WOW!!! I have no words, taking all this in..... First, I think it's a travesty what those salons did to you and all of the untrue incompetent advice that was given would otherwise set in motion a law suit!!
I'm really sorry to hear all of that bad news. I myself am an african american who have had my dreads since 1997 in which I started on my own. Not too many people liked them and I didn't get too many complements because I just let my hair do what it does. They dreaded naturally without all of the products and never ever have I been to a salon because I never wanted any other person to put their hands in my hair because I didn't want to pick up any negative energy or any other negative sources in my hair or aura.
That's amazing advice that S.E. gave to you and it seems that I have been doing most of the things that he recommended that you do as well aside from the advice that I too received from someone telling me to use beeswax on my dreads. I did that when I first started, but soon realized that it wasn't good for them. I put on here the other day that my dreads weren't tight at the roots, but after reading this conversation, it occured to me that they are just fine and that they should be just a tad bit loose at the roots. I'm so thankful and lucky that I have found this group because after all of these years of doing my own thing with my dreads and not really listening to people telling me to get them professionally done and go to someone, or go to a salon and let them muck them up!!!
I can muck them up on my own, but after all of these conversations on this site, I have really learned to love love love my hair and I'm just going to continue to let it do what it does on it's own.
So truly sorry for your disappointments and setbacks, but have no fear, I believe that you have come to the right and the best website out there. Bless S.E. and all of the other on this site and bless you too and good luck with your continuous journey now that you have been steered in the right direction.