What Estheticians Can't Do for Your Skin

Updated June 16, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.

A good esthetician can help you develop a healthy skin care routine, perform skin-softening exfoliation treatments and, in some cases, help clear up acne.

But an esthetician is not a medical doctor, so there are some things that she can’t do.

Estheticians can’t prescribe acne medications. This includes common topical acne treatments such as Retin-A or Differin.

Estheticians can’t diagnose any skin condition. If a client comes in with an undiagnosed condition, the esthetician is required to refer that client to a doctor. So don’t go to your esthetician expecting her to identify your rash.

That said, an esthetician can offer cosmetic treatment for any known skin condition, such as acne, eczema, or rosacea.

Estheticians can’t perform any medical procedure or treatment that falls outside of the realm of cosmetic. Common beauty treatments like Botox and Restylane, laser treatments, and deep chemical peels are out (although regulations vary by state.)

Estheticians can’t treat severe, inflammatory acne. Surprised? It’s true. Estheticians can’t treat any form of severely inflamed acne, often called cystic or nodulocystic acne, unless under a doctor’s recommendation and/or supervision.

If your acne is seriously inflamed, you should see a doctor instead, especially since severe acne increases the chance of scarring.

Above all, find an esthetician you can talk freely with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Knowing what your esthetician can (and can’t) do will ensure you’re happy with your treatment results.