Have you read the Curly Girl book yet? If so, I think you should because it would give you some really helpful tips and advice.
My hair sounds likes yours before I started CG. It has helped improve the waves and curls so much. Just from stopping the use of sulfate shampoos was a huge step in the right direction! I either condition wash with one of the Suave Naturals conditioners, or wash with Devacurl No-Poo
(no lather), or Devacurl Low-Poo
or Jessicurl Hair Cleansing Cream
. Both of these are very gentle cleansers.
I find that mousse products have never worked well for me when it came to enhancing curl, they just created more poof. Any of the following products will help to enhance your curl:
-this works great on those canopy areas that are more resistant.
Jessicurl Rocking Ringlets
is like a lighter version of this and in a spray bottle.)
- a great creamy curl enhancing product!
Jessicurl Awe-Inspiralling spray
(most people use it as a midday curl refresher/reviver and on second day hair when you just need a touch-up instead of rewashing your hair).
Batia & Aleeza bio-mineral gel
- if you don't normally like gels because of their texture or because they make your hair too stiff or crunchy, you would love this because it's almost like water but leaves a wonderful natural hold and to me it enhances the curls and waves a bit, and gives nice chunky curls.
Qhemet Biologics Karite Nut Curl Milk
- very moisturizing curl enhancing milk.
Boots Curl Creme
- very moisturizing curl-enhancer.
- another nice, light-feeling gel, works great over Devacurl One Condition
Biosilk Roch Hard Gelee
- The name is a bit scary for people who don't like gels, but it really does enhance the curl, and if you use a leave-in underneath or mix with another soft styling product, it won't be as stiff or crunchy.
All of the above products can be found at CurlMart, except for Boots and Biosilk. Boots can only be ordered through BritSuperStore online, or sometimes here on the swapboard. The Biosilk can be found almost anywhere. I last bought it at my closest grocery store. Since you live in California, you might could find a place nearby that sells the Jessicurl items. If you look on her webpage then you can find a listing of locations that sell it.
I would make sure what you're using doesn't have any cones in the ingredients that would cause build-up. Because then you would need a harsher cleanser to remove them.