Updated: May 3, 2022
While LCO vs LOC is not quite the “great debate” that natural vs relaxed hair is, many women tend to feel partial to one technique over the other. If you have never heard of these acronyms, let me break it down for you:
· L = Liquid (water, leave in conditioner spray or lotion)
· O = Oil (typically a carrier oil)
· C = Cream (thick conditioning cream or hair butter like shea butter, etc.)
We broke down the “L” and “C” part in chapter 20 so we will discuss carrier oils here.
Patients often ask me for recommendations about oils for the hair. For the record, there are no oils that have been proven to grow hair faster. However, applying oils to moisturized wet hair (after washing or after a leave in conditioner) can help seal in moisture and thus prevent breakage, leading to longer, stronger hair. Most essential oils, which are often marketed as “promoting hair growth” are actually meant to be applied to the scalp only, and when applied to the hair, can actually worsen dryness and breakage (see Chapter 43). Considering this, I recommend moisturizing, fatty oils that won't dry out the hair. My favorites are:
· Jojoba oil
· Olive Oil
· Grapeseed Oil
· Argan oil
· Castor oil (only for very thick, coarse hair)
· Avocado oil
By curl pattern my favorites would be:
· Types 3A-3C: argan oil, jojoba oil
· Types 4A-4C: argan, grapeseed, olive & avocado oils
· Type 4C/4C+ normal or high-density hair: olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil*
· Relaxed type 4 hair: Argan, jojoba, grapeseed, olive, avocado
*Many women also apply castor oil to the hairline, eyebrows or other thinning areas and this can be done regardless of hair type. When used to seal in moisture throughout the hair, castor oil should be limited to thicker hair due to its viscosity*
The “L” in both “LCO” and “LOC” refers to some type of water-based liquid. On wash day, because your hair is already wet at the conclusion of your wash you can consider that water to be your “L” and you go directly to the “C” or “O”. “C” can also refer to a water-based leave in spray or lotion as mentioned in Chapter 20. Between washes, the “L” typically refers to a water-based leave in spray OR plain water that is spritzed onto the hair.
As far as the order of application, “LCO” refers applying a cream or butter to wet hair and finishing with an oil, while “LOC” concludes with the cream or butter. Deciding the order of application varies from person to person and may even vary for you from season to season. For example, in the winter you may find that finishing with a butter or cream is more effective than in the summertime. Try both methods, with different products until you find the combination that allows you to maintain moisture for as many days as possible.