My hair doesn't care for gel, either--it's the chemicals. I use, what I call, jelly products. The gelatinous consistency without the chemicals.
Haircut is a must. You need to have your hair shaped, freshen the ends and get the right layering to "lighten" things up and allow your curls to form.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08
HGs: Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; DM MiraCurls Curling Gelly; UFD Curly Magic; Shescentit LIs; Sevi conditioners; Botanical Spirits Puree, CJ Repair Me