Sep. 26, 2000, to Francesca Kuglen, shows a stretch comb hair retainer wherein two opposed plastic combs are connected by a series of parallel, fabric-covered elastic bands. Such stretch comb retainers are used by flipping the combs on the ends of the elastic bands over to an inverted position (see FIG. 3), placing the retainer over a portion of the hair, typically a gathered portion, and then, while stretching the bands, inserting the combs into the hair at either side of the portion of hair being retained. The restoring force of the elastic bands of the retainer acts to hold the retainer in place.

Stretch comb hair retainers as shown in the Kuglen patent have a number of limitations and disadvantages. First, the elongated regions between the parallel elastic bands of the retainer allow hair to escape or fall out after the retainer is in place, making it difficult to maintain certain hair styles, particularly for women with hair which is thin or fine. These regions are also too large to provide much holding force for holding a gathered portion of hair pulled through the retainer. A further limitation of the stretch comb retainer disclosed in the Kuglen patent is that the wide elastic bands are inherently obtrusive and limit the retainer's use to hair styles dominated by the fabric-covered bands.

Still another disadvantage of prior stretch comb retainers such as disclosed in Kuglen relates to the use of relatively rigid plastic combs. When inserting the plastic combs into the hair, pressure is applied on the individual teeth of the combs. This pressure can cause the teeth to break off, making the stretch comb retainer unwearable. Plastic combs are also relatively bulky and obtrusive and do not have a great deal of staying power in the hair because the hair easily slides across the smooth surfaces of the plastic comb.

There is a need for a stretch comb hair retainer that overcomes one or more of the disadvantages and limitations of the stretch comb hair retainer disclosed in the Kuglen patent, and one that provides greater flexibility in creating hair styles than has heretofore been possible.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a stretch comb hair retainer that can be made to be unobtrusive when worn, and that provides greater flexibility in styling hair. The stretch comb hair retainer of the invention is also relatively lightweight and easy to use, can be worn comfortably, and, in certain alternative aspects of the invention, will resist breakage associated with stretch comb assemblies having plastic combs.

In one aspect of the invention, the stretch comb retainer is comprised of two opposed combs, each having a spine and comb teeth projecting from the spine. The combs are connected together by a plurality of crisscrossed elastic filament strand segments that are secured to the combs such that they take off at spaced intervals from the spines of the combs. In one aspect of the invention the crisscrossed strand segments are not interconnected and are preferably at least partially interlaced with each other to form stretchable openings that are not interconnected. In another aspect of the invention, at least some of the cris-crossed elastic strands segments are interconnected to form interconnected stretchable openings between the combs. In either aspect of the invention, hair can be pulled through any of the multiple stretchable openings formed by the crisscrossed elastic strand segments as desired to create particular hair styles. Alternatively, the elastic mesh can simply be stretched over the hair without pulling any hair through. Further, the individual segments of the cris-crossed elastic strand segments can be used with or without decorative elements on the strands. For example, decorative beads of various sizes and shapes can be threaded onto the elastic strand segments to create different distinctive mesh designs. As compared to the broad decorative fabric elements disclosed in the Kuglen patent; beads have an advantage in that they are not stained by scalp oils, hair spray and the like, and can easily be wiped clean. Other decorative elements, for example, a pattern of diamonds, could be used on the strands to match other jewelry. It shall further be understood that the crisscrossed strand segments can be formed by separate elastic strands or a continuous elastic strand threaded back-and-forth between the combs.

In a further and separate aspect of the invention, the combs of the stretch comb hair retainer are provided in the form of wire combs, as opposed to plastic combs or combs of other materials. The wire combs each have a spine which is suitably fabricated of metal, and a row of projecting teeth formed of looped wire attached to the spine. The wire loops, while being suitably stiff to hold their shape, are also suitably flexible. They comfortably pass through the hair when the stretch comb retainer is placed on the wearer's head, and, if bent out of shape during use, they can easily be bent back into shape without affecting the usability of the retainer. The flexible wire loops thus solve the problem of breakage associated with plastic combs. They also result in a comb having a relatively low, unobtrusive profile.

It is understood that, while the crisscrossed elastic strands of the invention are preferably used with metal wire loop combs as above described, it would be possible and within the scope of the invention to use the crossed elastic strands with conventional plastic combs or other types of combs.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a stretch comb hair retainer in accordance with the invention showing a beaded elastic mesh formed by interconnected elastic strands which have been beaded.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the stretch comb hair retainer shown in FIG. 1 wherein the combs have been stretched apart to stretch the beaded elastic mesh.

FIG. 3 is another top plan view of the stretch comb hair retainer shown in FIG. 1 with the combs turned down ninety degrees to show the curvature of the combs.

