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What Is an Aesthetician?

February 23, 2021

An aesthetician is someone who specializes in skincare and skin conditions. This is a clinical profession that overlaps with the field of luxury self-care. Aestheticians work in several environments where they treat complicated skin issues and offer various skincare services. In this article, we'll teach you about what an aesthetician is and how to become one.

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What is an aesthetician?

An aesthetician is a licensed practitioner who works at a salon, spa or in a medical setting, administering skincare treatments and offering advice. They may also give beauty services like facials, massages, body wraps, waxing, and manicures or pedicures. Although they offer these beauty services, aestheticians can also work with patients like burn victims to administer clinical skin treatments.

Aestheticians use their professional knowledge of skincare products and therapeutic interventions in skincare to recommend products that patients can use at home for skin issues. Advanced techniques include cool sculpting and other non-surgical treatments.

How to become an aesthetician

There are certain steps that must be taken to become an aesthetician, including:

Enroll and complete a cosmetology program

To get the specialized training you need to perform skincare services, you need to take a cosmetology course. Education requirements for aestheticians vary from state to state. In some cases, aestheticians may need to have a full cosmetology license, and in other cases, it may be more beneficial to enroll in skin care-specific courses through a cosmetology program.

Medical aestheticians may be required to undergo additional training, which can be achieved on the job or by taking additional specialized coursework that allows you to get a job at a medical practice. To understand what you need to do to become an aesthetician or medical aesthetician, contact your state and local cosmetology board.

Some states allow aestheticians to swap apprenticeship hours for education requirements. Most programs for cosmetology can be completed in about a year, and a completion certificate is received at the end of the program.

Obtain your license

Once you've completed the coursework necessary for your career path, you need to obtain your aesthetician license. In many cases, this includes taking both a written exam and practical test in front of a cosmetology board. In other cases, you may need one or the other.

Think about being a Master Aesthetician

To become an even more skilled aesthetician, consider getting Master Aesthetician training and licensure. In some cases, this may double the length of your aesthetician program. It's 600 additional hours of training. This is a medically focused program, so those seeking to work with clinical skin conditions should consider taking Master Aesthetician coursework toward certification.

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Aesthetician vs. esthetician

There's no clear consensus on what it means to be an aesthetician vs esthetician. In some cases, it's simply just dropping a letter. After all, aestheticians can work in several settings from relaxing spa-type environments to medical facilities, and in most cases, the training is similar regardless of where you work.

However, the distinction between esthetician and aesthetician is often made when it comes to medical versus non-medical professionals. Some people use the term esthetician to include those people who work exclusively at spas, specializing in facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing and massage. Conversely, an aesthetician might be viewed as a career path in a clinical setting, working with solutions for people suffering from several skin injuries and conditions.

Education-wise, the differences are negligible. Someone who wants to become a medical aesthetician can take additional coursework as mentioned, but it's not typically required. Someone who has completed the requirements and achieved an aesthetician license in their state can get an entry-level job as a medical aesthetician and can be trained in several emerging specialties.

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What does an aesthetician do?

An aesthetician routinely performs several important duties in the skincare profession. These include:

  • Facials and spa services: In most cases, aestheticians perform spa services like facial massage, body massage, waxing, sugaring, manicures, pedicures, light therapy, face and body wraps, microdermabrasion, pore cleaning, body scrubs, makeup application and product recommendations.

  • Medical and clinical services: In some cases, they perform medical services like acne treatment, offer pre- and post-operation skincare treatment and help manage the impact of skin diseases, injuries and outbreaks, like rashes.

  • Non-surgical services: Aestheticians also perform non-surgical cosmetic treatments like cool sculpting, laser resurfacing and rejuvenation, laser hair removal, thermage, chemical peels and more. These professionals sometimes offer services like this in a plastic surgery setting.

As far as working conditions go, in all cases, aestheticians should be prepared to stand on their feet for long hours, while working. They must be able to help move people and equipment, so there are some physical demands of the job. They should be able to work with their hands and they may need to have strength in their hands to perform some massage techniques.

Whether at a spa or clinic, aestheticians should expect to prioritize cleanliness and sterilization. They may be asked to operate certain tools of the trade, which could vary depending on the setting. This could include extremely cold or very hot tools that require specialized training. Aestheticians may receive on-the-job training to help them specialize in a particular field of skincare.

A typical day in the life of an aesthetician includes taking patients, usually by appointment, and offering a range of therapeutic skincare services that can assist in the mental and physical well-being of patients, whether in a medical or spa setting.

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