How Cosmetologists and Estheticians Differ

Estheticians and cosmetologists are both types of beauty workers. Both tend to work in salons or day spas, and both must gain a client base in order to be successful. The beauty field currently makes quite a bit of money because people are more and more willing to shell out cash in order to look and feel better. While estheticians and cosmetologists may work in the same places, see the same kinds of clients, and do similar tasks on the job, their training and specialties are a little different.


Cosmetologists are trained to do hair, makeup, and nails. They often work at hair salons doing hair cutting and styling. Some work in nail salons and perform pedicures and manicures. Others specialize in doing makeup. Cosmetology is the all-encompassing beauty profession. Some cosmetologists try to be well-rounded and perform all kinds of services, while others specialize in makeup or hair. All cosmetologists attend beauty school and work to get a client base after graduation.

During cosmetology school, students tend to focus primarily on hair cutting, styling, and dyeing. This is generally the most difficult task that cosmetologist can do, so it takes concentration and lots of practice. Cosmetology students have to take classes on chemistry and color theory to really have a good understanding of how dying works. If done well, dying hair and doing perms on hair can be the biggest revenue generator for a cosmetologist. However, for the student wanting to focus on makeup, cosmetology school can seem frustrating due to the lack of practice and makeup technique in the curriculum.


Estheticians, in some ways, are a more specialized branch of cosmetologists. While cosmetologists focus on hair and nail care, estheticians are trained to focus on all beauty services relating to the skin. Estheticians also work in day spas and salons, but they are the beauticians who perform facials, face massages, chemical peels, and body hair removal. However, cosmetologists are typically able to perform body hair removal as well. Estheticians are not licensed to perform pedicures, full body massages, or hairstyling unless they have a license for both cosmetology and esthetics.

Esthetics licenses are different from cosmetology licenses, but different states have different requirements. Some cosmetologists choose to focus on esthetics in school but decide to get training and a license in both fields. If you choose to do this, you will have a larger range of beauty services that you can perform to help you find your niche and build clientele.

Whether you choose to be an esthetician or a cosmetologist, remember that both take practice, training, and time. Both fields tend to have similar salary outlooks and limited job mobility. However, they can both be rewarding careers for anyone interested in beauty services.


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Posted on May 5, 2023