I can totally relate - figuring out what works is quite a journey. I found Curly Girl about a year ago when the author Lorraine Massey came to speak at a local author event. I bought a travel pack of her DevaCurl products that evening to try out, and had great results after the first use, though like you, I had to refine my process over time. I used DevaCurl products exclusively for several months, but it was a little pricey for me, so I tried some other options.
Now I use Queen Helene's Royal Curl Moisture Rich Conditioner, and Curl Shaping Creme (gel), which I can usually find at natural food stores, like Whole Foods. I haven't been able to find a replacement I like for a sulfate/phthalate/petroluem/paraben-free shampoo, so I still indulge in using the DevaCurl No-Poo. I order it through Amazon, which saves me a few bucks over buying it at Beauty Brands.
I hadn't heard of the Rake-n-Shake method - I'll have to give that a try!
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