Writing in two separate international patents [I & II], L’Oréal said the device had been designed in the form of a hair brush to steam treat hair. In the first patent, the device was made up of three parts: a treatment plate intended to come into contact with hair; a vaporisation chamber supplied with liquid water that was transformed into steam; and at least one dispensing chamber for dispensing steam onto the hair. Importantly, the heating system had been configured to heat both the vaporisation chamber and the treatment plate, or a portion of it, meaning the design was more compact, lightweight and energy efficient.
In its second patent, the brush device incorporated sensors to inform users of appropriate use.
Steam hair treatment devices
Whilst an array of hair treatment devices that dispensed steam already existed, including brushes and straightening irons, L’Oréal said improvements could be made.
According to the company, most models on the market still operated with separate heating elements for treatment plates and vaporisation chambers – one design aspect that could be advanced.
“There is still a need to further improve devices for treating the hair by applying steam, in particular so as to have a device for treating the hair by heating and applying steam which is compact and limits energy losses, and which is reliable in operation, while being relatively simply to manufacture and use,” the beauty major wrote in its first patent filing.
“…With the device according to the invention, the heating means necessary for the production of steam, on the one hand, and for heating the treatment plate, on the other hand, are shared. It thus has the advantage of allowing the device produced to be compact. Moreover, energy losses can be reduced by making optimum use of the heat released.”
In its second filing, L’Oréal said there was clearly a need for a device that saved water and also allowed the safe emission of steam. The separate steam dispensing chamber and vaporisation chamber, it said, therefore limited the amount of water that dripped onto hair during treatment. “More reliable operation is thus obtained, and the device is more user friendly as it can be used without having to worry about its orientation.”
‘Hair brush’ design for ‘passive’ heating
L’Oréal said the device was preferably designed in such a way that resembled a traditional hair brush, with a handle and head – either rectangular, square, oval or circular in shape with a “plurality of teeth” for combing the hair.
Most of these teeth were then preferably made from a “thermally insulating material” or “heat-conductive material” such as iron, aluminium, titanium, stainless steel, graphite or ceramic so that the brush was the “passive heating element” of the device. The brush teeth, it said, could be either flexible or rigid with a rounded head or ball at the tip, with taller teeth also designed in with low or no heat conductivity, thus minimising the contact between the scalp and heat-conductive elements.
“The device according to the invention makes it possible to treat the hair efficiently while brushing the hair. By virtue of the device according to the invention, it is possible in particular to heat and apply steam to the hair in one go,” L’Oréal said.
In its second patent, L’Oréal said the brush could also integrate sensors to inform users of appropriate contact and temperatures for hair styling and brushing.
‘Long-lasting shaping’ for all hair types
Importantly, the beauty major said the device had been designed to create “long-lasting shaping of the hair”.
“Combining the heating of the teeth and the application of steam makes it possible to improve the treatment of the hair,” it wrote in its first patent filing. “In particular, it allows a higher temperature to be maintained in the steam application spaces, in particular the spaces between the teeth when the steam is projected into these spaces. It also allows the hair to be heated with dry heat before or after the application of steam, which improves the steam treatment of hair.”
L’Oréal said the device could also be used to style hair after application of a topical treatment, such a composition for curling, setting or relaxing or straightening hair.
The brush should feature a switch on the gripping handle to turn heat on or off and adjust the temperature, also enabling the device to be adapted to hair type or the nature of the treatment. The company said the water compartment could also be designed into a base, enabling a larger amount of water to be stored but also giving users the means to move around with the device.
The device, it said, was either operated via an electrical cable supply or batteries.
Patent I: WIPO International Patent No. WO/2023/041390
Published on: March 23, 2023. Filed on: September 7, 2022.
Title: “Hair treatment device”
Inventors: L’Oréal – M. Champeaux et al.
Patent II: WIPO International Patent No. WO/2023/031030
Published on: March 9, 2023. Filed on: August 26, 2022.
Title: “Hair treatment device that diffuses steam onto the hair”
Inventor: L’Oreal – M. Champeaux et al.