Title:
Hair styling apparatus with retractable styling heads
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hair styling apparatus includes a handle, a styling head and a heater. The handle has a pair of pivotally joined arms, and the head includes a pair of styling members which cooperate to form styling surfaces of the styling head. Each styling member is extendable from and retractable into the handle.



Inventors:
Chan, Wing Kin (Hong Kong, CN)
Application Number:
11/991308
Publication Date:
10/22/2009
Filing Date:
08/30/2006
Assignee:
Dickson Industrial Co., Ltd (Hong Kong, CN)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ELGART, VANITHA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCHANAN, INGERSOLL & ROONEY PC (ALEXANDRIA, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A hair styling apparatus comprising a handle, a styling head and heating means, wherein the handle comprises a pair of pivotally joined arms, and the head comprises a pair of styling members which cooperate to form styling surfaces of said styling head, and wherein each styling member is extendable from and retractable into the handle.

2. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each styling member is telescopically extendable from and telescopically retractable into a corresponding one of said pair of pivotally joined arms.

3. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each one of said pair of pivotally joined arms comprises a hollow receptacle, and each one of said styling members is slidable in and out of said hollow receptacle.

4. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 3, wherein each one of said styling members is elongate, each said hollow receptacle is elongate, and each said styling member is movable relative to said hollow receptacle along an axis which is orthogonal to the pivotal axis of said pair of pivotally joined arms.

5. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each one of said pair of styling members is individually movable such that one of said styling members is slidably movable relative to another one of said styling members.

6. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said pair of pivotally joined arms are movable between an opened configuration when said pair of styling members are not in contact, and a closed configuration when said pair of styling members are in compressive contact, and wherein, when said pair of pivotally joined arms are at said closed configuration, said pair of styling members are mutually engaged such that retraction or extension of one of said styling member will respectively bring about retraction or extension of the other one of said styling member.

7. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said styling member comprises a built-in electric heating means for heating hair engaged by said pair of styling members.

8. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each one of said styling member comprises a thermally conductive hair styling surface, each said thermally conductive hair styling surface is mounted on an insulated housing, and the thermally conductive hair styling surfaces of said pair of styling members are oppositely facing.

9. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 8, wherein each said thermally conductive hair styling surface is surrounded by said insulated housing.

10. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the pair of hair styling members are movable between a closed position for engaging hair and an opened position for releasing hair, and the thermally conductive hair styling surfaces of said pair of hair styling members are sandwiched between a pair of insulated housings in the closed position.

11. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 8, wherein an electric heating means is mounted within a compartment defined between said thermally conductive housing and said insulated housing of said styling member.

12. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a said styling member is connected to a said arm through a rail-and-track arrangement.

13. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein electric power is supplied to said heating means via a pair of rails, said pair of rails extending axially along said arms, being insulated for a substantial portion, and exposed at the distal end such that electrical contacts are made between the heating means and said rails when said styling members are extended to a predetermined length.

14. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a slide button is formed at one proximal end of said styling head, and wherein said proximal end is adjacent a pivotal hinge joining said pair of arms, and said slide button protrudes laterally from said styling head.

15. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the slide buttons of said pair of hair styling members are operable by a single thumb when the handle is in the closed position.

16. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the slide button extends laterally from both sides of the styling head.

17. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the styling members are retractable towards the pivotal joint of said handle.

18. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle is adapted for single-handed operation.

19. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the heated styling surfaces and/or the handle contain nano silver substances.

20. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the handle comprises a hollow plastic housing which defines a hollow receptacle.

21. A hair styling apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said styling member comprises an electric heating means, and power is supplied to said heating means only when said styling member has been extended for a predetermined length from said pivotal joint.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to hair styling apparatus and, more particularly, to hand-held hair styling apparatus with a retractable styling head. More specifically, this invention relates to tong-type hair styling apparatus with a retractable hair styling head.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Hair styling apparatus are widely used for hair styling applications, for example, hair curling and hair straightening. A typical hair styling apparatus comprises a handle and a heated styling head for contact or non-contact styling. A common contact-type hair styling apparatus resembles the shape of a pair of tongs and comprises a pair of hinged arms with a pair of heated styling heads. The styling heads protrude from the free ends of the hinged arms with hair styling surfaces facing each other. Typically, hair is styled when hair is held between a pair of heated styling heads and when they are in compressive engagement. Styling is done, for example, by a pair of heated curling or straightening heads. Another common hair styling apparatus is the rod-type in which the styling head and the handle are substantially collinear.

