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Liquid, Oil then Cream (LOC) vs. Liquid, Cream then Oil (LCO): Does the Order Matter?

Avatar • Aug 30, 2014

There is some debate about whether the order in which you layer hair products affects moisture. The LOC method which was developed by Chicoro advises an order of Liquid, Oil and Cream and a modified version, the LCO method switches the cream and oil layers.

Many envision the layering system in true layers like this figure showing the LOC vs LCO layers.loc_vs_lco_method_hair_moistureHowever, the reality is much closer to this figure below where the layers are less even and often intermixing.product_layering_method_hair_moisture

The question therefore is, does it really matter which order you place the layers in if they all get jumbled up in the end?

Quick Answer:

Yes and No — Generally, as long as water is applied first, your hair will be moisturized. All other layers will help slow down the evaporation of water. The order of these layers doesn’t really matter except hair may feel different depending on the order.

Long Answer:

1. Water first in general

If you are applying these layers with the intent of moisturizing your hair, then it is a good idea to first give your hair the moisture (i.e water) before applying additional layers to help prevent moisture loss. There is no oil (at least none that I have read of scientifically) that can fully prevent water from entering or exiting the hair. However, oil layers do slow down both entry and exit of water from the hair shaft. Therefore, it makes sense to apply the water first.

2.LOC vs LCO

Typically, the oil and cream layer will probably mix. If you are sticking to the program and using an emulsified cream where surfactants (e.g behentrimonium methosulfate/chloride) are in your leave-in conditioner, then you really should expect mixing of all the layers as those surfactants help oil and water fractions mix.

As a result, it’s very likely that these ‘sealing’ layers — the OC /CO layers do not really act as separate layers and rather perform a general slowing down of evaporation of water from the hair.

3. Why does hair feel different though?

The order of layers will affect how hair feels simply because oil feels different from a creamy conditioner. The feel of hair is a very personal thing. Some people never use certain oils or butters because they dislike how they feel. If I mention Herbal Essences Hello Hydration or Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner, there will be people who love them and people who hate them. Some will say one has no slip, which would be incredulous to someone who thinks that the same conditioner is the best thing ever for detangling.

If you place oil first or cream first, it probably does not really matter from an evaporation point of view.  You can easily place in a humectant or gel in the mix if you like too. As long as water is first, you should be fine either way.

I love to give credit where it is due, and Chicoro is now on youtube! Have a listen to her video on her method (spoiler alert : yep, she has gorgeous hair and does use mineral oil/petroleum jelly)

 

Which method do you prefer? LCO or LOC?

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The One
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The One

I’ve always been simplistic in my routine. In the past, I found that when doing my hair, I would remember all three for some sections of my hair, but forget one or the other for other sections of my hair. That’s when I decided to quit making it hard on myself. So when I used to use store bought products, I would just mixed the oils and creams together. Now, when I make my moisturizer, I add oil to the recipe, so I don’t need a separate layer. Other than the water, I don’t think it matters what order it… Read more »

curious
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curious

LCO works best for me especially with twist or braid outs it eliminates the frizz and if I am using a cream with a hold it kinda softens it up a bit.

herlucidsky
Guest

Hmmm…Since shea butter is oily, can it be considered the ‘oil’ in the LCO method? If so, then the method I’ve been unknowingly using all these years is the LCO method. I’ve never tried the LOC method but my logic behind doing the LCO method is more about the look, feel and overall health of my hair. I tried mixing everything together and I did not like the consistency. It feels a lot better to me when I apply the products in layers. I only use 2 products so it’s not bad. 1.On wet/damp hair I apply a good moisturizing… Read more »

folamix
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folamix

I read that the first layer should be water-based and the last layer should be non water-based. Therefore, I tend to do L.O.C. (where C is Shea Butter)

silkynaps
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silkynaps

I think the order matters.
When I wash my hair, I condition it, add leave-in, then seal with oil.
On days I need to refresh, I spritz with water and add a little oil. If my hair is really dry, I spritz with water, add leave-in, then oil. It just makes sense to me that oil goes on last to seal in the goodness and add shine. I guess I’ve been doing the LCO without realizing it.

