First rule of curly hair, don't touch the curls! It creates frizz and separates the curls.
As for the crispy stuff, I use a conditioner and leave in that's heavy enough and then leave in lots of water when I apply gel so when I scrunch out the crunch my hair is very soft. No cripsy spots at all.
I still don't touch my curls and don't let others touch them. I used to hairspray my hair before so no one expected to play with my hair then either until I brushed it out at night. Now not even then since a brush never touches my hair (bad for the curls)