Design Essentials Is a Must-Know Brand for Naturals Who Switch Up Their Styles

Woman swings her beaded braids

Whitney Finuf / Stocksy

Cornell McBride, Sr. launched Design Essentials in 1990 to provide customers with salon-quality hair from the comfort of their homes. From the beginning, the emphasis was always on education and product knowledge. McBride’s first foray into the haircare market—M&M Products, launched with classmate Therman McKenzie while still in college—developed the formula that eventually became Sta-Sof-Fro. When McBride later launched McBride Research Laboratories, he used his knowledge and expertise as a registered pharmacist to develop innovative haircare, including Design Essentials.

Design Essentials

Founded: By Cornell McBride, Sr., in 1990

Location: Georgia

Pricing: $$

Best known for: The Design Essentials Classic Collection and The Almond and Avocado Collection

Standout product: The African Chebe Growth Collection, a range of products created with Type 4 hair in mind. The brand partnered directly with communities in Chad to source its chebe powder fair trade. 

Fun fact: Design Essentials' products were recently used by cinema stylist Camille Friend during the filming of Wakanda Forever and the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid

Other brands you’ll love: Mielle Organics, Curlsmith, Matrix, Keracare 

The brand’s mission is to empower consumers by providing them with professional-grade products and education so that they can protect and style their hair simultaneously—leading to better hair days that make them feel confident and beautiful. In 2010, the brand launched the Design Essentials Natural Collections—Almond and Avocado, Agave and Lavender, Coconut and Monoi, and the Skin and Scalp Care Collection—created to provide naturals with products that simplify the styling process regardless of their curl pattern. 

Keep reading to learn all about the best offerings from Design Essentials.

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Rosemary & Mint Stimulating Super Moisturizing Conditioner

Design Essentials Rosemary & Mint Conditioner
Design Essentials Rosemary & Mint Stimulating Super Moisturizing Conditioner $13.00

Rosemary and mint are the "perfect hair duo," according to the brand: Rosemary improves circulation and strengthens hair, while peppermint helps to calm inflammation on the scalp. Ideal for dry hair, this five-star rated moisturizing conditioner softens, detangles, and smooths hair cuticles and calms inflammation while nourishing hair follicles. Re-energizing and soothing the scalp, it leaves hair stronger and more moisturized, helping with length retention.

02 of 05

Peppermint & Aloe Soothing Scalp Tonic

Design Essentials Scalp Tonic
Design Essentials Peppermint & Aloe Soothing Scalp Tonic $11.00

The Peppermint & Aloe Scalp Tonic helps to remove dirt particles and excess oils that contribute to skin and scalp irritation. The natural peppermint and aloe work together to calm, soothe, and stimulate the scalp while providing itch relief. This one can be used as a pre-shampoo or leave-in scalp treatment, depending on your hair’s needs.

03 of 05

Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse

Almond & Avocado Curl Mousse
Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse $17.00

Ideal for all curl types, the Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse pumps up definition and separates curls and coils. It dries quickly, does not flake, and provides hair with a luminous shine while reducing frizz. The mousse contains olive oil and vitamin B complex to add moisture and shine and is free from parabens, paraffins, and mineral oil. And did we mention that it’s a professional fave? It was used by cinema stylist Camille Friend during the filming of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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Scalp & Skin Care Anti-Itch & Tension Relief

Design Essentials Scalp Relief
Design Essentials Scalp & Skin Care Anti-Itch & Tension Relief $10.00

If you can’t seem to get any relief from an itchy scalp, you might want to give this product a try. With a penetrating blend of natural oils and nutrients that have been formulated to calm and soothe dry, itchy, sore, and irritated scalps, you won’t be scratching the itch away for much longer. The brand recommends this product for anyone with braids, extensions, or other protective styles. For best results, apply the oil directly to the affected area (scalp or skin) and massage it in.

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Agave & Lavender Blow Dry & Silk Press Collections

Design Essentials Agave & Lavender Collection
Design Essentials Agave & Lavender Blow Dry & Silk Press Collections $45.00

If you’re a natural who likes to switch from curly to straight styles—but aren’t sure how to care for your hair in between transitions—this collection has you covered. Formulated with lavender, agave extract, and mango fruit butters, it works to transform natural textures into shiny straight silk presses or bouncy blow-outs without breaking the hair or destroying its natural curl pattern. The result? Restored moisture levels and healthier-looking straight styles.

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