The LOC Vs LCO Method: What’s the Difference and Which Is Right For You?

What is the LOC, LCO Method?

Whether to LOC or LCO has been a question on the lips of many Afro and curly haired women in the past decade or so. The key to this infamous process is down to the layering of products; a pile up of defensive measures designed to moisturise, nourish and keep your hair from drying out for a prolonged period. 

  • The L is liquid and this is supposed to give your afro moisture. It should be water or a water-based product, for hydrating the hair.
  • The O is oil; some oils have benefits for the health of your strands as well as acting as a sealant to lock in the moisture in the individual hair shafts.
  • C is cream that you use to style, but can also provide extra nutrients and protection for your strands, helping to create more of a barrier to stop the moisture from escaping.

LCO means you switch the oil and cream processes, with the idea that you use a lighter cream and the oil then seals in everything; it is thought that once you apply oil to your hair nothing else will be able to penetrate that barrier thus negating the effectiveness of the cream to add anything aside from styling properties.

Which should you use?

The mountain of positive comments online for both methods is an indication that they work and make a lot of women’s hair life better; but which should you use? Well, the only real way to find that out is to try each for a period of time and see which of them your hair prefers. I think, as with most things, the better one will depend on what your hair is like/what type you have, what your hair is subjected to in between washes, and what products you choose to use.

If you have low porosity, take care as you will be more prone to product build up so try to use lighter products and maybe limit the amount of oil you use. If your hair has a higher porosity, it’s important that you prolong the L step and make sure that all your strands are properly saturated. You might also be able to take a thicker cream-oil combo, but it’s important you watch out for hygral fatigue that can happen if you over wash/wet your hair. Check your previous post if you are wondering "What hair porosity do I have?".

Whether you choose to use LOC or LCO will be down to how your crown reacts so try out both and take note of how your afro feels in the days/weeks after each one. Or you could try each method on half your head and watch for differences. As for me, I LCO and go.

How do the LOC method vs. LCO method?

The first step is to apply liquid/water; you can use a spritz spray so that you can cover all your strands quickly and easily in a light mist that will sit on your hair and not just run off it, allowing it to be better absorbed. I usually LCO on washday; after my last rinse I know my afro is well watered so take the opportunity to CO straight after before putting my hair in twists.

Whether you C or O next, the process will be the same. I section my afro into 6 areas and gently apply my own cream mix in small amounts. I tend to focus on the upper half of the strands as my scalp doesn’t like too much oil or cream. Again this is down to what’s best for you, but it is important to make sure the tips of your hair get a good covering as they are usually the driest part of your hair.

I spend a bit of time massaging in the product with my fingers, and will sometimes use a wide tooth comb or a tangle teezer depending on how my hair’s feeling. Then I leave it for 30mins before repeating the process with my oil mixture, again making sure not to use too much as it’s easier to add than to take away. Then I twist my hair as normal. I don’t LCO every wash day, as sometimes I will do a deep conditioning treatment, but I always make sure that my hair is well hydrated and also make sure to apply some oil to smooth out some of my kinks and lock in the moisture.

For more Black hair style inspiration, and how to's on Afro hair care, explore our Afro hair tutorials.

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