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Aestheticians are state-licensed skin care professionals who have been trained through apprenticeships or formal aesthetics programs to perform treatments that promote the health and beauty of the skin, including procedures like needling and peels, while also educating clients on cleansing, diet, and the application of skin-care products at-home.

Thanks to aging baby boomers, many of which are seeking non-invasive treatments to help them look more youthful, along with an increase in disposable income among many Americans, aesthetics is experiencing an “explosion of growth,” according to Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP).

Aesthetics is rooted in the branch of philosophy that is directly related to the relationship between the senses and matters of beauty, art, and taste. However, in the beauty industry, esthetics refers directly to the health and beautification of the skin.

Aesthetics, in more technical terms, refers to the application of various techniques to the epidermal layer of the human body. The practice of aesthetics covers a wide array of techniques that may include (but certainly is not limited to) steaming, waxing, extraction, chemical peels, and pore cleansing.

Understanding the Role and Legal Limitations of an Aesthetician

What Aestheticians Can Do

Aestheticians are state licensed health and wellness professionals, with the exception of Connecticut’s aestheticians, who are not required to be state licensed. Aestheticians must complete a course of training and/or education and pass specific state written and practical examinations to earn licensure through their state board of cosmetology or department of health.

The work of aestheticians involves applying treatments and performing procedures to the skin as a way to maintain its health and vitality, improve its overall appearance, and combat the effects of sun exposure and ageing.

Aestheticians are trained in skin wellness, most often helping their clients combat complexion problems through a number of therapies and practices. In addition to engaging in therapies that are designed to improve the tone, texture, color, and youthfulness of the skin of the face and neck, aestheticians may perform a wide range of body therapies, as well, such as salt or sugar scrubs, body wraps, and hair removal.

Waxing, threading, or using depilatories to remove unwanted hair is a common practice for aestheticians, as is the application of makeup. In spa settings, aestheticians often perform procedures and treatments that are just as much about the mind and the spirit as they are about the body. As such, therapies such as hot stone massages, mud baths, and aromatherapy are popular additions to the repertoire of many estheticians.

Many times clients seek out aestheticians to perform treatments that fight lines and wrinkles or dry skin, eczema, or acne, while many clients make appointments with their favorite esthetician to enjoy a rejuvenated or refreshed complexion. Finally, some clients view a trip to the esthetician as a luxurious indulgence, where they can relax and unwind.

What Aestheticians Cannot Do

Although the term “medical esthetics” is often thrown around, aesthetics is not a medical practice and estheticians are not allowed to diagnose, prescribe, or treat skin conditions or diseases. Instead, medical skin care services are left strictly up to licensed medical professionals, such as dermatologists.

Aestheticians are sometimes found working in offices of medical practitioners, such as dermatologists and plastic surgeons, but their expertise is solely in cosmetic skincare, with any type of invasive procedure always left to medical professionals who specialize in disorders of the skin.

Their work in these medical settings often includes providing patients with complementary and support therapies. However, aestheticians are trained to recognize a number of medical conditions affecting the skin and may therefore refer their clients to a medical professional in these instances.

The Services Aestheticians Perform and The Places They are Employed

Aestheticians may use a variety of techniques and treatments on their clients, from basic steam facials to trendy treatments like seaweed wraps and paraffin facials. Their work involves the use of creams, lotions, masks, serums, and wraps, many of which are created with antioxidants, botanicals, essential oils, and infused scents that provide the client with a sensory experience that promotes relaxation and rejuvenation.

Aestheticians also often use mechanical or electrical appliances and devices, such as microdermabrasion machines, brushing machines, electric pulverizers, atomizers, and galvanic current to achieve the desired effect.

A small sampling of the services provided by estheticians includes:

  • Microdermabrasion
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Laser skin rejuvenation
  • Light therapy
  • Thermage
  • Waxing/threading/chemical hair removal
  • Facials
  • Face and body masks and wraps
  • Manual or mechanical extraction
  • Pore cleansing
  • Body scrubs (salt and sugar scrubs) and other types of exfoliation
  • Aromatherapy
  • Moisturizing treatments
  • Acne treatments
  • Scalp massage and treatments