Looking for styling products that don't dry out, flake, or feel sticky

I used to have 3b hair, thick and past my shoulders as a teenager. I never paid attention to my hair products back then, and it always looked fine. In the past five years, it's gotten thinner and more 3a. No styling products seem to work. Avoided sulfates and proteins, still no luck. Coconut oil dries it out. It's always dried out after I put gel or mousse in it. Flax seed gel was terribly sticky, flaky, stiff. Herbal essences mousse for curlies flaked a lot. Aussie protein free gel and suave also did this. Any easily accessible (drugstore) products that are protein free? My hair is soft after a bit of olive oil but the curls go limp without product, then are made to look like a brillo pad by my styling gel.

2 Answers

Honestly, I haven't found the world's best product, but this one is by far the best. I got it at Wal-Mart one day when I was ready just to give up on hair products. It was only $4. It's garnished fructis style curl sculpting cream gel. It's light weight and leaves my hair soft and touchable.  It's not flakey or sticky or anything. Give it a try. For $4, it's worth it.
Tresemme Flawless Curls: Curl Defining Gel is a great gel for difing you curls without your hair being terribly sticky, flaky, or stiff.