What Is an Esthetician in Skin Care?

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An esthetician is a professional who specializes in skin and skin care. Estheticians, sometimes spelled aestheticians, are trained in cosmetic treatments of the skin. 

Estheticians specialize in skin and skin care.

Estheticians, also called skin care therapists, specialize in cosmetic treatments of the skin.  If you've ever wondered what skin type you are or have trouble deciding on which skin care product to buy, you need an esthetician.

Estheticians can help create a daily skin care routine for you, suggest skin care products that are appropriate for your skin, and help you create healthy skin.

Estheticians work in salons, day spas, and dermatology offices.

Most estheticians work at salons, day spas or skin spas, and medispas.  Here they do various cosmetic procedures including facials, body treatments, and waxing.  Most estheticians offer a variety of spa treatments as well.

Some estheticians perform specialty treatments like microdermabrasion, superficial chemical peels, and certain light treatments. 

The salon is not the only place you'll find an esthetician -- your dermatologist may have one on staff.  They can perform procedures complementary to a doctor's treatment (like extracting blackheads and gently exfoliating the skin). Some estheticians work closely with dermatologists, either in-office or through a referral system.

Estheticians are licensed professionals.

All estheticians must be trained and licensed in the state that they are working in.  They complete 260 to 600 hours of training (depending on the state) and pass both a written and a practical, or hands-on, exam.

This is just to receive their license.  A good esthetician also completes many hours of post-graduate education and strives to stay abreast of the latest developments in skin care.

Although estheticians are professionals, they are not medical doctors so they can't diagnose skin conditions, prescribe medications, or suggest treatment for any skin condition outside of cosmetic products.  This means if you have a rash, your esthetician can't tell you what it is or how to treat it.   

An esthetician can help you treat acne.

Another thing an esthetician can do is help treat acne.  Mild breakouts can often be completely cleared with salon treatments and the products your esthetician suggests.  Although she can't treat moderate to severe breakouts, she can help you choose skin care products that work along with the prescription acne medications you get from your dermatologist.

When choosing an esthetician, find someone you feel comfortable with, someone who's respectful of your time and doesn't keep you waiting for your appointment, and is knowledgeable in the area that's most important to you (acne, or anti-aging treatments, for example.)

Next Steps:

What You Need to Know Before Seeing an Esthetician

What an Esthetician Can Do for Your Skin

What an Esthetician Can't Do for Your Skin

Should You See an Esthetician or a Dermatologist?


Gerson, Joel; Ph.D. Standard Textbook for Professional Estheticians. 8th edition. Albany, NY: Milady Publishing, 1999.

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