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Cosmetology Vs Esthetics Whats The Difference

Esthetics vs. Cosmetology: What’s the best choice for me?

Different licenses will train for different skills in this wide-spanning industry of beauty and wellness professionals. Sometimes, esthetics and cosmetology are used interchangeably in error, but they are quite different in regard to the focus of schooling and practical training. 

Cosmetology is a license program comprised of 1500 hours, with a curriculum focused on mostly hair. In fact, cosmetologists receive very little training in skin (85 hours) and nail technology (55 hours). 

Esthetics (es-theh-tuhks) license program  is a specialty in skin ONLY. As the skin is the largest organ of the human body, students have plenty of coursework to cover in the 750-hour curriculum. Someone who studies to become an Esthetician (es-stuh-ti-shn) wants to work only with skin and can perform facials, body treatments, full body waxing, clinical skin care modalities, makeup and eyelash extensions. 

Compared to the number of hours dedicated to learning and working within the intricacies of the skin for esthetics school, cosmetologists may have a very difficult time finding employment as an esthetician, especially so in regard to working in a med-spa with a dermatologist, plastic surgeon and other medical professionals. Although cosmetology covers some skincare in schooling, it’s not anywhere near as in depth as going to school specifically for skin. 

This is especially important to pay attention to if you’re not originally from the United States. Let us explain: In Europe, a cosmetologist license can refer to a professional that has expertise in skin, while a professional focused on hair can simply be referred to as a hairdresser or stylist. The differences between these distinct professions are sometimes lost in translation. The key to unlocking the best profession for yourself, is figuring out what aspect of the beauty and wellness industry you’d like to specialize . 

So, it comes down to quite simply: What is your interest for your career-path in the industry? If you’re interested in hair cutting, coloring, foiling for highlights then cosmetology is the recommended path. If you’re not interested in hair and want to be a skin care expert with the ability to work in medical spas with advanced clinical products and modalities, or an eyelash extension specialist,or professional makeup artist then esthetics is the best path for you! 

If you’d like to know more about similarities and differences between these two professional licenses, visit the IDFPR website or give us a call! 

Note Key Differences in Esthetics & Cosmetology:

Curriculum Hours750 hours devoted to skincare 1500 hours devoted to mostly hair  with 55 hours of nail instruction and only 85 hours of skincare 
What will I learn? 
  • Facial treatments with and without electrotherapy
  • Multiple specialty massages like manual lymphatic drainage, acupressure, and European massage 
  • Body scrubs, treatments, and wraps
  • Full body waxing
  • Microdermabrasion, chemical exfoliation, microcurrent, ultrasonic, Lasers, IPL, & LED
  • Eyelash extensions, spray tanning, makeup artistry, and much more! 
  • Basic facial without electrotherapy
  • How to color hair and do color corrections
  • Bleaching, highlighting, and foiling techniques
  • Cutting, styling, and how to do perms
  • Basic manicures and pedicures 
How long is the program?Minimum: 5 monthsMinimum: 8 months 
What’s the average cost in Illinois? $17, 000$29,000
Can you enroll at New Age Spa Institute (NASI)?  Yes! All our esthetics educators are licensed estheticians, licensed instructors, and have hands-on experience performing all the protocols they teach. No, NASI does not offer a cosmetology program. 
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