A breakdown of the LOC and LCO method, which version is more effective, and how to choose the best method for 4C hair especially.
The terms LOC and LCO have been popular in the hair care world for some time.
In case you’ve somehow missed it, LOC means liquid, oil, cream while LCO means liquid, cream, oil.
This is the order in which you are supposed to apply your preferred products.
The premise being it will help dry hair to lock in and retain moisture more efficiently; one of the key elements for growth and retention.
This method can help keep moisture locked in for as long as 2 – 3 days before a reapplication is necessary.
This article will break down the differences between LCO and LOC method for natural hair, how to choose the best version for your and best products for each method.
What is the LOC Method?
With the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method, you apply a liquid, seal with oil and then apply a heavy cream such as shea butter or a pudding.
The liquid could be distilled water, lavender water, or rose-water but regular tap water works just as well.
What is the LCO Method?
With the LCO (liquid, cream, oil) method, you apply the liquid, followed by the heavy cream then the oil comes last.
What’s the Difference Between LOC and LCO Method?
In the LOC method, the oil comes second. However, oil isn’t a moisturizer. It’s an effective sealant.
In order for the moisture to be truly locked in for longer, it’s better if the oil comes last as practiced in the LCO method.
Both oil and butter have the ability to create a layer of protection along the hair shaft to prevent moisture from escaping.
However, the method works much better with oil on top of everything rather than the other way round.
In the LCO method, after applying the liquid, instead of applying a heavy butter, apply a heavy cream like:-
- Epiphany Naturals Curly Crème with Argan Oil
- Camille Rose Curlaide Moisture Butter
- Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk
After applying the cream, finish off with the oil. This is also particularly effective if you have finer hair.
If you have type 4 hair, you can use the heavy butter for the second layer.
Epiphany Naturals Curly Creme
Camille Rose Naturals Curlaide Moisture Butter
Camille Rose Naturals Curl Love Moisture Milk
Does this mean the LOC method is useless? Of course not. For the last layer, do not use any water-based creams.
If your hair product ingredients start with aqua, then the cream is water-based. Examples of non-water-based heavy creams include:-
- Natural Butter
- Jane Carter Solution Nourish and Shine
- Qhemet Biologics Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade
Elma & Sana 100% Rose Water
I have tried both methods on my hair with several different products and below is the combination that worked best for me.
I have a mix of 3c, 4a, and 4b hair (if you’re not sure what your hair type is, take a look at What’s My Hair Type?
Rose-water or distilled water. You can also use water-based moisturizers for this but the truth is nothing works as great as water.
Aqua has to be the first ingredient in the moisturizer for this to work by the way.
Shea butter or Epiphany Naturals Curly Crème with Argan Oil.
My favorites are coconut, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil, olive oil, castor oil, and vitamin e oil.
I dilute castor and vitamin e oil with lighter oils and the combination of oils I use depends on the time of year/weather.
Can You Use the LOC or LCO Method Every Day?
It’s safe to use both methods every day. However, the point of these methods is to preserve moisture for a few days at a time.
If done correctly, you shouldn’t have to apply all these products every day as it can lead to product build-up, which is counterproductive.
If you are also practicing the max hydration method, the LCO method works wonders.
Whichever method you utilize in the end depends on your hair’s reaction to it and the ingredients involved. I would recommend trying both before making a decision.
For more on moisturizing natural hair, have a look at 365 Days of Moisture for Dry & Parched Hair.
Do you find LOC to be more effective than LCO and vice versa? Let’s know in the comments section.
This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.
Saturday 14th of January 2017
I've been doing the LCO method for a while and I really like how soft and healthy it makes my high porosity hair feel for at least 2-3 days. I use water, raw shea butter, and coconut oil or castor oil but this time I used both to protect my hair from the cold weather, especially on my ends.
Monday 10th of February 2020
I tried the LCO method with sweet almond oil and my hair was dry as a bone within 24hrs, it was awful. So I used the same ingredients with the LOC method and my hair stayed moisturized for literally a week. Although I add Leave-in work that in my strands then put the oil on then the buttercreme which has water as 1st ir 2nd in the ingredients
Natural Oils for Hair & Health
Sunday 15th of January 2017
That's a great combination KC. Glad it's working out for your hair.
Saturday 24th of December 2016
I find the LOC method works best for me. My hair responds well to all butters.