I just noticed pretty much the same thing yesterday.
I decided to go "naked" (had nowhere to go) and I'm very pleasantly surprised! I wasn't CG this summer and I have a very embarrassing picture of my hair without product back then. I couldn't get anything to work and I was on vacation so I just said screw it. Looking back at that pic I vowed to never leave the house without a boat load of product. And my hair always felt dry.
Fast forward to today and my hair actually looks decent without product, like I could and would leave the house, and it is so soft! I think the difference is going full CG and finding out my hair properties