Although tong-type hair styling apparatus and rod-type hair styling apparatus provide a useful and convenient means for hair styling, they are somewhat bulky and inconvenient for travellers. Hence, it will be desirable if improved hair styling means and apparatus can be provided to alleviate shortcomings of conventional tong-shaped hair styling means.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided a hair styling apparatus comprising a handle, a styling head and heating means, wherein the handle comprises a pair of pivotally joined arms, and the head comprises a pair of styling members which cooperate to form styling surfaces of said styling head, characterised in that each styling member is extendable from and retractable into the handle.

A hair styling apparatus with a retractable head facilitates a compact design, which is beneficial for storage and especially desirable for travelling, while permitting hair styling with a styling apparatus of a conventional size.

In a preferred embodiment, each styling member is telescopically extendable from and telescopically retractable into a corresponding one of said pair of pivotally joined arms. A retractable hair styling apparatus with a telescopic extension structure facilitates convenient extension and retraction of the styling head with minimum spatial requirements. Another advantage of a telescopic design is the convenient storage and optimum utilisation of space within the handle. An added advantage of the telescopic extension design is the possibility of having a styling head with multiple extendible and/or retractable sections so that the overall size can be minimised.

Preferably, each one of said pair of pivotally joined arms comprises a hollow receptacle, each one of said styling members is slidable in and out of said hollow receptacle. By utilising a hollow portion of a handle for temporary storage of the styling members, the space within a hollow handle can be better utilized and the overall weight can be reduced.

In an exemplary embodiment, each one of said styling members is elongate, each said hollow receptacle is elongate, and each said styling member is movable relative to said hollow receptacle along an axis which is orthogonal to the pivotal axis of said pair of pivotally joined arms.

Preferably, each one of said pair of styling members is individually movable such that one of said styling members is slidably movable relative to another one of said styling members.

Preferably, said pair of pivotally joined arms are movable between an opened configuration when said pair of styling members are not in contact, and a closed configuration when said pair of styling members are in compressive contact, characterised in that when said pair of pivotally joined arms are at said closed configuration, said pair of styling members are mutually engaged such that retraction or extension of one of said styling member will respectively bring about retraction or extension of the other one of said styling member.

Preferably, at least one of said styling member comprises a built-in electric heating means for heating hair engaged by said pair of styling members. A styling member with an embedded electric heating means would provide the necessary heating to the hair styling surface when the styling member has been extended to the operating position.

Preferably, each one of said styling member comprises a thermally conductive hair styling surface, each said thermally conductive hair styling surface is mounted on an insulated housing, and the thermally conductive hair styling surfaces of said pair of styling members are oppositely facing.

Preferably, said styling member is resiliently mounted on said insulated housing. A resiliently mounted styling surface is advantageous for applying pressure evenly when tresses of hair are pressed by the pair of styling members.

Preferably, each said thermally conductive hair styling surface is surrounded by said insulated housing.

Preferably, the pair of hair styling members are movable between a closed position for engaging hair and an opened position for releasing hair, and the thermally conductive hair styling surfaces of said pair of hair styling members are sandwiched between a pair of insulated housings in the closed position.

Preferably, an electric heating means is mounted within a compartment defined between said thermally conductive housing and said insulated housing of said styling member.

Preferably, the styling member is connected to a said arm through a rail-and-track arrangement.

In a preferred example, electric power is supplied to said heating means via a pair of rails, said pair of rails extending axially along said arms, being insulated for a substantial portion, and exposed at the distal end such that electrical contacts are made between the heating means and said rails when said styling members are extended to a predetermined length.

Preferably, a slide button is formed at one proximal end of said styling head, wherein said proximal end is adjacent a pivotal hinge joining said pair of arms, and said slide button protrudes laterally from said styling head.

Preferably, the slide buttons of said pair of hair styling members are operable by a single thumb when the handle is in the closed position.

Preferably, the slide button extends laterally from both sides of the styling head. A lateral extended slide button provides convenience for left-handed and right-handed users.

Preferably, the styling members are retractable towards the pivotal joint of said handle.

Advantageously, said handle is adapted for single-handed operation.

Preferably, the heated styling surfaces and/or the handle contain nano-silver substances.

Preferably, the handle comprises a hollow plastic housing which defines a hollow receptacle.

Preferably, said styling member comprises an electric heating means, and power is supplied to said heating means only when said styling member has been extended for a predetermined length from said pivotal joint. This preferred safety feature operates to mitigate risks of inadvertent operation of the heating means before the styling member has been moved into its designed operating position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the present invention will be explained in further detail below by way of examples and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows the side view of a first preferred embodiment of a hair styling apparatus of this invention,

FIG. 2 shows a top view of the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 1,

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 2 in an “opened” position,

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 3 in a “closed” position,

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the apparatus of FIG. 4 with the hair styling heads fully retracted,

FIG. 6 is a partly exploded side view of the apparatus of FIG. 4 with the hair styling heads partly retracted,

FIG. 7 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the apparatus of FIG. 2 along longitudinal section A-A,

FIG. 8 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view along section A-A of the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 7 with the hair styling head partly retracted,

FIG. 9 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view along section A-A with the hair styling heads fully retracted, and

FIG. 10 shows an exploded view of the components of the hair styling apparatus of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the Figures, there is shown a hair straightener 100 as an example of a preferred embodiment of this invention. The hair straightener 100 comprises a handle 120, a styling head 140 and an electric heating means.

