Title:
Infrared Emitting Hair Roller And Methods Of Use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hair roller and roller cover that emit electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths that directly affect the disulfide bonds in hair (and may also affect alterations in secondary protein structure). The invention includes methods of perming hair and a kit of infrared emitting hair rollers.



Inventors:
Bickford, William R. (Ronkonkoma, NY, US)
Faletti, Stephen Van Beek (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Lombardi, Jack (Massapequa, NY, US)
Application Number:
13/258682
Publication Date:
03/15/2012
Filing Date:
04/21/2010
Assignee:
ELC MANAGEMENT LLC (New York, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
132/269
International Classes:
A45D2/02; A45D7/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NOBREGA, TATIANA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE ESTEE LAUDER COS, INC (MELVILLE, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An infrared emitting hair roller that emits electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths that directly cleave disulfide bonds in hair.

2. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 1 comprising: a hollow cylindrical shaft having an interior, an inner surface and an outer surface; one or more sources of infrared radiation inside the shaft; a power source capable of activating the one or more sources of infrared radiation.

3. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the cylindrical shaft is such that, when the infrared radiation sources are on, a hair shaping-effective amount of infrared light can escape from the shaft.

4. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 3 wherein the shaft has a number of holes that pass from the interior of the shaft to the outer surface of the shaft.

5. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 3 wherein the shaft is translucent or transparent.

6. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 5 wherein the shaft is made out of polystyrene, polymethyl methacrylate, polycarbonate, glass or glass-ceramic.

7. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the one or more sources of infrared radiation comprises an array of light emitting diodes located inside the cylindrical shaft of the roller.

8. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 7 wherein the light emitting diodes are electrically connected to the power source by using printed circuit technology to deposit conductive material on the inner surface of the roller.

9. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 7 wherein the array of light emitting diodes rests on a flexible substrate having conductive material deposited thereon.

10. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the one or more sources of infrared radiation comprises one or more incandescent bulbs.

11. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the one or more sources of infrared radiation comprises one or more materials that naturally emit in the infrared part of the spectrum.

12. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 11, wherein the one or more emitting materials must be activated to emit in the infrared part of the spectrum.

13. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 12, wherein the emitting material is activated by heating to a temperature above 25° C.

14. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 13, further comprising a heating element that is able to raise the temperature of the emitter material to 40° C. to 175° C.

15. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 12, wherein, once activated, the one or more emitting materials emit infrared radiation at a wavelength and intensity that is effective to reshape human hair in less than ten minutes.

16. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 12, wherein the one or more emitting materials are selected from the group consisting of tourmalines, ceramics, graphite, gypsums, and clays.

17. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the one or more sources of infrared radiation emits a negligible amount of UV light, from a skin safety point of view.

18. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 wherein the power source is a charge storing device located inside the cylindrical shaft.

19. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 18 wherein the charge storing device is rechargeable and/or can be removed from the electric circuit of the roller for disposal.

20. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 in which the intensity of the infrared radiation source is variable, and controllable by a user.

21. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 further comprising an on-off switch that is operable by a user.

22. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 2 further comprising a roller cover that can be placed over the roller and removed from the roller.

23. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 22 in which the roller cover completes an electric circuit between the power source and the IR source, when the cover is placed over the roller.

24. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 22 wherein an internal surface of the roller cover reflects infrared radiation.

25. The infrared emitting hair roller of claim 22 wherein an internal surface of the roller cover comprises source of infrared light.

26. A method of perming hair comprising the steps of: providing an infrared emitting hair roller that emits electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths that directly affect the disulfide bonds in hair; securing a tress of hair about the roller; activating the roller to emit photons that are able to cleave disulfide bonds; and causing the photons to be directly absorbed by the disulfide bonds in the hair.

27. The method of claim 26 further comprising the step of covering the roller and hair tress with a roller cover, to prevent light leakage to other parts of the hair outside the tress being treated.

28. A kit comprising: multiple infrared emitting rollers, each roller comprising: a hollow cylindrical shaft having an interior; one or more sources of infrared radiation inside the shaft; an electric charge storing device inside the shaft, electrically connected to the one or more sources of infrared radiation; and a base for holding the rollers, wherein the base is also a charging station for the charge storing devices.

