What Is an Esthetician?

What is an Esthitician - John Burke Collection/Photolibrary/Getty Images

John Burke Collection/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Updated May 30, 2014.

Question: What is an Esthetician?

What the heck is an esthetician? What do they do, and can they help you clear up acne?


Estheticians, also called skin care therapists, work at salons, day spas, and medi-spas. Estheticians are trained in the cosmetic treatment of the skin. They perform various cosmetic procedures including facials, body treatments, and waxing. Most estheticians offer a variety of specialty spa treatments.

All estheticians must be 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.

A good esthetician also completes many hours of post-graduate education, and strives to stay abreast of the latest developments in skin care.

Estheticians are not medical doctors so they can’t diagnose skin conditions, prescribe medications, or suggest treatment for any skin condition outside of cosmetic products. They can perform treatment 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.

Read More:

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.