Title:
DEVICE FOR APPLYING A PRODUCT TO A LOCK OF HAIR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for applying a product to a lock of hair, comprising two prongs having substantially parallel axes, a common base bearing the two prongs, a member for selecting a lock of hair that is arranged so as to project at the opposite end of at least one prong to the common base, and a member for distributing the hairs of a lock of hair, a duct being formed in the common base to allow the product to pass through.



Inventors:
Albisetti, Nicolas (Clichy, FR)
Application Number:
11/961444
Publication Date:
09/18/2008
Filing Date:
12/20/2007
Assignee:
L'Oreal (Paris, FR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
132/270
International Classes:
A45D24/22; A45D19/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KALACH, BRIANNE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, L.L.P. (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A device for applying a product to a lock of hair, comprising: a base with a duct that allows the product to pass through the base; a first prong supported by the base at a first end of the first prong, the first prong extending from the base along a first longitudinal axis; a second prong supported by the base at a first end of the second prong, the second prong extending from the base along a second longitudinal axis substantially parallel to the first longitudinal axis; a selection member that selects a lock of hair, the selection member projecting from a second end opposite the first end of at least one prong; and a distribution member, disposed on at least one of the first and second prongs, that distributes hairs of a lock of hair.

2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the base includes a stub provided with means for fastening the base to a receptacle containing the product.

3. The device according to claim 1, wherein the duct comprises an inlet arranged on an end of the base opposite to the prongs and an outlet arranged in at least one prong.

4. The device according to claim 3, in which the outlet is elongated axially over a majority of the length of the prong.

5. The device according to claim 1, wherein the selection member is disposed as a continuation of at least one prong projecting in an axial direction and, a connection part is arranged between the selection member and the prong.

6. The device according to claim 1, wherein at least one prong includes radial ribs that distribute the hairs of the lock.

7. The device according to claim 1, wherein the first and second prongs define an inter-prong space of substantially constant cross section.

8. The device according to claim 1, wherein the selection member has a smaller cross section than a cross section of the prong to which the selection member is attached.

9. The device according to claim 1, wherein both of the first and second prongs include a distribution member, and an inter-prong space is defined by surfaces of the first and second prongs such that the hairs pass between the distribution members.

10. The device according to claim 1, wherein the distribution member has a length which is substantially equal to a length of an outlet of the duct.

11. The device according to claim 1, comprising a flexible receptacle fastened to the base.

12. The device according to claim 1, comprising two prongs and a selection member borne by only one prong.

13. The device according to claim 1, comprising two prongs, wherein each prong includes a selection member.

14. The device according to claim 1, wherein the distribution member occupies an angular sector of a prong that is less than 180 degrees.

15. The device according to claim 1, wherein the distribution member is disposed on at least one prong and occupies a complete circumference of the occupied prong.

16. The device according to claim 1, wherein the first prong includes radial ribs that distribute the hairs of the lock, the ribs disposed on a surface of the first prong facing away from the second prong.

17. The device according to claim 16, further comprising an outlet of the duct disposed on the first prong, the outlet disposed nearer to the second prong than are the radial ribs.

18. The device according to claim 17, wherein the outlet extends, in a direction parallel to the first longitudinal axis, along a length of the first prong equivalent to a length along the first prong over which the ribs extend.

19. The device according to claim 18, wherein the second prong does not include ribs.

20. A device for applying a product to a lock of hair, comprising: a base with a duct that allows the product to pass through the base; a first prong supported by the base at a first end of the first prong, the first prong extending from the base along a first longitudinal axis; a second prong supported by the base at a first end of the second prong, the second prong extending from the base along a second longitudinal axis substantially parallel to the first longitudinal axis; means for selecting a lock of hair; and means for distributing the lock of hair.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This document claims priority to French Application Number 06 55729, filed Dec. 20, 2006, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/886,179, filed Jan. 23, 2007, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the application of a treatment product, for example, a cosmetic treatment product, to a lock of hair of a user. In one example, the product may be a coloring product or an aesthetic care product.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Discussion of Background

FR 1 133 441 relates to an apparatus for applying a liquid product to the hair and the epidermis. The apparatus is composed of a body on which a head is screwed. The head is provided with two hollow tines which are co-molded with the head and have holes perforated therein. For the filling operation, the head is separated from the body, the liquid product that is to be applied is poured into the body and then the head is screwed on completely. To operate the apparatus, absorbent cotton is wrapped around the two hollow tines, and the apparatus is inclined so as to place the head at an angle of approximately 45° below the horizontal. In this position, the liquid product contained in the body flows into one of the hollow tines, the other naturally letting in air that is necessary for operation. The liquid then flows through the holes and moistens the absorbent cotton covering the hollow tines.

