Clockwise Rubbing Dreadlocks - AKA CWR

clockwise rubbing dreadlocks

week a dreadlocks maintenance

Tight, clean-looking roots are not difficult or impossible to create and maintain. They are quite easy when you combine a little understanding, some effective products and a few minutes of TLDC (tender loving dread care).

Even mature dreads have to have some unknotted hair at the roots but clockwise rubbing ( cwr for short ) allows you to create knots right where they are needed and keep loose hair to a minimum. If you have problems getting this technique to work for you please check out the product recommendations near the end of this page. Using the wrong products or using the right ones in the wrong order can eliminate or at least severely degrade the results you'll get. You may even hear someone reciting some tripe about clockwise rubbing "not working"...or clockwise rubbing "breaking hair" it's quite likely that they didn't choose to pay attention to these recommendations. Just for clarity ...When Clockwise Rubbing is done properly very little pressure is involved and the rubbing only occurs for a of couple minutes. In my experience it's 100% safe in healthy hair. I've been using and teaching the technique for 10 years and no one has ever had breakage as a result of doing it properly. If you find that you are the exception please let me know so I can learn more.

Before you rub: Ideally you want between 1/2" and 2" of straight unknotted hair for clockwise rubbing. You want the hair to be clean and residue free with as much friction as possible. (see product instructions below) If you are using the A-B maintenance routine this is definitely done on the A week.

To Clockwise rub: Just grab a dread at the root about 1/4"-1/2"(.6cm-1cm) from the scalp. Press it gently between the sides of you pointer and bird-shooting fingers. Gently press the dread to your scalp leaving at least 1/8" (.3cm) of space for the knots to form. Rub it in clockwise circles, switch hands if you need to but remember to stay with the same clockwise direction. Vary your grip and rub while holding it from different places within the loose hair.

Why clockwise? Two reasons. First, consistency. You want to make sure you are always going the same direction, even if you switch hands. Clockwise is preferable to counter clockwise because 80%-90% of the hair whirl patterns on your scalp are clockwise. Rubbing the hair around in this direction works with it's natural "grain" rather than against it.

clockwise rubbing dreadlocks roots


After less than a minute the dread should have a little "poof" or wad of knotty hair at the root. This is what you want. Let me stress that... The point of clockwise rubbing is to create a puffy, springy wad of knots...not a dreadlock. It's important to note that it's not possible to rub a dread into existence. The rubbing only creates the wad of knots. Over time, and with your assistance, these knots will compress and tighten and become indistinguishable from the rest of your dread.  If no knots are forming and nothing is changing after 30-40 seconds you should adjust your grip, try less pressure, etc. If knots still don't form you need to make sure the hair is properly prepared for knotting. See below for info on how to use the products to assist the formation of knots. As soon as you've gotten a nice wad of knots you can roll it between your fingers or palms (whichever seems more appropriate) squeezing it into a shape that's somewhat more dreadlock-ish. When it elongates a bit and squeezes down you're good to go. Move onto the next dread that needs attention.

After all the rubbing has been done, you'll have fresh knots all over the place and you'll want to turn your attention to helping them compress. Work a maintenance serving of wax into the fresh knots and give each one about 30 seconds of palmrolling love. With a pampering like this you can be sure that these poof's will quickly tighten over the next few weeks. Try to palm roll them now and then while they are beginning to lock.


Clockwise Rubbing Product Tips

Products can either help or hinder this process depending on when and how you use them, so it is important to get this part right. Here's a summary of tips on using the products to magnify your Clockwise Rubbing results.

Dread Soap: Clockwise Rubbing is just a way of creating knots. When you are trying to make knots you always want clean hair with as much friction as possible.

