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What’s the Difference Between a Dermatologist and an Esthetician September 2023

Updated: October 5, 2022

What’s the Difference Between a Dermatologist and an Esthetician?

Dermatologists and estheticians are two different types of skincare professionals. Both provide beneficial services to their customers, but they focus on different things. So, what’s the difference between dermatologists and estheticians? When you have an ever-changing environment with fluctuating weather patterns that can wreak havoc on your natural beauty regimen, both dermatologists and aestheticians have a critical role to play.

Dermatologists are doctors of medicine who specialize in diagnosing and treating skin, hair, and nails disorders. Many dermatologists also deal with acne or psoriasis or may have expertise in pathology. Although some estheticians may study various aspects of “skin disease” during their training at school, estheticians do not diagnose medical conditions. Estheticians are considered beauty professionals. Their knowledge of different dermatological skincare treatments is valuable, if limited, to an educated clientele that wants to take care of their skin in the best way possible.

This blog article will explore the difference between dermatologists and estheticians to help you choose which skincare professional you would like to support your efforts in achieving better, healthier skin.

Dermatologists and Estheticians Differences

Dermatologists and estheticians both have a keen interest in helping people with their skincare needs, but they approach the problem from two very different angles. Though both professionals work on skin problems and concerns, dermatologists treat more severe skin conditions while estheticians focus on maintaining healthy skin by providing facials that involve cleansing and moisturizing (hence the term “esthetics”). 

What is a Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are medical doctors who have expertise in skin problems, diseases, disorders, and conditions. They received extensive training in diagnosing and treating skin conditions that affect your body from head to toe. They can provide various services, from prescribing medications to performing surgery.

Dermatologists can effectively diagnose serious skin problems such as the early warning signs of melanoma, prescribe medication for those problems such as acne or psoriasis, and perform surgery to correct even severe hair loss cases caused by alopecia.

What is an Esthetician?

Estheticians are beauty professionals that receive training in skincare procedures and techniques that focus on the face and body. Estheticians work with clients on maintaining healthy skin. Many estheticians specialize in one area, like facials that focus on hydration or cleansing. Typically, estheticians will provide other services such as massage therapy, makeup application, waxing, microdermabrasion, ultra-sound treatments, glycolic acid peels, and the removal of tattoos. In some cases, estheticians will perform medical-grade procedures such as laser hair removal or similar methods that aestheticians have been extensively trained to handle.

Education and Training

Before becoming a dermatologist, it is necessary to have at least an undergraduate degree in premedical studies. Most likely, you will continue with four years of medical school to receive your Doctor of Medicine Degree (MD). After that, the dermatologist must complete a residency program in either general medicine or dermatology, where they are trained to diagnose and treat skin disorders, hair, and nails. After completing residency training, further education is required to become board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology or complete a dermatology fellowship at an established research facility.

Though it is possible to study esthetics at a beauty school or other vocational training center, most estheticians complete their education by earning an Associate’s Degree in applied sciences (AAS) or cosmetology (AC). These programs include coursework that deals with skincare treatments, hygiene, anatomy, physiology, and the use of modern skin-care equipment.

A typical esthetician school will emphasize anatomy and physiology of the skin, client consultation and communication skills, product knowledge, and application techniques. At the end of their training, most estheticians are prepared to perform several skin treatments. A typical esthetician student will study advanced cleansing techniques for the face and body, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, facial masks, exfoliation treatments, eyebrow design, and lash tinting.

Licenses and Certification

For both dermatologists and estheticians to practice their profession legally in most countries and states within the United States, they need to be licensed or certified by the government. Both professionals also have certain legal obligations that require them to provide their clients with safe work practices and treatment methods.

Dermatologists are licensed medical doctors, so they must have a license in the state where they are practicing medicine. Many dermatologists are also board certified by the American Board of Dermatology or other comparable governing bodies.

Estheticians often need to complete a certain number of training hours and pass exams in order to become certified. They are also required to pass written tests on general safety, infection control, skin anatomy, chemistry, histology, and more. The minimum requirements vary from state to state, but an esthetician can expect to have at least 500 or more training hours before being eligible for certification.

Services Offered

The services offered by dermatologists and estheticians are similar in that they both provide skin treatments. However, each professional’s training will determine what procedures can be performed, how much they know about specific conditions, their ability to handle emergencies, and the number of clients they can treat in one day.

An esthetician is trained to perform a variety of facial treatments such as cleansing, exfoliating, masks, toning, moisturizing, and massage techniques. In most cases, they can’t prescribe acne medicines or treat other skin conditions unless they have been further trained as a medical esthetician.

A dermatologist can treat a variety of skin conditions, and they may also be able to provide cosmetic procedures such as botulinum toxin injections, collagen replacement, dermabrasion, laser treatments, peels, and photo facials. They are also trained to remove moles or other growths that can turn cancerous.

However, dermatologists and estheticians can work together to provide clients with safe and effective procedures that can improve the health of their skin and appearance.

Dermatologists vs. Estheticians: The Bottom Line

Though both dermatologists and estheticians offer procedures designed to maintain healthy skin, it is essential to note that they are two very different professions. While they have a lot in common, the training and procedures offered by each will be dependent on their level of education.

One professional can go back to school and become a member of the other’s profession. For example, a dermatologist may decide to become a medical esthetician after they have finished their training.

If you are looking for a skincare professional in your area, it is best to ask friends and family for recommendations or check with your insurance carrier to see if they can provide any names of doctors or specialists who work in the field that you are interested in.

Ready to have a beautiful, radiant and youthful complexion? Contact our office for more information.

Esthetician in Atlanta, Georgia

ELLEMES™ Medical Spa is an Atlanta-based medical esthetician specializing in quality skincare services. We offer a wide range of procedures such as chemical peels, hydra facial, microneedling, dermaplaning, plasma pen, laser hair removal, and more beauty treatments to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You can learn more on their website or by calling (470) 222-6581.

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Staff Spotlight

Lauren Siso, Esthetician

Lauren has been medical aesthetician and laser practitioner for over 10 years and is passionate about helping her clients achieve their best skin possible. Lauren truly believes that everyone deserves to feel confident in their own skin and is dedicated to helping her clients achieve that goal!

lauren siso performing dermaplaning treatment
Lauren Siso, Medical Aesthetician at ELLEMES Medical Spa