29. The kit of claim 28 wherein the base comprises electronic circuitry that includes a programmable element.

Description:

This application claims priority of U.S. 61/172,341, filed Apr. 24, 2009, herein incorporated by reference, in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention is in the field of hair styling. More particularly, it is in the field of hair rollers or curlers for permanent hair shaping.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

U.S. Pat. No. 5,395,490 is herein incorporated by reference, in its entirety. FIGS. 1, 2A, 2B, 4A and 4B in U.S. Pat. No. 5,395,490 diagram the structure of human hair fibers, the protein components of hair, and energy levels of the disulfide bond.

A fiber of human hair comprises three main morphological components: the cuticle, the cortex, and the cell membrane complex, which itself is comprised of a protein matrix of keratin peptide chains, such as cysteine. A medulla may also be present. These peptide chains are linked to each other by disulfide bonds. The natural shape and structural integrity of human hair fiber depend on the orientation of the disulfide bonds which link the protein chains. It is generally thought that alteration of the disulfide bonds is necessary or useful to effect long term changes in the shape of hair, so that treatments that do not rearrange the disulfide bonds may result only in temporary changes in hair shape. For example, the use of heat and moisture to style hair may create temporary waving of the hair. However, the styled hair will return to its natural shape after a short time, as a result of exposure to moisture in the air or washing. This is because the use of heat and moisture to style hair may break and reconfigure hydrogen bonds in the hair, but the disulfide bonds are not substantially affected. It is thought that hydrogen bonds, by themselves, are insufficient to hold the shape of hair for a significant time, because the stronger disulfide bonds eventually force the hair to reassume its original shape. Thus, “perming” the hair may be achieved only by cleaving and reforming the disulfide bonds.

Hair styling or shaping (i.e. straightening and curling) by treating the hair with chemical agents is well known. These include treatments that use reagents to break and reassemble the disulfide bonds that link protein molecules in the hair. Such reagents include mercaptans, alkali, aldehydes, etc. These styling methods are multi-step, time consuming and relatively expensive processes. First, the disulfide bonds are reduced with a sulfur agent, mechanical stress is applied to rearrange the disulfide bonds, then new disulfide bonds are constituted by applying an oxidizing agent (i.e. an alkali). Furthermore, chemical treatments, while effective, are considered harsh and damaging to human hair and skin. Some negative effects of hair styling include dry, brittle or limp hair; a loss of shine and/or color; damage to the scalp skin and damage to protein bonds in the hair other than the disulfide bonds. Damage to lipids in the exocuticle, swelling of the hair fiber and lifting of the cuticle also occur. Existing products also produce mal odor which is not desirable. Furthermore, chemical treatments are topically applied in a broad way, meaning that it is difficult to control the number or location of the affected disulfide bonds. Also, once the reducing agent is topically applied, the reducing reaction cannot be turned off immediately. Time is needed to apply the oxidizing agent and stop the process.

The use of electromagnetic radiation to change the shape of human hair is also known. There are techniques that use light to directly affect the disulfide bonds that link protein molecules in the hair, and there are techniques that use light as an adjunct to other manipulations of the disulfide bonds (i.e. to accelerate one or more chemical process). Thus, “directly affect” or “direct effect” mean that a substance emits electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed by and that excites disulfide bonds, without first being absorbed by some other material.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,395,490 discloses a method of reshaping human hair by using electromagnetic radiation to rearrange disulfide bonds within the hair. During the time that the hair is exposed to the electromagnetic energy, stress is applied to the hair. As a result, once the disulfide bond is broken, each S atom is available to form a different bond with some other dissociated S atom. The structure of the new bond is determined in part by the applied stress.

