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Cosmetology vs. Estheticians: Choosing the Right Career Path

Cosmetology vs. Estheticians

Have you ever wished to work in the beauty industry? But not sure which direction to take but unsure where to start? It can be difficult for many to understand the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist. While both aim to enhance appearance Estheticians focus on skin health and beauty, while cosmetologists cover nails, makeup, and hair services. In this blog, we discuss the differences between cosmetology and esthetician and choosing the right career path for you.

What is a Cosmetologist? What does a cosmetologist do?

A cosmetologist is a skilled professional who provides various services like haircuts, colouring, styling, makeup application, skincare such as facials and waxing, as well as nail treatments like manicures, pedicures, and artificial nails. To become licensed, they must pass an exam. Cosmetologists perform various services, including 

Hair cutting, colouring, and styling hair

Hair styling, cutting, and colouring are like an art form that blends creativity with skills. Cutting means understanding face shapes and using personal taste to create pleasing looks. It’s about finding harmony between movement and structure. Colouring involves mixing colours to enhance natural beauty or make bold statements. It’s a mix of science and aesthetics, requiring a keen eye for tones and colours. Styling is where talent and creativity come together to craft unique hairstyles that reflect individual personalities. These elements work together to create a beautiful harmony, shaping identities and boosting confidence.

Applying makeup

A cosmetologist’s approach to makeup application involves examining facial shape, skin types, and desired looks. It is about improving features while keeping balance and harmony. Contouring, highlighting, and colour theory techniques are used to enhance natural beauty, leaving customers feeling confident and beautiful.

Performing skincare treatments like facials and waxing

Facials and other skin care treatments help the skin by cleaning, scrubbing, and moisturising it, leading to a healthy complexion. Waxing provides longer-lasting, smoother results compared to shaving by removing unwanted hair. These procedures offer a luxurious experience to relax and rejuvenate the skin while boosting beauty, confidence, and self-care.

Providing manicures & pedicures

Manicures, pedicures, and artificial nail procedures provide hand and foot maintenance and esthetic improvements. Pedicures concentrate on foot care and nail attractiveness, whereas manicures entail shaping, buffing, and polishing natural nails. Artificial nail products, such as gels or acrylics, offer covers or extensions for a more polished and long-lasting appearance.

What is an esthetician and what does an esthetician do?

Estheticians, also called skin care therapists, are licensed professionals who provide body treatments, facials, mild chemical peels, and waxing, among other skin care services. These treatments help maintain skin health, improve its overall appearance, and enhance its tone, texture, and colour. The services can cover the skin on the hands, feet, face, neck, and body in general.  Estheticians specialise in skin care and offer services like


A facial is a skin treatment that aims to nourish, clean, and gently remove dead skin cells for a healthy, radiant look. It involves massage, steaming, and gentle extraction to address skin concerns like dryness, wrinkles, and acne. Facials offer rejuvenation, relaxation, and a glowing complexion using personalized skincare products.

Skin analysis

A skin analysis is when experts take a close look at your skin to understand its condition, texture, and overall health. They check how moist, oily, or sensitive your skin is to figure out the best care routine for you. By using special tools and skills, they can tell you exactly what your skin needs to look and feel its best, and tailor treatments just for you. This step helps in fixing any skin problems and getting you on the path to healthy, happy skin.

Exfoliation treatments

Exfoliation is a skin care process that gets rid of dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin, revealing the smoother and brighter skin underneath. Chemical exfoliants like Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) dissolve these dead cells, whereas physical exfoliants, like scrubs, physically scrub them away. Doing this regularly helps your skin look younger, clearer, and refreshed. It’s like giving your skin a new beginning by keeping it clean and glowing.  

Masks and peels

The purpose of masks and peels as skincare treatments is to deeply clean, nurture, and revitalise the skin. Targeting different skin concerns including hydration, acne, or ageing, masks are applied topically and left on for a predetermined amount of time. Chemical solutions are used in peels to remove dead skin cells, leaving skin that is smoother and more luminous.

Hair removal (waxing)

Hair removal, also known as waxing, is a grooming technique that leaves skin smoother for longer by eliminating unwanted hair from the roots. The skin is coated with warm wax, which sticks to the hair and is rapidly removed, causing the hair to come out of the follicle and leaving the skin smooth and hair-free.

Product recommendations

Skincare product suggestions are customised based on each person’s unique skin type and concerns. They consist of sunscreens, moisturisers, cleansers, and serums made with healthy components including retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid. These products promote healthier and more vibrant skin by addressing specific needs including hydration, anti-aging, acne, or sensitivity.

What is a cosmetology program like?

