As a licensed esthetician, I’ve found that many times I’m asked, “what exactly does an esthetician do?” It’s a good question. If you’re unaware of the term, you’re probably unaware of what makes someone a good esthetician or even a licensed one.


Many of my clients have also asked why I got into this field and how I knew I wanted to become an esthetician. I got licensed because I have a love of skincare. I wanted to help my clients understand their skin and feel beautiful while helping them to relax.


Skincare is a beautiful, relaxing ritual that can give you that “you” time we all deserve. It gives you some quality time with yourself in the morning and evening to do something beneficial and soothing for your skin. Skincare is all about taking care of yourself as your skin is the first thing you see in the morning so it can impact your mood based on what your skin looks like. Your skin is also your first line of defense and your largest organ which protects you from outside pollutants, bacteria and more.


By getting licensed, I’m qualified to treat my clients and to get to know their skin to give them the best care possible, which is something I love doing. This month celebrates National Esthetician’s Day so I wanted to further explain what an esthetician is and how you become one.


Here are a few questions I’ve been asked regarding estheticians to better help you understand what we do and how we become licensed estheticians.

What exactly is an esthetician?

An esthetician is a skin specialist who is able enhance and understand skin. They are able to perform a variety of treatments that will help your skin to look and feel its best. They typically work in a spa, salon or beauty supply store depending on what their interests are and what services they offer. An esthetician is different from a dermatologist in that a dermatologist is a medical doctor who is able to diagnose, prevent and treat skin-related diseases and ailments. Your dermatologist can prescribe medication and perform surgery if necessary. Estheticians can perform services that don’t involve the puncturing of your skin’s surface.


Most estheticians offer a variety of services including:

  • Facials
  • Peels
  • Extractions
  • Makeup application
  • Waxing
  • Medical spa laser treatments alongside doctors


So, why visit an esthetician?


They’re someone you can count on for professional skincare advice to help you with a variety of skin issues. Their main concern is the beauty and health of your skin so instead of reading countless articles on Google, you can get an unbiased opinion from your esthetician. If you’re unsure of what ingredients and products are best for your skin, your esthetician is a great person to talk to. However, estheticians can’t help you with EVERYTHING when it comes to your skin. You shouldn’t visit your esthetician for infections, growths or rashes, instead you should make an appointment with your dermatologist or doctor.


How do you become a licensed esthetician?

In the state of Pennsylvania there is a process you must go through in order to become a licensed esthetician. Per state law, an esthetician must be able to diagnose and treat skin conditions, be trained in sanitation and infection control as well as skin histology and the integumentary system before they can work with clients. In Pennsylvania you must pass an exam and become licensed by the state’s Board of Cosmetology or health department.


Here are steps you must go through in order to become a licensed esthetician:


  1. You must complete an approved program of esthetics or an apprenticeship. This means you have to attend some sort of formal schooling or training before you can qualify to receive a license. Typically, most estheticians go to a formal esthetics program at a cosmetology school. In PA, you must be at least 16 years old, complete a 10th grade education and a 300-hour esthetics training course. These training hours must be split up into the following: 40 hours at professional practices, 100 science hours, 100 hours of facial treatments, 10 hours of temporary hair removal and 50 hours of makeup training. Estheticians are also required to take classes in physiology and anatomy so they can learn about the skin from the epidermis down to the deeper layers of the dermis.
  2. Once your schooling is complete, you must complete and submit an application for the exam and your license. In PA, the exam consists of multiple choice questions that you answer via a computer. Once you’re all set with your prerequisites, you need to complete an application for professional licensure by examination which will allow you to apply for both of your exams and your esthetician license at the same time. With your application, you’ll pay several fees, submit a headshot, and submit a criminal history check from every state you’ve resided in for the past 5 years as well as proof of your age, high school education and your school transcripts. You also need to take and pass the combined theory/procedural skill exam. This exam consists of multiple choice questions regarding rules, regulations, safety, sanitation, disinfection, predisposition/patch tests, esthetic science, skin analysis, facials, hair removal, makeup, electricity and electrotherapy.
  3. Once you pass the exam, you need to remember to renew your PA esthetician license every 2 years. You can do this online through the PA online licensing system.


What a licensed esthetician can do versus someone without a license…

You always want to make sure that you’re visiting a licensed esthetician. Cosmetologists can often be confused for estheticians but these are very different professionals. Cosmetologists are styling professionals who do hair, nails, skin and general beauty. They receive minimal skin care education but the focus of their education is mostly on hair and nail styling.


Estheticians understand ingredients and know what is best for your skin on a cellular level. They are trained to understand what kind of skin you have, what ingredients will work best on your particular type and what can best treat your skin issues because of their education.


If you visit an esthetician, make sure they’re licensed in their state and that you feel comfortable discussing your skincare concerns with them. Your esthetician will be a key player in the journey to amazing, clear skin and can have an impact on your home care as well. Some estheticians even sell certain products like Yonka. Your esthetician has been trained in those products and services by that particular company. This is a great way to learn about new skincare products from someone who’s an expert in that skincare line.


If you have any questions about Yonka products that I mention on social media or skincare concerns you might have, you can message me on one of my social platforms or via my website. I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have and can make recommendations to help you achieve the best skin possible!

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