In my experience, gel always makes my hair hard. The two things that I do to fight that are 1) use less product and 2) scrunch out the crunch (SOTC) with my bare hands or with a little oil or pomade. HTH
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Favorite products:
Shampoo: KC Come Clean
Conditioner: Tresemme Naturals
Styling: Donna Marie Dream Curling Cream, EcoStyler Gel (pink)