The energy required to raise an isolated disulfide bond from its ground state to the continuum (i.e. the dissociation energy) is reportedly about 2.2 eV. For a given bond that is raised to the continuum (i.e. the bond is cleaved), this energy may be supplied from a single photon or from a series of photons. The '490 reference suggests that the energy levels of an isolated S2 molecule lie within a frequency range of 2×1013 to 1×1015 Hz (corresponding to about 0.30 to 15 μm wavelength or about 0.08 to 4.13 eV). However, the situation for disulfide bonds in hair, is a little more complex. In hair, the disulfide bonds are not isolated, and the bonding electrons are subject to various forces. On this point, the '490 reference suggests that in hair, disulfide bonds are most efficiently cleaved when we take advantage of a resonance condition. Thus, '490 suggests a frequency range of 1×1013 to 2×1015 Hz (corresponding to about 0.15 to 30 μm wavelength or 0.04 to 8.3 eV) is preferred. This range of wavelengths is more than double the range of wavelengths that one might use to cleave an isolated disulfide bond. By bombarding hair with photons in this range of resonant frequencies for a length of time, the disulfide bonds will move between their natural energy states (or modes of vibration), with a significant number of bonds being excited to the continuum state, in an amount of time that is commercially useful.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,395,490 fails to disclose methods of treating the hair, as disclosed herein. Furthermore, the '490 patent applies radiation to the disulfide bonds from complicated high and low frequency wave form generators and supporting electronics. In contrast, the hair rollers of the present invention are far less complicated in construction and use.

WO/1994/010873 and WO/1994/010874 disclose methods of treating hair, in particular human head hair, for cosmetic purposes. The hair is exposed to light with an intensity and wavelength chosen so that the protein structure of the hair is altered to produce a desired cosmetic effect. In WO/1994/010873 the effect is shaping hair. However, the reference discloses using light of wavelength 400 to 600 nm (0.4-0.6 μm), which covers only a small portion of the low end of the 0.15-30 μm suggested by the '490 reference. A single photon having wavelength of 400 to 600 nm “carries” about 2.05-3.0 eV of energy, which includes the 2.2 eV required to raise an isolated disulfide bond from its ground state to the continuum. However, it is reasonable to expect that a wider range of frequencies disclosed in the '490 patent will be more efficient at cleaving disulfide bonds in hair (as opposed to an isolated S2 bond), than the narrow range of frequencies disclosed in the '873 reference.

In WO/1994/010874, the cosmetic effect in view, is improved hair coloring. In particular, for the support of the chemical coloring of head hairs, light is used having a wavelength between approximately 600 nm and 1200 nm, so that a change of enzyme coordinate and/or a change of the redox potentials results. It is reported that hair coloring is improved, i.e. the colors are more brilliant than without influence of light, and less colorant is necessary than with conventional coloring. 600 to 1200 nm (0.6-1.2 μm) is at the low end of the 0.15-30 μm suggested by the '490 reference, however, hair reshaping is not the disclosed effect. Clearly, the authors of '873 and '874 have identified 0.6-1.2 as useful for hair coloring, but not for hair perming. When considered together, '873 and '874 suggest that wavelengths above 0.6 μm have little or no significant effect on permanent hair shaping. Furthermore, WO/1994/010873 and WO/1994/010874 fail to disclose methods of treating the hair, as disclosed herein. In those references, the light is supplied from a hood that surrounds the head, similar to a hair dryer hood. A set of laser diodes emit light from the inner surface of the hood in the direction of the hair. The hood also comprises at least one photodiode, the output signal of which, is sent to a control unit that regulates the laser diodes. The control unit is connected to the hood by a cable. The hood may be fastened to a stand, and the inner surface of the hood is provided with “spring-like” spacers that maintain a minimum distance between inner surface of the hood and the head. Thereby, a correct distance between sources of light and head is guaranteed, so that one receives a continuous effect result. This is unlike the rollers of the present invention, which are directly contacting the hair and which are nothing like the hood of the '873 and '874 references.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,179 discloses a combination of chemicals and electromagnetic radiation used to alter the physical characteristics of keratinic fibers such as mammalian or human hair. A non-irritating, non-reactive disulfide composition, in the form of a solution or gel, is first contacted with the hair. Electromagnetic radiation is then applied to the hair to photo-chemically convert the disulfide into a dithiol. The dithiol breaks the disulfide bonds in the hair, so that the hair can be permanently re-shaped. However, U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,179 fails to disclose infrared emitting rollers and methods of treating the hair, as disclosed herein. U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,179 does not use electromagnetic radiation to directly affect the disulfide bond, to break the bond, as does the present invention. Rather, the radiation used is used to convert free disulfide into dithiol using a reported wavelength of 200 to 530 nm (2.3 to 6.2 eV).

