CROSS REFERENCE AND PRIORITY
- FIELD OF INVENTION
The present application claims priority under the provisional application filed on Aug. 13, 2008, Ser. No. 61/188,649 by same inventors.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates broadly to a hair enhancement method and apparatus and more particularly to an adjustable head cap having modular components enabled to receive a plurality of hair tracks.
Hair enhancement products including full or partial wigs, hair pieces and hair additions are used as a cosmetic tool to enhance the appearance of the user for a variety of reasons. Full or partial wigs are often used by those wanting to change their appearance completely. They can also be used in instances where some or most of user's hair is lost due to an illness or condition such as alopecia or subsequent medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation given to cancer patients. On the other hand, hair pieces and hair additions are increasingly used by individuals with a full set of hair who want to change the length, the texture or the tinting or coloring of their hair. These pieces are added or incorporated for aesthetic reasons or to enhance fullness and volume in very fine or thinning hair.
Many of the existing products, as captured by the prior art, provide disadvantages for the individual users. Full or large sectional wigs are often bulky and heavy, creating an unnatural look. They are also pre-groomed and offer very little options for style management or change. Their bulk also makes them more noticeable along the seams and other areas, especially when contrasted against the user's skin along the forehead. To reduce the bulk and enhance the natural look, while providing a secure fit, these wigs are usually attached to the head/scalp through friction. To this end, the structural make up and overall weight also provides discomfort to the user. Prolonged or frequent use often causes head aches and an itchy scalp among other problems. Heat dissipation remains another major issue. In order to allow adequate friction to secure the wig, the underlying material used is often thick or alternatively nonporous, causing the heat to be trapped between the hair/scalp and the wig. This only adds to the level of discomfort of the user.
Hair additions and pieces also have their own set of problems. These are often difficult to apply or alternatively provide insecure fastening means such as plastic clips and elastics. Wind force, sudden rotations or prolonged movements can cause the pieces to shift or even to come off entirely, causing embarrassing situations for the user. Blend-ability is another issue as these pieces/additions can be easily identified. Because of these reasons, unfortunately, most users of hair enhancement products often abandon their use shortly following their initial purchase.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Consequently, a new and improved hair enhancement method and apparatus is needed to provide an aesthetically natural and pleasing look while providing a comfortable but secure fit for an individual over prolonged periods of use.
The shortcomings of the prior art are overcome and additional advantages are provided through the provision of a method and apparatus for hair enhancement. The apparatus comprises an adjustable head cap having modular pieces including a rim and at least one strip securably disposed to the rim to extend away therefrom. The strip has an outwardly facing surface for receiving hair pieces.
In an alternate embodiment, the strip is securable to at least one hair track. The hair track has a hair portion and an underside with a complementary fastening component securable to the strip.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
Additional features and advantages are realized through the techniques of the present invention. Other embodiments and aspects of the invention are described in detail herein and are considered a part of the claimed invention.
The subject matter which is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding portion of the specification. The invention, however, both as to organization and method of practice, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view illustration of a hair enhancement apparatus, as per one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view illustration of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating another alternate embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a side view illustration of yet another alternate embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is an illustration of a complementary hair component; and
FIG. 6 is an illustration of an alternate embodiment of the present invention further depicting a singular strip that can selectively be looped around a user's head.
In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, FIG. 1 provides a side view illustration of a hair enhancement apparatus, having a head cap 100 as shown. In one embodiment, the cap includes modular pieces such as an adjustable rim that is referenced as 110. The rim 110 can be comprised of a variety of materials such as light weight or perforated fabrics, including netted or meshed fabrics. The rim 110 can be self adjusting to a user's head size such as by fabricating the rim of elasticized materials or incorporating elastic components into its design. The elastic in either case exerts a sufficiently low fictional force such that it remains in place while not providing any noticeable discomfort to the user.
Alternatively, the rim can be fastened at any location along its perimeter to provide a customized fit. A variety of fastening means can be incorporated such as known to those skilled in the art. Some examples include complementary designs such as loop and hook (such as sold under the Velcro® trademark), perforations and locking units (often used in visors and baseball caps), buttons and button holes, complementary adhesive surfaces, or metal hooks. In yet another embodiment, the rim may be sewn for a customized pre-order fit as desired.
In a preferred embodiment, the rim is fastened at the back of the individual user's head where it can be covered by hair and become hidden from the view. However, it is conceivable, depending on the hair length and style, that such an arrangement may not be ideal and therefore the rim 110 can be alternatively secured and adjusted at a more desirable location. When fastening means are used, they can be incorporated as part of the rim 110 itself, or be alternatively disposed on a strap or other such structures.
