Hi sunglassed! Welcome!
First off, I believe the "newbies, welcome" has answers on how to classify your hair type. Basically, if it's straight, you're a type 1. If it's wavy, you're a type 2 (with A, B, and C specifying just how wavy you are). If your hair is curly, then you're a type 3 (with again, A B and C). If your hair is kinky, then you're a 4-- which I believe has type A and B normally, but I'm not positive.
Second, if you venture onto the "General Discussion about curly hair" board, you'll find a lot of people talking about CG, no poo, 'cones, etc. A lot of terms like this are confusing, but you can find a glossary in, hmm, well, there used to be one somewhere around here. In any case, the curlies are all very helpful.
But the philosophy held by most board members, to whatever extent, is that curly hair needs to be treated gently. Many members here try to avoid hair products with ingredients that are drying, like alcohols and sulfates, because dry hair = split ends and frizzies. So that means conditioner is important! Happy curls are pretty curls. Experiment with your hair and figure out what it likes, and be nice to it!
As for applying gel, most everyone applies it when their hair is wet, but there are disputes over the best way
to apply. Generally there are two camps, those who rake and those who scrunch-- and many (like me) who do a combination! Raking involves combing the gel through your wet hair with your fingers from roots to ends. Scrunching is squeezing the gel onto your curls from the bottom upward. The advantage of raking is that the gel (or whatever product) is distributed evenly, while the advantage of scrunching is that your curl formation isn't broken up.
Speaking of breaking up curl formation, one of the easiest ways to reduce poofiness is to NOT break up the curls! Don't brush your hair, and only comb in the shower when it's wet and conditioned... that way your curls stay in nice ringlets. And try not to touch your hair as it dries, as hard as that is!
Anyway, this is just a very brief summary of all that can be learned here. Explore, read, ask questions! You'll get more replies if you post in the Hair forum, by the way. And have fun! Curly hair is a blast!