U.S. Pat. No. 3,863,653 discloses a method and apparatus for treating fibers by enclosing them within a resonant cavity to which high frequency current is supplied, the resonant frequency and impedance of said cavity being matched to that of its supply. This method is really an adjunct to a chemical treatment method. U.S. Pat. No. 3,863,653 uses high frequency radiation to heat hair from the inside, thereby accelerating the chemical reactions and reducing the time that the hair must be exposed to the potentially damaging chemicals. The frequency of radiation disclosed is from 10-4000 MHz, wholly unsuitable for use in the present invention.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is an acentric rhombohedral borosilicate characterized by six-membered tetrahedral rings. It is a semi-precious stone, and a crystal silicate compounded with varying amount of elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium.

The compositions of tourmaline vary widely, and one general formula has been written as


XY3Z6(T6O18)(BO3)3V3W,

where, X═Ca, Na, K, vacancy; Y═Li, Mg, Fe2+, Mn2+, Zn, Al, Cr3+, V3+, Fe3+, Ti4+; Z═Mg, Al, Fe3+, Cr3+, V3+; T=Si, Al, B; B═B, vacancy; V═OH, O; W═OH, F, O (Hawthorne and Henry 1999, Classification of the minerals of the tourmaline group. European Journal of Mineralogy, 11, 201-215).

Fourteen end-members are recognized by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) and Hawthorne and Henry (1999) have grouped these into three principal groups, based on the dominant occupancy of the X site. These groups are the alkali group, the calcic group and the X-site vacant group. The following table with updated information is reproduced from http://www.geol.lsu.edu/henry/Research/tourmaline/TourmalineClassification.htm.

Species(X)(Y3)(Z6)T6O18(BO3)3V3W

Alkali Tourmalines

ElbaiteNaLi1.5 Al1.5Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
SchorlNaFe2+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
DraviteNaMg3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
OleniteNaAl3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(O)3(OH)
Chromdravite NaMg3Cr6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
BuergeriteNaFe3+3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(O)3F
PovondraiteNaFe3+3Fe3+4Mg2Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3O
VanadiumdraNaMg3V6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
vite

Calcic Tourmalines

LiddicoatiteCaLi2AlAl6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F
UviteCaMg3MgAl5Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3F
Hydroxy-CaFe2+3MgAl5Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
feruvite

X-Site Vacant Tourmalines

RossmaniteLiAl2Al6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
FoititeFe2+2AlAl6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)
MagnesiofoititeMg2AlAl6Si6O18(BO3)3(OH)3(OH)

Hawthorne and Henry (1999) also postulate at least 27 other tourmalines that have yet to be verified. Thus, in speaking of tourmaline, there are substantial differences (as well as similarities) among varieties. Some reported properties of tourmalines include: specific gravity: 2.96-3.31; index of refraction: 1.610-1.735; birefringence: 0.016-0.080; pleochroism: strong in all species; hardness: 7.0-7.5.

In terms of the present invention, performance may vary from one variety to another. In particular, emissivity and absorption spectra may vary from one variety to another. Also, the intensity of emitted radiation and the activation energy may vary from one variety to another. When used in particulate form, in compositions of the present invention, these properties of tourmaline will also depend on the particle size and the concentration.

Tourmaline-Containing Products

The use of tourmaline in hair products is known. For example, a product called IB Shield Humidity Lock-Out Shine Spray by Jonathan Product describes its use of tourmaline by saying “Tourmaline & Amethyst: Charged ionic crystal blend known to improve shine, smoothness, and manageability of hair.” Further description includes “Charged ions & Far Infrared energy help revitalize the scalp to maintain optimum hair health.”

Hair Flat Iron Fluid by Angles BeautyCare Group contains tourmaline, which the manufacturer asserts, “is claimed to deliver weightless moisture and increased absorption for beautifully conditioned hair, protect it against heat damage, reduce static, and provide longer lasting color and gorgeous shine.”

Nothing in the descriptions of these products suggests a hair roller that emits infrared light in a wavelength range around 20 μm. Even if the tourmaline does radiate in this range, nothing in the prior art suggests that the intensity is sufficient to achieve a significant permanent reshaping of human head hair, as it is in the present invention. To the best of the applicants' knowledge, in these products, as well as others, tourmaline is not reported to provide hair reshaping benefits. Hair reshaping is never mentioned.