The adjustability of the rim 110 will allow its disposition at different locations along user's head/scalp to enhance comfort and optimize blend-ability. For example, the rim 110 can be worn over the ears, below the ears, far above the forehead or even on a slant.
A plurality of strips, collectively referenced as 120, will then be disposed over the area covering at least part of the user's head to create a cap or cap like structure. The strips 120 have outwardly facing surfaces (away from or opposite side from head/hair) that are enabled to subsequently receive hair pieces such as from hair tracks discussed in conjunction with FIG. 5, or other hair components.
The strips 120, once secured to the rim will extend away from it such that together they form a cap (100). In the embodiment shown, the strips 120 are secured at one end to the rim along its periphery as shown. The strips 120 can also be secured to one another at any place, to other areas of the rim's periphery, or alternatively to one or more intervening sections selectively to assemble the cap 100. As before, a variety of fastening means known to those skilled in the art can be provided to secure the strips 120 and form the cap 100.
The strips can be evenly or selectively spaced to allow the user to incorporate part of his/her own hair with the covering 100. This is made possible by the user pulling out portions of user's hair through created gaps/spaces provided between adjacent strips or between portions of the same strip.
The strips 120 can be of varying widths and lengths. In one embodiment, the strips can be connected to one another to provide a wider or longer strip through fastening means as known to those skilled in the art.
In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 the strips 120 are vertically disposed between the rim 110 and an intervening central sectional area 130. The central sectional area 130 can also be enabled on its outer surface to receive one or more hair track(s) or other similar components such as by incorporating complementary interlocking portions/components. The central sectional area 130 can be solid, or can include one or more openings. It can also be comprised of one unit or a plurality of subsections. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the central sectional area 130 is further comprised of two subsections 132 and 134 that are secured to one another. These subsections are preferably sewn to one another but can also be fastened to one another using a variety of methods known to those skilled in the art. The design shown is to specially provide some level of matting when hair is present in the upper sections of user's head. However, as discussed, openings can also be provided to further aid ventilation or to allow the user's top hair portions to be blended in with the hair additions subsequently. Alternatively the strips 120 and/or intervening sections such as the central sectional area 130 can be all or selectively manufactured of elasticized material or incorporate elastics in their design.
The rim 110, strips 120 and any intervening sections can be also manufactured from a variety of materials including nylon and meshed or netted fabrics such as those that may improve ventilation. They can also be manufactured in a variety of colors and patterns to achieve a better blend with the user's skin tone and hair color. The strips of different or same color (as well as the intervening sections) can be used in conjunction with a rim of the same and or different color also to better achieve a desired result.
It should be noted that while the preferred embodiment as discussed in conjunction with FIG. 1 provides a symmetrical and linear arrangement for the strips 120, this is provided for ease of understanding and is not a requirement. The strips can be assembled in situ, such as on a customer's head or on a stand, as desired. Alternatively, the cap itself (comprising of the rim and strips) can also pre-manufactured to reflect different dispositions. In either case, the cap can be created through a variety of arrangement of the strips, rim or any intervening sections. For example, the strips can be asymmetrically aligned, disposed in a crisscrossed pattern over one another, in varying parallel or intersecting angles, randomly or even in a zigzag or boustrophedon manner. Alternatively, they may be disposed horizontally or in a substantially horizontal fashion with or without intervening vertical pieces to enable the construction of a cap like structure.
In addition, instead of using a plurality of strips as shown in FIG. 1 at 120, a single strip can be used. One such example is shown in FIG. 6 at 620. The strip 620, is longer than the strips shown in conjunction with FIG. 1 (at 120). The single strip 620 can be extended from one location on the rim to another to provide for longer hair track pieces such as those providing coverage at once to a larger area (front/back) of the user's head. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 6, the single strip can be looped around the user's head, such as in a serpentine pattern, to still provide a cap like structure to which smaller piece of hair can be attached. In such a case, the strip 620 can be secured to a peripheral location along the rim (not shown) at one end before being looped around the scalp/head and subsequently attached either on to itself or to a second location along the rim's periphery at its other end as to provide a continuous closed loop. Fastening means as known to those skilled in the art will then be provided to enable such attachment. As before, the strip(s) outer surface is also enabled to subsequently receive hair track(s) and/or components.
FIG. 2 is a perspective side view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 2 the apparatus is a pre-manufactured head cap that is ready for use with no modular pieces to assemble. The head cap 200 still comprises a rim 210 and strips 220 as well as possible intervening sections (central sectional area 230 as shown). The strips 220 are permanently secured to the central sectional area 230 and to the rim 210 such as by sewing. The cap can be made of elasticized material or incorporate elastics to allow self adjusting to user's head size. Alternatively, the cap includes a strap and fastening means 240, as shown, along the rim's periphery.