This apparatus typically requires complicated handling, with a filling step and a step of wrapping the absorbent cotton round the two tines. Moreover, the apparatus typically does not provide a fully homogeneous distribution of product within the hair, one reason being the heterogeneity of the distribution of the product in the absorbent cotton, another reason being the heterogeneity of the wrapping of the absorbent cotton round the tines, and yet another reason being the random distribution of the hair on the outer surface of the absorbent cotton. In addition, the hair products often have viscosities which differ from one product to another and prove to be difficult to apply to the locks, in particular wide and/or thick ones. The penetration of the absorbent cotton by the product and the passage of the product through the holes is usually strongly influenced by the viscosity of the product. The background art apparatus is therefore often specifically made to a particular product viscosity.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,676,480 relates to a hair dye application apparatus comprising a handle and an application portion one end of which is screwed onto the handle. The application portion, typically made of a sponge material, comprises a pair of semi-rigid applicator elements which are sufficiently spaced apart to accommodate a small group of hairs between them.

In U.S. Pat. No. 5,676,480, the product typically must pass through a considerable thickness of sponge material, resulting in a flow which is extremely dependent on the viscosity of the product. Moreover, the distribution of the product between the free ends of the applicator elements and their base is often at risk of being unduly heterogeneous and dependent on the viscosity of the product.

WO 00/22954 relates to a product applicator for multi-color hair treatment. The applicator is terminated in the form of a cone, whereby it would be possible, when the applicator is turned downwards, to retain the treatment product and to allow a lock of hair to be inserted through a slot so that it can be subjected to a treatment to change the color of the hair tip. However, the factor that the lock of hair enters at an oblique angle is sometimes difficult to manage. Moreover, since the cone is filled with a treatment product, there is a risk that the distribution of the treatment product will be irregular unless the slot is very narrow, in which case inserting the hair would be particularly cumbersome.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is to overcome one or more of the above-noted drawbacks of conventional applicators.

Moreover, the applicant has noticed that, prior to inserting a lock of hair, this lock is preferably suitably selected. Another aspect of certain embodiments of the invention is to meet this preference.

One aspect of the invention is to allow the selection of a lock and the substantially uniform application of the product to the said lock in a simple movement.

In one example, the device for applying a product to a lock of hair comprises two prongs having substantially parallel axes, a common base supporting the two prongs, and a member for distributing the hairs of a lock of hair. A duct is typically formed in the common base to allow the product to pass through, and a member for selecting a lock of hair is typically arranged so as to project at the opposite end of at least one prong to the common base.

In this example, the user can thus select the lock of hair prior to inserting it between the prongs. This selection is typically achieved by means of the selection member. Once the lock has been selected, the user can slide the lock of hair between the prongs so that the product flowing through the duct can then be applied thereto, in particular by means of a rotation of at least 90° so as to impart an S-shaped path on the hair during a movement of the device in the direction of the free end of the hair, the hair being distributed by the distribution member. In other words, with respect to the reference frame constituted by the application device, the hair can move in a first direction, then in a second direction perpendicular to the first and then in a third direction parallel to the first. The second direction can comprise at least one component perpendicular to the first and, if appropriate, a component parallel to but in an opposite direction to the first.

In one example, the selection member is disposed so as to project axially at the opposite end of at least one prong to the common base, or be slightly oblique, in particular at an angle of less than 10°.

In one example, a prong comprises a cylindrical body comprising the distribution member. Alternatively, the body can be slightly frustoconical, in particular at an angle of less than 10°. In one example, the distribution member is a comb. The distribution member can include a plurality of ribs projecting radially on two sides of the body, the ribs being regularly distributed axially.

In one embodiment, the common base comprises a stub provided with means for fastening to a receptacle containing the product. In one example, the means includes a thread. The receptacle can be made of a flexible synthetic material so as to be able to be pressed between the fingers of the user and thus cause the product to pass into the duct.

