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

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?