FIG. 3 is an illustration of another alternate embodiment of the present invention. In FIG.3, the apparatus 300 comprises an underlying cap 310 that is overlaid by strips 320. The underlying cap 310 can be comprised of a soft or hard shell and may be alternatively elasticized or comprised of a flexible breathable material. The strips 320 can be pre-fastened to the underlying cap 310 or be attached by fastening means (as known to those skilled in the art) to be disposed over the underlying cap 310 in situ. As before, the strips 320 will include an outer surface that is enabled to receive hair tracks (500). In addition, an intervening sectional area such as central sectional area 330 can also be provided (over or as part of the underlying cap) having one or more sub-sections (332 and 334) that are enabled to receive hair tracks.
The underlying cap 310 and all other sections can incorporate gaps/openings such that user's hair can be pulled through them to achieve optimum blend-ability. As desired, adjustment straps and/or fastening means can also be provided and incorporated into the design of the underlying cap 310. The underlying cap 310 can provide coverage for a full scalp/head or may be fabricated in components to cover only partial areas of the head such as the front or back portions.
FIG. 4 is an illustration of yet another alternate embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 4, at least one attachment component 450 is provided to further secure the cap to a user's scalp or hair. The attachment component 450 can be modular and attachable selectively or be pre-secured or even incorporated into the design of the cap 400. In the preferred embodiment as shown FIG. 4, the attachment component 450 comprises a flexible comb 450 that can be disposed anywhere along the periphery of the rim 410. Alternatively the comb can be disposed somewhere along the bottom edge of the underlying cap in the embodiment of FIG. 3. In a preferred embodiment, the comb can be sewn onto the front side or alternatively the backside (or both) of the underside of the rim 410. Other structures can be substituted instead of a comb, as known to those skilled in the art. For example clips or long serrated regions can be provided instead of depending on the density/volume of user's hair to provide a secure fit.
FIG. 5 is an illustration of a hair track 500. The hair track 500 comprises an underside having one or more complementary fastening component(s) 510 that is securable to the strips 120. The design of the underside's fastening component 510 is complementary to the design of the securing means on the outer surface of the strips 120 such that they can be secured to one another through interlocking or other means. For example, in a preferred embodiment, the strips 120 have an outer surface that is entirely fabricated or partially incorporate a loop structure, such as manufactured under the mark Velcro®. In this case, complementary hook (loop compatible) material is then provided on the underside or under surface of the hair track(s) 500 to achieve a secure fit.
The hair track 500 also has a hair portion 520 that can include large or small pieces of hair, such as in weaves, rows, tufts or other arrangements. Once the head cap is assembled, whether spontaneously in situ (such as over the user's head) or alternatively disposed and adjusted (as in case of pre-fabricated caps), one or more hair tracks can be secured to it cap until the desired result is achieved. If the user is not bald and natural hair is to be combined with the track(s) or when small tracks are used only for effects, the user's hair is pulled through and blended in achieve a final optimal effect.
Hair track(s) can be manufactured as full wigs, sectional hair additions that cover large sectional portions of the head (back, front) or in modular, smaller sections. As discussed, the hair portion can include one or more rows or tufts of hair. The hair itself can be comprised of synthetic material or can be fabricated of human or animal hair. The length, color and the texture of the hair can be varied or can be uniform on each track and among the different tracks.
Smaller hair tracks can also be used to construct partial or full wigs. For example these smaller pieces can be applied, starting from the back of the head, even in slightly varying shades and lengths as desired, to replicate natural hair growth in realistic patterns to cover an entire head. Alternatively, smaller hair tracks can be used independently, in a variety of colors and textures, to create natural highlights, frosting, or a splash of color in natural or unnatural tints.
When a larger hair track is used, such as one that resembles a full or partial wig, the fit and look will still be improved over traditional products due to the structure of the cap incorporating the interlocking design. In addition, the construct of the head cap and material used in its fabrication resolves comfort issues such as proper heat dissipation. Furthermore, the wig will have a more natural, less bulky look, which will be less identifiable.
The hair tracks can be fabricated and made available for use in a number of sizes, with varying length of hair as desired. They can also be specifically groomed for particular areas and be marked as such in alternate embodiments. For example, special tracks can be made for bangs and for side burns. In addition, the hair can be precut and styled or may alternatively be provided in a manner that allows for additional trimming and restyling.
A variety of pieces and components, modular or partly/fully pre-arranged including the rim, one or more strips, at least one hair track and any desired intervening sections (sectional areas) can be assembled together such as in a kit and subsequently provided to the customers as a unit.
While the invention has been described in accordance with certain preferred embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art will understand the many modifications and enhancements which can be made thereto without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention, which is limited only by the claims appended below.