My hair looks shinier with gel than it does conditioner-only or with creams, but shine isn't the only attribute that makes hair look pretty and healthy. When I have more shine, my hair color looks darker, which I actually do not like. Without gel, my highlights are more visible.
My recent LI-only experiments:
Aussie Moist-- not good. Too heavy for my hair. If you want to weigh down your hair, try this. I like it as a co-wash/RO though.
Yesterday I tried Madre Labs Made by Nature as a LI and it was good. It was an extremely hot, humid, high-dews day and I rode my bike with it wet. I thought when I arrived to my destination it would be a frizzy mess. My hair came out with good clumps and curl formation, very full, a bit of frizz here and there but I've used gels that have done worth. It felt a little sticky while drying, but not after it was dry. This one's a keeper.
Medium-high density, fine-medium, low-normal porosity, 3b/c, permanent color.
CG, no heat, combs, brushes, parabens.
Fall/Winter HG=Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream.
Spring/Summer HG=MGA Sculpting Gel
Current fave LI=Madre Labs Made by Nature for Baby Conditioner.
Limit oils, butters, glycerin.