LCO vs LOC: Which Method Is Best for Your Hair?

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These two are similar but also different methods that are making a buzz in the natural hair community.

If you have curly hair, then you’ve most probably heard of the LOC method and its popular counterpart, the LCO method.

Now, before you go loco over LOC and LCO, we’ll find out what each of them means.

A woman with curly hair posing on a beige background while holding her hair

Basically, they’re mnemonics for the order you’d apply the products. L stands for liquid or leave-in, O is for oil, and C is for cream.

You’ll notice that there’s a small change in the order for these two methods, and that change makes a big difference.

So which order works best on your locks? Let’s find out.


For someone who’s starting their natural hair journey, managing hair can be a challenge.

Sometimes, it seems like all the products you regularly put on your hair just wouldn’t work. Your locks are still dry and frizzy.

Then the LCO and the LOC methods for natural hair came along. These two can give you the hydrated hair you badly want (and need).

So what’s the difference?

The original method is LOC, which caters to those with extremely dry curly hair.

In the LCO and LOC methods, you’re basically using the same products, but the difference is in the order in which you layer them.

Oil is applied next.The cream is used to add more moisture.
Cream seals the liquid and oil.Oil is applied to seal the liquid and cream.
Both start with a liquid leave-in conditioner to moisturize your hair.

These two methods are used to keep your curls moisturized. And that one change in order could benefit different people of different hair types.

What Is Your Hair Type?

You’re probably wondering why there’s a need to change the order in the original LOC method. Well, that is to make the method work for other types of hair.

You see, when it comes to hair care, you can customize your products and the way you apply them based on your hair’s characteristics.

The following are common factors to consider when choosing which method is best for you.

Hair Types

People have different hair types, and according to research, it’s mostly because of genetics.

There are several ways to categorize hair, but stylists usually classify the hair according to its curl pattern or texture.

A woman is brushing her hair in front of a mirror while smiling.

4 Main Types of Hair

  • Type 1 — straight
  • Type 2 — wavy
  • Type 3 — curly
  • Type 4 — coily

These types are also divided into subcategories depending on how tight or loose the curls are.

When you know your hair type, it’s easy to personalize your hair care regime.

Hair Porosity

Another way to differentiate hair is through hair porosity.

Simply put, hair porosity is how much your hair can absorb and retain moisture.

According to studies, hair is naturally porous. You see, a strand is coated by what we call cuticles. And those cuticles are arranged like the shingles of a roof.

Porosity depends on how tightly packed or how loose the cuticles are. That’s why there are varying levels of porosity. It means your hair can have low porosity or high porosity.

With low porosity hair, the cuticles are flat and placed close together, with little spaces in between. This type of hair can’t absorb water and hair products well, making it really hard to moisturize.

The other one is high porosity hair, which is the opposite. In this type, the strand has widely opened cuticles. That means moisture can easily get in and also easily get out of the hair.

That said, highly porous hair is easy to moisturize but not long enough for the products to actually work and nourish the hair fiber. After conditioning your locks, you might notice that they already feel dry the next day.

Finally, there’s also a porosity level that’s in the middle, which is medium porosity.

This hair has normally lifted cuticles, making way for moisture to penetrate the hair shaft and stay there to keep the hair hydrated.

Choosing between the LCO or LOC method depends on your hair porosity.

Hair Structure

Another hair classification is based on hair structure, which you might be more familiar with. This is what we normally read on our favorite brand labels.

Hair strands can differ in thickness, namely:

  • Fine
  • Medium
  • Coarse

When you buy your products, you can pick whatever you think would work best for your hair type. Similarly, all these hair types matter when it comes to choosing between LOC or LCO method for natural hair.

What Is the LCO Method for Hair?

A woman is putting hair oil in front of the mirror

Just like skin care, we need to follow a certain order when we apply our hair products to maximize their effects.

And a specific order that’s perfect for people with low porosity curls is the LCO method. You can use the LCO method to let the products into the hair shaft.

We know that’s hard to do with low-porosity hair. That’s why LCO starts with a liquid leave-in conditioner that’s lightweight and has more chance of being absorbed into the hair fiber.

Then comes the cream, which is also lightweight but thicker, to add more moisture into the strand. 

The oil, which acts as a sealant, will let the first two products naturally sit on your hair longer, allowing more time for the hair fibers to absorb everything.

How to Do the LCO Method

1. Wash your hair thoroughly.

To help the LCO give better results, remove product and dirt buildup with a clarifying shampoo.

If your hair is clean, it will be much easier to receive the products.

2. Condition and detangle your hair.

Coat your hair with conditioner, concentrating on the ends. Then, using a wide-tooth comb or your fingers, detangle your locks.

3. Towel or air-dry your hair until it’s damp.

Once you’re done washing your tresses, use a towel to remove excess water from your hair or let it air dry.

Contrary to what some people may think, you shouldn’t do the LCO while your hair is soaking wet.

Because in low-porosity hair, you need to open up the hair shaft so you can let the moisture in. If it’s soaked in water, there won’t be space for the products you’ll use.

4. Separate your hair into sections.

Some people may find this unnecessary, but for us, it’s good to section your hair so you can apply the products evenly.

Use a rat tail comb to separate your hair into 4 to 6 sections and secure them with alligator clips or elastics.

5. Apply leave-in conditioner.

Start with a section and spray it down with a leave-in conditioner. Run your fingers through the strands from roots to tips to spread the product evenly.

After the application, secure the sections again and repeat the step for all the other hair sections.

6. Apply the hair cream.

Just like what you did with the leave-in conditioner, work your cream through each of the sections. Make sure that the strands are evenly coated.