Nicole
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Nicole

Funny because BlackOnyx77 claims to have founded the LOC method, as claimed in her IG bio. Glad there’s been proper clarification. Great article!

Mimi
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Mimi

i don’t think any of us can claim to be the inventor of adding moisture to hair and then oils and creams…that’s absurd, people did it before this whole natural thing blew up, giving it a new name doesn’t make it new.

born2win
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born2win

I am 53 years old. My mama use to take a brush and a cup of water. She used to brush our hair with the water then put blue magic grease on top. I am just going natural and trying to figure this stuff out. From reading all this stuff, it has taken me way back to when my mama used to comb my hair.… we were children though

cAngelc
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cAngelc

& that’s when our hair looked best and was also the healthiest! That’s why I went back to the basics…GREASE! Blue Magic is my hair’s best friend.

Victoria Owl
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Victoria Owl

In one of her very old videos from years back, I remember her talking about it for the first time and she gave credit to Chicoro.

curious
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curious

LOL I don’t know who that is but she is delusional if she thinks she created the LOC method I will just stop right there and leave it at that

luminous
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luminous

I put the oil on last for the shine…

Tyler
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Tyler

What does it mean when she says she uses the petroleum “with a baggie”??

Lydia
Guest

She means that she may have either put a plastic cap or a plastic bag on her head after applying the oil. Using those is called the “baggy method”.

Amor
Guest
Amor

I actually don’t do either one. I do what I call L2O, which is leave-in, a lighter oil, and a heavier oil. My hair seems to love it, and she is such a diva. That’s the beauty of natural hair, there are no hard and fast rules and you are free to experiment to see what works for you.

Honeybrown1976
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Honeybrown1976

The LOC method works for me, as long as the products are light and not heavy. My hair is a no-go with any heaviness.

Jacky
Guest
Jacky

I’ve tried the LOC method and LCO method where my L=Water, O= Tara Amla hair Oil and C= Raw Shea butter. I’ve also tried the LO( Liquid, Oil ) method. These are my results: LOC Method It gave me soft well-moisturized hair that had sheen( not shine ) and kept the moisture in for a longer time. This was my favourite method until recently. LCO Method I loved the very shiny results I got from using this method. My hair was not as soft as when I used the LOC method but it was very smooth and shiny. When it… Read more »

Uli
Guest

JC how come you did not use the LOGO method in this article? Can you explain the LOGO method as in addition to this article?

Maria V.
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Maria V.

I’ve always done LCO because it made more sense and worked well for me. Oil, the heaviest and most water resistant, goes last to seal everything in.

But ultimately, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. You just have to do whatever works best for you! Hair is like a fingerprint, no 2 heads are the same.

Jen
Guest

I just wrote about this!!http://www.thelittleinjenthatcould.com/loc-method-natural-hair/

Its crazy bc there are so many variations of the LOC/LCO. I would get confused bc some considered the “L” liquid (water),and some considered it a leave in (condish) Ultimately it took a lot of trial and error for me to figure out the process, but I’m so glad I did-it works wonders!!

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

What do you use for the cream portion?

Bridgett
Guest
Bridgett

For me I use LOCO in winter. Leavin, voo, styler, and castor oil in the winter to protect my ends from scarves and collars.

Stacey
Guest
Stacey

I think whether the LOC or LCO is used will be largely dependent on the products themselves and their properties. I would think to go in order of decreasing moisture content when applying products to my hair.

Nelly Nellie
Guest
Nelly Nellie

For the LOC method, what type of cream or butter do you recommend?

trackback

[…] The LOC or LCO method is the process of moisturizing your hair with water or water based conditioner followed by either an oil and cream combo or a cream and oil combo; the effectiveness of either option depends on how your hair responds. I’ve just started implementing the LOC way, and my hair LOVES it. It stays moisturized for the entire week between my washes. Trust me, try this, your hair is going to bounce with joy (pun intended). […]

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