The Lamen


by | Jan 23, 2023

What is an esthetician?

An illustration of the services offered by an esthetician.

An esthetician is a licensed skin care professional trained to perform treatments of skin beautification. An esthetician, also spelled as an aesthetician, primarily works in spas, salons, private practices, or a doctor’s office.

They perform cosmetic treatments such as body scrubs, chemical peels, extractions, laser resurfacing, waxing, and microdermabrasion.

All procedures performed by an esthetician are non-invasive, only dealing with the topmost layers of the skin.

Non-surgical aesthetic procedures are becoming increasingly popular, with people using them not only to maintain or improve their skin’s health but also as a form of stress relief.

While estheticians can help you with a variety of skincare procedures, it is all limited to non-surgical cosmetic skincare techniques. An esthetician is not a doctor or physician, and hence cannot prescribe medicines or treat medical conditions.

If you think you have a certain skin condition, you should always consult a certified dermatologist or your doctor about it.

In case a medical condition is diagnosed, an esthetician might be able to support your treatment with complementary cosmetic treatments.

What does an esthetician do?

Estheticians are knowledgeable about the skin and can provide a range of non-invasive cosmetic treatments to improve the appearance as well as the health of your skin.

An esthetician begins by performing a skin analysis of the client. This may involve the following steps:

  • Visual and touch evaluation. The esthetician will look at your skin to evaluate its overall condition. This includes things such as tone, texture, the presence of certain skin conditions such as acne, and any visible signs of damage or irritation.
  • Questionnaire. The esthetician will ask you several questions to establish a genetic history and external factors that might be affecting your skin. These may include:
    • Lifestyle (exercise, stress, sun exposure, smoking)
    • Medical history (major conditions, allergies, medications, surgeries)
    • Cosmetic history (previous procedures, home remedies, reactions, surgical treatments)
    • Nutrition (diet and hydration)
    • Family history (of dermatological conditions)
  • Analysis with equipment. Once the esthetician has conducted a general test for the skin conditions of the client through the questionnaire, they might use specific equipment to assess their specific skin type. This involves:
    • moisture test (skin hydration)
    • oil content (sebum)
    • melanin
    • erythema (redness of the skin)
    • pH test

Based on your skin evaluation, the esthetician will prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

  • acne treatments
  • facials
  • chemical peels
  • blackhead extractions
  • microdermabrasion
  • waxing or hair removal
  • extractions
  • laser skin rejuvenation

Successful treatments may lead to improved skin health, along with visible signs such as:

  • improved skin texture and tone
  • reduction in acne and other conditions
  • decreased signs of aging
  • improved appearance
  • reverse sun damage
  • relaxation

For your skin health, it is always important that you visit a silenced aesthetician for any form of treatment.

Estheticians in all states except for Connecticut require a state license, with some states such as Utah and Washington D.C. even licensing master estheticians.

Esthetician services and treatments

Esthetics is not a medical practice, and therefore estheticians are not allowed to diagnose or treat skin conditions or diseases. Instead, they work in offices of medical practitioners such as dermatologists, or in spas and salons, and exclusively provide non-surgical cosmetic skincare advice and treatment.

Here are some of the most common treatments that estheticians provide.


There are several reasons you might want to get a facial, including:

  • improved skin appearance
  • manage specific skin conditions
  • promote relaxation
  • improved blood circulation

An esthetician can use products in a facial according to your needs. They will avoid using products that might irritate your skin, tailoring the treatment according to a client’s skin type.

A facial typically consists of:

  • Deep cleanse. To get the most out of your facial, the first step is to start your clean skin. This involves cleansing your skin of any makeup, lotion, or sebum with a skin-specific cleanser.
  • Exfoliate. Your body is losing thousands of dead skin cells every minute of the day. Exfoliation involves the removal of these dead skin cells. This can be achieved using physical exfoliators such as facial scrubs, or chemical exfoliators.
  • Facial steam. Once your skin has been cleansed and exfoliated, you can steam your skin. This dilates the pores and hydrates your skin, increasing blood flow and making extractions easier.
  • Extraction. An extraction involves removing the blackheads in your skin using a specific extractor tool.
  • Masks. Facial masks come in a variety of forms, including clay masks, creams, gels, and sheets. The perfect face mask for you depends on your skin type. For example, clay masks are great for people with oily skin, while cream masks tend to drier skin.
  • Serum and moisturize. Serums tackle specific skin conditions, such as pigmentation and wrinkles. They contain several beneficial active ingredients, such as vitamins C, E, and antioxidants. After the treatment, applying a skin-specific moisturizer ensures that your skin is protected from any environmental irritants and dryness.
  • Massage. A facial massage is a perfect way to complete this treatment, as it leads to improved blood circulation, increased collagen production, and improved lymphatic drainage.

