When you have an issue with your skin, your first step is generally to go to a dermatologist. However, have you ever considered seeing an esthetician instead?
Estheticians and dermatologists both focus on skin health and care and sometimes work together to achieve these things. They start to differ when it comes to their specializations and the procedures they perform.
For example, a dermatologist is the right person to go to if you have a suspicious mole on your back. But if you need help reducing your acne, you can find success with a dermatologist or an esthetician (or better yet, both!). Ultimately, it all depends on your needs and objectives.
Learn about the difference between estheticians and dermatologists and the specific scenarios when it’s a good idea to see an esthetician. Whatever your skincare goals are, there is a professional out there who can help you achieve them.
Estheticians vs. Dermatologists: What’s The Difference?
Okay, we totally don’t mean to pit estheticians and dermatologists against each other—after all, they have the same ultimate interest, which is improving your skin. However, there’s a reason these titles aren’t interchangeable—estheticians and dermatologists go through different training and offer different services.
The most important thing to note is that dermatologists specialize in medical skincare, whereas estheticians specialize in cosmetic skincare. This means that dermatologists primarily focus on skin issues that affect your overall health, while estheticians improve your skin’s appearance and quality. Keep this in mind when deciding which type of professional you want to see.
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So, What Does It Take To Become A Dermatologist?
If you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll know that the path to becoming a doctor is long and arduous. The show might make it seem like dermatologists have an easier go of it than surgeons, but it’s all relative, right? The point is, dermatologists are doctors, and so they have to undergo a lengthy period of training.
The first steps are getting an undergraduate degree (four years) and then a medical school degree (another four years). Next up is a one-year internship in their field of interest, followed by a three-year residency program. After all that, they take an exam that will make them board-certified dermatologists, meaning they can start practicing dermatology.
Now, What About Estheticians?
Unlike dermatologists, estheticians are not medical professionals. This means the training period, while difficult, is not anywhere near as long.
Estheticians spend about 1-2 years in esthetics or cosmetology school. They can also rack up the required training hours by working as an intern for a certified esthetician. Training focuses on skin anatomy, cleanliness, practical procedural work, and proper skincare rules.
After all this, esthetician trainees take a state-specific exam to earn their certification. Estheticians are generally required to renew this certification every couple of years and complete additional training hours each year. Some estheticians also gain national certification, which makes them licensed to perform more advanced procedures.
Wait, what even is an esthetician, anyway?
Estheticians are named quite aptly—they are focused on the aesthetics, beauty, and appearance of the skin. Estheticians typically work in spas and are licensed to perform several cosmetic procedures. According to Esthetician EDU, these procedures include:
If it has anything to do with the appearance of your skin, estheticians are here to help.
We’ve spent all this time talking about how estheticians and dermatologists are different because it’ll help you determine which professional is better suited to your needs. If you’re still unsure, no worries!
Below we have a list of seven common skincare scenarios, and we’ll tell you exactly which skincare professional—esthetician or dermatologist—you should go to to achieve your intended goal.
When To See An Esthetician (And When Not To): Real-life Scenarios
First off, estheticians and dermatologists, while not interchangeable, often work together and share patients. Each professional is better suited for different tasks, so it may actually benefit you to see both.
For example, you may want to see a dermatologist before a procedure with an esthetician, just to make sure it is safe. Or your esthetician might recommend you see a dermatologist to discuss skincare and acne treatment options in-between facials. Keep this in mind as you read through the following seven scenarios.
You Have Cystic Acne And Need Help Developing A Treatment Plan.
See a dermatologist. Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne, and so it should be treated by a medical professional. Your dermatologist may prescribe an oral acne medication and will detail exactly how to take care of your skin to minimize acne.
You Have The Occasional Breakout And Want To Lessen Their Frequency.
See an esthetician. A dermatologist could also help you (mostly by laying out the proper daily routine for your skin type). That said, occasional acne does not need to be diagnosed, so you’ll be in excellent hands with an esthetician. They can perform procedures like facials and extractions, revitalizing the skin and eliminating the conditions that foster acne growth.
You're Nervous About A Freckle Or Mole And Want A Professional To Take A Look.
See a dermatologist. They’ll look closely at your mark to determine if it is anything to worry about and may biopsy the freckle if necessary. Whether you have an unsettling mole or not, going to the dermatologist for a yearly checkup can help you catch any potential issues early on.
You Want To Pamper Yourself.
See an esthetician. Estheticians work in spas, so that should tell you all you need to know about the services they provide. Procedures like simple facials, aromatherapy, and exfoliation are relaxing for the skin and the mind. You will walk away from your appointment feeling like the goddess you are.
You Want A Pimple Professionally Extracted.
See an esthetician. Rather than popping your pimples yourself and risking permanent scarring, go to someone who has been specifically trained in the art of extraction. Estheticians know how to unclog your pores so that your skin will be acne-free and scar-free.
You Have A Skin Problem That Is Affecting Your Health.
See a dermatologist. As we said, dermatologists are the medical professionals here, so any skin issue that poses a threat to your overall health is an issue that only a dermatologist can diagnose and fix.
You Are Looking For Glowing Skin.
See an esthetician. Estheticians know all the right products to exfoliate your skin and bring out your natural shine.
Additional Skincare Tips
If you are considering seeing an esthetician, chances are you’re interested in skincare and are looking to improve the health and quality of your skin. Here are some ways to easily support your skin every day from home:
Our Vitamin C Clay Mask only takes 10 minutes to penetrate your pores, reduce inflammation, fight off acne, fade dark spots, and revitalize your skin. Plus, every time you use our clay mask, you’ll walk away with glowing, hydrated skin. Esthetician, who? There’s a new glow sheriff in town.
Then, build your routine around cleansing, adding products like toners, moisturizers, and serums. Try to find products specifically designed for your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.) and follow any additional instructions your dermatologist may have given you.
Also, please (we beg of you) make sure to wash off your makeup completely before going to bed. Depending on your skin type, there are gentle, oil-based, and water-based makeup removers readily available.
Estheticians are cosmetic professionals, while dermatologists are medical professionals. A general rule is that you should go to a dermatologist for any medical concerns and go to an esthetician for any cosmetic problems.
Whether you want glowing skin, less acne, or are just looking to pamper yourself, estheticians can take your skincare game to a whole new level. Supplement your trips to the esthetician by using your favorite clay mask, following a regular skincare routine, and consistently wearing sunscreen.
How to Know If You Should See an Esthetician or a Dermatologist | SELF
What is an Esthetician | What is Aesthetics (estheticianedu.org)
Deciding Between a Dermatologist and an Aesthetician - Skin and Beauty Center - Everyday Health
Esthetician: Expertise, Specialities, and Training (verywellhealth.com)
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