How to lock up new growth with Clockwise Rubbing

No matter how you start your dreads you can't knot the hair that hasn't grown out yet. The new growth will always grow out un-knotted and it's up to you to help it find it's way into a dreadlock and knot it up with the already dreaded hair. The amount of work that this will require will vary a lot from person to person. If your hair happens to have enough texture that it locks on it's own as your hair grows then you can thank Jah for your hair texture and stop reading. As for the rest of us, we probably have at least a few dreads that need help from time to time. If you have latched locs instead of dreads then you will be using latching to knot up your new growth and you should see the maintenance latching section. If you started your dreads with twists you can continue to re-twist your locks but you also have the option of clockwise rubbing. Locks started with backcombing are almost always maintained with clockwise rubbing.

Clockwise rubbing can be used to lock new growth. The advantages are as follows:

  • You can do it yourself while you facebook stalk your friends, watch a movie, or commute to work.
  • Hair knotted by clock wise rubbing tends to stay knotted pretty well. It's not like a twist that can easily untwist.
  • Hair knotted by clock wise rubbing easily makes the transition to dreadlocks. The knots simply have to tighten to become dreads.

While we're at it we might as well hit the disadvantages as well:

  • It's difficult to do all at once. It's better if you can rub a little by and by instead of saving it all up to do in one marathon session.
  • Clockwise rubbing is a bit tricky to get the hang of. It will take some practice before you get a feel for it.
  • The hair has to be just right. To much oil, moisture or the wrong products can prevent the hair from knotting. Read on for more info...

First we'll cover preparing the hair for clockwise rubbing. This is crucially important to it working. Next well talk about the basic motion and what to expect when you try it for the first time.

Preparing the Hair

The people who overlook the preparation part of Clockwise Rubbing are the same people who insist clock wise rubbing doesn't work for them. It's really that important. If you want your hair to cooperate it must meet the following conditions:
  • Clean. Not last week either. It needs to be freshly washed. Residue free shampoo makes a difference here. This best time is right after a shower, as soon has the hair is completely....
  • Dry. Use a hair dryer if you can. Get it completely dry and you'll have a much easier time making knots. The only way to improve on clean is to add....
  • More Friction. A little extra friction goes a long way. I find that the DHHQ Lock Peppa allows me to add just a touch more friction right where I need it.
  • Loose Hair. You need about 3/4" to 1" of new growth for clockwise rubbing to work. Less than that and it's hard to get the knots started.

While the Knatty Dread Cream is always ready to help knots compress and tighten it does NOT help the knot creation process. You should always create knots when you do not have cream in the hair. This is another reason that it works well to clockwise rub after a shower. 

The Lock Peppa should be used sparingly. I like to tap some out on the table top and touch my finger tip in it, then I transfer some Peppa to the loose hair 3/4" or so above the roots. You'll only need to do this once per dread. Putting too much Peppa will actually work against you, I'm not sure how but I've done it. It made the hair knot in more than one place, at the edges, instead of knotting in the center? You want just a touch, right in the center.

How to Clockwise Rub Dreadlocks

Clockwise rubbing is basically just rubbing the loose hair/new growth at your roots against itself and lightly against your scalp to help it form knots. You want to create a space between your scalp and your fingers (your fingers will be held together to create a single surface). The dread which is getting it's roots rubbed will stick out between your fingers, usually between your ring and middle fingers. You always want to rub in a clockwise motion. First for consistency, second because 70% of the population has more clockwise hair growth patterns than counter clockwise. When you rub you'll want to vary the size of the circles you make and the speed of the circles. You'll also want to change your grip on the dread repeatedly, try to rub from different angles. After rubbing for 30-45 seconds you may begin to feel the start of a wad of puffy knotted hair. This is a very good sign. Try to keep this wad at the center of your grip and push it around clockwise. Try to rub the wad around pressing on all sides of it. This should help it grow and get a bit more defined.

The pressure used while rubbing is very light. You want to actually keep some space (about 1/4" or so) between your hand and your scalp the whole time. The wad of knotted hair that you are trying to create will not form if there is no space for it to form in.

Once this wad of knotted hair is established you are done rubbing. No amount of rubbing will turn those knots into dreads. Continuing to rub the hair after the knots have been created provides no additional benefit but you do risk damage to the hair, especially if you combing excessive rubbing with too much pressure. The next step is to palmroll this wad to compress it. This is best done with a small amount of dread cream applied to the wad before you palm roll.

If you are clockwise rubbing multiple dreads, wait until you have finished all of the clockwise rubbing before you bring out the cream and begin palmrolling. Having the cream on your hands will make forming knots with the clockwise rubbing more difficult.

After the newly formed knots have all been palmrolled they will be on their way to locking up. You should try to palmroll them each again once a day for the next few days.  This will insure they lock up quickly before the knots have a chance to work themselves out. If you wash them before you have had a chance to compress them you will often loose many of the new knots.


After your dreads have matured and the locks are tight near the scalp, the new growth will find it's way into the dreadlock easier. In some cases you may not need to help it at all. Other locs will be more stubborn. When my dreads dry after a shower I automatically check the roots while I'm going about my daily routine and I rub the ones that need it. My hand will find locs that have extra hair at the roots and it will start working on them. A lot of dread maintenance becomes subconscious after a while. ; )