In one embodiment, the duct comprises an inlet arranged at an opposite end of the base from the prongs and an outlet arranged at least in one prong. In one embodiment, the inlet is in communication with the reservoir. In one example, the outlet is elongated axially over most of the length of the prong. This shape promotes a homogeneous distribution of the product within a lock of hair. The cross section of the duct taken transversely to the length of the prong can be constant or decreasing as the duct extends away from the common base.

In one embodiment, the selection member is arranged in the continuation of at least one prong, a connection part being arranged between the selection member and the prong. The selection member can take the form of a finger projecting longitudinally at the end of one prong or else of a finger projecting longitudinally at the end of each prong. The connection parts can be of frustoconical type with wide connection fillets, for example ones having a larger radius than the radius of the selection member. The cross section of the selection member can be smaller than half the cross section of a prong.

In one embodiment, at least one prong comprises radial ribs for distributing the hairs of a lock. The ribs for distributing the hairs define grooves between them in which the hairs come to be distributed, and thus provide a comb effect. In one embodiment, the prongs define an inter-prong space of substantially constant cross section. In one embodiment, the selection member has a smaller cross section than the cross section of the prong.

In one embodiment, a space between two prongs is defined by surfaces of the prongs such that a hair from the selected lock of hair passes between the prongs. The hairs can pass between distribution members formed on the prongs.

In one embodiment, the member for distributing the hairs of a lock of hair has a length which is substantially equal to the length of an outlet of the duct. In one example, the outlet of the duct is circumferentially adjacent to the distribution member.

In one embodiment, the device comprises a flexible receptacle fastened to the common base.

In one embodiment, the device comprises two prongs and a selection member borne by one prong.

In one embodiment, the device comprises two prongs and two selection members, each prong bearing a selection member. The space between the two selection members can be larger than the space between the prongs.

In one embodiment, the device comprises a member for distributing the hairs of a lock of hair that occupies an angular sector of a prong that is, as viewed along a longitudinal axis of the prong, less than 180° over the cross section of the prong.

In another embodiment, the device comprises a distribution member formed on at least one prong and occupying the complete circumference of the prong.

In one embodiment, the device for applying a product to a lock of hair comprises two prongs having substantially parallel axes, a base bearing the two prongs, a duct being formed in the base to allow the product to pass through, and a tine arranged so as to project axially at the opposite end of at least one prong to the base. Each prong can comprise a substantially cylindrical body and a comb projecting outwardly away from the other prong. The comb can have radial teeth elongated angularly around at least one part of the prong.

One aspect of the invention relates to a hair treatment method, in particular a cosmetic treatment or else an aesthetic care treatment method, in which a lock of hair is selected from the head of hair by means of a selection finger. The selected lock of hair is then passed between two prongs defining an inter-prong space, the two prongs are rotated slightly around a longitudinal axis and the prongs are moved translationally so as to cause the hairs of the selected lock of hair to slide within the prongs and in the immediate vicinity of a product feed duct which opens into the hair passage region.

As should be apparent, the various embodiments, aspects, and examples of invention can provide a number of advantageous features and benefits. It is to be understood that, in practicing the invention, an embodiment can be constructed to include one or more features or benefits of embodiments disclosed herein, but not others. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the preferred embodiments discussed herein are provided as examples and are not to be construed as limiting, particularly since embodiments can be formed to practice the invention that do not include each of the features of the disclosed examples.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the invention will be gained from reading the following description in conjunction with the accompanying figures. The figures are offered purely as a guide and by way of example, and in no way limit the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one example a device for applying a product to a lock of hair;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the device shown in FIG. 1 from another angle;

FIG. 3 is an elevation front view of the device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the application device shown in FIG. 1, with a lock of hair;

FIG. 5 is an elevation side view of the device shown in FIG. 1, equipped with a reservoir;

FIG. 6 is an elevation side view of the application device according to another embodiment; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the device shown in FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are utilized to designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views.

