I completely understand what you mean on all accounts. I am loving that I'm getting so much curl, but frankly it's more work- certainly more temperamental- right now. I'm holding out hope that when I perfect my routine it will be easier. My issue is that when I wore my hair "straight", I have it a quick blow dry and ran a large curling iron through it for loose waves- and that would last me about 3-4 days. So yeah, there was work involved on day one but I'm not used to having to "deal" with my hair on a daily basis.

For loosening up your waves, what if you applied your product in the shower to detangle and smooth? Then instead of scrunching at all, squeeze all the water out with a towel. I wouldn't plop if you're looking for smooth waves. When I plop, I get big ringlets, I used to say I had waves.
Curly work in progress
2C with some 3A if all the stars align
Low porosity, medium to low density and fine
No sulfates since 2009
CG since 2013

In my stash:
Shampoos and conditioners- Tresemme Naturals Low Poo, Tresemme Naturals Moisturizing Aloe, Suave Naturals Coconut
Leave Ins- Kinky Curly Knot Today
Stylers- KCCC, AG Recoil, KY Lubricant (yup), SM Curl Milk
Gels- Ecostyler, Biosilk RHG
Mousse- Devacurl Uplifting Foam, Suave Captivating Curls