7. Finish it with oil.

The final step is to apply hair oil to your locks to seal all of the moisture in. Put 4 to 5 drops of oil in each section.

Once you’re done, you can leave your hair as is or style it any way you want.

Benefits of LCO Method

What can you get from using this method?

  • Layering your products in this order can help your low-porosity hair absorb more moisture and retain it.
  • Extra moisture means less breakage and split ends.
  • The oil gives hair shine and seals in moisture.
  • It prevents frizz and flyaways.

Reminder: When trying a hair care routine for the first time, do it 2 to 3 times before you gauge its effects on your locks.

What Is the LOC Method?

A cropped photo of a curly hair woman applying hair cream to her hair

As you may well know by now, this method consists of layering a water-based leave-in conditioner, hair oil, and styling cream to retain moisture in your hair.

The LOC method is commonly used by people with curly, coily or kinky hair.

And the ones who will benefit most from this method are those with high-porosity hair as this technique keeps your hair hydrated.


See, you start the LOC method by filling your hair with moisture from a leave-in conditioner. With high-porosity hair, there’s no problem getting that into the hair shaft.

The problem is keeping the moisture there. And that’s where the oil comes in. The oil seals the strands to help retain the moisture from the leave-in conditioner.

Adding another moisturizer after the conditioner will over-moisturize highly porous hair, leading to hygral fatigue. This is why using cream after the conditioner is not advisable for high-porosity hair.

Instead, hair cream is applied last so it sits on top of the oil without penetrating the cuticles any further. 

High-porosity hair still needs softness on the outermost layer of the strands, which is why it will still need cream. The cream also brings back definition to your curls after the oil potentially weighs it down.

This technique is commonly used by people with curly, coily, or kinky hair.

And the ones who will benefit most from this method are those with high-porosity hair as this method keeps hair hydrated.

How to Do the LOC Method

1. Prepare your hair.

Unlike LCO, there’s no need to prep your locks with a clarifying shampoo before doing the LOC method.

Just wash your hair as you normally would with a gentle shampoo and conditioner. You can also cleanse with co-wash if that’s your usual routine.

When your hair is damp, separate it into sections for easy and even product application.

2. Apply leave-in conditioner.

Spray the leave-in conditioner on each section. Gently glide the product on your hair, saturating the ends more because these parts are the driest.

3. Oil your strands.

Apply a small amount of oil to each section. Go easy on putting that oil though. If you use too much, your locks may end up greasy.

4. Top it off with cream.

For the last step, apply a creamy moisturizer to seal all the moisture in. Then you can let your hair air dry or you can use a diffuser.

Benefits of the LOC Method

Whether you have wavy, curly, or coily hair, the LOC method for high porosity hair can keep the moisture in for a longer period of time.

Here are more benefits:

  • Less hair breakage and hair fall.
  • Hydrated locks.
  • Defined curls.
  • Frizz-free hair.

Choosing the Right Products

Whether you are doing LCO or LOC for low-porosity hair or high-porosity hair, you must get the right products.

That’s why we’ll help you figure out what products are right for these methods.

Liquid Leave-in Conditioner

The leave-in conditioner gives your locks the moisture they so desperately need. It also helps detangle the strands and works as a heat protectant when styling.

The “liquid” term is important. Don’t forget that when buying this product. We’d want a water-based leave-in conditioner to make sure that it can easily be absorbed by the strands.

The spray-on formulas work best for this method.

For low porosity and fine hair, we suggest getting a lighter leave-in like:

On the other hand, for high porosity and thick hair, we recommend a heavier moisturizing leave-in conditioner such as:


The hair oil seals the cuticles so that moisture won’t easily get out of your locks.

There are countless oils to choose from, and the best type of hair oils are the ones formulated with emulsifiers because that means the oil will mix with the leave-in conditioner instead of just sitting on top of your hair.

We’ll give you some examples of what you can use for each hair porosity.

Low Porosity Hair

Medium Porosity Hair

High Porosity Hair


Creams for the LOC/LCO method are in the form of curl butter, styling cream, cream moisturizers, and gels.

This gives your curls extra definition and also helps hold your hairstyle.

For LCO, use a lightweight cream. Whereas for LOC, get something heavier since it’s the last step.

If you’re doing a wash-and-go, use a creamy pudding or styling cream. Our favorites are:

For twist-outs or styling, try butter or heavy creams like

A woman is brushing her hair in front of a mirror.

FAQs about LCO vs LOC for Healthy Hair

Is LCO good for high-porosity hair?

LOC or LCO for high-porosity hair? High-porosity hair responds better to the LOC method since this type of hair absorbs moisture quickly. Additionally, the moisture applied to high-porosity hair needs to be sealed to keep it moisturized.

Instead, we recommend the LCO method for type 4 hair or low-porosity hair since this method works best for getting moisture into your hair and sealing it in with oil as the final step.

How often can I do the LOC method or the LCO method?

The LOC and LCO methods can be done as frequently as every few days, every week, or longer.

The frequency may depend on your hair type. If you have fine hair, do this less often. If you have medium to thick hair, you can do this every week.

Whatever method you choose, we don’t recommend doing it every day because it can lead to product buildup and make your hair feel weighed down.

LOC Method vs LCO Method: Which One Is Best for Naturally Curly Hair?

The LOC and LCO are not a case of spelling confusion; they are two different methods for different hair porosities.

Using the LOC or LCO is equally effective as long as it is done on the correct hair type.

Remember that LOC is for high-porosity hair and that LCO is best for low-porosity hair.

Are you interested in more hair care methods?

Take a look at these articles:


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

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