What Is An Esthetician?

esthetician giving a facialOutside of the spa, I often tell people that I’m a facialist, simply because they don’t know what an esthetician is. If I say that I’m an esthetician, the next question is usually, “An anesthetician? Like, you put people to sleep before surgery?” No, I put people to sleep during facials. And that’s an anesthesiologist, by the way. It’s a very different kind of job! But this is a bit about what it means to be an esthetician.

I am a skin care specialist. I like to summarize what an esthetician is by saying that it’s like a nurse in dermatology. Except estheticians focus on the beautification of the skin, with some knowledge of diseases, while the medical community focuses on the diseases. My license allows me to work superficially on the epidermis (the outermost layer), while doctors can work on everything deeper.

  • I have a license from the Board of Cosmetology in the state I work. This is the board that also licenses nail technicians and hair stylists. I had to attend a state approved school for 1000 hours (hours required vary by state) to be able to sit for my boards, then I had to pass a written and practical examination.
  • My education focused on skin and all things pertaining to the skin, but it also included anatomy and physiology, ingredient knowledge, and chemistry. I learned all the muscles and bones of the face.  I learned about diseases and disorders. I also learned massage techniques, aromatherapy, and makeup. Just like any field, people might specialize in any aspect of their business. I’ve always been more clinically oriented.
  • I have a knowledge of prescriptions and can build regimens around them. I cannot prescribe medications or diagnose conditions. But I can help to control chronic conditions like eczema, acne, or rosacea in conjunction with your doctor’s recommendations. I can act as a first line of defense if you have a problem with your skin. Ultimately my advice should never replace that of your doctor, but I may be able to help and answer questions.
  • My scope of practice increases under the supervision of a doctor. The state board limits the strength of peels that I can do or lasers that I can run, based on my license. Working under the supervision of doctors broadens what I can do, even though only they do the intense stuff.

I’ve always preferred to call myself an esthetician, because I feel it incorporates more of what I do. It includes a lot of science, as well as a lot of intuition. I’m not just someone who massage creams on your face, waxes off undesired hair, or squeezes white heads. But I can be an important part of your skin care, as well as your health.



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How to Get a Great Facial


How to get the most out of your facial and your money and the spa

Where else can you relax for an hour and improve your complexion all at the same time? As the esthetician, it’s my job to do the worrying about your skin, but you have an important role too… especially if you want to get the best results for your time and money.

  • Make sure to arrive a few minutes early. Having those few extra minutes can not only give you time to check in and fill out any necessary paperwork, but it also gives you a few minutes to breathe and escape the stress of the day. Plus, if you’re ready when I am ready (and I run on time as much as I possibly can), you will actually end up with more hands on time and a better facial all around.
  • Know what you are using on your skin. I build my treatment around you and your skin concerns. If you are using aggressive products or prescriptions regularly, it affects the decisions I make about products I use in the facial and how I should best treat your skin. I also look at how you’re treating your skin at home to figure out if you’re using products that will address your concerns, as well as the things that I notice on your skin. Your skin is like a puzzle, and how you are treating it every day is a huge piece that I need in order to solve any problems.
  • Speak up if you are uncomfortable. I have plenty of ways to make sure that you are more comfortable. I can add or remove blankets. I can redirect steam so that it’s not as intense. I can adapt my massage pressure to work through tender spots. I watch closely for visual cues, but ultimately, I am not psychic. Of course, extractions may not be the most pleasant part, but I can adapt my pressure to make it a little easier to bear. I also need to know if something is stinging, burning, or itching your skin to prevent irritations and adverse reactions. Make sure to let me know.
  • Ask questions if you have them. Curious about what I’m using? Why I chose it? Why your skin is doing something weird? Ask away. This is your time to get my undivided attention. If you want to get the best results for your skin, you have to use the right products. This is a great time to find out what those might be.
  • Relax and zone out if you want. You don’t have to feel obligated to talk to me. I understand if this hour is the only nap time you get. I don’t mind if you snore. If you stop talking, I promise I will stop too.
  • But, if I ask you a specific question about your skin, please answer. If I’m concerned about a reaction, I may need to ask you questions. Not answering my questions may lead to an adverse reactions, post treatment irritation, or any number of undesirables that neither of us want.

I decided to go for my esthetics license because I loved getting facials so much. I’d still prefer a facial over any other spa treatment! But now that I’m on the other side, I know absolutely that the most important part of any spa treatment is communication. My ultimate goal is to help you reach yours… whether that’s clearing out your blackheads, rediscovering your glow, or even just getting an hour break.