Title:
Braid Sleeve
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sleeve made to fit over braided or chemically-treated hair to encircle and retain selected segments of hair while allowing the hair style to remain relatively unaffected. The sleeve is typically made of a tubular body with an open top end and an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough. The top end has a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, and the hem is elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve. The sleeve can be used by grasping a plurality of braids or hair segments, inserting the segments into the open top end of the sleeve, pulling the plurality of hair segments through the open bottom end of the sleeve, and then pulling the hem of the sleeve up to the scalp. This is typically repeated for each braid until all of the individual's braids are retained within a protective sleeve. The sleeve can also be part of a kit which includes a plurality of protective sleeves and directions for properly placing the sleeves over the braided hair.



Inventors:
Blye, Hope Y. (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/679488
Publication Date:
08/28/2008
Filing Date:
02/27/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D19/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DOAN, ROBYN KIEU
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hasse & Nesbitt LLC (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sleeve for encircling and retaining segments of an individual's hair, the sleeve comprising: a. a tubular body adapted for encircling a plurality of an individual's hair segments as a bundle; b. an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve; and c. an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, wherein the sleeve protects the individual's scalp from irritation and itchiness caused by braided or treated hair.

2. The sleeve of claim 1, wherein the length from the top end to the bottom end is between about 1 inch to about 7 inches and the unstretched tubular diameter is between about 0.5 inches to about 2.0 inches.

3. The sleeve of claim 2, wherein the length from the top end to the bottom end is 4 inches and the unstretched tubular diameter is 1.5 inches, and wherein the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 3 inches.

4. The sleeve of claim 2, wherein the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 5 inches.

5. The sleeve of claim 1, wherein the hem is between about 0.2 to about 1.5 inches in length from the top end to the circumferential inseam.

6. The sleeve of claim 3, wherein the hem is 1.0 inches in length from the top end to the circumferential inseam.

7. The sleeve of claim 1, wherein the tubular body is elasticized.

8. A method of encircling and retaining an individual's hair segments, the method comprising: a. providing a plurality of protective sleeves, each protective sleeve adapted to encircle and retain a plurality of hair segments and comprising a tubular body adapted for encircling a plurality of the individual's hair segments as a bundle, an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, and an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve; b. grasping a plurality of hair segments of the individual; c. inserting the plurality of hair segments into the top end of one of the plurality of protective sleeves; d. pulling the plurality of hair segments through the open bottom end of the sleeve; e. pulling the hem of the sleeve up to the individual's scalp; and f repeating steps (a) through (e) until all of the individual's hair segments are retained within one of the plurality of protective sleeves.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the protective sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is between about 1 inch to about 7 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is between about 0.5 inches to about 2.0 inches, and the hem is between about 0.2 to about 1.0 inches in length from the top end to the circumferential inseam.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is 4 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is 1.5 inches, and the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 3 inches.

11. The method of claim 9, wherein the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 5 inches.

12. The method of claim 8, wherein the tubular body of each of the plurality of sleeves is elasticized.

13. The method of claim 8, wherein the number of hair segments inserted into one of the plurality of sleeves is selected from 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

14. A kit for encircling and retaining segments of an individual's hair, the kit comprising: a. a plurality of protective sleeves, each protective sleeve comprising an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve, an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, and a tubular body adapted to encircle a plurality of an individual's hair segments as a bundle; and b. directions for using the plurality of sleeves to encircle and retain segments of the individual's hair, wherein the sleeves protect the scalp from irritation and itchiness caused by the individual's hair.

15. The kit of claim 14, wherein the directions are instructions comprising: a. grasping a plurality of hair segments; b. inserting the plurality of hair segments into the open top end of one of the plurality of protective sleeves; c. pulling the plurality of hair segments through the open bottom end of the sleeve; d. pulling the hem of the sleeve up to the scalp; and e. repeating steps (a) through (d) until all of the individual's hair is enclosed within one of the plurality of protective sleeves.

16. The kit of claim 14, wherein the protective sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is between about 1 inch to about 7 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is between about 0.5 inches to about 2.0 inches, and the hem is between about 0.2 to about 1.0 inches in length from the top end to the circumferential inseam.

17. The kit of claim 16, wherein the sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is 4 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is 1.5 inches, and the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 3 inches.

