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    Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist | Guide to Two Popular Beauty Careers

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    When people are thinking about attending a beauty school to begin a new profession, they regularly ask “An esthetician vs cosmetologist, what are the similarities and differences between these 2 beauticians?” Although the two are related, both are diverse and distinct branches of the beauty industry.

    When you think about taking a beauty course in one of the top cosmetology schools, it’s vital to have all the information about estheticians and cosmetologists in order to select a suitable career.

    If you will familiarize yourself with these 2 beauty careers, it will give you an overall idea of what every program contains and what to anticipate.

    Let’s look at their similarities and the differences outlined below.

    Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist: Similarities and Differences


    Here are some similarities between a cosmetologist and an esthetician:

    • Both aim to make people appear and feel more attractive.
    • Both are experts.  Cosmetologists and estheticians need to have a license to work. In many states, you have to pass an exam in order to get a license.  
    • To be any of these beauty experts, you need to attend a beauty school where you will learn all the techniques of taking care of the body.
    • At some point, estheticians and cosmetologists work at the same place. Spas and salons are regular workplaces for these two beauty experts.
    •  In several cases, cosmetologists do provide estheticians services. This may depend on the country you live in and the school you will attend. Although cosmetologists can at some point do similar roles that estheticians do, it can’t be done the other way round.
    • In every major beauty school, both students of aesthetics and cosmetology gain hands-on experience while learning. Apart from lectures and reading textbooks, students gain experience by providing services to actual clients.
    •  In both cosmetology and esthetic school, you will be trained to run your own business. Basic beauty entrepreneurship is important so as to be your own boss in the future.


    Each of the two beauty experts has their main specialization:


    The skin is the estheticians’ major focus. Estheticians specialize in making the skin look beautiful, healthy and radiant. How do they accomplish this? Here are several things estheticians do every day:

    • They clean and moisturize the face
    • Remove skin hair by waxing
    • Fix extension of eyelashes
    • Do skin therapy by use of LED light
    • Do microdermabrasion
    • Apply Makeup
    • Give derma-peeling treatments

    Esthetics is the study of the skin. You can learn many diverse ways to make the skin radiant. Students in esthetic schools can be exposed to a variety of techniques on skincare and beautification.


    Cosmetologists focus mostly on the hair. At a cosmetology school, students learn to cut, dye and style hair among others. If you go to a salon to have your hair done, mostly you will get a licensed cosmetologist who will work on your hair. Cosmetologists perform several services on a day to day basis. They include:

    • Styling the hair
    • Cutting hair
    • Applying dye on the hair
    • Giving the hair a perm
    • Treating hair
    • Artistic skills in make-up

    Specialization and Licensure

    A cosmetologist is an expert in styling hair, taking care of skin, nails and the overall beauty of the body.

    Though students studying cosmetology get some education on taking care of the skin, the main focus of their studies is hairstyling and other things related to the hair.

    On the other hand, an esthetician is an expert technician who has completed special training in skincare. Anesthetics school mostly deals with the skin’s anatomy and physiology. It also deals with the chemistry of the ingredients, appropriate techniques in skincare and improved skin treatments.

    Licensing requirements differ in every state. Many of the Cosmetology and Esthetics schools demand that students be 17 years and above and have a diploma in high school or something else that equates to that.

    The amount of time taken to finish the program depends on the class lectures and the practical work required in mastering everything on the information and expertise. This is a licensing requirement.

    Many programs for cosmetology take from 1000 to 2400 hours to get a license, while esthetics programs take about 600 hours.

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    Education Requirements

    Cosmetology training requires a high school graduate or a GED before starting the coursework. In several areas, this is also a prerequisite for state approval. After graduation, there are usually two ways to go to cosmetology school.

    Many students take the complete cosmetology program. You will learn how to do haircuts, take care of nails and skin in the program. You also learn how to apply the dye, style hair and also the perm technique.

    There are students who choose to attend hairdressing schools that deal with hair care only. Some beauty schools also provide the same hair and esthetics programs but these are shorter.

    In esthetics, training and education as an esthetician are done in community colleges, cosmetology schools, and schools of esthetics or technical institutions. Certificate courses generally take only 1 or 2 semesters to complete.

    Studying time may vary depending on the program or the requirements of state licensing. A certificate program comprises of courses in a variety of subjects and also diverse service types which comprise of:

    • Skin cleansing
    • Face treatment
    • Foot reflexology
    • Makeup application
    • Self-tanning
    • Waxing procedures
    skin care

    Skin Care Treatments

    Usual skin treatments that an esthetician performs include microdermabrasion, massage of the face, deep cleansing treatments and many more. A cosmetologist usually cuts the hair, styles it and applies dyes rather than taking care of the skin.

    Esthetics and the Medical Field

    An esthetician can work with medical experts to perform or help with various procedures. Estheticians are required in hospitals, dermatological and plastic surgery centers, and many other health care centers.

    The role of an esthetician working in a medical environment includes taking care of patients in the burn unit, treating damaged skin of chemotherapy patients, giving treatments to patients with skin diseases or chemical peels caused by acne, just to name a few.

    A detailed esthetics training program will provide the knowledge needed when working in a medical environment.


    If you’re looking for a job that will put your hair creativity to the best, cosmetology is the best option. Cosmetologists are styling experts who take care of the hair in general. Their work includes conditioning, shampooing, coloring, cutting of the hair, just to name a few.

    For those who want to be best in making the skin look great, esthetic is the best choice. An esthetician carries out special care treatments for the skin. Both jobs take some time to study and require a lot of commitment.