Scrunching with a t-shirt: before or after applying gel?

My hair really needs help boosting/lifting my curl up, otherwise I just have long lazy waves. Plopping helps but it makes my curl pattern weirdly deformed in the back, so I'm taking a break from plopping (and styling upside down in general).

Scrunching with a cotton t-shirt while bending over to the side does really help define the curls, but I can't decide if it's better to do this before or after applying my gel. I want to do whatever is better for increased clumping and holding the curl all day long.

I know that everyone says to apply product to super-wet hair, but if I do that and then scrunch several times with a t-shirt to remove the excess water and shape the curls, aren't I removing a lot of my product in the process?

What works for you all? Why is this so confusing to me? :-/
I would apply most of my gel to soaking wet hair then use the t-shirt to scrunch out the water. I follow us with a small amount afterwards mostly over the canopy and scrunch a little to. I sometimes forget the second part and it really doesnt make much difference. If you dont like any crunch skip the second part because even with drying the gel is still on your hair
Having soaking wet hair, I give it one scrunch with my hands. Then apply my goop and give it maybe a few hand scrunches (so I can feel the distribution), then I take my t-shirt and do a semi-plop, just long enough to get out of the shower, dry off, etc. Then I remove the t-shirt and flip my hair over (the way it should be) and scrunch with the t-shirt.

So, I guess I scrunch with my t-shirt AFTER the gel.
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Location - WI
3a/3b thick coarse WL dark brown hair. CG/Mod CG since: 5/4/05. Current products: Right now my hair is in such a tizzy over this winter weather we are hving that nothing really seems to be working. I need a haircut.
I've tried before, after, and both.
I seem to be settling in to a routine now where I do it after, since I'm again trying to squish all my product into very wet hair. I sometimes give a scrunch or two with my hands to get rid of some of the excess. I had worried that I was going to remove all the product with the towel by doing it after, but it doesn't seem to happen.
It's really a lot of trial & error, so don't let it frustrate you. A lot of us have to experiment for a long time until we are happy with it -- and then you get another product or another idea and you try it all sorts of ways all over again.
2-something? Coarse, medium underneath. Mid-back. On CG since 5/9/07.
Washing COs: VO5 Blackberry, Suave Cherry
Detangle and leave-in: Sally's GVP Conditioning Balm -- I found my HG CO!
Seal with camellia oil
Leave-in: Aura cherry almond
Gels: Homemade FSG, Eco-styler
Plus: SOTC or smooth with camellia oil, JC Nourish & Shine
Homemade food-based DTs
RC color
After, too.
3a bsl highlted hair ; mod CG since 6/4/07
current favs: JC's HCC and GLS, B2B Pom Co (old form.), Alagio Crzy Crl Balm
I scrunch with a tshirt after applying all my products-my hair is still very wet and before diffusing. When my hair is dry - I decrunchify with my hands only.
Central Massachusetts

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I'm still experimenting and I've found it depends on the gel. Paul Mitchell Round Trip I can apply after. AOMM, before because my hair needs to be very wet.
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Playing with my hair is a hobby. Fluffy, fine natural 4a. Goal= Healthy, beautiful hair that retains its length.
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