18. The kit of claim 16, wherein the tubular diameter of the protective sleeves can be stretched to about 5 inches.

19. The kit of claim 14, wherein the tubular body of each of the plurality of sleeves is elasticized.

20. The kit of claim 16, wherein the plurality of sleeves in the kit are of varying lengths and unstretched tubular diameters.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates in general to hairstyling, and more specifically to a device and method to encircle and retain selected segments of hair while allowing the hair style to remain relatively unaffected.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Hair stylists typically are called upon to fashion hair into a trendy style. For example, hair weaves, hair extensions, French braids, dreadlocks, microbraids, pixie braids, bobs, corn rows, silk braids, African twists, straight hair, goddess braids, individual braids, flat twists and straight locks are just a few examples of complex hair styles known in the art. After manipulation of the hair in this manner, especially when braids are created, “prickles” (i.e. sharp, bent pieces of hair) can stick like small thorns into the scalp of the individual and become very uncomfortable, causing skin irritation and itchiness.

During various chemical hair treatment procedures it is important to protect, shield, or isolate certain hair sections from the rest of the hair as well as from the scalp. For example, during many types of permanent hair curling processes a solution is applied to the hair after it has been wound or rolled onto winding rods or hair curlers. These solutions typically include chemical straighteners, relaxers, colorants, etc. that can be irritating to the scalp, and repeated applications of such solutions can cause the hair to become brittle and frizzy. Although the hairdresser protects her hands by means of gloves, contact of such a chemical agent with the scalp of the customer cannot be completely avoided. For prophylaxis, one can apply a protective cream of petroleum jelly or water- or oil-containing gels onto the scalp as well as onto the forehead and the neck to protect from contact of chemical agents or scalp irritation.

There are many items known in the prior art which can be used to hold hair in place, extend hair, enclose hair, etc. These items are typically used to divide hair into sections during coloring, chemically treating, the creation of hair extensions, or straightening, and are also used for decorative purposes. While such devices are useful for their intended purposes, no device or method currently exists to adequately protect the scalp from irritation and itchiness after braiding or chemical hair treatment, yet allow the final hair style to remain relatively unaffected. For example, while petroleum jelly or other gels or oils are beneficial to scalp protection during a chemical treatment or straightening process, it is not practical to continually apply these products to the scalp for relief from prickle irritation or washout chemical irritation long after the initial braiding or treatment session. Thus, there remains a need for a hair holding device which can adequately protect the scalp from irritation caused by prickles of braided hair or from chemically-treated hair, while allowing the hair to keep its intended form or shape. It is these and other problems in the prior art that the present invention addresses.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a device and method for a braid sleeve made to fit over segments of hair, such as braids. The sleeve is intended to encircle and retain selected segments of hair and relieve irritation and itchiness of the scalp while allowing the hair style to remain relatively unaffected.

A first aspect of the invention relates to a sleeve for encircling and retaining segments of an individual's hair, the sleeve comprising: (a) a tubular body adapted for encircling a plurality of an individual's hair segments as a bundle; (b) an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve; and (c) an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, wherein the sleeve protects the individual's scalp from irritation and itchiness caused by braided or treated hair.

A second aspect of the invention relates to a method of encircling and retaining an individual's hair segments, the method comprising: (a) providing a plurality of protective sleeves, each protective sleeve adapted to encircle and retain a plurality of hair segments and comprising a tubular body adapted for encircling a plurality of the individual's hair segments as a bundle, an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, and an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve; (b) grasping a plurality of hair segments of the individual; (c) inserting the plurality of hair segments into the top end of one of the plurality of protective sleeves; (d) pulling the plurality of hair segments through the open bottom end of the sleeve; (e) pulling the hem of the sleeve up to the individual's scalp; and (f) repeating steps (a) through (e) until all of the individual's hair segments are retained within one of the plurality of protective sleeves.

Both the device and the method described above can include embodiments in which the protective sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is between about 1 inch to about 7 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is between about 0.5 inches to about 2.0 inches, and the hem is between about 0.2 to about 1.0 inches in length from the top end to the circumferential inseam. In one embodiment, the sleeve's length from the top end to the bottom end is 4 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter is 1.5 inches, and the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 3 inches. In one embodiment, the tubular diameter can be stretched to about 5 inches. In another embodiment, the tubular body of the sleeve is elasticized. In the method described, the number of hair segments held by each sleeve can be selected from 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

A third aspect of the invention relates to a kit for encircling and retaining segments of an individual's hair the kit comprising: (a) a plurality of protective sleeves, each protective sleeve comprising an open top end adapted to receive the hair segments into the tubular body, the top end including a hem bordered by a circumferential inseam, the hem being elasticized to retain the bundle of hair segments within the sleeve, an open bottom end adapted to allow passage of the hair segments therethrough, and a tubular body adapted to encircle a plurality of an individual's hair segments as a bundle; and (b) directions for using the plurality of sleeves to encircle and retain segments of the individual's hair, wherein the sleeves protect the scalp from irritation and itchiness caused by the individual's hair

In one embodiment, the directions are instructions comprising: (a) grasping a plurality of hair segments; (b) inserting the plurality of hair segments into the open top end of one of the plurality of protective sleeves; (c) pulling the plurality of hair segments through the open bottom end of the sleeve; (d) pulling the hem of the sleeve up to the scalp; and (e) repeating steps (a) through (d) until all of the individual's hair is enclosed within one of the plurality of protective sleeves.

