How about checking out the threads with your hair type? There might be some info on products? Also, somewhere on this site, you can see the reviews for diff products (ratings too) along with mention wrt diff ingredients.
My understanding of this 'whole process' is that there are two main goals - cleaning and conditioning in a way that not only stops stripping your hair, but also protects, nourishes, etc; and then styling your hair, which at a minimum should not harm your hair.
Many have found that by ditching sulfate shampoos, and then avoiding most silicones (so, going Curly Girl, or modified Curly Girl), their curl improves on it own. Some before and after pics are amazing!
Again, I'm sure that you have read this already, but when you are ready to ditch the sulfate shampoo, and if you choose to stop silicones too, you will need to clarify your hair to remove build up from past products.
I found a bottle of Live Clean shampoo (sulphate free) that says that it is clarifying, using apple cider vinegar.
Not sure if I am answering your questions! Am tired tonight, probably shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard right now ha!
Growing out a pixie (last big cut July 2012)
3a? 3b? Fine, dense. Porous.
Finally sulfate free. Avoiding silicones.