Patent Pick: A Facial Device to Melt Your Heart—and Sebum


Skin treatment devices are not new, and many variations are known. Some are capable of automated or manual manipulation, and others come with attachments for different effects on various body sites.

Applicators may incorporate abrasives, oxygenating entities, thermal conductors, light-emitting attachments, etc. Motion generators may even move the attachments by vibrating, spinning, oscillating, propagating sonic waves, etc. Topical treatments may also be added for cleansing, polishing and other benefits, and some are dispensed from cartridges held within the device. 

Heat is also applied for photorejuvenation and bio-stimulation, for example, via intense-pulsed light to remove wrinkles and spots or tighten skin. In this patent application, however, inventor from Philips have focused on the melting point of sebum to optimize its removal from skin.

Heated and cooled facial brush device
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/064104
Publication date: April 20, 2017
Assignee: Koninklijke Philips N.V.

According to this patent application, consumer products aiming to remove sebum from the skin are based on mechanical or chemical functionality. These methods are challenged by the fact that sebum has a high viscosity, which has low mobility under standard conditions and makes it difficult to remove. Hence, the present invention aims to provide an alternative device for cleaning, exfoliating and/or massaging skin; but especially for removing sebum. 

Sebum flow is influenced by capillary forces between the outer skin layer and the follicular reservoir. So, by partially emptying the reservoir during cleansing, skin will remain substantially oil-free for a longer time.

Described in this patent is a device for treating skin that comprises a housing and a rotating treatment brush equipped with thermal conduction capabilities. Increasing the skin temperature to above the sebum melting point of 32.9°C was found to encourage a higher sebum outflow, increasing its mobility and permeability during cleansing. Furthermore, the invention can cool the skin after cleansing to coagulate the sebum to provide added benefits.

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