Have you tried any curl cremes? They don't make hair hard. Curl Junkie makes a good one - CCCL.

If you find it doesn't give you enough hold, you could put a little gel on top, but it still won't be as crunchy as using gel by itself.

Please post back and let us know how you solved this issue.
2/c-3a Coarse hair med. density.
Highly porous. Color over grey.
I love all the Curl Junkie products. Still experimenting with gels and curl creams. Still hoping for 2nd day hair....
Every day is a gift