The LOC Method – not to be confused with locs – is a term frequently used to describe a process of applying natural hair styling products to hydrate curly natural hair and retain hydration. Coily hair, tight-textured hair, low porosity hair, high porosity hair, damaged hair, and those who are interested in guarding against moisture loss are the most likely to benefit from the LOC method. The LOC method is also a great option for those who are transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair and want to prevent breakage along the way. Here’s the l-o-w on LOC.
What is the LOC or LCO method?
LOC stands for lotion (or leave-in conditioner), oil, cream. This is the order in which you should add your post-wash products. Some will also opt for the LCO method (leave-in conditioner, cream, oil). Finally, the LOCG method includes adding a gel after these products which is intended to help you retain moisture. Natural hair is happiest when it’s healthy, and all hair is healthiest when it’s balanced and packed with hydration.
The Leave-In Conditioner
Using a water-based leave-in conditioner with humectants such as honey, aloe, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein will help the water absorb deeper into hair strands by attracting moisture. When it contains hair oils, it can also act as a sealant to the water and moisture already within wet hair that was achieved through washing and conditioner.
Think of a pot of boiling water that you don’t want to boil over. Adding a little bit of oil to the top prevents the water from escaping. Why? Because oil sits on top of the water to seal it in. The same is true for your hair. The key is to use oils for curly hair that provide the best benefit for your natural hair. (We’ll get into this in just a moment.)
The Styling Cream
This is the hair product step that could potentially be applied before or after your oil, based on your hair type. Experiment with which order works best for you. A water-based hair styling cream like PATTERN’s that contains various hair oils can provide optimal versatility. Depending on your hair type’s needs, the cream could potentially draw in more moisture into the hair, just like the leave-in conditioner, if it contains humectants such as Shea Butter. It could also act as a sealant to that moisture if it contains an ingredient with occlusive properties such as Coconut Oil. The ideal order for your hair could potentially be based on your hair porosity.
Use an Approach Tailored to Your Hair Porosity
Depending on your hair porosity, the LOC method can be your secret weapon against dry hair. Medium porosity hair often has just enough porosity to capture moisture, but the cuticle is just closed enough that it doesn’t escape easily. On the other hand, high porosity and low porosity hair have the most complex relationship with hydration, requiring a little more love and effort to aid in moisture retention.
With low porosity hair, the cuticle of the hair shaft is extremely closed. (Wondering what low porosity hair is? We got you.) This doesn’t allow much room for water to come into the hair shaft. This means that anything that creates a barrier between the hair and water only makes it more difficult to fully hydrate the hair. For this reason, layering your water-based hair products on before the oil helps them fully absorb into the hair. Sealing natural hair with lighter oils like Jojoba Oil and Argan Oil is ideal - you can even spray on a hair oil to damp hair with a spray bottle for light coverage all over. These oils both absorb to aid moisture retention while washing off easily to keep your hair prepped to receive moisture.
Those with high porosity, healthy hair have the opposite need. High porosity hair absorbs water easily, but it also loses water quickly. This hair type benefits from heavier oils such as Olive Oil, Castor Oil, and Avocado Oil. Using a heavier oil will seal in hydration to prevent it from escaping the hair shaft. A water-based Styling Cream that contains yummy hair oils hydrates while it seals.
If you’re unsure about your own hair’s porosity, try a hair porosity test. Take a strand of hair and place it in a glass of water. If the hair strand floats to the top, your hair hasn’t truly absorbed the water in the glass & you likely have low porosity hair. If the hair strand sinks to the bottom, then you likely have high porosity hair. (This test works best after you have shampooed your hair. Product build-up on your hair shaft can mimic low porosity hair and give unreliable results.) Another thing to note, different strands in your hair can have different porosities. Even on one strand you can have varying porosities. If you color or heat style your hair this can affect your cuticle and change your hair’s porosity. So make an educated guess.
Can you do the LOC method every day?
Technically, you can use the LOC method to apply hair products every time you do your wash and go. The LOC method can be performed after co-washing your hair if you are using styling products, but keep in mind: your hair may still have a film on it from previous hair products if you have not thoroughly cleansed your hair. Over time, the build of layers of products can prevent the absorption of moisture. Just like the LOC helps you seal in moisture, it can also cause you to seal moisture out of your hair. This is why a good hydrating shampoo or clarifying shampoo is ideal to reset your hair by cleansing it, which helps to hydrate it. (This is another reason we need not fear why clarifying shampoo can be good for hair.)
So, how often should you do the LOC method on natural hair?
Depending on your scalp condition, hair type, and your natural hair’s relationship with hair oils, how frequently you should use the LOC method varies. It is often best performed on wet hair when your hair has absorbed the most moisture possible, so try the LOC method after washing your hair. This raises the real question: how often should you wash or co-wash natural hair? How frequently you wash or co-wash depends on your hair type and lifestyle. If you’re a curly girl, have curly hair, your hair may be more receptive to cleansing more frequently than if you have tight-textured natural hair which often craves more oil. Check out the chart below as well as our blog post about how to moisturize curly hair to learn more.
Does the LOC method grow your hair?
At PATTERN, we honestly love some frizzy hair. The beauty of coily, tight, textured, and curly hair in its natural state is our everyday mood. It’s easy to ask yourself, “Why is my curly hair so frizzy?” but some frizz is natural, healthy, and good. However, sometimes, when hair is dry it can lead to unhealthy hair which occasionally can show up as frizzy hair as well. Eventually, this can lead to tangling, breakage, and rough cuticles on the hair shaft.
Keeping your hair hydrated is key to maintaining your hair growth. Nothing actually makes hair grow faster. The speed at which your hair grows is already locked into your genetics. However, there is plenty you can do to maintain your hair growth. In addition to protective styles that put less friction and wear on your hair, preventing hair from brittleness helps stop it from snapping when you do want to manipulate and style your hair. When your hair retains moisture it’s flexible and this makes it less prone to breakage. The result? The appearance of hair growth through hair length retention.
Just be sure to keep a healthy balance of moisture and protein. Using a protein treatment when your hair becomes too hydrated can help keep it strong by balancing the hair. Our hair is most fragile when it is wet, so when your hair has moisture overload your hair can begin to become more susceptible to breakage. You will know you’re experiencing moisture overload if your curls begin to appear limp or undefined, feel spongy, or no longer bounce back when you pull on them. Strengthening hair with a protein-based Treatment Mask can be just the treat to balance your natural hair and bring it back to life.
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