 In general, most facials last between 60 to 90 minutes, with a complete treatment taking the longest.

Acne treatments

Acne is a skin condition that affects your hair follicles and oil glands, causing conditions such as blackheads, cysts, and pimples. Acne is a very common condition and can be caused by things like clogged pores, hormonal changes, or hair removal.

Acne treatment performed by an esthetician typically involves a number of steps and generally results in the reduction of future acne and improved appearance of the skin.

The treatment typically involves the following steps:

  • cleansing
  • exfoliation
  • extraction
  • facial mask
  • serum
  • cream
  • sun protection

Getting an acne treatment from an esthetician is often enough to manage mild acne. However, you should always see a dermatologist if you’re experiencing moderate to severe acne.

In such cases, the acne treatment performed by an esthetician is typically part of a larger skincare plan. It may be combined with certain medications or at-home skincare regimens to improve the appearance of acne-prone skin.

Body scrubs

Estheticians don’t just tend to the skin on your face, but your body as well. Just like a face scrub, a body scrub is a mechanical exfoliation treatment, where a mild abrasive such as walnut shells are used to remove the dead skin cells on your skin.

This gets rid of old, dead skin cells while stimulating skin cell production, resulting in better-looking skin while preventing further acne and pimples.

The most common types of body scrubs used by estheticians are:

  • salt scrubs
  • sugar scrubs
  • fruit-based scrubs
  • coffee scrubs
  • herbal scrubs

Besides body scrubs, an esthetician might use other full-body treatments such as a body mask or rap to help improve your complexion and hydrate your skin.

Hair removal

Hair removal treatments can help reduce the amount of unwanted or excess body hair, making it easier for you to feel more confident in the pool, or on the beach.

Several estheticians specialize in hair removal treatments, but the type of treatment they might use for you will differ according to your requirements.

A hair removal treatment can be a tedious process at times, and may include the following steps:

  • Cleanse. The esthetician prepares the skin for hair removal by cleaning it with a gentle cleanser and typically applying a pre-treatment product to soften your hair.
  • Hair removal. The esthetician will use a hair removal method, such as waxing or tweezing, to remove the unwanted hair. The treatment depends upon several factors.
  • Post-removal care. After the process of hair removal is complete, the esthetician will typically apply a post-treatment product to soothe the skin, reducing redness and irritation.

An esthetician may use one or multiple of the following hair removal methods:

  • waxing
  • threading
  • tweezing
  • electrolysis
  • laser hair removal

It is important to note that hair removal treatments performed by an esthetician may need to be repeated every few weeks or months, depending on the specific hair removal method being used and the rate of hair growth.

It’s also important to remember the cost associated with each procedure since they vary greatly in scope and intensity.

Standard waxes would typically be one-time fees ranging from $40 to $100 per session whereas more substantial procedures like lasering may cost anywhere between $200 to $500 upfront plus additional charges for monthly visits.

Blackhead extractions

Blackheads are small bumps on your skin, particularly on the face, neck, and back, due to clogged hair follicles. They can be caused due to excess oil production, hormonal changes, or accumulation of dead skin cells.

Extraction is a process in which an esthetician uses a round loop tool called the comedone extractor to gently press on the skin around the blackhead to extract it. This procedure must be performed gently to avoid damaging the skin.

After extracting the blackheads from your skin, the esthetician will clean and treat your skin with a toner or some other products to reduce inflammation, avoid bacterial buildup, and promote healing.

A blackhead extraction immediately gives your skin an improved appearance, along with a reduction in acne and preventing new blackheads from forming.


Microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliation treatment where an esthetician removes the dead cells from your skin using an abrasive surface such as a diamond-tip handpiece or a crystal-emitting handpiece.

The treatment is generally painless and can provide the following benefits to your skin:

  • improve texture
  • reduce signs of aging (fine lines, wrinkles)
  • improved skin tone
  • reduce signs of hyperpigmentation
  • improve overall skin appearance

Microdermabrasion can lead to mild swelling, redness, and tenderness. These symptoms generally go away within a few hours, and you should avoid irritating your skin during this period.

The microdermabrasion process itself lasts 30-45 minutes, an hour at most.

Scalp treatments

A scalp treatment involves a variety of techniques to improve the appearance, and more importantly the health of your scalp.