Tourmaline hair dryers are also known. Such hair dryers contain tourmaline crystals that deliver negative ions and far-infrared heat, which, reportedly, dries hair from the inside out. As a result, a person can dry hair faster, and the hair is left healthy and shiny with optimum manageability. Flat irons for shaping hair are also known to contain tourmaline. Typically, it is reported that the tourmaline supplies negative ions that yield softer and shinier hair, while infrared heat is associated with improved hair moisture and luster. Hair brushes with tourmaline are known. Often, the benefit associated with tourmaline is less frizz, due to an ionic effect. None of these appliances, suggests that tourmaline emits infrared in the 0.15-30 μm range, at an intensity that is sufficient to achieve a significant permanent reshaping of human head hair. They fail to disclose methods of treating the hair, as disclosed herein.

Finally, tourmaline hair rollers or curlers are known. For example, the Hot Tools Professional 12 Piece Tourmaline Hair Setter product (model HTS 1400) claims that the tourmaline rollers “emit ions for shimmering styles”. Another hair roller product by Hot Tools Professional, the Nano Ceramic™ Wax-Core Professional Hairsetter, does not use tourmaline. Rather, the “Nano-Ceramic™ Technology radiates far-infrared energy for increased shine. In either case, these appliances do not suggest supplying the hair with infrared in the 0.15-30 μm range, at an intensity that is sufficient to achieve a significant permanent reshaping of human head hair. They fail to disclose methods of treating the hair, as disclosed herein.

Thus, despite the use of infrared emitting materials (i.e. tourmalines, ceramics, silicates, etc.) in commercially available products, these products fail to provide the type of energy needed to effect a permanent reshaping of human hair through disulfide bond reorganization. Nothing in these commercially available products suggests the hair rollers and methods of use, according to the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a hair roller (a.k.a. curler, setter) that emits electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths that directly affect the disulfide (S—S) bonds in hair, and possibly alters secondary structure of hair proteins, as well. The invention includes methods of perming hair and a kit of infrared emitting hair rollers.

The wavelength and intensity of the radiation are controlled, and sufficient to break and/or weaken enough disulfide bonds, and possibly alter secondary protein structure, so that hair reshaping can occur. Such techniques are non-chemical. By “non-chemical” we mean that there is no need for a user to apply a molecule that acts as a reagent or catalyst in respect of disulfide bond cleavage and reformation. By “non-chemical” we further mean that pure energy is supplied to the disulfide bonds in hair. In this way, we may avoid all or most of the damage associated with chemical treatments. By supplying a radiation that is specific to, and resonant with, the disulfide bond, collateral damage is minimized. The hair may not swell at all, and lipids in the exocuticle are not damaged. Also, as soon as the rollers are tuned off or removed, the process of bond cleavage stops, unlike mixtures of reagents which cannot be separated, and the reaction runs until one or more reagents are exhausted.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a hair shaping, infrared emitting roller according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an elevation view of a roller cover, having electric leads near the top and bottom.

FIG. 3 is a depiction of a base for infrared emitting rollers, that also serves as a recharging base.

FIG. 4 shows a roller cover being slipped onto a roller.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes a hair roller that emits infrared light. Unlike most infrared emitting devices in the prior art, the intensity and wavelength profile of the radiation emitted from the rollers is sufficient to break and/or weaken enough disulfide bonds, so that hair reshaping can occur. Alteration of secondary protein structure may also be occurring. This is unlike those prior art disclosures wherein light is used as an adjunct to other manipulations of the disulfide bonds, as in U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,179 and U.S. Pat. No. 3,863,653, and described above.

Throughout the specification, the word “permanent” in reference to hair reshaping treatments, means that the shape of the hair is maintained until the hair grows out or undergoes another perming treatment. Preferably, if the treated hair is exposed only to ambient atmospheric conditions, the new shape is maintained for at least one week, more preferably, at least one month and most preferably, at least two months. Furthermore, if treated hair is saturated (i.e. during bathing), the new shape may be lost, however, “permanent” also means that, once dried, saturated hair will revert to it's post treatment shape, to a substantial degree.

Throughout the specification, “comprising” is open-ended, meaning that a collection of objects is not necessarily limited to those recited.