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the invention will be more fully appreciated with respect to the following drawings and detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with a general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the device of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows an individual's hair segments as they exit the scalp, and illustrates how the sleeve of the invention fits over the hair segments.

FIG. 3 shows an individual's head after the sleeve have been placed over her hair segments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Definitions

As used herein, the term “bundle” means a lengthwise section of hair segments, or a collection of closely-growing hair segments that have been drawn together into a linear bunch.

The term “elasticized” means a fabric or portion thereof made with strands or inserts of elastic, or made from a material that has elastic properties.

The term “individual” means a person upon which the invention is to be used. Typically an individual is a human subject, however to the extent that the invention can be construed to apply to mammals, such as a horse, this can also mean a mammalian subject.

The phrase “hair segment” means a subset of the total number of hairs growing from the scalp of an individual which have been either temporarily or permanently joined with one another into a style known in the art, typically including a plurality of strands of closely growing hair. As a non-limiting example, a hair segment can include a group of hairs belonging to a single hair extension, braid, weave, curl, French braid, dreadlock, microbraid, Senegalese twist, pixie braid, bob, corn row, silk braid, African twist, straight hair, goddess braid, individual braid, flat twist or straight lock.

The term “prickles” as it pertains to an individual's hair means sharp, bent or otherwise damaged pieces of hair that tend to stick into the scalp and irritate the skin.

The term “retain” means to hold on to from the outside. The hem of each sleeve of the present invention is intended to be elasticized in order to hold on to or retain the hair segments within it, after it is positioned by the user. In one embodiment, the tubular body of the sleeve is also elasticized, which makes the sleeve better adapted to hold a plurality of an individual's hair segment, as a bundle.

The phrase “tubular body” means a generally cylinder-shaped structure that is typically formed by permanently connecting the long ends of a generally rectangular piece of material.

Detailed Description

Referring to FIG. 1, the invention is generally directed to a removable protective sleeve 10 including a generally elongated tubular body 12, an open top end 14, a circumferential inseam 16 creating the border for a hem 18, and an open bottom end 20. As illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 1, the hem 18 is typically elasticized to provide a tighter fit around the encircled hair, thus allowing the sleeve to stay put at a chosen location along the length of the hair bundle. That is, the hem 18 can have an elastic band (not shown) such as a rubber band or the like sewn within it, or stretches of elastic 22 can be included in the hem 18, with or without the elastic insert, as in the embodiment shown. This elasticized property allows the hem 18 to fit tight to the enclosed hair to keep the sleeve 10 from sliding along the hair.

FIG. 2 illustrates a sleeve 10 of the invention after a plurality of hair segments/braids 30 have been inserted through it. The sleeve 10 is typically positioned over a small number of braids 30 or lengthwise sections of hair. Depending on how voluminous each braid 30 is, the user typically grasps between two to six closely-situated braids 30 as a bundle for insertion into a single sleeve 10 More specifically, the distal ends of a bundle of braids 30 are typically placed through the open top end 14 of the sleeve, either together or one at a time, and then pulled out the open bottom end 20. The sleeve 10 is then slid or pulled proximally up the bundle of braids towards the scalp 32, so that the hem 18 of the sleeve sits as close as possible to the scalp 32. In this manner, the sleeve 10 is positioned between the braids 30 and the scalp in order to prevent prickles of hair from touching and thus irritating the scalp.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, an individual, whose hair has been divided into many braids or segments, has had many sleeves of the invention placed over bundles of hair segments, so that essentially all of the hair on her head 32 has been encircled and retained by a sleeve 10. In use, typically the tubular body 12 of the sleeve 10 is positioned around a bundle of braids 30, the distal ends of the braids exiting the open bottom end 20 of the sleeve, and the sleeve's elasticized hem 18 is pulled up and positioned at or near the scalp 32 of the individual's head. Once all of the individual's braids have been inserted into a sleeve 10 and the hem 18 of each sleeve pulled up the bundle towards the scalp 32, the braids are allowed to fall flat back according to the desired hair style and lay comfortably over the scalp 32. The elasticized hem 18 serves to hold on to the bundle of hair so that the sleeve does not tend to slide down the bundle and away from the scalp.