FIG. 4 is a further top plan view thereof illustrating the combs in the inverted position they would be in during normal use.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of another version of the stretch comb hair retainer of the invention showing a different decorative bead arrangement on an interconnected elastic mesh.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a further version of the stretch comb hair retainer of the invention showing yet another decorative bead arrangement on an interconnected elastic mesh.

FIG. 7 is a top perspective view of yet another version of the stretch comb hair retainer of the invention showing a beaded elastic mesh in the form of cris-crossed beaded strands that are not interconnected, but which are interlaced.

FIG. 8 is a top plan view thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-4 show a stretch comb hair retainer in accordance with the invention with a first beaded design, and FIG. 5 shows a stretch comb hair retainer in accordance with the invention with a second beaded design. The beaded designs shown in the drawings are illustrative only. Stretch comb assemblies in accordance with the invention can be made without beads, or with ornamentation other than beads, such as, for example, buttons. Also, hair strands can be tied onto the mesh of the retainer as described below to provide hair enhancement.

Turning to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, the stretch comb hair retainer 10 includes opposed wire combs 11, 13 having metal spines 15, 17 and wire loop teeth 19, 21. The wire loop teeth are attached to the spines of the combs by twisting them onto the spines. Twisted bases, such as bases 23 of comb 13, are thereby formed at the bottom of the comb teeth, and it is about these twisted bases that the comb teeth can enjoy a degree of flexture. The flexible wire loops allow hair to be pulled smoothly through the teeth of the combs while providing a sufficient gripping force to keep the combs in place. Also, the smooth round tip of the wire loops of the comb teeth prevent the combs from biting into the scalp when the combs are inserted into and through the hair as the retainer is put into place on the wearer's head.

As shown in FIG. 3, the spine and teeth of the comb have a curvature intended to substantially replicate the curve of the scalp. This shaping of the comb is well-known and is important to comfort and the long-wearing capabilities of the stretch comb hair retainer of the invention. The small diameter wires and thin spine of the combs also produce low profile combs as best seen in FIG. 3. Thus, a less obtrusive stretch comb retainer can be provided as compared to stretch comb retainers using the more bulky plastic combs. Because of their low profile, the combs will in most instances be well hidden under the hair.

The combs 11, 13 are connected by elastic strands, denoted a-h, attached to the spines 15, 17 of the combs. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, these strands are interconnected to form an interconnected elastic mesh 25 of small, relatively fixed stretchable openings 27 through which the wearer can pull a desired amount of hair. The stretchable openings of the mesh have a general diamond or partial diamond shape, with smaller half diamond openings 29 being presented along the spine of the comb where the mesh attaches to the spine. Hair can be pulled through any of the multiple stretchable openings of the mesh as desired to create particular hair styles, and each opening can be stretched independently of other openings, which facilitates styling. It shall be understood that a stretch comb hair retainer in accordance with the invention may as well be used without pulling hair through the mesh, in which case the mesh is simply lies over and captures the hair between the combs.

Suitably the length of the unstretched elastic mesh between combs will be in the range of about 3½ to 4 inches. It is preferable that the mesh be symmetrical and balanced about the centerline C of the stretch comb retainer. Otherwise, it is found that the retainer will have a tendency to slide out of position and even fall out of the hair.

The strands of the elastic mesh should be a strong elastic material, preferably a very fine elastic filament material, such as the beaded elastic filament 26 seen in FIG. 2, which is suitably made of a resin based elastic. A clear resin based elastic filament would produce a mesh that is substantially invisible to the eye, if such a feature is desired. Alternatively, fabric covered elastic bands could be used, however, such an elastic material would not be suitable for beading the strands as hereinafter described. Whatever elastic is used, it should have a strong enough memory and elongation set, so that it returns to its original shape upon being repeatedly stretched. However, it is noted that the woven mesh of the invention has the advantage of inherent strength by distributing the stretching force over the multiple strands of the mesh.

As above noted, the strands a-h of the elastic mesh 25 can be beaded to provide a decorative mesh. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, connector beads 33 are used for this purpose along with intermediate beads 31 between the connector beads and between the first row of connector beads 33a and the spins of the combs. The connector beads are used to interconnect the strands of the mesh, and the intermediate beads, shown in FIGS. 1-4 as small, uniformly sized “seed” beads, provide a fill beads between the connector beads. More specifically, adjacent strands of the mesh are threaded through connector beads 33 in order to tie the strands together at spaced intervals to form a weave. The intermediate spacing of the weave intersections, which determine the size of the elastic openings 27, 29 of the mesh, are set by the number of beads 31 threaded onto the filaments between connector beads. In other words, the size of the mesh openings is established by counting out the number of beads between connector beads, or in the case of mesh openings 29, the number of beads between the spines 15, 17 of combs 11, 13 and the first row of connector beads 33a.