The example of the device 1 shown in FIGS. 1 to 5 includes a common base 2 from which there extend two prongs 3 and 4 having parallel or substantially parallel longitudinal axes. The prongs 3 and 4 can be cylindrical. In this example, the prongs 3 and 4 are immovable relative to the common base 2. The prongs 3 and 4 typically emanate from the same face of the base 2 and extend at a small distance from one another, thus forming an axially elongated inter-prong space 5. The inter-prong space 5 is, in the example shown in FIGS. 1 to 5, parallel to the longitudinal axis of the device. On the opposite side of the base 2 from the prongs 3 and 4, the device 1 typically comprises a sleeve 6 whose outer surface is provided with an attachment component such as a thread 7. The sleeve 6 has an internal passage 8. The common base 2 has a disc shape in the example shown in FIGS. 1-5, but other shapes are possible.

The prongs 3 and 4 can be identical. Each prong 3, 4 can comprise an elongate opening 9 in communication with the passage 8 via a duct 10 which is visible in the example depicted in FIG. 3. The opening 9 can be defined by two lips 11 and 12 forming part of the prong 3, 4.

Each of the prongs 3 and 4 can also comprise a plurality of ribs 13 projecting radially with respect to the body of each of the prongs 3 and 4 as shown in FIGS. 1-5. The ribs 13 can be formed over a limited angular sector around each or both of the prongs 3 and 4, for example of the order of 90°. The ribs 13 are regularly spaced axially and thus form a comb. The inter-prong space 5 can have a radial dimension of between 0.5 and 1 cm.

It will be noted that in different embodiments, the ribs 13 can be provided on one of the prongs or on both prongs. The ribs can be oriented differently, in particular transversely, relative to an elongation axis of or each prong.

In the embodiment represented, the ribs 13 are arranged away from the inter-prong space 5. In other words, the ribs 13 are oriented outwardly. The ribs 13 can be arranged on the major part of the length of each prongs 3 and 4, for example over a length which is slightly less than the length of the opening 9. The prongs 3 and 4 can have an axial length of less than 5 cm, preferably less than 2 cm, for example of the order of 1.3 cm. The axial length of the opening 9 typically is itself slightly less than the axial length of each prong.

The application device 1 also typically comprises two selection members respectively arranged as the axial continuations of the prongs 3 and 4. The selection members 14 and 15 are typically connected to the prongs 3 and 4 by a rounded connection portion 16 and 17, respectively, which can have a frustoconical shape or a ramp shape with wide connection fillets whose radius is larger than the radii of the selection members 14 and 15, or even larger than the radii of the prongs 3 and 4. The selection members 14 and 15 extend from the prongs 3, 4 at the opposite end of the prongs from the base 2. The longitudinal axes of the selection members 14 and 15 can be parallel to those of the prongs 3 and 4. The selection members 14 and 15 can have an axial length which is less than 5 cm, preferably less than 2 cm, for example of the order of 1.3 cm. The selection members 14 and 15 can have an axial length which is substantially equal to that of the prongs 3 and 4.

In the inter-prong space 5, the prongs 3 and 4 are provided with smooth surfaces 18, 19 which face one another. The selection members 14 and 15 typically have, in cross section, a bean shape with a slight concavity arranged on the inner side and a convex surface on the outer side. The convex surfaces of the selection members 14 and 15 can be situated substantially in the axial continuations of the outer surface of the prongs 3 and 4, on the opposite side to the inner surfaces 18 and 19 and in the vicinity of the ribs 13. The application device can be produced in the form of a single block, for example as a one-piece molding.

The prongs 3, 4 typically have, in cross section, a concave portion 20, 21 situated circumferentially between the ribs 13 and the surfaces 18, 19 defining the inter-prong space 5. As can be seen especially clearly in FIG. 3, the prongs 3, 4 are typically arranged in a mutually opposed manner. In other words, in this particular example, the geometric position of one of the prongs is obtained by pivoting the other prong around 180° and moving it translationally. In FIG. 3, the opening 9 and the ribs 13 of the prong 3 are arranged on the upper side, whereas the opening 9 and the ribs 13 of the prong 4 are arranged on the lower side. The selection members 14 and 15 are situated in the continuation of the outer surface of the prongs, such that the space between the selection members 14 and 15 is significantly greater than the inter-prong space 5. Thus, this particular arrangement facilitates selection of the quantity of hairs which are desired to form a lock.

