Oh yes - if you're making a paste, stop! That works really well for a little while, but over time, it really sucks.
I personally use something not so crunchy, I use Suave Tropical Coconut conditioner. In the scheme of commercial conditioners, it's not too terrible. I'm not too worried about parabens if they're on the bottom of the list (I think Suave *may* have some). The rest of the ingredients are really great. On days that I need extra moisturization, I use Mane & Tail conditioner (yup, for horses). It doesn't have any bad silicones in it and is nourishing.
After showering, if I rub some coconut oil on myself, I use whatever residue is left on my hands to rub down the length of my hair a little while it's wet. I comb with a detangling comb and blow dry as usual.
You can probably also add fun stuff to your baking soda solution, like a drop or so of jojoba oil, and some lavender essential oil. I'm sure you can try aloe too. Or you can do your no poo process and spritz your wet hair with a spray bottle of distilled water and EO's like lavender. Some other EO's may be drying or astringent, so make sure it's something that isn't drying (like cedarwood).
For me, I wanted my curls to come back and I didn't want to ruin my curls by shampooing everyday with a detergent shampoo, as it was doing. Also, I couldn't go a day without shampooing because my head would itch so badly. With no poo, I don't have the itchy, scabby scalp anymore and I can skip a few days of having to clean my scalp. I still put something moisturizing on the ends of my hair so that it stays nice, but I don't have to scrub my scalp everyday, I can just wet my hair, moisturize the ends if I want, and style as usual.