There are a lot of different natural hair care and styling routines for curly hair. One of the most common and beneficial techniques is the LOC method for natural hair.
It’s a three-step regimen that makes moisture retention the focus, so that curls are left hydrated, defined, and frizz-free. If you’ve nailed down a routine that really works for your curls, you may even already be following the LOC method without knowing it. Curious? Here’s what LOC is and how to do it.

What Is the LOC Method?
What is LOC? For starters, let’s clear up any initial confusion. The LOC hair method has nothing to do with locs or locking your hair. It’s simply an abbreviation for the layering steps that will help infuse and seal moisture into dry curls. It refers to the steps in which you apply your products. So, what does LOC stand for? L is for leave-in conditioner or liquid, O stands for oil, and C refers to the cream.

The LOC method for natural hair utilizes the various densities of each type of product to help maximize how well your hair retains the moisture you’re adding to it. This means it starts light and layers to the heaviest product—much like it’s recommended you do with your skincare routine. Lighter weight leave-in conditioners are going to actually absorb into the hair shaft to moisturize, and so will a penetrating hair oil. Other hair oils can serve as the sealant for your leave-in. Your final step, the cream, will also help seal in the moisturizers, in addition to smoothing the cuticle down, so hair doesn’t look frizzy and adding extra definition.

Who Should Do the LOC Method?
You already know LOC and curls go hand in hand, but let’s get into more of the specifics about who should use this method. Your hair porosity actually plays an important part in whether the LOC method is right for you. Remember: High porosity hair has trouble sealing in moisture, while low porosity hair doesn’t let it in at all. Since this hair routine is designed to moisturize natural hair, it’s a great match for high porosity hair, which tends to dry fast and looks and feels dry. Still, this doesn’t mean low porosity hair types can’t participate—they just may need to switch up their technique a little to allow the products to absorb and work their magic.

The LOC hair method is generally better for those with tighter curls. While loose spirals and waves can get dry too, they’re more likely to be weighed down by the combination of products this technique involves applying. If you want to LOC your hair and have strands in the 2C to 2A range, you’ll have to be especially careful to avoid greasy locks.

How to Do the LOC Method
Because the LOC method focuses more on the styling side of your hair routine, make sure that your curls are properly prepped, and you’ve covered all the basics beforehand. Wash with a non-stripping sulfate-free shampoo or co-wash, detangle thoroughly with the Coco Creme Creamy Conditioner or Black Vanilla 4-in-1 Combing Creme, and then get ready to LOC.

There may need to be a bit of trial and error before you hone in on the right combination of products that work best together on your hair, or you may already have your product lineup in place. Either way, next up is figuring out how to actually put it all together and complete your three key steps.

1. Leave-in conditioner. The leave-in conditioner that you choose depends on your curl pattern. If your curls tend to get weighed down easily, go with a lighter weight leave-in like Sacred Tiare Leave-In Conditioner for this step. For dense and dryer hair, a heavier, more moisturizing formula is the best option, so try the Almond Milk Leave-In Conditioner. It should be liquid-y enough to actually penetrate the hair, meaning spray-on formulas are best for this step rather than thicker leave-in creams.

2. Oil. Pick an oil based on your hair porosity. Ones that actually penetrate the hair shaft are coconut, monoi, olive, and avocado oils. Whereas, richer hair oils like the castor found in the Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil and jojoba are best for sealing.

Thicker textures like 4C hair can likely benefit from both, while low porosity hair needs a lighter oil for it to absorb. You can layer the lighter oil, followed by the richer one unless you have fine hair (yes, even curly hair can be fine), in which case, it’s best to stick with the lighter oil that will penetrate.

3. Cream. The LOC cream works as the top coat to keep all of your moisturizer inside each strand. The cream you go with again depends on how light or heavy of a formula your texture can handle. Heavier stylers like the Healthy Hair Butter are ideal for coarser textures, and a lighter one like Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Styling Pudding is the best solution for wavy and fine textures.

Can You Do the LOC Method Every Day?
Yes, you technically can, but chances are you aren’t washing your hair daily, and applying three layers of product every day is likely to cause buildup and weighed down curls. The LOC method is most ideally done on wash day when you’re starting with a freshly washed head. You can also do the LOC technique to refresh and rehydrate curls in between washes, but in this case, use the lighter versions of your products, so hair doesn’t get greasy.

LOC Method Alternatives
While this layering technique tends to be the best option for curly hair, it’s not definitive. As with your product selection, you may need to tweak the steps to suit your curl pattern. If you’re finding that your curls are looking heavy or don’t feel hydrated enough, you might find success by switching the order in which you apply the products. Try doing leave-in, cream, then oil—known as the LCO method—instead.

If you’re experiencing product buildup, you can always drop one of the steps. Just note that the leave-in probably isn’t where you want to skimp. It’s what’s going to get nourishing ingredients beneath the hair surface. Instead, you can get away with skipping the oil and going straight for a cream or butter as your styler. If you prefer to keep all three steps, you can adjust the actual product used. Swap in the Monoi Oil Sacred Serum as a lighter but still hydrating substitute for the oil, and then replace your LOC cream with Mimosa Hair Honey.

Before diving into following your new LOC routine, make sure you’re starting off on the right foot, so to speak, with proper hair washing. Here’s How to Wash Curly Hair (and How Often to Do It).

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