The roller (1) comprises a hollow cylindrical shaft (1a). Inside the shaft are one or more sources of infrared radiation (1b) and power source (1c) to activate the sources of IR radiation. The cylindrical shaft is such that, when the IR light source is on, a hair shaping-effective amount of infrared light can escape from the shaft. In a preferred embodiment, the cylindrical shaft is translucent or transparent. In another embodiment, the shaft has a number of holes (1d) that pass from the interior of the shaft to the outer surface of the shaft. Optionally, the shaft may be translucent/transparent and also have holes. Suitable transparent/translucent materials include plastics (i.e. polystyrene, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polycarbonate), glass and glass-ceramics.

The disulfide (S—S) bonds in hair are a form of tertiary protein structure. While not wishing to be bound by anyone theory, the infrared light emitted by the rollers is sufficient to break and/or weaken enough disulfide bonds, so that hair reshaping can occur. However, it may be that the infrared light emitted by the rollers also affects secondary structure of hair proteins, such as changing the amounts of alpha-helix structure, beta sheet structure, alpha-beta structure and coiled-coil structure. We have observed that to achieve “permanent” reshaping of the hair, the electromagnetic radiation provided must be of the right wavelengths. If the wavelengths do not correspond to the differences in energy levels of the disulfide bonds or multiples thereof, then the bonds will not be excited. Furthermore, if the intensity is too low, then too few disulfide bonds will make it to the continuum state, because an excited bond will fall back to a lower energy level before absorbing another photon. U.S. Pat. No. 5,395,490 suggests that a range of wavelengths of about 0.15 to 30 μm, is preferred. To be effective for hair perming, as defined herein, the hair rollers of the present invention emit radiation over a substantial portion of the wavelength range of 0.15 to 30 μm. Preferably, the emitted radiation covers the whole range of 0.15 to 30 μm. However, it is also preferable if, within the 0.15 to 30 μm range, the maximum wavelength is between 10 to 30 μm.

In addition to having the right wavelength, the hair shaping rollers of the present invention must emit electromagnetic radiation at an intensity that is useful to reshape human hair. An intensity is considered “useful to reshape human hair” if the hair being treated can be reshaped in a commercially acceptable amount of time. By “commercially acceptable amount of time” we mean less than one hour, more preferably, less than 30 minutes, more preferably still, less than 10 minutes, most preferably less than about 5 minutes. This time to reshape hair is measured as follows. After a roller according to the present invention is applied to a tress of hair, the time to reshape the tress is measured from the moment the roller begins to emit infrared light, until the light is turned off or removed. In general, a greater intensity means more photons which means more disulfide bonds are being broken and being broken faster. In general, the greater the intensity of the radiation supplied by the roller, the more dramatic the effect of hair reshaping and/or the effect is achieved in a shorter amount of time.

Sources of infrared radiation (1b) include light emitting diodes, infrared light bulbs, activated materials that naturally emit in the IR part of the spectrum, and others. In one embodiment of the present invention, an array of LEDs is located inside the cylindrical shaft (1a) of the roller (1). The LEDs in the array are distributed more or less uniformly over the interior surface of the cylindrical shaft. In this way, the infrared light emanating from the cylindrical shaft is roughly constant over the surface of the roller. The LEDs may be electrically connected by any suitable means including using printed circuit technology to deposit conductive material on the inner surface of the roller. Alternatively, the LED array may be fashioned separately from the roller and later, positioned into the roller interior. In this case, the LED array might rest on a flexible substrate having conductive material deposited thereon to form an electrical circuit. The flexible nature of the substrate would facilitate assembling the LED array into the roller. These examples of fashioning an LED array are illustrative only, and many methods may be apparent to a person skilled in the electronic arts. Also, rather than an array of LEDs (which work on the principle of electroluminescence), a single electric light source may be useful. Light bulbs (which work on the principle of incandescence), having an IR wavelength profile described above, will be useful.