As can be seen from FIGS. 3 and 4, a lock of hair 22 has been selected between the selection members or fingers 14 and 15 and has been brought between the prongs 3 and 4 by an axial translational movement of the device 1, thus passing into the inter-prong space 5. The device 1 has subsequently been rotated by about ¼ of a turn in the clockwise direction, the effect of which is to bring the lock of hair 22 into contact with the ribs 13 which thus ensure a relatively regular distribution of the hairs of the lock of hair 22 in the grooves 23 formed between the ribs 13.

In the example shown in FIGS. 1-5, the hairs of the lock of hair 22 that pass into the grooves 23 of each of the prongs 3 and 4 and into the inter-prong space 5 also pass into contact with the lips 11 and 12 of each opening 9 from which the product, for example the cosmetic treatment or aesthetic care product, flows. Each hair individually is thus suitably impregnated on account of the hairs of a lock being distributed between a plurality of grooves 23 defined by the ribs 13. A lock of hair 22 is thus spread out flat over a width of, in this example, at least one centimetre and then distributed under the comb effect of the ribs 13. The application device 1 can then be moved translationally radially with respect to its longitudinal axis, resulting in a sliding movement of the hairs which are thus impregnated over the major part of their length and on both sides thereof, owing to the presence of two openings 9.

As can be seen from FIG. 5, the application device 1 is advantageously combined with a reservoir 24 which supplies the passage 8, the duct 10, and the opening 9 with product. In one application, the product is a cosmetic treatment or aesthetic care product. The reservoir 24 can comprise flexible walls. In one example, the pressure exerted by the user's hand enables the product to flow. Thus, the reservoir 24 can take the form of a small pressable container. In a further example, the reservoir 24 can be equipped with a sleeve 25 whose bore is provided with a thread which complements the thread 7 of the stub 6. The sleeve 25 can thus be fastened on the device 1 and butt against the base 2 as shown in FIG. 5. The reservoir 24 is then situated in the axial continuation of the prongs 3 and 4. The prongs 3 and 4 and their continuation, forming the selection members 14 and 15, then take the form of a two-pronged fork.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, the references of the elements which are similar to those of the preceding embodiment have been retained. The base 2 typically has a significantly increased thickness in relation to the preceding embodiment and is in some examples provided with a female thread instead of a male thread, or else with a smooth bore in order to provide a press fit with a reservoir. The device 1 in the example depicted in FIG. 6 comprises a single selection member 14 which is provided with a rounded free end 14a and which connects to the connection portion 16 borne by the prong 3. The prong 4 is terminated by a rounded end 26 in the example shown in FIG. 6.

In one example, the openings 9 can be localized openings, for example in the form of holes, and distributed such that there is one opening for each groove 23. The openings 9 lead out onto the inner surfaces 18 and 19 in order to discharge some treatment product into the inter-prong space 5. The openings 9 can be arranged opposite one another or be offset. The openings 9 can be disposed at the bottom or on the edge of the grooves 23. Alternatively, the openings 9 can be formed in the ribs 13 with a radial orientation towards the other prong or an axial orientation towards the adjacent groove 23.

As shown in FIG. 7, the ribs 13 typically extend substantially around the periphery of each prong 3 and 4, thus defining circular grooves 23 of angularly variable depth. As can be seen more particularly from FIG. 7, the ribs 13 typically have an oval general shape in cross section. The ribs 13 of the prong 3 and the ribs 13 of the prong 4 shown in FIG. 7 are elongated parallel to one another. In other words, the grooves 23 are deep outside the inter-prong space 5 and shallow or non-existent within the inter-prong space 5. In the latter case, the inner surfaces 18 and 19 are smooth, thus making it easier for the hair to slide. At least one rib 13 can have two diametrically opposed projections, one on either side of a prong.

This shape results in promoting the insertion of the lock of hair into the inter-prong space 5 and the predistribution of the hairs by virtue of the mutually opposite inner surfaces 18 and 19 which are caused to undulate slightly by the ribs 13 and the grooves 23 which have small dimensions at this point, see for example, FIG. 6. Once the lock of hair has been inserted and predistributed, the user typically rotates the application device 1 by about ¼ of a turn, which brings the prongs into engagement between the large-dimension part of the ribs 13, thereby leading to the substantially complete distribution of the hairs of the lock of hair within the grooves 23.

Moreover, the application device shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 allows for an impregnation on both sides of a lock, resulting in an appreciable time saving for the user and a better diffusion of the product within the lock.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.