The handle 120 comprises a pair of arms 1202, 1204 which is pivotally joined at their respective distal ends. Each of the pivotally joined arms comprises a hollow housing 122 which defines a hollow receptacle for receiving a styling member of the styling head to be explained below. The hollow arm housing 122 is preferably made of durable plastics or other insulated materials in order to provide good thermal and electrical insulation. The hollow receptacle is elongate and extends along an axial direction which is orthogonal to the pivotal axis of the pivotal joint interconnecting the pair of arms 1202, 1204. A coil spring 154 is mounted at the pivotal joint to provide spring bias for urging the pair of arms towards an opened configuration. The handle is adapted for single handed operation and is preferably of palm size. As a convenient example, the length of the plastic housing 122 of the arm is about 15 cm −20 cm which is about 1.5 to 2 times of palm width. The handle is operable between a fully closed configuration, for example for storage or for hair styling (as shown in FIGS. 1, 4, and 5-9) and a fully opened configuration for receiving or relieving tresses of hair (as shown in FIG. 4). As a convenient example, the maximum angle between the pair of arms is around 20-30 degrees, and preferably below 35 degrees, for singled-handled use. A latch is provided at the pivotal joint for releasably locking the pair of arms at a user selected angle.

To supply power to the electric heating means, a pair of power supply rails (not shown) is provided. The pair of power rails extends between the pivoted distal end and the free proximal end of the insulated housing of the arm. The rails are covered by an insulator for a substantial portion of the length of the rail and are exposed at both ends for making contact respectively with a power cord 128 at one end and the heating means at the other end. The insulation of the power supply rails alleviates risks of electric shock when the styling members 1402, 1404 are moved out of the arm housing 122, since the inside bottom 124 of the arm housing 122 is exposed. In this power supply arrangement, user safety is further enhanced since electrical contacts between the power supply cord 128 and the elbow portion of the electrical contacts 150 are made only when the styling head 140 has been fully extended. By employing such a position dependent power supply arrangement, the styling head will not be inadvertently heated while in an intermediate position.

A pair of axially and extending rails 128 for guiding movements of the styling member 1402, 1404 is provided on the inside of the insulated hollow housing and extending laterally inwards towards each other to form a pair of parallel guides.

The styling head 140 comprises a pair of styling members 1402, 1404. Each styling member 1402, 1404 is designed so that it can be retracted into and then kept in the handle 120. Specifically, each hair styling member 1402, 1404 is designed so that it can be retracted into the elongate hollow compartment 127 of a corresponding arm as and when required, for example, for storage, during travelling or for transportation. More specifically, each styling member comprises an insulated housing 144 on which a thermally conductive member 149 for forming a thermally conductive hair styling surface 142 is carried. At least one of the styling members comprises an electric heating means for heating up the adjacent or proximal hair styling surface, although it will be more thermally effective to have electric heating means on both styling members.

In a preferred example, the hair styling surfaces 142 and/or the insulated housings, including the thermally insulated housing 144 and the handle housing 122, may comprise nano-silver for anti-bacterial effect. Nano-silver may be applied as a coating layer or integrally mixed during the formation process of the various parts.

An example of a suitable heating means is a distributed heating member which comprises resistive heating elements mounted on a metallic plate for even heat distribution, as shown in FIG. 10. As can be seen from FIG. 10, the heating member 146 is elongate and extends along an axial direction which is substantially orthogonal to the pivotal axis joining the pair of arms 1202, 1204. The electric heating means is enclosed within the hollow insulated housing 144 and disposed adjacent the thermally conductive surface 142 for efficient thermal transfer. In such an arrangement, the heating means is disposed intermediate the thermally conductive member 146 and the insulated housing 144 so that during use, the pair of thermally conductive surfaces is substantially encompassed by the insulated housings of the pair of styling members. When the pair of arms are in the dosed position, only a very insignificant portion of the heating surfaces is exposed, since the heated surfaces are laterally retracted from the sides of the insulated housing and the thickness of the metallic member is very small compared to its width, for example, less than 10%.