Alternatively or additionally, the source of infrared radiation (1b) may be one or more materials that emit in the infrared region, when activated. Activation is typically achieved by raising the temperature of the emitter material, so that the emitting material emits in IR light at a useful intensity. A potential “useful” material is one that does not require an unacceptably long time to effect the desired change. For example, if reshaping the hair would require 3 hours or more, then that material is less suitable or not at all suitable for use in the present invention, because such a product has low commercial viability. So, by “activation” of the material, we specifically mean that the activated material emits IR light at a wavelength and intensity that is effective to reshape human hair in a commercially acceptable amount of time (i.e. less than three hours; more preferably, less than one hour; most preferably, less than ten minutes).

In general, greater IR light intensity means more photons, which means more disulfide bonds (tertiary structure) are being broken and being broken faster and/or more secondary structure is being altered. So, the greater the intensity of the applied radiation, the more dramatic the effect of hair reshaping and/or the effect is achieved in a shorter amount of time. To a large extent, the temperature of an emitting material determines the intensity and wavelength distribution of radiation emitted by the material. In hair styling, hair may generally be exposed to temperatures at least as high as about 200° C., for example. Therefore, a potential suitable material is one that when heated above room temperature (say about 25° C.) emits electromagnetic radiation in a range of wavelengths that are able to excite disulfide bonds within the environment of human hair, and at an intensity that is useful to reshape human hair. Preferably, a useful intensity of IR is not achieved until the temperature of the emitting material reaches about 40° C. This will prevent unwanted reshaping of the hair due to accidentally activating the emitting material too soon. Preferably, the emitting material is activated at a temperature not exceeding about 175° C. This will protect the hair from heat damage.

The source of heat or activation energy for an emitting material may be a hairdryer. Common handheld hairdryers, and professional hairdryers are able to raise the temperature of the emitting material to 175° C. or more. Alternatively or additionally, the rollers of the present invention may comprise a heating element, such as a resistive heating element, that is able to raise the temperature of the emitting material to its activation temperature.

Some useful materials may include tourmalines, especially red, black, green, and brown tourmalines, although others may be useful. Also useful, may be various ceramics and non-metals that emit radiation in the near and middle infrared. Graphite, gypsum and clays may be examples of useful non-metals. As a matter of efficiency, it is preferable if the emitting material has an IR emissivity above 90%, at the working temperatures described herein. Any candidate material must satisfy the criteria discussed above.

Regardless of the type of source of IR light, it is preferable if the amount of UV light emitted by the IR light source (1b) is negligible, from a skin safety point of view. So a light source that is otherwise useful from an infrared point of view, is not useful if it gives off a skin damaging amount of UV. Optionally, but maybe preferably, the IR source emits enough visible light, that a user can readily see when a roller is activated.

Each roller of the present invention includes a DC power source (1c) that provides energy to the source of IR radiation (1b). For example, when the IR source is an LED array or a light bulb, the power source provides electric current at a suitable amperage to produce a useful amount of IR radiation. Accordingly, associated with each roller is a battery or capacitor or other charge storing device. Preferably, the charge storing device is located inside the cylindrical shaft (1a) of the roller (1), out of view and out of the way. The charge storing device has a positive and a negative electrical lead for connecting electrically to the IR source. Optionally, an on-off switch that is operable by a user, is included in a electric circuit of the IR source and charge storing device. Preferably, the charge storing device is rechargeable and/or safely disposable. Preferably, the charge storing device can be removed from the electric circuit of the roller, so that it may be disposed of separately from the roller.

As noted, the charge storing device may be a capacitor or one or more batteries that, along with the IR light source, fit inside cylindrical shaft (1a). Common household batteries, such as those used in flashlights and smoke detectors, selected to provide the motor with the proper current and voltage, are preferred. These typically include what are known as AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt batteries. Other batteries that may be appropriate are those commonly found in cell phones, hearing aides, wrist watches and 35 mm cameras. The present invention is not limited by the type of chemistry used in the battery. Examples of battery chemistry include: zinc-carbon (or standard carbon), alkaline, lithium, nickel-cadmium (rechargeable), nickel-metal hydride (rechargeable), lithium-ion, zinc-air, zinc-mercury oxide and silver-zinc chemistries.

Optionally, the electronic portion of a hair roller according to the present invention may comprise an IR light source which intensity is variable and, perhaps, controllable by a user. The roller circuit may include a micro controller or other logic circuit, variable resistors and/or capacitors or any well known means for controlling the light output of the IR sources. Optionally, the electronic circuitry of a hair roller according to the present invention may include a programmable element that controls the intensity and duration of IR light. The programmable element may also control communication with the user through sound or light signals that direct the user to take some action (i.e. an audible beep that signals the user that the IR light has turned of and she may remove the roller).