Referring to FIG. 5, a different beading design is shown for the elastic mesh of the comb. Here a stretch comb hair retainer 37, comprised of wire combs 39, 41 and elastic mesh 43, has a woven mesh bead design which includes both small intermediate seed beads 45 and larger faceted beads 47, 49, which form a flower-like cluster of beads at the intersections of the weave of the mesh. The center bead 49 of the bead cluster provides the connector bead for weaving the meshes' elastic strands together. The large faceted beads 47 and seed bead count will set the spacing of the weave intersections.

FIG. 6 shows yet another beading design for the elastic mesh. Here wire combs 51, 53 are connected by an elastic mesh 55 having a combination of small seed beads 57 and elongated bugle beads 59. As with the designs shown in FIGS. 1-5, beads can be provided in different colors for decorative effect. Also, in FIG. 6 it is noted that the width of the combs and elastic mesh of the stretch comb retainer is somewhat smaller than the combs and mesh of the FIGS. 1-5 retainers. Preferably, four inch combs are used for optimum staying power, however, three inch combs have been found to work. The invention contemplates the possibility of using larger or smaller combs.

Decorative or functional elements other than, or in addition to, beads could be fastened to the elastic mesh of the invention for achieving a desired hair styling objective. For example, hair strands could be affixed to all or part of the mesh to provide the wearer of the stretch comb retainer with an added tuft of hair that can be blended in with natural hair pulled through the stretchable openings of the elastic mesh, or the decorative elements could be jewels such as pearls. Also, the intersections of the weave could be tied together by means other than the illustrated connector beads. A weave, for instance, might be created using buttons or ties to hold the strands of the mesh together.

The elastic mesh of the invention can be created by one or multiple elastic strands threaded between the spines of the combs. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a continuous length of fine resin-based elastic filament strands can be used to create the interwoven elastic strands a-h of the mesh 25. Starting with strand segment “a,” the first end of the first continuous filament strand is secured to the end of spine 15 of comb 11, such as by tying the end at this point. A selected count of intermediate beads are threaded onto this first strand to create filament strand segment “a.” The free end of the filament strand is then wrapped around or otherwise secured to the spine 17 of opposing comb 13 to fix the second end of strand segment “a” in opposition to its first end. From here the length of elastic strand is stretched down the spine 17 a distance to where strand segment “b” takes off from the spine. The strand's free end is then wrapped around or otherwise secured to the spine at this spot to fix its position and then threaded back toward comb 11 through the connector beads 33 on strand segment “a.” While doing this, strand segment “b” is beaded with the selected bead count between the spines of the combs and the first row of connector beads 33a and between intermediate connector beads. This weaving and beading process is continued until the free end is tied off on the spine of one of the combs after completing the last strand segment. If one continuous filament strand is used, the end would be tied off at the end of strand segment “h.” By using two elastic strands, the weaver of the mesh can start at opposite ends of the comb spines and tie off in the middle of the spines. A line of beads can be added to the lengths of elastic strands that extend along the comb spines for decorative effect and to hide the strands which course along the spines. Such a line of beads is denoted by the numerals 30, 32 and 58, 60 in the embodiments shown FIGS. 1-3 and 6 of the drawings. In FIG. 5, a similar line of beads having a somewhat different appearance is shown to cover spines 40, 42 of combs 39, 41.

It is seen that the weave of the elastic mesh of the invention allows for different sized mesh openings. These different sized openings can be advantageously used to pull different amounts of wearer's hair through the stretch comb retainer. Again, this enhances the flexibility of the retainer both in creating different hair styles and in allowing the retainer to be used with different types of hair, such as thin or fine hair which is difficult to style. The smaller half-sized openings of the mesh along the spine of each comb provide the added benefit of comfortably accommodating the wearer's finger tips, thereby allowing the wearer to get a good grip on the combs without getting caught up in the elastic mesh.