In order to move the styling member in and out of the hollow arm portion 127, and bearing in mind that the heating means is mounted on the styling member, the heating means and the thermally conductive member are mounted on a carrier 148. The carrier 148 comprises a moulded piece which is provided for receiving the electrical heating means and which is connected to an insulated slide button 152 located at a distal end (i.e., the end closest to the pivotal joint) of the carrier. The slide button 152 is adapted so that a user can drive the styling member in and out of the handle by thumb- or finger-pushing. To accommodate both left- and right-handed users, the slide button 152 extends laterally from the handle portion. A bridge 126 is provided for Joining the left and right part of the slide button 152.

A pair of guiding grooves or slots 147 is formed on the lateral sides of the insulated housing of the styling members and extends axially. The pair of axially extending grooves 147 when in cooperation with the corresponding pair of axially rails 128 on the insulated housing 122 of the arms together form a pair of rail-and-track arrangements for guiding movements of the styling head in and out of the insulated housing of the arm.

The electric heating means is mounted on the back surface of the thermally conductive member and is connected to a pair of electrical contacts 150 at the distal end of the carrier. The electrical contacts 150 are of the spring type with an elbow portion which is biased to urge towards the insulated housing (or urge away from its base contact). The elbow portion protrudes above the insulated housing and become engaged with a pair of exposed power supply rail when the styling member has extended to a pre-determined length. In the present specific example, that pre-determined position when the elbow portion of the contacts are in contact with a supply rail is when the styling member is fully extended.

Each of the styling members can be individually moved when the pair of arms is in the closed configuration. A pair of catches is formed on corresponding surfaces of the styling members so that, when the pair of arms is in the closed position, the pair styling members moves in synchronism due to engagement of the pair of catches. When the pair of arms is moved away from the closed configuration, the pair of catches is no longer engaged and the styling members can individually move. An advantage of this individual movement characteristic of the styling head is that the device can be configured to operate as a hair iron with a single heating surface.

In FIGS. 1-4 and 7, the hair styling apparatus 100 is in the fully extended configuration. In this configuration, both styling members 1402, 1404 are fully extended from their corresponding insulated arm housings such that the corresponding hair styling surfaces are directly opposite each other. When the hair styling apparatus 100 is in this fully extended configuration, the pair of electrical contacts 150 is in engagement with the power supply rail such that the heating means will operate automatically to heat up the hair styling surfaces. Of course, a switch may be provided to control operation of the electrical heating means when desired.

In FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, the hair styling apparatus 100 is shown in the closed configuration. This closed configuration may be due to instantaneous holding together of the pair of arms by a user or by the latch. When the hair styling apparatus 100 is in the closed configuration, the pair of heated styling surfaces is most proximal to each other so that tresses of hair engaged between the pair of contact styling surfaces can be compressively held while performing heated styling.

In FIG. 3, the hair styling apparatus 100 is shown in the opened configuration. This opened configuration may be due to spring urge of the pair of arms when user gripping is released or by locking of the latch.

In FIGS. 5 and 9, the pair of hair styling heads is shown in the fully retracted state. In this stage, both styling members are fully retracted into the hollow housing of the arms and the slide buttons are also fully retracted towards the distal end, i.e., the pivoted joint. When the pair hair styling heads are fully retracted into the hollow housing of the handle arms, the length of the hair styling apparatus is minimised. This retracted state is particularly beneficial for travelling, transport, and/or storage. It will be appreciated that when the hair styling apparatus is in the fully retractable state, the risks of accidental burning of a user due to exposed heated styling surfaces are further mitigated as the insulated housing of the handle arm provides a even larger shield.

A pair of flexible wires are hidden within the insulated arms housing so that power can be constantly supplied to the electric heating means and controlled by a user operable power switch. By employing a power supply arrangement with non-position dependent power supply, there will be constant power supply to the electric heating means irrespective of the location or position of the styling head and power control can be by employing a power switch.

Where a non-location dependent power arrangement is employed, the intermediate protraction of the styling heads between the fully retracted and the fully extended configurations could be used to provide a pair of hair styling surfaces of an intermediate longitudinal length as and required, since the overlapping of the opposite hair styling surfaces of the styling members can be regulated by a user.

Furthermore, although a tong-type hair styling apparatus is described, it will be appreciated that the combination of a retractable styling head, whether for contact or non-contact hair styling, in connection with a handle can be readily applied in a rod-type hair styling apparatus for the benefit of the public.

While the present invention has been explained by reference to the examples or preferred embodiments described above, it will be appreciated that those are examples to assist understanding of the present invention and are not meant to be restrictive. Variations or modifications which are obvious or trivial to persons skilled in the art, as well as improvements made thereon, should be considered as equivalents of this invention.

Furthermore, while the present invention has been explained by reference to a tong-type hair straightener, it should be appreciated that the invention can apply, whether with or without modification, to other hair styling means and apparatus without loss of generality.