A plurality of sleeves of the invention can be included in a kit, and the kit can come with directions for using the enclosed sleeves. Covering each hair segment in the manner illustrated in FIG. 3 serves the purpose of preventing scalp irritation, itchiness, and rashes on the individual's scalp that can be caused by prickles sticking out from braids, or hair or from leftover chemicals on chemically-treated hair. Sleeves that are part of a kit can vary in size and diameter from one another, and the size of the hem from one sleeve to another can vary as well. Typical variations in size and diameter of the sleeves are discussed in more detail below. However, as seen in FIG. 3, sleeve 40 is much smaller in size than the other sleeves 10, and is useful for shorter hair segments such as those around the ear. Indeed, having a variety of sleeve sizes in a kit allows the stylist or individual to pick and choose which size sleeve is best for a particular area of the head, or for a particular style.

As best seen in FIG. 1, the tubular body 12 of the sleeve of the invention is generally in the shape of a tube or cylinder. Typically the length of the sleeve from the top end 14 to the bottom end 20 is about 4 inches. However, since the typical human head is about 7 inches long, the length from the top end 14 to the bottom end 20 can be from about 1 inch to about 7 inches, depending on where the particular hair segment exits the scalp. Typically the material of the sleeve is able to stretch to a diameter that is larger than its initial diameter, thus allowing many hair segments to fit comfortably within a single sleeve.

The hem 18 of the sleeve is typically between about 0.2 to about 1.0 inches in length from the top end 14 to the circumferential inseam 16, depending on the area of the head it is intended to be placed, as well as on other physical attributes (e.g. hair length, hair type, hairstyling type) of the individual who will wear the sleeve. The hem 18 generally serves two purposes: first, the hem 18 allows the user to determine the top end 14 from the bottom end 20 of the sleeve for placement around the hair; and second, the hem 18 assures a firm fit near the scalp. As described above, the hem 18 is typically elasticized, either by including stretches of elastic 22 or by having an elastic insert sewn within it, to retain the hair segments within it and to provide resistance to slippage over bundles of hair.

That is, the hem 18 typically fits a little tighter around the enclosed hair segments than the rest of the tubular body 12, so that the sleeve does not slide down and away from the scalp along the hair bundles it encircles. In one embodiment (not shown) the tubular body of the sleeve can also include stretches of elastic to aid in retaining the hair segments within the sleeve and to provide an increased ability to allow the hair segments fit neatly within the sleeve. In this embodiment, the hem 18 can be formed by doubling over the material of the body 12 upon itself at the top end 14 and securing this doubled-over section by the circumferential inseam 16. In this manner the hem 18 generally serves as an “anchor” to keep the sleeve in its intended position, between the scalp and the hair segment.

The sleeve's tubular dimensions can typically be stretched to accommodate the mass of the bundle of hair segments being inserted into the sleeve. Typically the unstretched tubular diameter of the sleeve is between about 0.5 inches to about 2.0 inches, but can typically be stretched to between about 3 inches to about 5 inches when the hair segments are inserted into the sleeve. In a typical embodiment of the sleeve of the invention, the length from the top end 12 to the bottom end 20 of the sleeve is 4 inches, the unstretched tubular diameter of the body 12 is 1.5 inches and stretchable to about 3 inches, and the hem 18 is about 1 inch in length from the top end 12 to the circumferential inseam 16.

The fabric used to manufacture the sleeve of the invention is typically a stretchable, breathable material which is comfortable to the scalp and safe for the hair, and can be made of any one of clothing fabrics known to those skilled in the art such as cotton, cotton blends, silk, polyester material, or synthetic materials such as Lycra®, spandex, etc. Each sleeve is typically formed by permanently connecting the long ends of a generally rectangular piece of material. As described above, the hem 18 of each sleeve can be formed by folding over the material of the body 12 upon itself at the top end 14 and securing this doubled-over section at the circumferential inseam 16. If formed in this manner, an elastic band can be inserted within the folded-over section before the circumferential inseam is sewn into the sleeve, or the material can already have stretches of elastic within its structure and thus not require an elastic insert.

Where the sleeves are part of a kit, the bodies 12 and hems 18 are typically of varying lengths and unstretched tubular diameters, within the ranges describes above. For example, typically the longest sleeve in a kit would be about 7 inches long to adequately protect the scalp from hair segments exiting at the top of the head. Any length of sleeve which does not make contact with the scalp to prevent skin irritation is a waste of material. Thus, for hair strands that begin near the bottom of the head or at the base of the skull, a sleeve length of only about 1″ is likely to be sufficient.

Although various embodiments of the invention have been described and exemplified, it will be understood that the scope of the invention is not limited to that description. Changes and modifications will occur to those of ordinary skill in the art and they can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The invention is considered to include the methods of accomplishing the results described herein as well as structures designed to accomplish them.