Esthetician vs Aesthetician vs Holistic Esthetician vs Medical Aesthetician vs.....

So. Many. Titles.


What do they all mean? Let's break it down!


In every state in the US it is required to have a license to practice esthetics. (Yay Connecticut for finally joining us!) Now what each license covers does vary a decent amount from state to state. For instance, lash tinting, cool in Texas; a big fat no in California. Dermaplaning, absolutely not in Texas; totally fine in Arizona. And on and on.


The requirements to become licensed vary greatly by state too. From the amount of hours you have to study (somewhere between 400-1600) and what your tests consist of. But once you finally get there and the great state you're in allows you to pay them that extra money to have your piece of paper, you're off and running. And what is the name of this wondrous job I call my beloved career? In the United States it is Licensed Esthetician.


Esthetician: The blanket term used in the United States.


Aesthetician: The blanket term used in Europe and Australia. Also used in the United States when we feel like being fancy. But has absolutely no difference than leaving off the "A".


Master Esthetician: This actually does have meaning in some states. A small number of states have a two level system to their esthetic's licenses. A general esthetician can perform non-invasive skin care and beauty treatments. The esthetician can choose to continue their education and move on to the master level where they can perform deeper treatments like peels and microdermabrasion. Most states do not have levels; they just teach you what they teach you and throw you out into the world!


Skin Therapist: Sometimes we use this in describing ourselves in a spa setting, honestly because either no one knows what an esthetician is or, they think we're an anesthetist getting them ready for surgery. We put you to sleep, but not like that. We just use it to shorten the conversation of you're a what?


Facialist: We don't really like this one. Facialist is to Esthetician what Masseuse is to Massage Therapist. (PS your hair stylist also does not like beautician JSYK) These are old, outdated terms at best that have been used to belittle our industry. And our industries rock.


Medical Aesthetician/Esthetician: This is not actually a different position, or even one that necessarily has any specialized training or experience. It's something we made up to help distinguish ourselves as what type of esthetics we prefer to practice. The one describing themselves as such will likely work in a medical spa setting and perform peels and laser type treatments. They may have taken additional training in these areas, but again, not necessarily. There is no actual separate license anywhere in the United States that is issued.


Holistic Aesthetician/Esthetician: See above. This is the typical title I put on my business cards. My license is no different than any other esthetician. I put it there so clients who are seeking holistic-type treatments will be able to distinguish me from someone who does not offer that sort of plant-loving, jade stone wielding treatments I do. Some fancy people spell it Wholistic, emphasizing their treatments will focus on the whole being on their esthetic's table. I have taken additional education classes to learn about how the skin interacts with the rest of the body and herbalist courses. But this title is not earned, just used.


Oncologist Certified Aesthetician/Esthetician: Once again, same license. This person has just gone out and taken additional education in how to deliver skin treatments to clients currently undergoing a cancer battle.


What's the difference between licensed and certified? A lot. A license is what we get from our state that allows us to practice skin beautification treatments without being fined/jailed/put out of business and otherwise ridiculed in our home towns.



A certification is...a piece of paper that someone who believes they can teach gave us for paying them money. There's no national or state regulation of certifications in general. Some classes we take gain us our "continuing education requirements", but for the most part our certifications are just more in depth training in areas of esthetics that we are particularly interested in. Some certifications can take weeks or months to get, that require intense study and wicked hard tests and demonstrations that we understand the materials and techniques. Some certifications took a whole hour of our attention span as we fought the urge to Facebook the entire time. How do you tell the difference? You can't by looking at a certification, and quite honestly we can't always either. Many an esthetician has wasted thousands of dollars on crap classes only to learn nothing and have to find a better one.


So there's your high level view of what the heck us estheticians are!

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