Moisture and Styling: LCO and LOC Methods

Retention of moisture is one of the biggest concerns for healthy hair enthusiasts. By means of trial and error LOC and LCO are advised as major methods for keeping hair hydrated and moisturized after the wash day. Even though some people swear by incomprehensible difference in results, there is certainly a debate of whether the order of product application makes any difference.


Hair moisturizing methods LCO LOC
Order of product application Liquid Cream Oil


Liquid Oil Cream


Products –          Water / Liquid Spray Leave – In

–          Oil (thin, coating)

–          Cream


–          Water / Liquid Spray Leave – In

–          Oil (thick, penetrating)

–          Cream

Focus Packing moisture into the hair and then sealing it in the hair with an oil


Layering moisture on the hair to increase moisture retention
Best for Low porosity hair


It takes longer to absorb moisture but retains it really well

High porosity hair


It absorbs moisture quickly but loses it just as quick


Alternatives –          LC

–          LO

–          LOCG



Whether your hair responds best to LCO or LOC method, you should know that both methods help to keep moisture locked in your hair for as long as 2 – 3 days. Afterwards, you will find your hair to be drying and in need of moisture again.


Liquid: Liquid Spay Leave – In or Water from the time you washed your hair

There are number of different products that people tend to include in this category. Most of the time interpretation of “liquid” boils down to those major definitions:  “water based leave – in” and/ or “water”.

Leave – in sprays do not get my juices flowing nearly as much as the water does. That said, I was recently introduced to rice water rinse which seems like a perfect upgrade for the “water” option.


Oil: Coating or penetrating oils

I am personally fascinated by the potency of oils which is why I am in the process of active exploration of the oil world.

Monounsaturated fats Polyunsaturated fats
Molecules are small enough to penetrate the hair deeply Lipid composition is large which makes oil reside in the cuticle layers of the hair or on top
–          Repel water (i.e. prevent swelling of hair) by penetrating the hair shaft

–          Great for softening and protection from swelling

–          Repel water by sitting on top of the hair

–          Add shine

–          Decrease friction for easier time with combing and detangling



Science-y is a great blog for hair enthusiasts and I most certainly share the sentiment. If oils are part of your hair-care routine, I highly recommend reading this article: It really gives a great insight into the hair – oil relationship and gives a great oil chart for you to adjust your oil work.

Please be mindful with your oil applications. The focus of LOC and LCO methods is on sealing damp hair and you need only a little bit of oil in order to reach the objective. If you apply too much oil, you run the risk of leaving greasy stains on your clothes and /or on the backs’ of the chairs. In case you are looking to deeply moisturize your hair with oil, you should consider oil pre-shampoo treatments instead. The focus of oil pre-poo treatments is on saturating hair with oil as to buffer the hair from water and detergents in order to prevent dehydration and loss of proteins.


Cream: Water- based or Oil – based

The sequence of product application makes it seem like we are layering the products. That said, the layering is more conceptual since in reality the products mix and combine. With that in mind, the ingredient list of each product will affect how well it works with other products and what other products are needed to start with. For example, if you are using oil – based cream, your need and your choice of sealing oil might be affected.

Water – based cream Oil – based cream
–          Water soluble

–          Lighter in consistency


–          Non – water soluble

–          Thick consistency

Give good hold: dry hard



Soft styling: do not dry hard
Due to hard hold provided by the product, the hair is not easy to manipulate or re-style. You might need to wash hair in order to restyle


Easy to re-style as the product does not provide a hard cast over the hair. You do not need to wash hair in order to restyle; however, you do need to clarify hair from time to time in order to avoid product buildup



Find the kind of cream that works with your hair and suits your lifestyle. On the note of creams and styling products, there are number of people who use gels on top of the styling creams (LOCG).



Thanks for reading,

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