It is noted that the elastic mesh 25 of each of the illustrated embodiments of the invention has eight comb-to-comb elastic strands. This number of strands, preferably used with a comb having a width of about four inches, has been found to provide an optimum stretch comb hair retainer in terms of strand spacing, balance, strength and overall aesthetic design. However, it shall be understood that a stretch comb hair retainer in accordance with the invention could be provided with an elastic mesh having more or fewer strand segments. It shall also be appreciated that the elastic mesh could be woven in a manner other than described herein. Preferably, the weave pattern will be balanced about the centerline of the retainer to give the retainer the balance it needs to stay on the hair.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show yet another embodiment of the invention wherein the elastic strands forming the elastic mesh between the opposed combs are not interconnected as in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-6. In this embodiment opposed wire combs 63, 65 of stretch comb hair retainer 61 are connected by two sets of stretchable elastic strand segments 71a-71e and 73a-73e attached to the spines 67, 69 of the opposed combs. The two sets of elastic stand segments, which are secured to the combs such that they take off from the comb spines at spaced intervals, are cris-crossed between combs to form a crisscross pattern 76 having openings 75 through which the hair can be pulled. Hair can also be pulled through additional inter-strand openings 77 formed between the crisscross pattern 76 and the comb spines 67, 69. Preferably, the cris-cross pattern is formed by fully interlacing the two sets of elastic strand segments into a weave pattern, that is, such that the strand segments 71a-71e of the first set are thread over and then under all strand segments 73a-73e of the second set. However, it will be understood that the two sets of strand segments could be partially interlaced. It is also within the scope of the invention to provide sets of cris-crossing strand segments that overlay one over the other so that there is no interlacing. Still further, while four strands are shown in each of the sets of strands, each set could have fewer or more strands. Preferably, the cris-cross pattern will be balanced about the centerline of the, retainer with an equal number of strand segments in each set of strands. Such a configuration will provide a balanced hair retainer which will more readily stay in the hair.

As illustrated in the previous embodiments, each of the elastic strands of the crisscrossed strand sets 71, 73 are suitably beaded with decorative beads 81 to provide the hair comb retainer with distinctive ornamental look when worn in the hair. The beads shown in the drawings are illustrative of just one of many possible bead patterns that can be used. For example, the shown small beads could be interspersed with larger beads or the beads could be of different shapes or a mixture of different shapes and sizes. Spine beads 79, 80 can also suitably be provided for additional decoration. Decorative elements other than beads could be affixed to the strand segments as described above in connection with the previously described embodiments.

It is noted that the openings 75 of the cris-cross pattern of the interlaced stand segment sets 71, 73 can be stretched apart to allow hair to be pulled through these openings. However, because the strands are not interconnected, the openings will not hold their form as well the stretch openings 27, 29 in the elastic mesh formed by the interconnected strand segments of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-6.

The crisscross elastic mesh embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 can be created by one or multiple elastic strands threaded between the comb spines 67, 69. As with the previous embodiments, a continuous length of a fine resin-based elastic filament strand can be used to create the interlaced strands. An example of the possible threading of a continuous strand is to thread one set of cris-crossed strands 71 from the inside out and then reversing the progression of the threading to thread the second set of strand segments 73 from the outside in while interlacing the second set of strand segments with the first set of strand segments. The strands segments 71e, 71d, 71c, 71b, 71a and then 73a, 73b, 73c, 73d, 73d are beaded as the they are created. Strand segments are successively created by extending the filament strand from one comb to the other and wrapping the free end of the strand around the comb spine to terminate one segment and start another. The ends of the filament strands can be tied off on the comb spines to secure the ends, or one or the other end of the filament strand can be extended along the spines of the combs to provide for extra decorative beads 79, 80 along the back of the spines.

Another approach to threading and beading the strand segments of the elastic mesh would be to begin at the outside end of one comb and then proceed from there to the middle portion of the opposing comb and then crisscrossing and beading strand segments one after another while working back and forth between combs until the final strand segment is completed.

It is noted that in the embodiment illustrated FIGS. 7 and 8 the first set of strands segments 73a-71e are fully interlaced with the second set of strand segments 73a-73e. As above-mentioned, it is possible for strand segments to be only partially interlaced or not interlaced at all. An example of partially interlaced strand segments would be where the first set of strand segments 71 passed over or under two consecutive strand segments at a time in the second set of strand segments. Also, will be appreciated that it is within the scope of the invention to interconnect selected ones of the cris-crossed strand segments of this embodiment, for example, by using a connecting bead or other tie device to tie selected cris-crossed strands together at the point where they cross.

While the combs in the embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 are wire combs, it is understood that this embodiment, as with the other embodiments, can be made with other types of combs, including plastic combs. Also, the combs and elastic mesh of the FIGS. 7 and 8 embodiment are suitably narrower than the optimum width of the previously described embodiments. Suitable dimensions for this embodiment would to provide combs that are about 1½ to three inches wide and a cris-cross mesh having an unstretched length between the spines of the combs of about three to four inches. However, it is understood that the invention is not intended to be limited to these dimensions.

Therefore, the present invention is a new and novel stretch comb hair retainer that provides great flexibility in creating different hairstyles and/or ornamentations for hair. While the illustrated embodiments of the invention has been described in considerable detail in the foregoing specification and claims, it is understood the it is not intended that the invention be limited to such embodiments or to such detail, except as necessitated by the following claims.