A poorly maintained scalp can lead to a variety of conditions, including:

  • dryness and itchiness
  • dandruff
  • scalp infections
  • hair loss

The scalp treatment an esthetician might perform depends upon the individual’s scalp condition and requirements. Some of the common steps included in this treatment are:

  • cleansing
  • exfoliating
  • massage
  • masks and serums
  • styling

You must remember that an esthetician will tend to more superficial issues of the scalp, and the treatment will only lead to improved appearance and health of the scalp. If you are specific from a specific scalp condition such as scalp psoriasis, you should seek a dermatologist.

Where can you find an esthetician?

You can find an esthetician at the following places:

  • salons
  • spas
  • medical spas
  • skin care clinics

Estheticians often work closely with dermatologists and plastic surgeons to provide a range of skin care services to their patients.

A dermatologist might work with an esthetician to provide medical-grade skin care treatments, such as chemical peels, to their patients. They also may assist dermatologists and plastic surgeons in post-procedure care, such as providing instructions for home care and applying dressings.

How estheticians get trained and licensed

Estheticians in the U.S. states are required to be state-licensed, except in Connecticut. The exact requirements to become a licensed esthetician differ between states.

In most states, estheticians are required to undergo somewhere between 300 and 1,000 hours of training at an esthetics school or a school of cosmetology, followed by passing a state license exam, which typically has both practical and written components.

The esthetic training curriculum typically consists of several subjects designed to help the trainee understand skincare basics, skin anatomy, and other facial procedures.

Some of the common subjects in an esthetic training curriculum include:

  • skin anatomy and physiology
  • safety and sanitation
  • infection control
  • facial treatments
  • hair removal techniques
  • customer service skills

Once an individual has obtained their license, they may need to complete continuing education courses in order to maintain their license while staying updated with the advancements in the field.

When should you see an esthetician?

An esthetician will not be able to offer you any treatments for any medical skin conditions. However, estheticians are quite knowledgeable about the cosmetic procedures involved in tending to the skin.

If you are looking for an extensive facial or body scrub, or want to have your skin professionally treated to give it an overall younger and healthier appearance, an esthetician can surely help you.

Esthetic treatments can also help address some mild skin conditions such as uneven skin tone, dryness, or acne.

Getting a skin treatment from an esthetician can not only improve your skin health but even help you in reducing stress.

A study from 2008 found that a 45-minute facial massage can increase sympathetic nervous activity, and lead to reduced anxiety and negative mood.

Tips to find the best esthetician

To get the best treatment for yourself, you need to find yourself a decent, if not a great esthetician. While this task may be easy if your friends and family know a reputable esthetician, certain things can help you find the ideal professional for yourself.

Decide on what type of treatment you need

Before deciding on what type of esthetic treatment you need, there are a few factors that you need to consider.

The first step is to identify the goals of your treatment: it might be to improve the overall health and appearance of your skin or to address a condition such as acne.

You should also take your skin type (oil or dry) into account to make sure you are getting the best possible treatment.

People with oily skin might benefit from a deep-cleansing facial, while individuals with drier skin should choose a hydrating facial to improve skin moisture.

Look for a certified professional

To make sure that you are in safe hands, you should always look for a certified medical professional or a licensed practitioner.

You can make sure that your esthetician is certified by checking with the National Coalition of Estheticians Association (NCEA).

If you are looking to get a specific kind of treatment, you should look for an esthetician who is a specialist in it. For example, certain estheticians specialize in facial treatments, while others are known for their hair removal services.

Consider your budget

Just like any other cosmetic treatment, esthetician services come in a range of prices. These may depend upon the type of treatment you need, how experienced your esthetician is, or both.

Here is an estimated price range for some of the common esthetician services:

  • facials: $50-$200
  • waxing: $10-$50 per area
  • threading: $10-$30 per area
  • laser hair removal: $200-$600 per session
  • electrolysis: $50-$200 per hour
  • chemical peels: $100-$500

The actual cost of esthetician services might also vary depending on location, and the extent of treatment. Therefore, you should always inquire about the pricing for treatment before booking an appointment.

Schedule a consultation

While you can gain some knowledge about an esthetician by reading their reviews, the best way to find the right esthetician for yourself is always to schedule a consultation to as some questions about their practice, services, specialties, and products.

The gist

An esthetician is a licensed skin care professional trained to perform treatments meant to improve your skin’s health and appearance. They work in the offices of medical practitioners as well as in spas and salons.

All procedures performed by an esthetician are non-invasive, only dealing with the topmost layers of the skin. They perform cosmetic treatments such as facials, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.

While estheticians can help you with a variety of skincare procedures, they are not allowed to diagnose or treat skin conditions. In case you think you have a skin condition, you should always consult a certified dermatologist or doctor.