Moisturizing Natural Hair | L.O.C v.s L.C.O Method

Does your hair feel dry the next morning after you’ve moisturized it? Does it seem like no matter which product you try on your hair, nothing seems to work?

These were the issues I was faced with when I first started my natural hair journey. Just adding product and an oil on top was not enough for me.

Moisturizing natural hair can be a pain and a bit tricky sometimes. You ask questions like, "What kind of product do I choose? How often should I moisturize my hair?"

The most important question to be asked is: “What’s the best method for moisturizing natural hair?”

Didn’t I tell ya’ll before I got you covered? Lol. Hopefully, the following tips will help.

There are two methods that seem to be pretty effective at moisturizing natural hair and keeping natural hair moisturized.

The Methods:   Liquid, Oil, Cream (L.O.C) or, Liquid, Cream, Oil (L.C.O).

The L.O.C and L.C.O method are techniques used for moisturizing hair, whether it be relaxed hair or natural hair. The order of the letters indicate the order in which the products should be applied.

  • L.O.C Method: The L.O.C Method consists of moisturizing the hair with water, or a water-based leave-in conditioner, sealing in that moisture with an oil, and then double sealing with a cream to close the hair cuticle and prevent moisture loss.

  • L.C.O Method: The L.C.O Method starts out the same way as the L.O.C method—moisturizing the hair with water or a water-based leave in conditioner. However, the last two steps are reversed. Instead of using an oil after you apply your liquid, you apply your cream product, and then an oil last to seal in all the moisture.

Both methods promote optimal moisture retention in using a double sealing technique from the oil and the cream, ensuring that the moisture that was put into the hair does not seep out or evaporate.

For some people, the L.C.O method makes more sense since the oil is the finishing touch.

However, it really just depends on your hair and what your hair likes and needs.

Personally, my hair responds better to the L.C.O method. I find that my hair doesn’t stay moisturized throughout the day when I use the L.O.C method. With the L.C.O method, I can go days before I have to moisturize my hair again.

Here are some quick tips to remember in trying to understand why you use the products you’re using:


Why water first? The first thing you MUST realize when it comes to moisturizing natural hair is that moisture comes from water— not products. Sure, products contain moisturizing properties like oils and butters, but if an oil or butter is the number one ingredient, it does no good for your hair because it will ultimately just sit on top of the hair instead of penetrating the hair shaft.  

Water is the number one source and only true form of moisture. Our bodies need water in order to stay properly hydrated, and the same goes for your hair. Water helps make our hair soft and supple. It penetrates the hair shaft going deep into the hair’s cuticle.

Something that I do when applying water to my hair is I apply warm water to the hair. Warm water helps to open up the hair’s cuticle so moisture can get into the hair.


It’s important to use an oil because water by itself (or even a water-based leave in) is not enough. Oil acts as a barrier and helps slow down the evaporation of water (moisture) from the hair.  This is why it always makes sense to apply water to the hair before applying any oils or creams that claim to moisturize the hair. The oils and creams will help keep hair moisturized, slowing down the evaporation process.

It’s best to use an oil that penetrates the hair shaft. Otherwise, your oil will just sit on top of the hair instead of penetrating it and helping the hair hold onto water molecules. Oils that actually moisturize and penetrate the hair shaft are coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil.

Tip #3

When choosing a cream, opt for a moisturizing cream. Some people use their leave in conditioners or regular conditioners that have multiple purposes as their cream. Others use a Shea butter based product, like Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Hair Parfait, or Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

The goal of the “cream” is to slow down moisture loss to provide maximum hydration. That way, whichever method you decide to use—L.O.C or L.C.O—the moisture levels in your hair are being retained because your hair is not drying out as fast as it would if you used just water or a water-based leave in alone.

Tip #4

Out of the L.O.C and the L.C.O method, there’s really no right method for any one person. The only way to find out which method works for you is to try both methods and pay close attention to the difference in the way your hair feels with both methods, so try not to get too caught up in the order in which the oil and the cream are applied.
In essence, the goal of both the oil and cream, no matter in what order you apply it in after your liquid, is to slow down the evaporation of water and moisture from the hair.
Hope this post helps some of you ladies that are frustrated with your hair and the lack of moisture it retains!


Photo Credit: William Turner via We Love Curls


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