Cosmetology programs are usually longer and more intensive than those in esthetics, requiring more hours of training. Under the study of treatments, cosmetics, and beauty procedures, students gain experience working with the human body. The cosmetology program covers

Theory and practical training in haircare, skincare, makeup, and nails

Theory and hands-on instruction in nails, skincare, cosmetics, and haircare combine to provide a thorough education in the foundational and cutting-edge methods of the beauty industry. The theoretical elements provide a thorough grasp of the underlying concepts of each activity by going into anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and product knowledge. Under the direction of an expert, practical training entails practical application of techniques, tool use, and industry-standard procedure mastery. By encouraging originality, accuracy, and professionalism in haircare, skincare, cosmetics, and nail services, this dual approach guarantees that students acquire the information and abilities required to succeed in the beauty industry.

Anatomy and physiology

Anatomy and physiology in a cosmetology degree involves studying the human body’s structure and functions in relation to beauty and wellness activities. Students gain knowledge of the layers of the skin, its integumentary and nail systems, and its foundational circulatory and muscular systems. Learning anatomy makes it easier to carry out services like massage therapy, facials, and waxing safely and successfully. Knowledge of physiology covers the functioning of these body systems, such as blood circulation, muscle contraction, and skin problems. Anatomy and physiology mastery guarantees cosmetologists understand the scientific basis fundamental their treatments, improving client outcomes and professional practice.

Salon sanitation and safety

Cosmetology programs must focus on the application of sanitary techniques and safeguards to maintain a clean and safe environment for both clients and practitioners. Salon sanitation and safety are essential components of these programs. Along with learning how to disinfect tools and equipment effectively, students also learn how important it is to keep a clean workspace in order to stop the spread of illnesses and infections. They are also instructed on safety procedures to reduce the risks posed by chemicals, electrical equipment, and other possible dangers in salon environments. Cosmetologists can prioritise their client’s health and well-being while providing high-quality services if they are proficient in salon sanitation and safety practices.

Business and marketing

Business and marketing education is taught in cosmetology programs, giving students the tools they need to manage and market their services successfully. Advertising techniques, branding, price tactics, and client connections are all covered. By drawing in and keeping customers while optimising revenue, cosmetologists can create career success by grasping these ideas.

Are cosmetologists considered to be doctors?

Cosmetologists are licenced professionals who work in salons, spas, and other beauty establishments. They do not have medical training and cannot diagnose or treat skin conditions or diseases. However, they are experts in hair styling, makeup application, and various beauty treatments. Cosmetologists are skilled in performing services such as haircuts, colouring, and styling, as well as manicures, pedicures, and facials. They often develop close relationships with their clients, providing personalised recommendations and creating customised looks to enhance their natural beauty. In addition to their technical skills, cosmetologists must also stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in the beauty industry to ensure they can offer their clients the best possible service.

What is an esthetics program like?

A licensed professional that offers skincare treatments and services is known as an esthetician. Compared to cosmetology programs, esthetics programs are often shorter and have a stronger skincare concentration. They cover;

Advanced skin care theory and techniques

Theoretical and practical aspects of advanced skin care in esthetics learning institutions cover advanced skin biology, dermatology, and advanced treatment modalities such chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser therapy. Students acquire the skills necessary to efficiently handle a variety of customer demands by analysing skin issues, creating personalised treatment programs, and utilising the latest technologies.

Facial massage

In esthetic programs, facial massage teaches techniques to enhance lymphatic drainage, circulation, and facial and neck muscular tone. Students learn about pressure points, different massage techniques, and the advantages of face massage for easing tension, improving the general health and appearance of the skin, and promoting relaxation.

Product knowledge

Product knowledge in esthetic programs is having a thorough awareness of the components, use, and effects of skincare products on various skin types and conditions. In order to build trust and skill in skincare treatments, students learn to evaluate customers’ needs, suggest suitable products, and instruct clients on how to use them properly for best results.

Business and marketing specific to the esthetics industry

In the esthetics sector, branding, effective service promotion, and customer connection building are the main focuses of business and marketing tactics. In order to draw and keep customers while building a respectable and successful esthetics business, this involves developing distinctive selling propositions, making use of social media and internet platforms, putting referral systems into place, and taking advantage of networking opportunities.

Cosmetology or Estheticians? Choosing Your Path

Considering your interests and career goals when choosing between cosmetology and esthetics is crucial. If you enjoy working with nails, hair, makeup, and skincare, cosmetology might be the right fit for you. Conversely, if you have a strong passion for skincare science and helping people achieve healthy, glowing skin, then becoming an esthetician could be ideal for you. It’s also important to note that the beauty sector is experiencing significant growth, offering promising opportunities for those entering the industry.


It’s important to explore both options before making a decision. Some beauty schools offer combined programs that allow you to become licensed in both esthetics and cosmetology, which can broaden your job opportunities and the services you can provide.


Understanding the differences between cosmetology and esthetics will help you make an informed choice and start a rewarding career in the beauty industry. If you’re interested in pursuing a cosmetology program, you can enroll at Livart Academy, where their comprehensive course will set you up for success. Careers in cosmetology and esthetics can be dependable sources of income in today’s world.

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