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What They Do

Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Career Video

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Estheticians (sometimes spelled aestheticians) are skin care specialists. They give facial cosmetic treatments and other body treatments to cleanse their clients' skin. They use a wide range of specialized products such as peels and masks. They are trained in techniques to help their client look their best. Some are called facialists.

There is a difference between a cosmetologist and an esthetician. Cosmetologists are generalists who offer a wide range of beauty services. Whether it is hair, make-up, nails or facials -- they do it all. Estheticians fall under this umbrella, but they specialize in skin care.

Working with clients one-on-one, estheticians assess the condition of the skin through its appearance or other characteristics. They may give the client advice on how to care for their skin and recommend products to help. They show their client how to use the products to clean and care for their skin.

To provide each client with a relaxing experience, estheticians often give head and neck massages. They may also complete the face treatment by applying make-up and recommending cosmetic products. Selling products is an important part of many estheticians' jobs.

Estheticians' responsibilities may vary depending on where they work. Some take on extra responsibilities such as facial and body hair removal. Waxing, threading, plucking and laser treatments are all common, although laser treatment requires additional training. Special medical education is required to perform intensive, invasive, serious skin treatments such as deep peeling or Botox injections.

"In the spa, as an esthetician I would do waxing, relaxation massage, facials, manicures, pedicures, lash and brow tinting, make-up application, and body treatment such as scrubs back facials, lasers, peels and so on," says Amy Lee. She is an esthetician.

Estheticians may also have some tasks unrelated to work with the clients. They must keep their work areas clean and sanitary. They might be responsible for the inventory and supplies needed for treatments. They might help to keep client records or book appointments for clients.

There is full-time and part-time work available for estheticians. They often find evenings and weekends are busiest times. Forty hours is an average week for many. Self-employed estheticians may find they work longer hours with the duties related to owning a small business.

"I run my own traveling spa right now. I work on demand when clients call," says Lee. Estheticians find jobs in beauty salons, spas and skin treatment clinics. Some are self-employed and work out of their homes, travel to clients' homes, rent space or own a salon or spa.

In the U.S., estheticians must be licensed. Licensing differs from state to state. It is important to check the details for the state where you will work. Generally, you must graduate from a state-licensed cosmetology school. Then you must take a licensing exam. The job can be physically demanding and strenuous on the body.

"Eye-to-hand coordination would be absolutely necessary. A steady hand is absolute. If they do a lot of waxing, and they surely will in the beginning, then they will require a lot of ability to stand and bend for long periods of time," says Debra Heinsohn. She owns a skin care specialty salon in Dallas.

At a Glance

Make skin glow

  • You need good interpersonal skills
  • The job can be physically demanding
  • Licensing from an accredited cosmetology school is required


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