I actually did not use to use a lot of gel and still do not. I had a gel that I used for twisting so that I would get a better hold in my twist outs. I would however sort of "dilute" it by mixing it with my creamy leave in conditioner in an empty container - I would mix it while I used it. It did have some alcohol in it and a bit of protein. Since I did not use the Gel on its own I did not really feel dryness. Since FSG I just use that instead of my store bough stuff. Dryness seems to be a common theme people bring up when they talk about Gel. In my humble opinion it is probably the ingredients such as the levels of alcohol etc that can have this effect on SOME peoples hair (not EVERY experiences this).

Again, in my humble opinion if you do feel dryness with whatever Gel you are using, be it store bought or homemade, you might want to try and either add moisturizing ingredients into it or put something moisturizing on your hair before you apply the Gel. I usually always seal hair - but this is just me.

Now about ingredients searches , this is definitely something you will need to figure out. I am glad you looked them up. I am a little obsessive when I look at products. E.g while I was looking for the right conditioner I always went for moisturizing conditioners that had some form of moisturizing ingredient listed quite high up in the list. (If it is listen at the bottom it usually means they use hardly any of that particular ingredient). Also if water or aqua was not listed as the first item I would not buy it. Like I said a little obsessive! For protein I would always just make my own deep treatment. I really believe there needs to be a balance of both moisture and protein. The frequency of when you need to do a protein or moisturizing deep treatment will depend on your hair.

Dying your hair can cause porous hair because of the chemicals (again I do not want to say it definitely does). Everyone's hair is different, even if you have porous hair, it does not mean you have to use Proteins every week/two weeks because you could just end up with a protein overdoes.