First off, ditto on what everyone is saying about how gorgeous your hair is. I'm sorry that folks in your town how made you feel like your hair is freakish or strange because, honey, your hair is bomb.
Anyway I was going to ask what products other than conditioner you are using. I definitely recommend going experimenting with products before you experiment with a permanent chemical process. Have you tried medium hold gels? My hair looks similar to the picture you posted of your hair wet. I find that if I use a leave in conditioner and then shingle in a gel my roots do not shrink and I don't have problems with tangles.
Also I think that wetting your hair frequently (like once a day or once every other day) and reapplying conditioner and gel may help you with tangles/shrinkage/matting. Basically I wet and finger-comb my hair every day and I use a cleansing conditioner every other day. After wetting I always reapply and leave-in and then gel. I've found that this keeps my curls elongated, defined, and tangle-free.
P.S. Do you have a target in your town. There are some great gels there.
Originally Posted by shainala

I'm not really a products buff, but this is what I use:
Suave Conditioner, Arbonne Tea Tree Shampoo (rarely), Carol's Daughter Vanilla Spray, sometimes the Elixir in DTs and prepoos... some homemade avocado butter that a friend gave me... I have a heat protectant spray for when I iron, BEDHEAD I think... I have also used that Aussie Moist, but I ran out months ago, and haven't bought more. I love it, but I just don't ever remember.

That's about it!

There is no Target, but there is one a few hours away...

Here's my experience with shingling (it's like the Tightly Curly method, no?) Using conditioner, aussie moist, and any kind of butter I've devised, (and I do have a garnier creamy gel that I bought just for the shingling) I sectioned the hair further after my shower. I loaded up each section with product, brushed with the denman, then started pulling it apart and working towards the clumping part. I get some pretty clumps, but they don't dry pretty... And I never finger detangle, it takes crazy long, and as the strands pull across and rub on each other, they catch more hairs causing it to just get tangled up on the other end anyways. And again, I don't like touching my hair.

I got it all denman-ed and teezer-ed and half of it had shrunken up (where I started) and the other half was slowly crawling upwards. It also had swelled outwards (I like my hair against my scalp if loose, otherwise it just turns into a fuzzy mess as soon as it dries). So, i worked towards pulling it together, back, and getting it into a poof (which I don't do anymore, too many scraggly ends, too annoying to wrap). By the time it had dried, it was stuck. I think my strands do something with product that turn it into tacky glue, so that the next day, or once it dries, trying to undo it and "refresh it" is just starting all over again.

I'm lazy. I'm sure all of this would be better if I had someone doing it for me, or if I could drive somewhere on a regular basis. But loose natural styles, not twists, braided, or sectioned hair, dries into a lifeless, dull mess and breaks along the shaft.

I'm thinking of trying the "diffuser" idea! I lost the attachment for my dryer ages ago, but I'll come up with something!