hey so im going through like the same thing but its 4 out of 5 times
but what i found help was first applying water and conditioner like you siad but than gel since it works as a shield to me.
than i put my hair in a bun like this
Natural Hair: 3 minute Glam Up-do Hair style - YouTube
it really helped plus it looks super cute.
also do a deep treatment on weekends
hope i helped