I have thick, curly hair that my mother didn't know how to style. I would cry when she brushed or combed it. When I was 5 yrs old she took me for a hair trimming and the hairdresser cut my hair wet. The hair may have been 8-10 inches long but it curled up into an afro. I was teased at school and I've been doing my own hair since then!
After years of cotton ball hair, I chemically relaxed my curls as a teenager, and only for the last maybe 5 years have I learned to manage and style my hair. The best product line I have found is from mixedchicks.net. It's moderately priced and is the best I have found and trust me I have tried them all! Read the testimonials. I think if you use "contact us" link on the site you can request a sample (ask for the leave-in conditioner). I also like Pantene's (Women of Color) Leave-In. It's heavier than others (like a lotion) but I like it. That whole product line is good to me. I also use "Let it SHINE! Glosser" as a finisher. The was a "Let it SHINE!" brand leave-in that I found once in this white rectangular bottle that must be discontinued because I can find it anymore.
My other suggestions: Never BRUSH curly hair, use a wide tooth comb or ventilated brush with stiff, spaced out prongs (not a sable or smoothing brush) to comb out tangles in the shower while hair has shampoo lathered in. Condition, rinse, and squeeze out excess water. Pat dry and apply leave in conditioner and run fingers through the hair. Or comb again if you have to. Let air dry or use a low setting on hair dryer.
For a tamed style, use your hands to section off sections of about 1 square inch or more (while still wet with leave-in conditioner) and twist in one direction starting at the root to create a tight coil and twirls the ends around your finger. You should be left with a "shirley temple" effect. Let air dry. Always avoid combing or brushing dry curls! This will cause breakage and frizz.
In 2010, I began designing a t-shirt line with my best friend who hosts Naturally Flyy Natural Hair Meetups in Detroit, MI. Here is a link to her Etsy store "Ettaflyy".