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a roller cover (2) is associated with each roller (1). The roller cover is an approximately semi circular shaft that surrounds a portion of the roller, after a tress of hair has been wound onto the roller. To accommodate the cover, each roller may be provided with clip points (1e). Each roller has a clip point at each end of the cylindrical shaft (1a), and each roller has a space (2a) at each end of the roller cover, to receive the clip points of the roller. The cover has several functions. It holds the hair place around the roller. It prevents IR light from escaping onto other portions of the hair.

Optionally, the internal surface of the roller cover (2) may reflect IR light. This would increase efficiency, since more of the IR light would be absorbed by the hair. Alternatively, the internal surface of the roller cover may comprise a primary or secondary source of infrared light. An array of IR lights, as described above for the roller, could also or alternatively be associated with the inside of the roller cover. In fact, as a matter of design choice, any of the circuitry discussed herein, may be associated with the roller or with the roller cover, which work in tandem. The embodiments described herein, are non-limiting examples.

In a preferred embodiment of the roller cover (2), the roller cover completes the electric circuit of the IR source (1b), when the cover is placed over the roller (1). In this embodiment, the portion of the electric circuit associated with the roller begins at on of two electric leads (1f), positioned on or near one of two clip points (1e) of the roller. The circuit passes through the charge storing device (1c) and through the IR source, and then extends to the second of two electric leads on or near the second of two clip points. The electric leads on the or near the clip points are accessible to make electrical contact with the roller cover. The rest of the circuit is associated with the roller cover. Electrical contacts (2b) are provided near the space at each end of the cover. The electrical contacts on a single roller are connected by a conductor (2c) that may run between the electrical contacts along the inside of the cover. When the roller cover is clipped onto the roller, the electrical contacts (2b) of the cover contact the electric leads (1f) of the clip points, to complete a flow path. Electricity from the charge storing device (1c) flows around the circuit, activating the IR source (1b). When the cover is removed from the roller, the current stops and the IR source goes dim. In this embodiment, a switch in the more conventional sense is not needed, but may optionally be provided also.

Furthermore, although other hair shaping treatments or methods could be combined with the principles of the present invention, a preferred hair shaping roller according to the present invention, is one that supplies enough of the right kind of electromagnetic radiation, to reshape the hair to any desired shape, no adjunct treatments being needed.

Methods

The present invention includes methods of using the hair shaping rollers, herein described. A basic method includes providing a roller according to the present invention; securing a tress of hair about the roller, which stresses the disulfide bonds in the hair (and may stress secondary protein structures, as well); activating the roller to emit photons that are able to cleave disulfide bonds; and causing the photons to be directly absorbed by the disulfide bonds in the hair. The step of activation may include switching on an LED circuit or a resistive circuit, associated with the roller. Methods may include washing the hair before or after treatment. Methods may include repeating application to the same section of hair or using an adjunct treatment on the same section of hair. Methods may include a step of covering the roller and hair tress with a cover, to prevent light leakage to other parts of the hair outside the tress being treated.

A Kit

A kit according to the present invention includes multiple infrared emitting rollers and a base (3) for holding the rollers. For example, a kit may comprise 8 or 10 or 12 rollers and a base having a slot (3a) for each roller. Optionally, the base is also a charging station for the rollers, to replenish the electrical capacity of the batteries or capacitors inside the cylindrical shafts (1a) of the rollers. In this case, the base includes an electrical lead (3b) for connecting to an AC power source and any necessary transformers or circuitry typical of battery recharging devices. The base may be designed to receive the rollers into the slots, with or without the roller covers (2) in place, or both. However, when the base is charging station and the roller cover is not received with the roller, then sufficient circuitry may need to be provided to form a closed circuit, through which the charge storing devices may be recharged. Optionally, the electronic circuitry of the base may include a programmable element. The programmable element may control communication with the user through sound or light signals (i.e. to alert the user that the rollers are charged and ready for use). The circuitry may be readily comprehended by a person of ordinary skill in the electrical arts.