Clean means "truly clean" no residue of tea tree oil, jasmine oil, peppermint, etc. You'll find out dread soap to be the sh#t in this regard because it's the only completely "Residue Free" dread soap available. The benefits of residue free become really obvious when you start clockwise rubbing. If you're using another shampoo and your results are underwhelming give our dread soap a try, it speaks for itself. If your hair is particularly greasy or if you know you're going to be clockwise rubbing soon you can even double wash your dreads. Just rinse and re-soap them. In most cases one washing is plenty. You'll find the hair much easier to CWR (clockwise rub)for the next couple days.

Locking Accelerator: Now that the hair is clean what else can be done to increase friction and make knots form even faster and easier? The Accelerator can be added to the hair right after washing. It can be applied to all of the hair/dreads. If you know you will be clockwise rubbing you'll want to be sure to spray the loose hair at the roots...but as always, you should avoid spraying it directly on the scalp. (See the Locking Accelerator Page for more info) You can spray it on all of the dreads (you might as well, it will only help), or you can focus on the dreads that need clockwise rubbing. Once the dreadlocks are completely dry you can begin clockwise rubbing.

Lock Peppa: If your hair is particularly resistant to knotting, often coarse hair (as opposed to fine hair) will be pretty stubborn, you can use Lock Peppa to further increase friction and bully it into knotting. Like the Accelerator you don't want to apply the Peppa to your scalp. Since you will be lightly pressing the hair against the scalp as you rub it will be impossible to completely prevent indirect contact but if you use it as described here this won't be an issue. You do not want to shake Peppa all over your head or even over the dread you are working on. The shaker is for shaking it onto a surface like a table, a cd cover or a mirror [lol]. Once you've shaken out a small pile press your finger tip into it to pic up some. You don't need to get as much as you can, just enough to cover the surface of the tip of your finger. You can always go back for more if you need it. Press your peppery finger tip into the middle of the area where you want to make the knots. The amount that's needed is bizarrely small. Extra Peppa won't help but it will end up on your scalp so try not to use more than what covers the surface of the tip of you finger. Once it's in the hair just clockwise rub (CWR) as usual. 

Dread Wax: It's important to not have wax in the hair before you clockwise rub! Wax does not help you create actually slows down knot making. (remember wax helps knots compress and tighten) So if you know that you're in need of some CWR-ing you should put off waxing until after you get a chance to get your rub on. If you've recently waxed just wait until after you've washed your dreads before you CWR. You can wash them extra well, maybe double wash them if you need to, to remove as much wax as possible. In general it will be more difficult to get good results with clockwise rubbing during the first month since you'll have more dread wax in the hair then than at any other time. If you are careful not to wax the hair right at the roots you'll have much easier time of it. (There's no need to wax the unknotted straight hair at the roots, also known as "new growth". Straight hair can't "tighten" and dread, only knots can tighten.)  Clock-wise rubbing will be much easier after the start of month 2 because this is when you switch to the A-B maintenance routine and begin waxing every other week. The "A" week will be the week you don't use wax. You'll create knots during this week so it's a perfect time to clock-wise rub. The "B" week is when you >do want to use wax. You'll add wax (always a maintenance serving) and palm roll the new knots to help them compress and start them locking down into tight smooth dreadlocks!!   

Rubberbands and Clockwise Rubbing
Rubberbands actually make the clockwise rubbing easier . The hair you are rubbing is usually unlocked growth right at the scalp, and since the rubberbands are about 1/4"-1/2" or so from the scalp they mark the perfect place to hold it. In some cases, like when the loose hair is a bit longer, you can roll the band up out of the way, Clock wise rub, and then replace the band. This will give the hair enough room at the root to form knots easily. You should always have any rubberbands at the roots snug but not tight. They should be tight enough that they will stay where you put them but if you attempt to roll them up or down the dread it should be possible to move the without much effort. The reason for this is that the hair needs a little room to form knots and adjust itself as it's dreading. If it's locked down too tight it can actually work against you, not to mention it's painful. More on the subtleties of proper rubberband usage in the rubberbands section.

clockwise rubbing dreadlocks